Jon Manuel

Jon Manuel

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STUDY: Smartphone alerts can impact your brain chemistry

Doesn't sound good, does it?


There's no question that the invention of smartphones has changed society for the better in hundreds of ways, but, scientists say it's not all good news. One consequence from all those messages constantly vying for our attention on our smartphone could be impacting a person's brain chemistry a new study suggests. 

Researchers say the constant interruptions people get from the various alerts and messages on our smartphones can impact a person's brain chemistry, by changing it to create a pattern that scientists call the "switch cost." 

“There’s this phenomenon they call switch cost that when there’s an interruption we switch away from the task that we were at and then we have to come on back. We think it interrupts our efficiency with our brains, by about 40 percent. Our nose is always getting off the grindstone, then we have to reorient ourselves,” said Dr. Scott Bea, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic told CBS Philadelphia.

Technology has wired people's brain to remain on high alert waiting for the next notification. When it happens, a person's stress hormone, cortisol, can surge, causing their heart rate to jump, get sweaty hands, or tense up. 

Doctors say when a person is unable to check their phone, those feelings can intensify until they check their device. 

People can break the pattern - all it takes is forming a new habit, but that can take time.

“Initially, when you start trying to stay away from the technology, or confine it, you’ll be a little uncomfortable, you’ll have that fear of missing out, or a little anxiety that something is getting past you, but with practice, your brain can get used to it,” said Bea.