New research published in Epilepsy and Behavior shows that sending text messages on a smartphone can change the rhythm of brain waves. People communicate increasingly via text messaging, though little is known on the neurological effects of smartphone use. A neurologist and director of the epilepsy monitoring unit and epilepsy center at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found a unique EEG ‘texting rhythm’ in approximately 1 in 5 patients who were using their smartphone to text message while having their brain waves monitored.
While the use of smartphones has drastically increased within the past few years, little is known about their influence on neurophysiological processes. Researchers have observed more patients using personal electronic devices to communicate by text messaging during video-EEG monitoring. As a result, they have encountered a reproducible, stimulus-coupled, time-locked, 5–6-Hz, generalized, frontocentral-predominant, theta rhythm that occurs during active texting. The researchers define it as a texting rhythm (TR) evoked by the use of smartphones. This TR is unique to texting on personal communication devices and the study authors are unclear whether the TR reflects a benign form of midline frontal theta or a biomarker that may have application in industry or health care and certainly merits further investigation.