The term "brain fag" was used in the United States as far back as 1852, describing an overworked brain. In 1877 to describe mental exhaustion in professionals and later in 1919 to describe mental fatigue in the elderly. The term 'fag' is believed to have been derived from 'fatigue'. Here's some good health news for Herald readers, at least for folks who spend lots of time on the Internet.

Surfing the Internet may be the latest way to teach an old dog new tricks.

A new study shows older adults who learn to use the Internet to search for information, experience a surge of activity in key decision-making and reasoning centers of the brain.

"We found that for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," says researcher Gary Small, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Previous studies have shown that mental stimulation through brain training activities can increase the efficiency of cognitive processing and slow this decline in brain function.

Internet activity seems to do the trick.

In the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain activity in different regions of the brain in 24 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 78.

Half of the participants used the Internet daily and the other half had very little experience with the Internet.

It doesn't take a lot of time to get the brain going again.

So for those old timers who say they'd never get a computer and get on the Internet, maybe they should reconsider.

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