Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently completed a comprehensive study illustrating the effects of smartphones on the human brain. What they found was that ‘smart’ phones actually make us dumb.

According to the studyBrain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity, having a smartphone around is a definitive way to lower our cognitive ability.


The study points out the fact that smartphones are a revolutionary way for people across the world to access information and stay connected with the simple tap. They note that this state of constant connection would not have even been possible, just ten years ago. They also note the massive contribution to humanity that smartphones have brought us.

However, according to the study, the ease of completing simple tasks in the presence of our smartphones is hindered — even if our phones are off.

As Science Daily reports, 

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity — that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.


The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.


The findings suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand.

“We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases,” Ward said. “Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process — the process of requiring yourself to not think about something — uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain.”

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Dependency on one’s phone is also a factor in determining the level of cognitive degradation, according to the study.

Researchers asked the nearly 800 smartphone users to self-report on their level of smartphone dependency — or how strong of an urge a person feels to use their phones to simply get through the day.

As SD reports, 

Participants performed the same series of computer-based tests as the first group and were randomly assigned to keep their smartphones either in sight on the desk face up, in a pocket or bag, or in another room. In this experiment, some participants were also instructed to turn off their phones.


The researchers found that participants who were the most dependent on their smartphones performed worse compared with their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept their smartphones on the desk or in their pocket or bag.

The fact that the researchers found that it didn’t matter whether the phone was on or off is a telling sign over the power of technology. Merely having a smartphone nearby reduces our ability to focus and perform tasks because part of our brain is constantly devoted to the phone and actively working to not pick it up or use it.

“It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones,” said Ward. “The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • conservativemama

    Understand that these omnipresent cellphones are wreaking havoc in the schools. Teenagers are absolutely addicted to the phone. If your child comes to school with a cellphone, I promise you he’s not spending anywhere near the time concentrating on schoolwork that I did way back in the 70s. I’m there. I see it.

    • Matt Roberg

      On a more positive note, and to be fair, the less they concentrate on their indoctrination the better 😉

      • conservativemama

        Well, there is that.

      • catblanche

        What about these new spinning do-dads that have come out of nowhere. They are definitely keeping kids from the indoctrination….. meanwhile hypnotizing them.

  • catblanche

    It’s all in the name. “Smart phone”: a device that is way smarter than its users. The most brilliant spying method ever introduced by intelligence agencies. The most effective way to control the populus. The way things are named should give us a clue about their purposes. For example, Google. Before we serfs had internet, the only context for this term was in conjunction with eyes, as in being “googley-eyed”, or staring. Whatever it is we are staring at, google is staring right back. What about Amazon? A giant stream for the flow of goods, a giant rainforest whose growth is taking over everything around it. Facebook. An album of everybody’s faces and more! Where they live, who their friends are, where they hang out, their political views, their sexual preferences….so much better that the staasi’s antiquated methods, because people participate willingly. Look for clues in plain sight, my friends.

  • Kweden

    It is because Google sends sub-sound suggestions to keep the people apathetic and consuming like livestock-especially if they are using hangouts (just read the tos for that app: “if you are a teenager or have hyper sensitive hearing you may hear sounds coming from your phone” as we communicate with other smartphones in the area to find others on hangouts to bring to you).

  • Pat Ormsby

    They say they turned their phones to “silent.” I don’t have a cell phone, much less a smart phone, so I don’t know this, but don’t they continue communicating with the base stations (i.e., putting out microwave radiation) unless you actually turn them off? It appears taboo to discuss the effects of microwave radiation at non-thermal power levels, but there is tons of research showing effects on the brain and other sensitive body systems. In this case, I would expect actually turning them off to be of some help, but there may be psychological reasons for the noted effects as well. Hard to say what is going on from this report.