Cortical processing during smartphone text messaging

Epilepsy Behav. 2016 Jun:59:117-21. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.03.018. Epub 2016 Apr 30.


Objective: The objective of this study was to report the EEG features of text messaging using smartphones.

Methods: One hundred twenty-nine patients were prospectively evaluated during video-EEG monitoring (VEM) over 16months. A reproducible texting rhythm (TR) present during active text messaging with a smartphone was compared with passive and forced audio telephone use, thumb/finger movements, cognitive testing/calculation, scanning eye movements, and speech/language tasks in patients with and without epilepsy. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.

Results: Twenty-seven patients with a TR were identified from a cohort of 129 (93 female, mean age: 36; range: 18-71) unselected VEM patients. Fifty-three out of 129 patients had epileptic seizures (ES), 74/129 had nonepileptic seizures (NES), and 2/129 were dual-diagnosed. A reproducible TR was present in 27/129 (20.9%) specific to text messaging (p<0.0001) and present in 28% of patients with ES and 16% of patients with NES (p=NS). The TR was absent during independent tasks and audio cellular telephone use (p<0.0001). Age, gender, epilepsy type, MRI results, and EEG lateralization in patients with focal seizures were unrelated (p=NS).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the TR on scalp EEG represents a novel technology-specific neurophysiological alteration of brain networks. We propose that cortical processing in the contemporary brain is uniquely activated by the use of PEDs.

Significance: These findings have practical implications that could impact industry and research in nonverbal communication.

Keywords: Biomarker; Brain; EEG; Smartphone; Text messaging; Waveforms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smartphone* / statistics & numerical data
  • Text Messaging* / statistics & numerical data
  • Video Recording / methods*
  • Young Adult