The hidden cost of a smartphone: The effects of smartphone notifications on cognitive control from a behavioral and electrophysiological perspective.
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Since their release in 2007, smartphones and their use have seemingly become a fundamental aspect of life in western society. Prior literature has suggested a link between mobile technology use and lower levels of cognitive control when people engage in a cognitively demanding task. This effect is more evident for people who report higher levels of smartphone use. The current study examined the effects of smartphones notifications on cognitive control and attention. Participants completed the Navon Letter paradigm which paired visual (frequent and rare target letters) and auditory (smartphone and control sounds) stimuli. We found that overall, participants responded slower on trials paired with smartphone notification (vs. control) sounds. They also demonstrated larger overall N2 ERP and a larger N2 oddball effect on trials paired with smartphone (vs. control) sounds, suggesting that people generally exhibited greater levels of cognitive control on the smartphone trials. In addition, people with higher smartphone addiction proneness showed lower P2 ERP on trials with the smartphone (vs. control) sounds, suggesting lower attentional engagement. These results add to the debate on the effects of smartphones on cognition. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
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