In June 2019, a wide variety of news publications reported that researchers had identified a rather surprising development in human physiology due to technology: horns or "spikes" growing out of the base of young people's skulls that result from looking down at cellphone screens. The Washington Post reported that researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, found a "hook or hornlike feature" (19659002) The study, published on 20 February 2018 in the journal ] Scientific Reports focuses on a feature known to scientists as the external occipital protuberance (EOP), and bump on the back of the skull in the middle, just where the neck muscles attach to the head.
"We hypothesize the EEOP may be linked to the sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held modern technologies such as smartphones and tablets, "the authors state. "Our findings raise concern about the future musculoskeletal health of the young adult population and reinforce the need for preventive intervention through posture improvement education."
Since the story has become viral, various publications have poked in the research, with tech news site Gizmodo pointing out that the use of the term "hypothesis" indicates that nothing has been proven in the paper's findings.
Meantime, The New York Times although the study was not known to cause pain, the study lacked a control group and therefore could not show cause and effect, and the research also focused on a group that was already experiencing enough pain to undergo an X- ray. So, "it's not clear what the results have to the rest of the population."
Although it is possible that a bone spur could form from constantly straining the neck forward, it represents a big "so what? Evan Johnson, an assistant professor and director of physical therapy at New York-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital, was quoted by The Times . The more worrisome finding would be if cellphone use was responsible for widespread changes in posture that could result in long-term musculoskeletal problems.
The paleoanthropologist John Hawks does not buy it at all. "Horns growing on young people's skulls? It's a juicy headline, but it's not the truth. "The idea may be a moral panic about the effects of cellphone use on humans. But the research does not back up, he wrote in a post on June 24, 201
Hawks said he believed major errors undermined the paper's credibility, the most obvious one being the inclusion of a graph that does not match it text. The study's authors note that males are 5.48 times more likely than females to have an enlarged EOP. The authors also include a graph that appears to show younger people between the ages of 18 and 29 with a much higher prevalence of enlarged EOP than people between the ages of 30 and 50.
But the graph does not match the finding that men are more than five times as likely as women to have an enlarged EOP. "Hawks said," It's a good idea, "said Hawks." It's also a question of whether X-ray images were really enlarged EOPs or illusions created by the X-rays were taken at. "They are more likely side views of the thickened area of the superior nuchal line. Altogether, this means that what the authors are looking at might not have anything to do with what an antropologist can see on a bone at all. It could be an illusion. "
The Times also quoted Dr. David J. Langer, chair of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Common ailments among surgeons, whose professions require them to spend a lot of time looking down, include degenerative disc disease and neck misalignment, not protruding horn growths. "Head horns?" Asked Langer. "Come on."