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The Human Brain on Technology

Friday, December 9th, 2011

 

 

Our brains are literally rewired by our excessive daily technological usage. There is no denying this. We have yet to even see its full effects on the human brain because, well, we are still in the “thick” of it. It will be many years from now before we can see it’s repercussions. Kind of like testing a new drug and the FDA only sees it’s negative effects ten years later. But this doesn’t mean technology is bad. Not in the least.

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It’s just a simple truth that Westerns have grown accustomed to the availability of electronics. Our “progressive” population has grown considerably in the name of technology, albeit the majority of medical, scientific, and industrious revolutions come in the wake of a brand new technology.

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Or your brain on technology?

The New York Times reported in 2010: “Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.”

Think about how Angry Birds literally transforms the idle doctors waiting room office…

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“The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists. She and other researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess. Technology use can benefit the brain in some ways, researchers say. Imaging studies show the brains of Internet users become more efficient at finding information. And players of some video games develop better visual acuity”

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“More broadly, cellphones and computers have transformed life. They let people escape their cubicles and work anywhere. They shrink distances and handle countless mundane tasks, freeing up time for more exciting pursuits. For better or worse, the consumption of media, as varied as e-mail and TV, has exploded. In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960. And they are constantly shifting their attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour, new research shows”

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The nonstop interactivity is one of the most significant shifts ever in the human environment, said Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do,” he said. “We know already there are consequences.””–By MATT RICHTEL, for The New York Times, Published: June 6, 2010.

So we’ve had our “Industrial Revolution.” Well ladies and Gents, we are in the midst of the new big era: the Technology Revolution. Where will it take us next?

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