igeazle portable/travel desk
It can be used in a variety of settings; its applications are endless.
SPONSORED ARTICLE
FEATURED ARTICLE
Share Report

Related Articles

Milton Bertrand 315 articles

Social Share

Are we in the processes of turning off important circuits in our brain with constant use of electronic gadgets?

  • Posted by Milton Bertrand
  • September 23, 2014 11:49 PM EDT
  • 0 comments
  • 3,679 views
While the internet has brought many great things, our dependence on it has a dark side. Based on some scientific evidence, it is suggested that the constant use of the internet, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning off important circuits in our brain. In so doing, we are becoming superficial thinkers.
BY MILTON BERTRAND
 
The World Wide Web (WWW) also known as the internet has been around for about two decades; it is to some extent hard to imagine life without it. It has brought us instant access to large amount of information; we are able to make new connections globally; we stay in touch with friends, family members, and colleagues. The world is now a global village.
 
Image credit: Milton Bertrand
While the internet has brought many great things, our dependence on it has a dark side. Based on some scientific evidence, it is suggested that the constant use of the internet, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is turning off important circuits in our brain. In so doing, we are becoming superficial thinkers.
 
The electronic devices like our cell phones with constant texting and instant messaging may already mitigate our creativity; we are not thinking outside the box, or the books by ourselves; we are constantly vetting all our new ideas with our friends, or colleagues.
 
 
I have been observing this trend over the years; are we in the processes of turning off important circuits in our brain with constant use of electronic gadgets? My interest is not purely academic; however, it becomes personal. I come to realize that I am not as focused as I once was. I am losing my own capacity for concentration and contemplation. The tools that we use shape our thoughts, behaviors, and habits. Many of us claim that we can multitasking; there is a great danger because it is not the best way of doing things. We are prone to make more errors; the end result is that things will be sloppier. Multitasking individuals are often less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.
 
The painted image is troubling; based on research, people who watch busy multimedia presentations are less likely to remember information than those in a more sedate and focused manner. Those who are constantly distracted by emails, updates, and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate.
 
When we are in a perpetual mode of distraction, and interruption, looking at our computer screens, and our face glued on our mobile devices, our brains cannot forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give distinctiveness and depth to our intellectual ability. Our thought processes become disjointed, our memories weak. “To be everywhere is to be nowhere,” said Roman philosopher Seneca about 2,000 years ago.
 
The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being “massively remodeled” by our ever-intensifying use of the web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments that revealed how extensively and quickly neural circuits change in response to experience. In a conversation, he said that he was profoundly worried about the cognitive consequences of the constant distractions and interruptions the internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be “deadly”.
 
Bear in mind not all distractions are bad. As many of us have experienced, concentrating too intensively on a tough problem can get us stuck in a mental rut. If we leave the problem sit unattended for some time, we return to it with new perspective and new creativity. Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis indicates that such breaks in our attention give our unconscious mind time to grapple with a problem, bringing to bear information and cognitive processes unavailable to conscious deliberation. His experiments reveal that decision making is better if we shift our attention away from a mental challenge for a time. “Unconscious thought does not occur,” He adds if we don’t have a particular goal in mind.
 
How many times do you click on your email icon in a day? Or look at your social networks? And how many times when you are reading on the internet do you click on a link navigating away from the text that was the original object of your query?
 
I understand that every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others. There are new weaknesses in higher-order cognitive processes that include vocabulary, reflection, mindfulness, inductive problem solving, critical thinking, and imagination.
 
While there is nothing wrong with absorbing information quickly and in bits and pieces, we have to be prudent how it is done. We have always done this with digital prints like newspapers more than we have read them; we scan over books and magazines to get a glance, and decide whether it warrants more reading. The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively.  The disturbance is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. There must be an end, a way to identify, decipher information for further study. If the trend continues, we are damaging our intellectual lives and even our culture.