How Technology is Changing Your Brain
Did you know that before color television, most people used to dream in black and white? It’s true.
But that’s just one of the many ways technology has affected our brains, and in this article, we’ll take a look at both the good...and the not so good. So sit back, relax and get ready to have your mind blown!
A little background on the brain
Up until the latter half of the 20th Century, the prevailing wisdom was that most of our brain development took place during a critical period in early adolescence, and that after this point, the brain remained relatively unchanged.
But recent research suggests that this is actually not the case. In fact, our minds remain quite malleable well into adulthood. This phenomenon is known as Neuroplasticity, and it allows our brains to adapt to, and understand, an ever-evolving technological landscape.
The Not So Good
Our memory has changed
This may come as a shock to some of you millennials who might be reading this, but there was a time when we had to memorize every phone number of our friends and family, and the same went for directions to our favorite hangouts....no but really, it wasn't so easy back then. Nowadays, we let companies like Apple and Google handle that for us with fancy devices designed to keep track of our every move.
Smartphones are now a necessity, because in our current technological age, we're under a constant deluge of information, so much so that our brains simply can’t store everything we might need. Can you imagine having to remember the birthday of every one of your Facebook friends? That’d be an information overload and all you’d ever think about!
And our attention spans are shorter
If you’re like me, you often skim articles rather than reading the whole thing, and this practice is becoming more and more common. According to a UK study cited by The Atlantic, we now tend to bounce from website to website more, and typically read no more than 2 pages of an article before moving on.
"It is clear that users are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of “reading” are emerging as users “power browse” horizontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense."
- The Atlantic
So if you’ve already stopped to check Instagram while reading this article, or are reading it while jumping between multiple tabs on your browser, know that you’re not alone.
It can help us become better multitaskers
The next time someone tells you that video games are rotting your brain, just cite this 2013 study from Plos One, which found that cognitive-flexibility, also know as multi-tasking, is a trainable skill that can actually be improved by playing complex video games!
Want to hear something REALLY fascinating? It works even better in older adults...
According to a Nature.com study, when people ages 60-85 played video games that focused on improving a precise cognitive deficit, such as the inability to concentrate, their abilities improved dramatically. So much so that older test subjects who played the games achieved higher scores than untrained 20-year-olds, and the skill remained six months later without practice!
And we now have a “Cognitive Surplus"
Where once we sat in front of the television alone with our thoughts, the advent of the Internet and social media now allows us to use that time to connect, and share ideas with people across the world.
Let’s let author Clay Shirky explain:
"Television was a solitary activity that crowded out other forms of social connection. But the very nature of these new technologies fosters social connection—creating, contributing, sharing. This lets ordinary citizens, who’ve previously been locked out, pool their free time for activities they like and care about. So instead of that free time seeping away in front of the television set, the cognitive surplus is going to be poured into everything from goofy enterprises like lolcats, where people stick captions on cat photos, to serious political activities like Ushahidi.com, where people report human rights abuses."
Case in point: Wikipedia. Edited, curated, and written by anyone, and it’s run completely on collective human brainpower. Such outlets have fundamentally changed the way we write, view, and preserve history.
While technology and our brains will continue to evolve, one thing that will never change is the need to protect your smartphone with a quality case. With everything from real Bamboo to DuPont Kevlar, our Evutec phone covers are always on the cutting edge of technology and style, so protect your gateway to technology by heading to www.Evutec.com, and pick one out for yourself!