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Your Brain On Computers

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html

overlooked email

“I stood up from my desk and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ ” Mr. Campbell said. “It’s kind of hard to miss an e-mail like that, but I did.”

electronic flood
two computer screens alive with e-mail, instant messages, online chats, a Web browser and the computer code he was writing

salvaged the $1.3 million deal
deluge of data
craves the stimulation when unplugged
(explains the stat in The Week that 10% of Americans would like the internet wired into their skulls)
forgets dinner plans, family, birthdays, can't be in moment

"This is your brain on computers."

juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave
ability to focus undermined by bursts of information
bursts "play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats" YES!
stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive
In its absence, people feel bored.
shit, I'm an addict

distractions deadly sometimes: cellphone talking drivers
urges
decreased creativity and deep thought

multitasking is not more productive
multitaskers can't focus and shut out irrelevant
(me and the sound of people talking about a case right next to me)
more trouble focussing-->more stress

fractured thinking, lack of focus persists when computer is turned off

“The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Nora Volkow
director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse
one of the world’s leading brain scientists
lure of digital stimulation more like food and sex than drugs or alcohol

there is a silver lining
brains more Internet users become more efficient at finding information (on the internet??)
some video games-->better visual acuity

transformed life
work anywhere
shrink distances
handle countless mundane tasks
freeing up time ??? really ?
what am I doing here learning about technology when I could be out walking in the rain?

explosion in consumption of media
e-mail and TV
2008 people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960
in the whole year?

constantly shifting their attention
computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour
hey when I work on a computer I often and working in between programs so changing windows is not a surprise
it is part of the work that I do on a computer

nonstop interactivity
NONSTOP INTERACTIVITY
have to be constantly entertained
medicated, placated, comforted, distracted, kept from thinking, kept from feeling, kept numb
NUMB that's addiction baby

"one of the most significant shifts ever in the human environment"
Adam Gazzaley
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.”

Mr. Campbell
43, wife is 39
came of age with the personal computer
heavier user of technology than most
typical? if trends continue:
tensions feel increasingly acute, and the effects harder to shake
he started a software venture
sleeps with a laptop on his chest ?????!!!
goes online at waking
4BR rental in SF burb
tv news and email over breakfast
he plays games "during tough emotional stretches"
can't stop during vacations
commuting knows he will be offline 221 seconds as the train goes through a tunnel

lots more pages you'll have to read the article for yourself
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html?pagewanted=2

**************************************************************************************
Jacob Schor ND, FABNO
June 10, 2010

There was fascinating article printed in last Monday’s New York Times. Placed front page center, it headlined: ‘Hooked on Gadgets and Paying a Mental Price, Constant use takes a toll on concentration and family life.

It has me ruminating on a number of things, but before I discuss them, first, go read the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html

It would seem that in the last few years we have unwittingly changed the way our brains function. I am of an age that I vividly recall the first person I knew who used email, PB’s wife Naomi. Likewise I recall Tim Birdsall showing me around the first website I logged onto, Al Czap’s company, Thorne Research. I have an old fashioned brain, shaped by the world and the things I’ve done in the world. But it would seem that my brain is a dinosaur of a brain and nothing like the brains of younger people. My daughter Sophie would certainly attest to that.

Are these new brains, shaped by multimedia, multi-gadgetry, multi-tasking better? According to the Time’s article and the scientists interviewed in it, these modern wired brains are in many ways not an improvement.

We didn’t plan on all these changes, they happened unintentionally. Should we be worried? If our goal in life is to be empathetic humans, aware of the world around us and capable of deep comprehension on the nature of our lives, we probably should be.

But what do we do about this? Do we ration gadget/online time and limit technical distractions? Do we limit or ban multi-tasking from our daily routines? I don’t know what we should be doing differently. All I know is that I have a growing suspicion that we are doing is unhealthy and needs to change. I’m open to suggestions.

Email me: Jacob@DenverNaturopathic.com

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