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Reclaim your brains

July 20, 2010

According to this article in the NY Times (a good read), researchers at Stanford are saying that heavy multitaskers, such as most young people tied to their computers these days, could be rewiring their brains in a way that leads to decreased attention and focus.

– The thinking center of the brain lies in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain which is much more developed in humans than animals. More primitive parts of the brain, are responsible for the interpretation of environmental stimuli, and they act to “disconnect” the rational thinking brain. Say you face a lion in the jungle, the stimulus (sight and sound) of the said lion act to shut down the rational part of your brain and thus save your life.

“The results also illustrate an age-old conflict in the brain, one that technology may be intensifying. A portion of the brain acts as a control tower, helping a person focus and set priorities. More primitive parts of the brain, like those that process sight and sound, demand that it pay attention to new information, bombarding the control tower when they are stimulated.”

– Now, the sight of different notifications popping up on a computer screen, and the beeps coming out of your phone, have the same effect; stealing your attention from your work.

“And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.”

– The real problem is that the neurological circuitry of the brain might be altered in a dangerous direction. The brain, unlike previously thought, has the ability to rewire, even after a certain age. And the research says that the distracting effects of multitasking, persist even when you’re off the distraction.

This is very dangerous, young people are increasingly exposed to even more distractions: Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, and what have you. I hope such changes are reversible, as I am certainly aware of some of the ill-effects. The problem is that I needed such an article to bring my attention to the issue.

And yes, you may now check the million notifications on your Facebook, if you haven’t done so already.


From → Self-Improvement

  1. I am glad I quit facebook and twitter long time ago then =D But I still feel I need a very high dose of simulation, as high as reading a technical book while listening to a high BPM song or piece of music, which never was the case during my undergrad studies! May be it is the way we interact with technology after all!

  2. Douja permalink

    Ehab! This is brilliant! Our generation is so lost in a virtual world of a ‘second life’ online worlds, and facebook they have lost touch with reality, even in school it has lead to even more procrastination, technological advances need to aid us not cause us more trouble, this is such a great post!!

  3. Hey lady, do not you dare talking like this about SL :@

  4. technology helped us for sure. but the problem is when we don’t realize how dependent we became on it! or let me say “addicted “!

    unfortunately a lot suffer from that huge distraction , look at yourself as soon as you open your computer! you open a dozen of websites and 2-3 messenger client at the same time!! even when you leave your computer , you still thinking about something you did in the “cyber world” , or you waiting for reply ……etc! that’s definitely a huge distraction!

    yup ! technology addiction is well known disorder add to that what you talked about ;decreased attention and focus!!

  5. Haitham,

    Good for you. But do you notice a trend? When I was a little kid, I didn’t need any music at all to study. Now, I can’t do anything without background music.


    Thanks. And I believe technology does not help per say, it simply multiplies the state you’re in.

    Dr. Mohammed,

    Welcome. I guess one has to keep reminding himself that this is nothing but an addiction.

  6. Ehab,

    Is this really good? I find it really bad! If I fail to do this for 2 days, I ran into a jammed mood of thinking, where the voice inside your head goes gibberish!

  7. Haitham,

    I meant it is good that you quit Facebook. Yeah, I believe one has to try to get rid of study music. Like I told you, when I was little I didn’t need anything to help me study.

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