Many articles today explore the question of what technology and modern gadgets are doing to our brains. How do they affect learning? Memory? Focus? Productivity? Health?
This article in The New York Times says some research shows that constantly stimulating the brain isn’t a good idea:
Cellphones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation.
The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.
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A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, found this to be true in rats, and researchers believe it is likely true for humans. A professor associated with the research says when the brain is constantly stimulated, “you prevent [the] learning process.”
Another study at the University of Michigan found that we learn better after we take a walk or run in nature than in an urban environment, which suggests that “processing a barrage of information leaves people fatigued:”
Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say.
“People think they’re refreshing themselves, but they’re fatiguing themselves,” said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist.
Mobile software developers are nevertheless working to meet the demand for filling every potentially free moment. There are now apps for two minutes games you can play to “kill time.”
Most of us seem to have trouble creating boundaries with technological devices and lines between work and personal life are now blurred. It’s a challenge because the more the brain is overstimulated, the more it craves.