[LINK] Digital data effects

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Aug 26 23:35:17 AEST 2010

Tom wonders,

> ps: This morning Alice Downey asked me if the web rewires our brains
> and makes us dumber, for an item to appear in Reportage Online 
> <http://blog.tomw.net.au/2010/08/linear-narrative-easier-to-
> understand.html>. 
> This was promoted by a Wired magazine article "The Web Shatters Focus, 
> Rewires Brains" (Nicholas Carr, 24 May 2010): 
> <http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_nicholas_carr/all/1>.
> I don't think the web harms student's comprehension ..

A New York Times article just yesterday presents recent research that
suggests it might not be not so much digital devices, but continual use
of them ..   

'Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime'

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. 

At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found 
that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, 
their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a 
break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that 
seems to create a persistent memory of the experience. 

The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn. 

"Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, 
solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories," said 
Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the 
university, where he specializes in learning and memory. 

He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, (by 
for instance IT devices) "you prevent this learning process." 




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