Our brains are superlatively evolved to adapt to our environment: a process known as neuroplasticity. The connections between our brain cells will be shaped, strengthened and refined by our individual experiences. It is this personalisation of the physical brain, driven by unique interactions with the external world, that arguably constitutes the biological basis of each mind, so what will happen to that mind if the external world changes in unprecedented ways, for example, with an all-pervasive digital technology?
A recent survey in the US showed that more than half of teenagers aged 13 to 17 spend more than 30 hours a week, outside school, using computers and other web-connected devices. If their environment is being transformed for so much of the time into a fast-paced and highly interactive two-dimensional space, the brain will adapt, for good or ill. Professor Michael Merzenich, of the University of California, San Francisco, gives a typical neuroscientific perspective[:]
''There is a massive and unprecedented difference in how [digital natives'] brains are plastically engaged in life compared with those of average individuals from earlier generations and there is little question that the operational characteristics of the average modern brain substantially differ,'' he says.Read it all.
Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:00 am
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