Friday, June 24, 2011

Is your brain like popcorn?

Does life online give you 'popcorn brain'? As if we didn't have enough to worry about.
Over time, and with enough Internet usage, the structure of our brains can actually physically change, according to a new study. Researchers in China did MRIs on the brains of 18 college students who spent about 10 hours a day online.

Compared with a control group who spent less than two hours a day online, these students had less gray matter, the thinking part of the brain. The study was published in the June issue of PLoS ONE, an online journal.
The study called Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder suggests that intense use of modern technology is changing the ways our brains are structured. What is the fix? Getting back into real things of a slower pace will help. Engagement with computer gaming and rapid stimulation from technologies can "activate dopamine cells in the nucleus accumbens, a main pleasure center of the brain." But these changes are not being understood by researchers as a positive development, but rather are proven to interfere with normal social development and cognitive capacity.
In a blog on Psychology Today, psychologist Robert Leahy recommends experimenting with BlackBerry-free times. "For example, "I won't check my messages between 6 and 9 p.m.," he writes. Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, also recommends rewarding yourself for every hour that you don't check. "Tell yourself that you are reclaiming your life," he writes.
Reclaiming your life requires setting distinct boundaries for technology and building in times to shut things down, engage with real life and the people around you. Today I'll continue filming of my DVD Building Small Cabinets.  While the camera is watching me, this is what I see. Photo at left. Gary Junken is  the Taunton Press Video producer and if it is featured on Fine Woodworking or any of Taunton's related websites, you can be certain Gary was therewith his eyes to the camera. We have one morning of filming and then another brief session later in the year.

Make, fix and create.

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