Have you ever wondered how the digitization environment we live in affects our brains? Will he lose his abilities or remain as he is? Here are some conclusions.
We could consider our brains to be the most powerful in the world. It has nearly 100 billion neurons linked together and communicating at a speed greater than that of light. However, as digitization has invaded our lives, the question arises as to whether it might lose some of its great capabilities.
Considering the fact that the brain is plastic and adaptable, one would naturally expect that certain adjustments and changes would be made to optimize resources. In other words, if, thanks to digitization, we no longer need to take care of certain processes, perhaps the brain will compensate by improving other skills.
So, today, we can find scientific results that indicate the changes our brains may be suffering from. Especially among the youngest.
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In a relatively short time, the company has experienced a huge change in terms of technology. Just 30 years apart, generations have gone from not having a television at home to being able to see and hear a person anywhere in the world in real time.
Logically, it changes our behavior, our habits, the way we perform our tasks, communicate and access information. And, therefore, it changes the way the brain works and even its anatomy.
According to Gary Small, a neuroscientist at the University of Los Angeles, the use of technology changes the brain. Indeed, some neural networks are strengthened and others, older, are weakened. This process is natural in the human brain. Now what he is referring to is that these changes take place in certain specific structures or circuits. For example, in attention circuits.
We spend a lot of time with cellphones, tablets, or computers – in fact, all at the same time – which means we multitask. Multitasking is a cognitive skill that we have. It allows us to maintain our attention in various activities. However, it is estimated that it can accomplish up to two tasks.
So when the brain concentrates on two tasks, the prefrontal cortex divides its resources to be able to perform both tasks correctly. However, those who perform more than two tasks at a time have problems filtering and storing information, pay attention to non-task aspects, and have more difficulty switching from one task to another.
In addition, we will have a lower retention capacity. Because we can go back and get any information when we need it. However, it is also suspected that it improves our decision-making capacity. Because the senses are sharper and the digital environment invites speed. Therefore, digitization also improves the speed of information processing. This makes us more efficient in that sense.
Digitization and the developing Brain
Children’s brains are particularly interesting in terms of the effect of digitization, because they are the ones who grow up in an already technological environment. In fact, children born around the year 2000 are considered digital natives. This means that technology has surrounded them from birth. And so that they spontaneously and naturally develop a different way of thinking and understanding the world.
These children grow up developing different and digital skills, not only because of the environment, but also because adults push them to do so. As is the case when given a phone or tablet to entertain them. Although it may seem harmless at first, it can have serious consequences for a child’s development.
On the one hand, a more sedentary life is favored, which has consequences on the brain by deteriorating nerve fibers and generating poorer cognitive performance. It has also been shown to significantly affect language development. But also increases cortisol levels, which has a detrimental effect on the brain.
Will our Brains ever be useless?
As we’ve said before, the brain is able to adapt, and part of that adaptation is bypassing neural circuits that are no longer needed or used. So, if over the years and due to digitization some networks are no longer needed, they will end up degrading. This is called “the paradox of progress“.
However, this is not a bad thing, as there will be capacity and resources to invest in other aspects. For example, we won’t need to remember specific information about something. But we’ll have to remember where to access it. Or for example, we won’t have to keep the set of two ideas, but we will have more resources to connect the concepts together.
In summary, digitization is of course changing our brains and, with it, the way we perceive and process the world. However, that does not mean that the situation will get worse. We will always be human beings, and our brains will probably always be the best computer there is. In addition, its unique and highly nutritious social capacity is irreplaceable.