According to a recent research, over-reliance on smartphones may result in reduced mental focus, deep thinking and general brain activity.
The research, which was carried out in McGill University, Canada, found that drivers, who depend on GPS-style navigation to get around, as opposed to those who rely on their memory, had less activity and gray matter volume in the hippocampus region of their brain; an important area for memory consolidation.
This result is corroborated by a 2011 research published in a journal, Science, which reports that people tend to have difficulty remembering things when they know it is stored somewhere elsewhere.
“If you’re always pulling facts from Google, you can answer a trivia question, but you’re not building up the knowledge base necessary to be a deep and deliberate thinker,” says Nicholas Carr, a technology writer and author of The Shallows, a book about the effect of the internet on the mind.
“What we don’t realize when we opt for the convenience or ease technology offers is that we’re denying ourselves the ability to create rich talents. Without practice, our brains begin to lose these talents for deep thinking or maintained focus.”
Gary Small, a professor of behavioral sciences, said multitasking on devices may have negative effects on the brain.
“With these devices, when we’re always jumping from task to task, we have this perception that our constant activity is a sign of efficiency—like we’re getting a lot done, but actually this process of jumping around is not economical.
“Every time you switch tasks, your brain needs a moment or two to find its bearings. The more you engage in rapid task-shuffling, the harder it becomes for you to ignore distractions and stay focused.
“That could be because media multitasking may weaken your brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, a region involved in high-level information and emotion processing.”
Research from Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, says that the brain relives recent experiences when it has an opportunity to roam freely.
“When the brain has space to roam freely, its default mode is engaged in reliving recent experiences, connecting emotionally relevant information, and constructing narratives that make sense out of life. This is why people often have big insights in the shower or doing the dishes.
“Potentially, we’re sort of reshaping our brains’ networks so that they’re more inclined to look for stuff in our environment to entertain us, instead of thinking about the longer-term and broader and ethical and deeper considerations we would otherwise be having,” she said.
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