Are you hooked on gadgets? What is it doing to you?

Posted: June 10, 2010 – A recent article in the New York Times called “Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price” discussed the cost of living an information-laden lifestyle. As technology continues to develop providing constant access to limitless amounts information, we are losing our ability to stay on task. Some think that people are more productive because technology makes it easier to multi-task. But this article cites research that suggests the more we try to multi-task, the less focused and less productive we become. This point has been made before of course, and notably in Cogmed co-founder Torkel Klingberg’s book, “The Overflowing Brain”. But now the myth of multi-tasking seems to be questioned ever more.

Many people today are processing more information than any generation in human history. It is having an effect on the way our brains work. As science now knows, our brains are adaptive, at any age, for better or worse. As Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California points out: “we are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do – we know already there are consequences.” The article also quotes professor Steven Yantis from Johns Hopkins University saying, “The bottom line is, the brain is wired to adapt – there’s no question that rewiring goes on all the time.”

It is clear that the increasing amount of information that people are processing today is causing many to become distractible, and as the article points out, this distractibility continues even when we are away from our computers, cell phones, or other gadgets.

This piece highlights two important points for Cogmed: first, that the brain responds and changes to accommodate the type of activity it is asked to do, and second, that there is a need more than ever before to train our brains to stay on task, focus, and block out distractions. We call it Cogmed Working Memory Training.

Read the NYT article at: www.nytimes.com

Read a scientific paper on how WM is crucial to block out distractions: www.nature.com/neuro