Two months later, I’m picking up where the last post left off. If you read all 5,500 words of it, congratulations – you don’t have ADHD1. If not, then its starting point was the fact that we’re – yes, that’s right: me and you – spending more and more time pressing buttons and keys, clicking mice and gawping at the result on LCD screens. Then clicking and pressing again. And again. By doing this, I wrote, we’re rewiring our brains so that they resemble “those in the skulls of ADHD patients”. Mama, weer all crazee now.
By a curious twist of fate the very thing that prevented me from blogging for so long also provided the material for this postscript: I enlisted in an experiment to test my own hypothesis. Continue reading
This was written back in January but is, I hope, still relevant. I welcome all comments or e-mails on this topic – please do get in touch.
The disconcerting background noise rumbling under the crystalline digital audio of the internet age is intensifying. The unsettling idea that our use of modern technology is somehow rewiring our brains has found increasing expression over the last couple of years. And from the titles of the (mostly American) books propounding this hypothesis it would seem that the neural re-fit is a bit of a botch job. There’s Mark Bauerlein’s thundering The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future, UCLA Professor of Psychiatry Gary Small’s iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind and Maggie Jackson’s Distracted: the Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.
Attention, and our decreasing ability to pay any, is a key issue. You don’t have to look very far to see the harbingers of Jackson’s “Dark Age”. Just witness the crisis in publishing as we’re unable to give books – those weighty slabs of text with all their snaking, idea-laden prose – our undivided. Newspapers are similarly too much. We substitute with skim-read internet articles and the inane volleys of YouTube. Blogs look overlong and unwelcoming. Twitter, with its 140-character-per-post limit, would seem to be about as much many of us can handle. Continue reading
Posted in Neuroscience
Tagged addiction, adhd, attention, B.F. Skinner, culture, dopamine, ecce homo, instant gratification, internet, mesolimbic pathway, neuroplasticity, neuroscience, Nora Volkow, psychology, reinforcement, reward, Susan Greenfield