Guest Speaker Dr. Dedyukhina
How many times do you check your phone per day? Maybe your answer is similar to the most commonly given one nowadays: A LOT! Or maybe you are the one in a million person who has rejected technology (which seems unlikely, since you are reading this on a technological device), but know someone who relies A LOT on a smartphone to tweet, send emails or track daily step counts. Overall, it seems that technology has changed the way we live, work and communicate. But did it change the way our brains receive and process information? This was the main question that our guest speaker, Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina, attempted to answer on Tuesday, February 5, when she met with a group of Psychology and Biology students. In her interactive talk, Dr. Dedyukhina explained how the use of technological devices can change our attention span and memory skills.
Before the deluge of technological devices, a person had an average attention span of about 12 seconds. Now, after the intense use of technological devices, it is believed that we can concentrate for approximately 8 seconds. It is hard to stay on task when technological devices have their built-in gratification system that stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, through the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward and motivation), and encourages us to use them more. The tone pings for new notifications are associated with a certain gratification, which is why some of us might check our phones multiple times each day, spending hours scrolling down pages.
By blissfully scrolling down pages, we are presented with a lot of new information, but we do not have enough time to process it before something else catches our attention. This greatly impacts our memory in a negative way. In order to remember something, we need to transfer information from the working memory to the long-term memory. Anything that interferes in this process will impede memory consolidation, consequently making us more forgetful.
After showing how the use of technology can impact our brain, Dr. Dedyukhina challenged us to mitigate the negative effects through the moderate use of technological devices. In order to achieve this, some strategies were shared which included setting aside our mobile devices for a few hours each day and not sleeping with them next to us. This way our brain can relax and exit the alertness state while sleeping, making it healthier. What can also contribute to a healthier brain is our conscious contemplation about time being a precious asset that should be invested wisely.
Text by Ms. Diana Farcas