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IBrain Review

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A summary of iBrain by Gary Small and Gigi Vardon

A summary of iBrain by Gary Small and Gigi Vardon

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  • 2 years late, but it's still timely. As a school teacher with a couple of master's degrees in neuroscience, this presentation is appreciated; I may even use it in my classroom. Anything to update? It's been two years now since this presentation was created after all...

    -- yh.
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  • 1. iBrain Summary: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind
    • by Gary Small and Gigi Vardon
  • 2. Premise:
    • The human brain is evolving rapidly and is malleable in both adults and children - especially young children. Tendencies toward ADD or ADHD can be enhanced/exaggerated by computer use and TV, especially before the age of two (p. 64). It is suggested that this can cause ADD (p. 66)
  • 3. What’s Changed?
    • The high tech revolution has led to a state of "continuous partial attention" - different from multitasking where there are specific objectives - scanning for things or contacts that may be of interest. (p.18)
  • 4. Which Brain Part?
    • The large amounts of time spent on computers and video gaming is "stunting frontal lobe development" potentially leading to "an immature and self-absorbed emotional level" (p. 32) More complex games and tasks require the use of the frontal areas. (p. 37)
  • 5. Multitasking
    • "But studies show that too much multitasking can lead not only to increased stress and attention deficits but also to a decline in work efficiency." (p. 32)
  • 6. Multitasking
    • "Multitasking allows Digital Natives to instantly gratify themselves and put off long-term goals." (p. 32)
  • 7. Violence and Video Games
    • "However, recent investigations suggest that the intensity of a game's violent graphics, rather than the amount of violent content, may have a greater effect on brain functions and aggressive behavior.? (p. 37)
  • 8. Addiction
    • "As Internet addiction takes hold, the brain's executive region, known as the anterior cingulate loses ground. This is an area in the front part of the brain that is responsible for decision making and judgment." (p. 49)
  • 9. Addiction
    • "The anterior cingulate in their brains often loses out to the dopamine rush they get from text messaging from their friends" (p. 50)
  • 10. Addiction
    • "But for individuals at risk for addiction, the computer and Internet can provide a false sense of control. ... Computer users report feeling a sense of liberation and anonymity online ... [and] from making up false personalities." (p. 51)
  • 11. Addiction
    • "These addicts routinely experience apathy, depression, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and clouded thinking. (p. 53)
  • 12. Addiction
    • "Part of what makes email so addictive is that it follows the rules of operant conditioning, which means that the behavior is shaped by its consequences. When you check email you get intermittent positive responses" (p. 54)
  • 13. Game Addiction and YOU !
    • "80 percent of online virtual gamers are young men -- and not just teenagers, the average age is twenty-eight." (p. 57)
  • 14. Addiction
    • "During a game, dopamine is released into the player's brain, causing intense pleasure and a sensation of being in control." (p. 58)
  • 15. Shallow Tasking
    • "Many people are replacing depth and subtlety in their thinking with quick mental facts that may only skim the surface. The clutter, noise, and frequent interruptions that assail us further fuel this frenetic cognitive style." (P. 67)
  • 16. Tech and ADHD
    • "Some professionals argue that ADHD is not truly a diagnostic disorder but rather the brain's adaptation to its perpetual exposure to multiple bits of information delivered through today's fast-paced technology." (p. 67)
  • 17. Multitasking debunked?
    • Multitasking - "Switching back and forth between the two tasks... may decrease brain efficiency by as much as 50 percent, compared with separately completing one task before starting another." (p. 68)
  • 18. For the music lovers
    • "Some combinations of tasks actually appear to improve mental efficiency. Many people notice improved cognitive abilities while listening to music." (p. 68 - 69)
  • 19. Social Needs
    • "Digital Natives, after long periods of time on the Internet, display poor eye contact and a reluctance to interact socially" (p. 73)
  • 20. More connected - more isolated?
    • "Broadband connections and social networks let us chat about our pastimes with like-minded individuals across the globe whenever we feel like it." (p. 80)
  • 21. Gender Differences
    • Women - see big picture, relationships, read moods, empathy, social cues
  • 22. Gender Differences
    • Men - details, grasp visual and spatial concepts better, more emotional detachment. (p. 91)
  • 23. Communication Skills
    • "time spent chatting with friends was associated with higher scores on memory tests. ... The interactive give and take qualities of everyday conversation appear to provide greater stimulation for our neural circuitry than mentally stimulating yet passive activities like reading or watching a sitcom rerun. ... The anonymous and isolated nature of online communication does not provide the feedback that reinforces direct human interaction." (p. 116-117)
  • 24. Social Skills
    • "Recent neuroscience points to pathways in the brain that are necessary to hone interpersonal skills, empathic abilities, and effective personal instincts. In Digital Natives who have been raised on technology, these interpersonal pathways are often left unstimulated and underdeveloped. " (p. 119)
  • 25. Take Some Time!
    • "Buddhist monks ... empathy and maternal love. ... It was as if the years of meditation had strengthened the brain connections between thinking (frontal lobe) and feeling (amygdala)." (p. 142)
  • 26. Multitasking Once More
    • "... the anterior prefrontal cortex. This area lets us leave a task, even if it is incomplete, and get back to it later from where we left off. interestingly, this is one of the last parts of the brain to develop in children, as well as the first part of the brain to decline in older people, so it is no surprise that both young children and older adults find multitasking to be a challenge" (p. 159)
  • 27. Conclusions
    • - all is not hopeless, the brain is malleable in young and old.
    • - we can work to develop the brains of both Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. DN need to have more personal interaction experience and DI need more technological skills. Pairing these two types together can potentially help both individuals improve (and appreciate each other more).
  • 28. Brain Map
    • http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/typepad/uncategorized/brainmap.jpg
  • 29.  

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