How is the internet changing your brain? Professor William T. O’Connor [email_address] Head of Teaching and Research in Physiology Graduate Entry Medical School University of Limerick
THE SHALLOWS Human thought is shaped by ‘tools of the mind’ - alphabet, abacus, map, printing press, clock and computer - which reroute our neural pathways. The printed book promotes the ethic of deep, creative thought. The internet promotes the ethic of the industrialist - speed and efficiency. Are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?
THE BRAIN’S VITAL STATISTICS Number of synapses About 100 trillion Adult weight Adult size Number of neurons About 100 billion neurons
PATHWAY FOR SENSATION AND REACTION The Five Senses Sight Hearing Touch Smell Taste ACTION PERCEPTION
THE BRAIN IS SHAPED BY THE ENVIRONMENT Enriched enviornment Deprived environment Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center Filled arrowheads - new spines formed during the first 2 days Open arrowheads – spines on day 0 - eliminated over next 7 days
Enriched enviornment Deprived environment Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center OUR BRAINS CHANGE IN RESPONSE TO OUR EXPERIENCES = Challenge = Monotony, isolation, low expectations.
The visual cortex (red) located in the back of the head responds to the image of the bell. The auditory cortex (blue) responds to the sound of the bell. REWIRING THE HEARING IMPAIRED BRAIN The superior temporal sulcus (green) integrates auditory and visual information.
REWIRING YOUR BRAIN TO DECREASE PAIN Mirror therapy uses your vision to “see” normal movement and reassure your brain that it no longer needs to produce pain signals.
VIRTUAL REALITY TACKLES 'SHELL SHOCK' Enables veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to revisit their trauma in order to become desensitized to it. www.boingboing.net/.../virtual-iraq-for-tra.html
CYBERTHERAPY FOR ADDICTION Scientific American Magazine, October 2010