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Do you give your brain a rest?

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime (excerpts from the NY Times 8/25/10)
Cellphones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation.

The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.


Asked by tasches at 5:02 PM on Aug. 26, 2010 in Health

Level 48 (298,202 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (7)
  • I worry about my husband with this. As soon as he's up he's got his Ipod in his ears, playing sports on the Xbox. Then he works out with his ipod, makes his luch with it, drives to work with it. Luckily he can't use it at work. Then he's hooked to it on the drive home, recharges it and imediately watches tv, till he goes to sleep. I can't see how he can even think straight!!!

    Answer by kristinas8 at 10:46 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • I'm never on any of those. My phone is for occasional calls or texts only.

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 5:04 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • I guess a lot of kids will miss out on being able to absorb information, if this actually pertains to the human brain. I think there are VERY few pre-teens and teens that don't have phones these days! It's pretty rediculous, if you ask me. Not sure how much rest my brain gets though, LOL.

    Answer by JGRIMMER at 5:13 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.

    The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn.

    Comment by tasches (original poster) at 5:02 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say.

    “People think they’re refreshing themselves, but they’re fatiguing themselves,” said Marc Berman, a University of Michigan neuroscientist.

    Comment by tasches (original poster) at 5:03 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • Some researchers say that whatever downside there is to not resting the brain, it pales in comparison to the benefits technology can bring in motivating people to sweat.

    “Exercise needs to be part of our lives in the sedentary world we’re immersed in. Anything that helps us move is beneficial,” said John J. Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.”

    But all things being equal, Mr. Ratey said, he would prefer to see people do their workouts away from their devices: “There is more bang for your buck doing it outside, for your mood and working memory.”

    Comment by tasches (original poster) at 5:04 PM on Aug. 26, 2010

  • I leave the radio off on my commute to work (about 45 minutes). It just got to be irritating, no matter what I listened to. Gives me a chance to think.

    Can't exercise with things in my ears either ...

    Odd, I know

    Comment by tasches (original poster) at 5:09 PM on Aug. 26, 2010