forward and may help us reach broader conclusions. But they didn't say, 'I understand now what is happening to the brain.' They simply said, 'There is something that merits real study here.' " Streaming Information And The Brain Richtel says another question scientists are asking is how much is too much, when it comes to processing technology. Just as food nourishes us and we need it for life, so too — in the 21st century and the modern age — we need technology. You cannot survive without the communication tools; the productivity tools are essential. "What is the line right now when we go from a kind of technology nourishment to a kind of stepping backwards, to a kind of distraction — where instead of informing us, [technology] distracts us and impedes our productivity?" he asks. "There's growing evidence that that line is closer than we've imagined or acknowledged." He points to one study conducted at Stanford University, which showed that heavy multimedia users have trouble filtering out irrelevant information — and trouble focusing on tasks. Other research, he says, says that heavy video game playing may release dopamine, which is thought to be involved with addictive behaviors. "When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring — you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get a little rush of adrenaline," he says. "Well, guess what happens in its absence? You feel bored. You're conditioned by a neurological response: 'Check me check me check me check me.' " Richtel says that research is ongoing, particularly into how heavy technology may fundamentally alter the frontal lobe during childhood, how addictive behavior can lead to poor decision-making and how the brain is rewired when it is constantly inundated with new information.
- Spring '16
- Math, Matt Richtel