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What is the influence of technology on the brain?

Because it is Brain Awareness Week, asks NU.nl Erik Scherder, professor of neuropsychology at the Free University of Amsterdam to the influence of technology on the brain. “Technology makes our brain lazy,” says Scherder.

Technology makes a lot of things easier. Think of route planning and help with reverse parking. But that also has influence on our memory.

“It’s called a smartphone, but you’re pretty smart?” ask professor Scherder out loud. “In the past we knew twenty numbers out of our head, maybe even two. Because why would you, the numbers are in your phone?”

Absorb knowledge and process

According to the professor, we are cognitively lazy technology. “In the literature, researchers are fond of building a cognitive reserve.”

Cognition means in psychology: the ability to use knowledge to take and process, as well as perceiving, thinking, language, consciousness, memory, attention and concentration.

“Technological assistance: these are all moments in which your brain off”
Erik Scherder, professor in neuropsychology

“We first do brain research, thinking somewhere about it, and thus we can be more problems to solve. With that reserve, you also build new opportunities that are challenging and difficult. That new things to do and somewhere to work for it, there it goes to our brain.”

The professor can about it get excited. “You will in some cars, fully supervised in the reverse parking. What a load of crap, that we can still own? You can use your hand-eye coordination and spatial coordination as you do that. Now, you will hear a beep and tells you car how much space you have left.”

Scherder is disappointed, that help. “These are all moments when your brain expands.”

According to Scherder put you during technological assistance for reverse parking your brain.

Concerns about developments

A quarter of the Dutch population is concerned about technological developments, appeared in december, research from Newcom under 2.992 Dutch people of fifteen years of age and older. Where the young and highly educated professionals are excited about the many developments in the field of technology, to create low-skilled workers are more worried about.

Also says half of the participants might be afraid of how the world may change due to the new technologies that we’re facing.

Content versus search

Professor Scherder spoke recently at a techcongres where the question was posed: where are we better become through technology? “Multitasking was called, we know better and better where to find something. But we are less good in discovering what something is. The content.”

Look up something, there you go scroll and voilà, it’s not all that complicated. “But if you use something only once, then you read better, remember you more and make you perhaps even notes. After all, it is only once, so you have to do more work to memorize it.”

Know where to find something is, versus what it is. That last, what, that is our brain-training, says Scherder. “That is the challenge and takes effort. But we will not do more.”

Remember to write down

Scherder indicates the difference between something to type or write. “That is well studied. By types do you remember things less well than if you were to write. Writing requires a much greater brain function. You have the letters, shapes, space between the words, to estimate whether a word is still on the line or not. You are cognitively very busy.”

Let there be no misunderstanding, Scherder is a fan of technology and digital resources. “But it must not be so that at the end of the day all throughout the day have been easy. In our mind it is the effort you provide, then functions of our brain the best.”

This effort is in some situations, modified by the advent of technology, explains the professor. “You have to nuance in the whole. It is not: how more and more digital, the finer. The truth lies in the middle.”

More automatically

Scherder think that the advent of technology has ensured that our brain automatically does. “When scrolling and search do you think there is no more about it. But there is also a tendency to make it all shallow. Of course, if therefore, there is on other aspects, more time for depth, then that’s fine.” According to Scherder is not always the case.

“The balance between, and not your brain is important”
Erik Scherder, professor in neuropsychology

Many technological tools provide time savings. The supermarket will deliver at home, you don’t have to pay attention during the drive. “But the balance between is and is not your brain is important.”

Also the youth has a lot of technology. “The many gaming has advantages and disadvantages, but we do not yet know. Gaming seems to higher activity in the brain, but there are no studies that confirm that. All of this will only about years turn out.”

Results to measure and compare

Or our memory and the functioning of our brain actually deteriorates due to these technological developments, it is difficult to say. “We know the answer is not. For such research you need a large group of users and non-users, some thirty years long follow up and then compare the results.”

Then you would be almost a group have to find one that still with a horse and wagon travels, says Scherder, laughing. “We use these technological possibilities now almost all, which makes it difficult to investigate. I don’t know if that answer’s coming.”

There is, according to Scherder a way to prevent our brain ruined by all the technology around us. “Do after work, take a course, learn a language, learn a musical instrument to play, go play chess. That are cognitive things. And don’t forget the sporting effort, walk or cycle.”

And remember, at the end of your day: I have some work for do, tips Scherder. “Your brain is the most benefit from a busy day. No strain, no gain.”

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