7.06.2009

How Computers Harm Children's Brains

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1197491/How-computers-harm-childrens-future--damaging-brains.html
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/07/04/article-1197491-0577312A000005DC-178_468x396.jpg
Children who spend hour after hour on the computer may be damaging a vital part of their brains. Here, in a stark warning, Baroness Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution and Oxford Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology, explains how this could be creating a generation blighted by obesity and gambling.
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The human brain is exquisitely sensitive to every event. We cannot complacently take it that our ways of learning and thinking will remain constant. Humans are highly responsive to change and so quick to adapt - in part because of the prefrontal cortex.
This area of the brain is more evolved in humans than in any other creature. It also forms late in our development, not becoming fully active until our teenage years.
If you damage the prefrontal cortex, your senses and movements are not impaired but you change; you become more reckless, lose a sense of sequence and consequence, of narrative and of your place in these sequences.
We know this from studies of gamblers. We know it from obese people: the fatter you are, the lower the activity of your prefrontal cortex. We know it from small children in whom the area is not developed and from schizophrenics, whose prefrontal cortex is damaged.
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The hypothesis is that if we were to scan the brains of young people who spend a lot of time playing computer games and in chatrooms, we would find that the prefrontal cortex is damaged, underdeveloped or underactive - just as it is in gamblers, schizophrenics or the obese.
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Imagine there is no robust conceptual framework. You are sitting in front of a multimedia presentation, such as a computer game or chatroom, where you are unable, because you have not had the experience of many different intellectual journeys, to evaluate what is flashing up on the screen.
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Screen life has no memory: it is reaction-action-reaction-action-reaction. If you live in that cacophonic environment for six hours or more a day and at a time when the prefrontal cortex is forming, becoming developed and active, what is going to be the effect?
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