6 Ways the Web is Changing Your Brain

Every day, as you skim your Facebook feed, catch up on Twitter posts, check your email, watch YouTube, browse Reddit, and search on Google, your brain is slowly being rewired. The current generation of people, growing up on a daily diet of tweets, status updates, notifications and linked documents, will have brains that look and behave considerably differently to the generations that have come before. Listed below are six ways that the web is modifying your neurology, for better or for worse.

1. We Can't Concentrate

Our attention spans are shot. Eyeball-trackers have followed the reading patterns of people on web pages. Nobody reads every line and every paragraph. We jump around, we skim, we read the 140 characters that make up a tweet, we watch the first twenty seconds of a YouTube video. We read a page heading and the first line in the first paragraph and then we close the tab and jump to a new one. Online citizens are surrounded by short, digital bursts of information, and our brains have grabbed on to this method of information consumption. People find it hard to read books now, or any extended text. It has become a real physical effort, and that’s because we are losing the brain wiring to do so. When you spend each day shifting your attention from one digital snapshot to another, don’t be surprised to find you have trained your brain to expect more of the same.

2. Individual Memory is Down, Distributed Memory is Up

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3. We Know a Little About a Lot

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4. We Make Faster Decisions

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5. We Can Think Sideways

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6. Information Addiction and FOMA (Fear Of Missing Out)

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There is no denying that the 21st century brain is not the same as the 20th century brain. But this is not necessarily a sign of the dumbing-down of the human race, or the downfall of modern civilisation. Our brains and our ways of thinking adapt to our environments. The 20th century brain would have had strengths and weakness compared to the typical 19th century brain as well. We live in an increasingly internet-enabled world. It only makes sense that we adapt to this by developing internet-enabled brains.

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