Friday, March 25, 2011

10 Big Ways That Technology Affects Your Brain

1. It’s physically changing our brains
Brains are malleable, and through our power of imagination, virtual simulation and technology experiences, we’re actually changing the physical shapes of our brains, strengthening parts of the mind that can lead to a decrease in sense of self and human identity.

2. Developing brains are especially at risk
Today, people "consume" about 12 hours of media — including TV and Internet — per day while at home, while in 1960, people consumed only 5 hours per day. Children are especially at risk because their minds are not developed enough to process so much digital stimulation or information, especially when it comes to prioritizing and practicing self control.

3. It can be addictive
For lots of reasons, being plugged in can become a serious addiction which interferes with daily activities, child rearing, social events, normal conversation, and even business and work.

4. We’re less able to think abstractly, but can tune out external distractions
Perhaps because of the immediacy of information, over-stimulation, and multitasking applications and technologies, our ability to think abstractly has been greatly affected. On the other hand, we’re better able to tune out external distractions like music or TV while processing information online or via a smart phone.

5. Our neural pathways are affected
The change in attention span isn’t just "habitual," as this Guardian article points out, but neurological. Our neural pathways are actually being damaged, and we’re less able to really process and remember information, even though we’re constantly reading, or skimming, online.

6. It affects our ability to read
Reading books or even longer articles from a medium like a newspaper has become more and more difficult for lots of frequent web users, as we’ve become accustomed to taking in information superficially without taking the time to really appreciate things like fully constructed arguments, narrative or even complex plot. This challenge may be a result of lowered attention span, but others believe that the way we think has actually changed, and our minds have "taken on a staccato quality," possibly because reading isn’t a human instinct. Just as we learned how to read, we’re un-learning it after years online.

7. Fragmented communication leads to jitters and addictive personalities
This writer shared her experience "dreaming in Twitter": after too much Twittering, her brain couldn’t relax, and she and her friends attuned the experience to having ADD-like symptoms. Their concentration is limited to 140-character quips, and addictive personality traits surfaced almost immediately after she got the hang of sharing peak experiences and participating in global conversations.

8. Our brains function more primitively
With such "deluge[s]" of information popping up at a constant rate, we’re more prone to panic and irrational reactions to e-mails, blog posts and other things online. We get too excited too easily, feel bored and empty when we’re not plugged in, and feel impulsive and compelled to respond to every piece of data coming in.

9. We’re losing our sense of place, and the ability to contextualize
Scientists and researchers have pinpointed a problem with GPS and other direction services like Google Maps: we’re given directions to follow, but no context to put it all in. This lack of understanding and personal customization or familiarity makes us more likely to forget something or miss out on a piece of information altogether. Social networking is being used to help solve the problem, but if we rely on technology as a one-sided provider, we lose our ability to contextualize.

10. We process visual information more quickly
Those who spend more time reading webpages and playing video or computer games are able to process visual information and translate visual symbols at a much faster rate than those who don’t.

This Cute Frog is a Very Dangerous Predator

7 Ways to Stay Healthy on Public Transportation

Germs are everywhere, but they can be particularly concentrated where there are large amounts of people packed into close quarters. This description practically defines public transportation in many areas of the world, which is why it is so important to have a healthy immune system when you are traveling via these means. Here are seven tips to boost your immunity and reduce your contact with bacteria and viruses while traveling any of the Planet Green approved forms of public transportation.

Eat Well and Take Your Vitamins Several Days before Your Trip
We all know that we should eat right every day, but sometimes it helps to be reminded. A healthy immune system thrives from proper nourishment. When traveling on public systems of transportation it becomes particularly important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D and C, which helps boost immune system function and are found to be deficient in a surprising number of people. Garlic is not a bad addition to your diet too if you regularly travel via public transportation.

Have a Positive Attitude When you Travel
Positive emotions have been found in studies by Carnegie Mellon University to bolster the immune system and help keep colds at bay. Interesting, it is not so much being happy during the moment you are traveling that is important, but rather your general outlook on life that seems to matter the most.

Wash Your Hands After Each Trip
One of the best ways to keep from getting an infectious disease is to wash your hands often, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Washing your hands for at least 20-seconds with any kind of soap is the most affective means of avoiding sickness. Anti-bacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap. It is also a good idea to keep your hands in your pocket to resist touching things while traveling. If you do accidentally touch something, do not place your hands back in your pockets, as this will only line your pockets with germs, making it that much easier for you to become exposed later.

Gargle with Antiseptic Mouth Wash Before and After Your Trip
Another area where germs tend to harbor is in the mouth. While good dental hygiene should always include daily brushing and flossing, rinsing with an antiseptic can help keep you from becoming ill when you are subjected to a number of different strains of bacteria and viruses. There are a number of ways from which to make your own natural mouthwash, but no matter how you do it, the addition of tea tree oil will give the mixture its antiseptic qualities.

Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before Traveling
Lack of sleep is enough to bring about all sorts of disease, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The common cold occurs for the same reason all these other more serious conditions occur… from a weak immune system. To keep your immune system strong, it is advised to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep the night before traveling on any public system of transportation. Sleep restores the immune system by boosting the body’s natural levels of melatonin. In addition, when traveling by plain or train, bring your own blanket and pillow to reduce the amount of germs you’ll be subjected to.

Go to the Front or Back End of the System, Where Fewer People Sit
While riding on public transportation systems, most people tend to sit in the middle portion. Fewer people means fewer germs to come in contact with, so avoid the middle where commuters are clumped together like sardines as often as possible. Seat placement is also important. Window seats and sitting next to a friend can provide a slight barrier from the coughers and talkers.

Get a Massage After Your Trip
Many studies indicate that massage can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate, and guess what, it can also give a cold the old one-two punch. Massage helps keep you healthy after you have been on a public transportation system by decreasing the levels of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a natural hormone that is triggered by stress and has been known to destroy the bodies natural killer cells, leaving the bodies defense system weak. It doesn’t even have to be a professional rub down to achieve positive results, so go ahead and call in a favor from a loved one if you have to.



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