mind games | July 06, 2011

Jonah Lehrer: Is The Internet Changing Our Brains?

In this exclusive Lavin Agency video
, neuroscience speaker Jonah Lehrer discusses the impact of the internet on the human brain. Is Google making us stupid? Is Twitter the apocalypse? Is Facebook ruining friendship? This is simply the wrong line of questioning to pursue, says Lehrer, a contributing editor at Wired. We shouldn't fear the advent of new technology. He points out that everything we do changes our brains. Moreover, recent studies show that heavy internet usage and video game play actually increases our attention span. And besides, everything pales in comparison to the invention of literacy. When we learned to read, for example, we lost about a third of our visual cortex to letters and words and syllables. We couldn’t “read” nature as well anymore. But, in its place, we learned to read sentences. The point, Lehrer says, is this: there are always trade-offs with every new technology. The goal is to maximize the upside and minimize the downside.

Lehrer is a prolific and accessible chronicler of the new terrain of neuroscience. His recent articles include a cover story on Pixar (Wired), a provocative piece on flaws in the scientific method (The New Yorker) and a profile of Geoffrey West, a physicist who is helping us understand what makes cities vibrant and economically robust (The New York Times Magazine). Jonah Lehrer’s third book, Imagine, about the science of creativity, will be released in spring 2012.

Read more about neuroscience speaker Jonah Lehrer

Up Next

science + democracy | July 04, 2011