Modern Life Is Harming Your Brain

The cognitive drain of switching tasks—"multitasking"—is more harmful to your brain than smoking marijuana, which studies have shown impedes concentration and memory formation.

The cognitive drain of switching tasks—"multitasking"—is more harmful to your brain than smoking marijuana, which studies have shown impedes concentration and memory formation.


Leading neuroscientists from across the globe recognize the negative consequences of living modern life on the terms of our mobile devices, which demand we immediately attend to every small event, giving us a small sense of satisfaction in return. 

The good feeling we have each time we check for status updates on Facebook or reply to a text message is caused by a release of dopamine in the brain. The same chemical is released when a drug addict gets his fix or when an orgasm occurs.

When we switch tasks often, our cognition stays more surface-level.

In studies, lab rats ignored food and rest when given the ability to trigger dopamine release by pushing down on a special lever, dying of starvation and exhaustion as a result.

Solving the complex problems that arise at work and in our personal lives require a certain depth of concentration, say scientists, and it takes our brains time to reach that depth. When we switch tasks often, our cognition stays more surface-level.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman says technology can enflame our emotions in destructive ways:

In addition, switching tasks requires addressing a new set of questions—Do I answer this email now or ignore it? How should I respond? Should I take a break first?—and neurologists say answering questions, whether they are large or small, requires substantial cognitive energy.

Thanks to our mobile devices, we are responsible for doing the work of several professionals at once, i.e. booking flights, managing finances, typing correspondence, and doing shopping. And not only do these demands take us away from more important tasks, they take us away from human relationships.

Read more at the Guardian

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Related Articles

A controversial theory claims past, present, and future exist at the same time

Our experience of time may be blinding us to its true nature, say scientists.

Back to the Future.
Surprising Science
  • Time may not be passing at all, says the Block Universe Theory.
  • Time travel may be possible.
  • Your perception of time is likely relative to you and limited.
Keep reading Show less

Six disastrous encounters with the world’s most hostile uncontacted tribe

From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.

Culture & Religion
  • Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
  • But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
  • Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
Keep reading Show less