Electronic Devices and the Brain
and Techno Addiction
When you check your emails and texts on your iPhone you make quick shallow decisions. The front of the brain (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex if you want to know the five dollar term) that helps us make decisions and integrates complex information and short term memory are activated, so we can make quick go or no-go decisions. It’s called Continual Partial Attention. It allows us to keep tabs on everything, but never really focus on anything. If you find yourself hunched over your IPad or electronic device or see a coworker that can’t seem to stay focused as he does what I call a hip check to look at his blackberry while he is supposed to be having a conversation with you, or the teenager that listens to his iPod while texting on another device and talking on his cell. Well guess what? This rewiring for partial attention causes a techno addiction. We stay busy attending. We want that new bit of news or information to keep us excited and high and it feeds our self worth. Yep, it feeds the part of the hippocampus that enlarges our ego. It actually makes us cocky to rudely answer a cell phone call when we are in a meeting. Techno business is a dark chocolate, caffeine and heroin ego boosting high. It makes us feel important to give a hip check of our blackberry at a meal. But when we stay techno high too long we get a unique kind of brain strain that causes the body to secrete stress hormones and over time the strain and stress creates depression and even permanently reshape the underlying brain structure. Techno addiction does not make us happy. It doesn’t make the people we interact with happy either. Unfortunately, when we rewire our brains for techno business we don’t use or create the neural pathways used for human interaction. We stop learning how to behave with people.