This Is Your Brain on Technology: The Technology Exposure Effect Primary Sources

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This Is Your Brain on Technology: The Technology Exposure Effect
Primary Sources

Berman, M.G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (in press). The cognitive benefits of

interacting with nature. Psychological Science.
Charness, N., & Boot, W. R. (2009). Aging and information technology use: Potential and barriers. Current Direction in Psychological Science, 18, 253-258.

  • Discusses reluctance of older adults to adopt new technology, implications for designing products for older adults and the functional areas where such products are most likely to be effective for older adults.

Doolittle, P. E., & Mariano, G. J. (2008). Working memory capacity and mobile multimedia learning environments: Individual differences in learning while mobile. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 17, 511-530.

Dux, P.E., et al. (2009). Training improves multitasking performance by increasing the speed of information processing in human prefrontal cortex. Neuron, 63, 127-138.
Foerde, K., Knowlton, B. J., & Poldrack, R. A. (2006). Modulation of competing memory systems by distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 11778–11783.
Greenway, R. (1995). The wilderness effect and ecopsychology. In T. Rozak, M. Gomes, & A. Kanner (Eds.), EcoPsychology.  San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.
Iaria, G., Bogod, N., Fox, C.J., & Barton, J.S. (2009). Developmental topographical disorientation: Case one. Neuropsychologi, 47, 30-40.
Jaeggi, S.M., Buschkuehl, M., & Jonides, J., (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,105, 6829-6833.
Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative structure. Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182
Lin, L. (2009). Breadth-biased versus focused cognitive control in media multitasking behaviors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 15521-155222.

  • A central concept in the talk. In just two pages, this document nicely summarizes the distinction between narrow and broad based attention, the benefits/costs of one versus the other, and how digital multitasking pushes us towards ‘casting a wider net’ versus ‘examining the fish’, which has both benefits (creativity) and costs (detail). The reference list provides a number of excellent follow up publications (including McLuhan’s classic distinction between technology ‘amputations versus extensions’ of man as well as a number of recent primary source publications on the cognitive and neurological effects of technology. If you are interested in the cognitive implications, especially, this would be a good place to start and then dive into the sources

Lin, L., Robertson, T., & Lee, J. (2009). Reading performances between novices and experts in different media multitasking environments. Comput Schools, 26, 169-186.

Ophir, E, Nass, C.I., & Wagn,er A. D. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 15583-15587.

  • “Chronic media multitasking is quickly becoming ubiquitous, although processing multiple incoming streams of information is considered a challenge for human cognition. A series of experiments addressed whether there are systematic differences in information processing styles between chronically heavy and light media multitaskers. A trait media multitasking index was developed to identify groups of heavy and light media multitaskers. These two groups were then compared along established cognitive control dimensions. Results showed that heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory. This led to the surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability, likely due to reduced ability to filter out interference from the irrelevant task set. These results demonstrate that media multitasking, a rapidly growing societal trend, is associated with a distinct approach to fundamental information processing.”

Poldrack, R.A., & Foerde, K. (2007). Category learning and the memory systems debate. Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 32, 197-205.

Ruthruff, E., Van, S.M., Johnston, J.C., & Remington, R. (2006). How does practice reduce dual-task interference: Integration, automatization, or just stage-shortening? Psychological Research, 70, 125-142.
_____. (2003). Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23 (2). [Special Issue on Restorative Environments]

Secondary Sources

(beyond the Summer Reads)
Herther, N. K. (2009, November/December). Digital natives and immigrants: What brain research tells us. ONLINE, 15-21.
Hutchinson, A. (2009, November). Global impositioning systems. The Walrus.

Jackson, M. (2009). Distracted: The erosion of attention and the coming dark age. Prometheus. [Bill McKibben: Foreward]

From Publishers Weekly

In this richly detailed and passionately argued book, Jackson (What's Happening to Home?) warns that modern society's inability to focus heralds an impending Dark Age—an era historically characterized by the decline of a civilization amid abundance and technological advancement. Jackson posits that our near-religious allegiance to a constant state of motion and addiction to multitasking are eroding our capacity for deep, sustained, perceptive attention—the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress and stunting society's ability to comprehend what's relevant and permanent. The author provides a lively historical survey of attention, drawing upon philosophy, the impact of scientific innovations and her own experiences to investigate the possible genetic and psychological roots of distraction. While Jackson cites modern virtual life (the social network Facebook and online interactive game Second Life), her research is largely mired in the previous century, and she draws weak parallels between romance via telegraph and online dating, and supernatural spiritualism and a newfound desire to reconnect. Despite the detours (a cultural history of the fork?), Jackson has produced a well-rounded and well-researched account of the travails facing an ADD society and how to reinvigorate a renaissance of attention. (June)
Johnson, S.B. (2005). Everything bad is good for you: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter. New York: Penguin.
Klingberg, T. (2008). The overflowing brain: Information overload and the limits of working memory. Oxford University Press.

From Publishers Weekly

As the technological environment speeds up to a maddening degree, Klingberg, a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, warns that the huge burden of information overload and multitasking can exceed the limits of our slowly evolving stone-age brain. Using data showing the subtle increase in IQ scores during the last century and its link to educational improvements, Klingberg notes a gap between the rapidity of electronic high-tech devices and the brain's relatively slower capacity to process information, leading to memory malfunctions. The text can be somewhat academic, but the amount of scientific fact translated to something the reader can use is still sizable, including keen writing on the impact on working memory of problem solving, meditation, computer games, caffeine and the existence of attention deficit disorder. Klingberg also reviews the evidence that mental exercise can increase the capacity of working memory. A highly sane look at the increasingly insane demands of the information age, this book discusses with precision a subject worthy of attention. B&w illus. (Nov.)
McLuhan, M. (2002). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Small, G., & Vorga, G. (2009, October/November). Meet your iBrain: How the

technologies that have become part of our daily lives are changing the way we think.

Scientific American Mind.
Stephens, A. (2009, November 24). What the web is teaching our brain. The

  • Latter two sources discuss the plusses and minuses of technology use on a wide variety of cognitive functions.

Weinberger, D. (2008). Everything is miscellaneous: The power of the new digital disorder. New York: Holt.

______. (2009, November 13). This is your brain on GPS. The Week.

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