Dumbing Down: How Modern Life Is Destroying Your Brain
Thank gooodness for spellcheck, Siri and Google, right? Wrong, says experts – they’re eroding your brain.
According to a new study, modern day life is having a significant impact on our brains, with everything from gadgets to eating habits damaging neural pathways and making us slower and less capable of original thought.
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While better living conditions and education initially boosted our IQs in the early 1900s, scientists have revealed that for the last decade these have been declining thanks to lifestyle factors such as stress, technology, sugar and even reality TV. Curious as to how? Let’s take a look in further detail:
That big breakfast of bacon, eggs and buttery toast is doing you more harm then you’re led to believe. According to studies at The University of Montreal, consuming large amounts of soggy saturated fats hamper the brain’s dopamine function, resulting in slower reaction times and feelings of depression.
Do you often find yourself on the phone while researching, answering emails and consuming the news all at once? Earl Miller, an expert on divided attention and a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The brain is not wired to multitask. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly, and every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
The result? A flood of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline to the brain which prevents clear thinking.
Having information available to us 24/7 is destroying our memory, says scientists. Googling a phone number, address and seeing what friends are up to on Facebook means that we no longer have to rely on our memory, which, according to research by Columbia University, is changing the way we store them.
- Reality TV
Watching episode upon episode of Keeping up with The Kardashians is rotting your brain – not that we needed research to clarify that. Apparently what we watch, see and listen to influences our behaviour.
A spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down. In fact, it slows down your brain and affects chemical pathways, says experts. Dr Sarah Brewer, a medical nutritionist told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Brain cells need glucose to function but too much in a short time will cause a sugar rush and make you feel over-wired.”
- Nightly disruptions
If you wish to function like a normal human being, shift work, jetlag and/or regular nightly disruptions is not ideal. “Whether you are a flight attendant, medical resident, or rotating shift worker, repeated disruption of circadian rhythms is likely going to have a long-term impact on your cognitive behaviour and function,” reported professor Lance Kriegsfeld from the University of California at Berkeley.
- Chewing gum
We know swallowing gum is bad for your health, but apparently chewing it can be bad for your short-term memory tasks. Dr Sarah Brewer said: “When people chew gum for hours, it may cause a problem with distraction. As soon as the flavour, goes I’d recommend taking it out.”
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Paige is a writer and actress who looks great in hats, loves Game Of Thrones and is always up-to-date on the latest and greatest news. Follow Paige on Twitter.