Is the internet rewiring our brains?

blue brain

Brains are being rewired by the net

As much as this blog focuses on interactivity, quizzes etc, text plays a huge part in how we consume content.

There is proof how the practice of consuming articles through tablets and smartphones is lowering attention spans.

In 2015, researchers surveyed 2,000 individuals and observed the brain activity of 112 other people using electroencephalograms.

Outcomes showed that the typical person’s attention span had gone down from 12 seconds in 2000. That of a fish is believed to be 9 seconds. That is a big change in a short period of time.

For the person. The fish is fine.

Print is different to online

And it is specific to online content as well. For example: This appeared in the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.

Until fairly recently, print and online were considered one and the same. But in reality, people react to them differently.

This was highlighted in a 2013 study by the University of Stavanger in Norway.

The experiment asked 72 10th-grade students (15-16 year olds) of similar reading ability to study two texts of around 1,500 words. Half the students had the documents on paper and half as a PDF file on a 15-inch monitor.

Afterwards, students answered multiple-choice questions with access to the texts.

The result? Students who had read the texts on paper outperformed those who read from a PDF.

Screens get in the way

The researchers found that screens impair comprehension by limiting the way people navigate texts.

The University of Stavanger’s Professor Anne Mangen believes students reading from PDF struggled to find specific pieces of information when referencing the texts. They could scroll or click through them only one section at a time.

Nicholas Carr and The Shallows

In recent times, the interest in the effect of the web was kickstarted by The Shallows, a book by Atlantic journlist Nicholas Carr.

In 2008, Carr’s article in Atlantic Monthly asked if perhaps have our minds been performing differently because of the time we’ve been spending on the internet?

Carr contended that our ideas, psychological procedures, and even physical brains are in fact being restructured.

The article struck a chord, and he went on to compose The Shallows, which considered this occurrence. It became a New York Times bestsellerbestseller and Pulitzer finalist.

The observations that Carr shares are not only unexpected – they’re essential to focusing on how our brains, and the human condition, are changing.

Despite the provocative headline, however, Carr’s summary Is not neccessarily against the internet.

Rather, he purely provides some clarity concerning the sacrifices we make utilizing the internet as we do, and advocates that we think about these losses along with the advantages the web offers.