A series of studies by scientists from Oxford, Harvard, Kings College, Manchester, and Western Sydney University was recently published in the World Psychiatry Journal, looking at how digital life is altering our minds. With many of our basic human functions being carried out online now, such as gathering food and finding a mate, our brains are beginning to adapt to our reliance on the internet.
One of the studies in the report shows why we find it so hard to stay focused in this digital age. It showed that those who are always checking their phones for notifications have reduced gray matter in certain areas of the brain; mainly the part that ensures we maintain focus and don’t get sucked in by distractions.
Another part of the study showed that our brains’ social centers have been impacted, too. The number of Facebook friends we have could be changing the volume of gray matter in the part of our brains that can put names to faces. We’re encouraged to have a large number of weaker social connections than a close group of friends, but this is changing how our brains work.
Other parts of the study showed that the internet is even changing our memory capabilities, due to the reliance on search engines! Is it perhaps time for us to spend less time plugged in?