iBrain: How the Internet Is Changing Our Minds

Is the Internet changing the way our brains work? That's the provocative question raised by UCLA neuroscientist Gary Small in his new book "iBRAIN: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind." His equally provocative answer: yes, it is.

All the Internet searching and text messaging has made millennial brains particularly adept at filtering information and making snap decisions, says Small. At the same time, the tech-savvy people he calls "digital natives" are less capable of reading faces or picking up on subtle gestures. As technology spreads, Small suggests, natural selection will favor these newly wired brains and older neural pathways will disappear, taking traditional communication skills with them.

There's some evidence to support Small's theory: fMRI studies have shown that the persistent use of technology strengthens certain brain-activity patterns. (In some users, Web surfing triggers reward pathways that have been linked to addiction.) But proof that such changes weaken other brain regions, or that these changes can be inherited, is lacking. So what's a digital native to do? Balance technology time with face time, says Small, to reap the cognitive benefits of modern technology while still preserving social skills.

iBrain: How the Internet Is Changing Our Minds | World