Our Dance with Technology

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At a slightly more remote level, we can revisit the concept of neuroplasticity. As an evolving species, we might not even after to rely on the capacity to relocate or expand specific neurological functions. It might be very simple: one specific lobe is lite up depending on the source of the stimulus. When this lobe gets repeatedly lite up, it will connect with an increasingly large and diverse set of sites throughout the brain. With this neural “enrichment” comes an increasing reliance on the medium associated with this lobe. There is then even greater enrichment and even more reliance. Profound change is occurring based on nothing more than reliance on one specific source of information.

For instance, technology such as texting would lead us initially to rely on written communication and the active involvement of our occipital-temporal region. However, as I noted above, many of us with technologically sophisticated communication devices are moving toward much more visual and auditorial-based modes of communication. These technological devices would lead to enrichment and reliance of the auditory and visual cortex. We wouldn’t even need neuroplasticity (though enrichment and neuroplasticity probably complement one another).

But not so fast. We must keep remembering that all of the brain is always lite up and that visual stimuli impact on many regions of the brain, not just the visual cortex, as do words on many brain regions. The wave that is created in the brain when we text shifts the dynamics of the brain in many ways and impacts on everything that we are thinking, feeling or imagining at any one moment. It is all a tightly interwoven fabric or mosaic that changes what we learn and how we learn at any one moment. The models of enrichment and neuroplasticity might be too restrictive and contain too many boundaries to align with this emerging perspective on the brain as operating in a dynamic, holistic manner.

As People

We can move even further out when exploring the way in which technologies are embedded in us. The avatars that we use during our virtual interactions with other people can influence our own self-image (in part because these avatars influence how these other people see us and interact with us). The avatar becomes the new persona that we present to the world—taking the place of how we dress, move and even smell in more direct person-to-person interactions with these other people.

And what about the way in which we observe events occurring at a long distance from us or those that are invented by someone rather than having actually happened? We are exposed to the entire world rather than just our immediate community, and we witness the battles between dragons and knights as well as between sorcerers and children.

At some level, this is all immediate and real. Our bodies and our minds do not always discern the difference between that which is proximal (close in time and space) and that which is distal (distant in time and space), nor between that which is real and that which is imagined. We have always had storytellers and both true and false narratives being told around a campfire, but somehow it has a much greater impact (including usually being both visual and auditory) when conveyed through the new media of our age.

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