Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Brain Needs Downtime

Multitasking Hindu deity
I'm interested in recent neurophysiological studies that look at the effects of multitasking on contemplation and meditation. Since the God-relationship, or any relationship for that matter, diminshes the more one tries to multitask it, our tweeting culture threatens that relationship.

Today's adds fuel to the idea that multitasking changes neurological structures.

Here are the bullet points from "Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime," by Matt Richtel.

  • Technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive.
  • A side effect of techno-multitasking is: "when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas."
  • U-Cal-San Francisco scientists support this.
  • U-Michigan neuroloscientist Marc Berman says that people think techo-multitasking refreshes them, but in actuality it fatigues them.
  • People are increasingly feeling the need to stay in constant techno-contact with people lest they miss something. This causes stress.
  •  "For many such people, the little digital asides [while shopping, driving, waiting, walking, etcing] come on top of heavy use of computers during the day."
  • If your iPod helps you get through an hour of exercise, that's good (as regards the exercise). But Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey says that "he would prefer to see people do their workouts away from their devices: “There is more bang for your buck doing it outside, for your mood and working memory.”"
I'm be paying attention, as I teach my seminary students and do retreats and conferences, to how all this affects a life of prayer and meditation. I feel certain it will be more and more challenging to find people who know how to be still, and know that God is God.