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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Changing Brain

            In Chapter two of The Shallows, Carr explains the brain and it’s plasticity in adapting new skills. He explains that the internet is changing our brains to think in ways that short cut most things. Such as not being able to read a full text because the internet has changed our thinking to take in and understand short bits of information, rather than making sense of a lengthy novel. He deeply explains and stresses how the brain is physically changing to relate to how the internet is affecting us. I can see where he is coming from, but only to a point. I do not think my attention span has suffered only due to the internet. Reading a long text is hard for anyone to do all in one sitting; the internet is not the main source as to why this happens. Yes reading text online is easier because it is shorter and usually gets right to the point, but if I need to, I can still pick up a book at get through it. Carr makes it seems as if it is impossible for anyone that uses the internet to be able to focus on a dense text. The internet may have a factor in this situation but is not the main cause of it.
            Carr also uses many different examples of experiments to show how the brain is malleable and able to change.  When we do something over and over again the brain adapts to that new skill, and takes over areas that are not being used. He used the piano playing for example.  The more and more the groups played the piano, the more neural passageways the built up. I can agree here in saying that I have played a musical instrument for the past ten years now and I can recognize that I can pick up certain melodies quicker than others and I understand how to break down a piece of music. But since I have come to school I have not been practicing as much as I used to. When I go back home to play I will probably have to practice a little to get back up to par with where I was. This is because the neural passage ways that I used while I was playing frequently have stopped being used therefor decreasing my ability to play as well as I did in the past. The brain is changing all the time with everything we do and with each new skill we obtain, such as the cab drivers who develop such great skill in finding where to go in a city. The brain is a remarkable organ that is frequently changing to keep up with our ever changing world. Carr argues that the internet is most affecting our attention and ability to read a text. With the brain changing almost every day it is hard to pinpoint the internet’s main influence on our thinking.

Alexandra O'Brien

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