According to Google, the term plasticity refers to being easily molded or shaped. When it comes to the brain and our every changing society this seems great. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a researcher at Harvard Medical School argues that plasticity can be both a blessing and a curse. Once pathways in our brains are formed and routines are set in place it is highly difficult to undo the process.
Learning has shifted to a world where everything can be searched online. This process weakens the brains ability to pull from the long-term memory to recall information. The brain is being trained to be distracted at all times. New York Times created a map comparing Internet usage to the country’s wealth. Their findings led them to the conclusion that distraction is a rich country’s problem.
Another problem with the search phenomenon is that students are replacing memorizing with searching. This lack of memorization takes away from our creation of knowledge. Schuurman talks about the many Internet based distractions that are everywhere in our daily lives. Several programs are even fostering a life of distraction by allowing the viewer’s brains to skip from topic to topic within seconds.
“As we embrace a more rapid-fire, concise process of knowledge acquisition at the expense of our capacity for profound concentration, perhaps the most we can hope for is that we are attentive to how we are evolving and at what cost.” (Schuurman)
Schuurman, N. (2013). Tweet me your talk: Geographical learning and knowledge production 2.0. The Professional Geographer, 65(3), 369-377.