Do You Have "Google Brain"?

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Quick...What's your best friend's birthday? How about your sister's phone number? When you're stumped in the middle of a conversation, how quickly do you dive for your phone to fact-find? If you find it nearly impossible to keep track of details, you're not alone. We receive a staggering amount of facts to process these days — more than ever before — and scientists are more than curious as to what the effects of this might be.

Sandi Chapman, PhD, founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas, has a term for our sluggish, tech-dependent minds: "Google brain." In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Chapman explained the ramifications of multitasking.

“Nobody reads in depth anymore,” Chapman told columnist Cheryl Hall. “Google brain is constant distraction. It’s brought to us this need to be entertained with snapshot imaging. People jump from one search to the next, never stay on track, and lose retention. Google brain is a thin, fuzzy notion of ideas but no real depth of thinking.”

Silicon Valley, we have a problem. According to Chapman, multitasking is a major symptom of Google brain. Juggling multiple tasks at once "hijacks" the frontal lobe and causes "toxic stress." Instead, we should perform tasks one at a time and quickly, finishing each task before moving on to the next.

Likewise, distractions like music, TV, and social media notifications make it harder for people to stay on task and make the most of their minds. We're also easily sidetracked when using the internet. That "harmless" hour spent googling "Hotline Bling" memes can actually hold your brain back. Brain dumps, or poring over every single piece of information possible about a topic, can also make us lose focus. Instead, it's better to read two comprehensive reports from reputable sources than to try and absorb everything.

In other words, read one recap of your favorite TV show, but avoid cross-checking and going over every single user comment or tweet. Your brain could use the breather.


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