Our cluttered minds

Most of the time I’m not a very concentrated person, my attention span can be very short (it can also be very long). I quite easily get distracted because I feel my senses are very open for impulses most of the time.
I like reading on how a mind works, remembers, relives, lacks or gives attention, and of course there are many contradictory theories out there. One of the current visions on what a brain is and how it works is the plasticity of it. Where in previous theories you were doomed if you had brain damage, because your brains functions were pre-mapped on what region stood for what senses, the current scientific voices now sing another song. And it’s an interesting song. Neuroplasticity challenges the idea that brain functions are fixed in certain locations.

“According to the theory of neuroplasticity, thinking, learning, and acting actually change both the brain’s physical structure (anatomy) and functional organization (physiology) from top to bottom. Neuroscientists are presently engaged in a reconciliation of critical period studies demonstrating the immutability of the brain after development with the new findings on neuroplasticity, which reveal the mutability of both structural and functional aspects.”

It’s quite beautiful, daunting and hard to grasp that your gray matter can be so flexible.

Jonah Lehrer is a science journalist and author who writes primarily about the brain and how it functions, in layman’s terms. I came across this very nice book review in The New York Times written by him entitled “Our Cluttered Minds” – back to the topic of concentration. He’s reviewing this book: “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” by the technology writer Nicholas Carr, and basically Lehrer does not agree with Carr. Whether Carr or Lehrer are right or wrong, I will leave up to them – and you, but some of the quotes in the article are just hilarious and put things into perspective.

I’ll leave you with the introductory paragraph:

“Socrates started what may have been the first technology scare. In the “Phaedrus,” he lamented the invention of books, which “create forgetfulness” in the soul. Instead of remembering for themselves, Socrates warned, new readers were blindly trusting in “external written characters.” The library was ruining the mind. “

Go read the article now

(O, and about my attention span – quite often is was very short – in the pre-internet era!)

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