Question Time: Technology and the Brain
Socrates railed against the invention of the alphabet, worrying that the written word would erode human memory. Imagine how he would have felt about Google Maps and iPhone calendar alerts.
Technological revolutions have always spawned both opportunity and panic. Today, digital technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and research into its effects on the human brain is struggling to keep apace.
There’s strong evidence to suggest that digital technology really is altering human physiology, affecting our impulse control, attention span, sleeping patterns and, yes, our memory function. But it’s not all bad news, with some research suggesting a link between complex online activities (such as immersive games) and cognitive flexibility.
Host Madeleine Morris is joined by neuroscientist and psychologist Olivia Carter, and philosopher of science Michael Arnold – plus an audience full of questions – to talk brains, technology, policy and wellbeing.
Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow Up To Be Happy, Healthy and Smart, published by Finch.
Michael Arnold is Associate Professor and Head of Discipline in the History and Philosophy of Science Programme at the University of Melbourne.
Olivia Carter is an Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow at the University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. She heads the Perception and Pharmacology Lab, where her research focuses on understanding how the brain’s natural chemicals control complex behaviours, thoughts and perceptions.