Friday, October 3, 2014

Will you surf, Talk and watch TV at the same time and lose your brain?

If you simultaneously browse the Web, listen to music, play video games, use e-mail or talk on the phone while watching TV, then you are a victim to media multitasking. By engaging in this practice, you leave yourself open to losing control of cognitive and emotional abilities that are essential for resolving anxieties and depression. This is because media multitasking decreases grey matter in the brain controlling these functions.

MRI. Side of the head. Ranveg
It’s true. A negative relation has been found between media multitasking and grey matter density. To refresh your science, grey matter is in the brain and includes regions involved in muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making and self-control. By engaging in activities that can decrease your grey matter density, you could lose control of important functions such as enduring stress, ability to maintain your sense of balance under distraction and also make yourself open to much emotional problems.

In a first of its kind study, two researchers have found only a link, and not a causality chain, between grey matter density and media multitasking. A decision on causality has not been reached for two reasons:
  1. Low grey matter density is linked to lose of cognitive and emotional control

  2. Persons with low grey matter are more attracted to media multitasking.

  3. Exposure to multitasking can result in reduced grey matter density.

  4. It’s been found that a high and regular use of several medias do reduce grey matter density by altering the structure of the brain.

So, it’s like the chicken and the egg problem. Which caused which?

This question is particularly pertinent since the use of social media through various channels is on the rise and this is believed to be likely addictive.

If you often media multitask and you cannot help it, take back control of your life. You could be losing your grey matter. You can reclaim it though through various activities that can change the plastic structure of the brain like learning to play music and studying to be a mathematician. In fact, studying mathematics increases grey matter density in the frontal part of the brain if studied for a long time, improving your ability to handle complex problems. Learning to juggle and understanding the maps of a city are also of help in increasing grey matter density.

This calls for discretion in the use of media. Activities like media multitasking that can cause brain structure alterations should be approached with care, otherwise you’d be faced with permanent brain damage.

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