Presentation explores effects of media exposure on behavior

Psychologist Deborah Gagnon gave a presentation on Monday that delved into the impact media has on the human brain.

The discussion highlighted what Gagnon believed to be the profound influence technology has had on the iGeneration, also known as Generation Y, and the effects it may have on future generations. Gagnon introduced the idea of the Technology Exposure Effect, also known as TEE.

TEE explores the idea of technology having a specific effect on the brain and having the ability to change the human being overall.

Gagnon presented a slideshow with an array of information on the various types of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change and adapt. She touched upon how technology changes brain tissue, and how significant the change is and what it means.

Gagnon displayed a visual of the “effect of an enriched environment on a neuron,” by comparing it to a neuron in a normal environment.

The image presented the stimulation difference between the two and showed that a neuron in an enriched environment is similar to a well-nourished tree, branching out as the result of life experience.

“It is clear that the brain is capable of an incredible degree of reorganization and even growth,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon believes that technology has both a negative and positive impact on all people in regards to how we learn, how we communicate with one another and how we understand the world around us.

“The more time we spend on the computer chatting, the less time we spend with each other chatting” Gagnon said.

She also expressed the psychological toxicity of technology, using addiction as an analogy. Addiction activates the nucleus accumbens and according to Gagnon, internet use does as well, showing that it is just as addictive as drugs and gambling.

With the TEE theory, Gagnon used the Google Effect and a GPS as examples of how technology exposure changes the human brain. According to Gagnon, using a GPS modifies the neural structure. She showed a study that stated that taxi drivers have an enlarged hippocampus due to using spacial maps. The hippocampus plays an important role in spacial navigation.

By constant use and reliance of a GPS, it is possible that humans can shrink their hippocampus because of the reduced usage of spacial maps. Gagnon described this as a “use it or lose it effect.”

“I myself feel that loss of navigation ability by using a GPS,” Gagnon said.

According to Gagnon and an article in Psychology Today, “human reliance on search engines makes it harder to remember information.”

Gagnon also said in accordance to the Google Effect, people are better at knowing how to retain information.

Gagnon said that technology is also said to affect how deep you can explore a concept, especially through the use of an e-book.

“For reading something deeply, I prefer to have it on paper,” Gagnon said.

Generation Y is the first generation to grow up on the Internet. Children of all ages are seen with iPhones, tablets, and other technology outlets on hand.

Gagnon discussed how it is important to recognize how influential technology has become since the twentieth century up to the present and future years to come.

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