is extremely difficult to address using controlled experiments, and comparisons between cultures or subgroups that differ in media exposure will necessarily be highly confounded. Despite this difficulty, understanding the effects of informational overload on brain development is critical if we wish to know how the human mind and brain are adapting to the world as it currently exists and whether there are particular approaches that would allow individuals to better adapt to this world.

Key Questions

• How does the brain process the constant barrage of information individuals are exposed to every day? Are the brains of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” different in the way they process information/expectations, or are these differences cultural?

• What impact does media multitasking have on the ability to synthesize, evaluate, and recall information, especially in stressful situations (e.g. medical emergencies)?

• What kinds of processes/tools can facilitate building of knowledge, conceptual thinking, comptemplativeness, and reflection in a digital age?

• What types of neuroplastic change are occurring in today’s “wired” brains that can be capitalized upon to benefit individuals and society?

• Can one improve or retain cognitive and perceptual abilities by mental or physical exercise, and what are the mechanisms by which such improvements are achieved? How can one take advantage of the capacity of the adult brain to undergo experience dependent plastic change?

• How can we create an environment which will pre-dispose the brain to react in ways we consider ideal?


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Ophira E, Nass C, and Wagner AD. Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proc Nat Acad Sci 24 August 2009; early edition.

Strayer DL, Watson JM, and Drews FA. Cognitive distraction while multitasking in the automobile. In: The psychology of learning and motivation volume 54. Elsevier, Inc. Academic Press: Waltham, MA, 2011.

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