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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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title

THE INFORMED BRAIN
IN A DIGITAL WORLD

title

INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH TEAM SUMMARIES

Conference

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center

Irvine, California

November 15-17, 2012

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS      500 Fifth Street, NW      Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) team summaries in this publication are based on IDR team discussions during the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference on the Informed Brain in a Digital World held at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California, November 15-17, 2012. The discussions in these groups were summarized by the authors and reviewed by the members of each IDR team. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the IDR teams and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative visit www.keckfutures.org.

Funding for the activity that led to this publication was provided by the W.M. Keck Foundation. Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W.M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. In recent years, the Foundation has focused on Science and Engineering Research; Medical Research; Undergraduate Education; and Southern California. Each grant program invests in people and programs that are making a difference in the quality of life, now and for the future. For more information visit www.wmkeck.org.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-26888-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-26888-5

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES KECK FUTURES INITIATIVE
INFORMED BRAIN STEERING COMMITTEE

MICHAEL S. GAZZANIGA, Chair (NAS/IOM), Director, The Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara

C. GORDON BELL (NAS/NAE), Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

FLOYD E. BLOOM (NAS/IOM), Professor Emeritus, Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Department, The Scripps Research Institute

APOSTOLOS GEORGOPOULOS (IOM), Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, American Legion Brain Sciences Chair, Professor of Neuroscience, Neurology and Psychiatry, Brain Sciences Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center

CHARLES D. GILBERT (NAS), Arthur and Janet Ross Professor, Laboratory of Neurobiology, The Rockefeller University

TODD F. HEATHERTON, Lincoln Filene Professor in Human Relations, Dartmouth College

MICHAEL A. KELLER, Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, Stanford University Cecil H. Green Library

GLORIA MARK, Professor, Department of Informatics, Interactive and Collaborative Technologies, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine

RUSSELL A. POLDRACK, Director, Imaging Research Center, Professor of Psychology and Neurobiology, University of Texas at Austin

REBECCA SAXE, Assistant Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

TERRENCE J. SEJNOWSKI (NAS/NAE/IOM), Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Francis Crick Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

BRIAN A. WANDELL (NAS), Isaac and Madeline Stein Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

Staff

KENNETH R. FULTON, Executive Director

KIMBERLY A. SUDA-BLAKE, Senior Program Director

ANNE HEBERGER MARINO, Senior Evaluation Associate

CRISTEN KELLY, Associate Program Officer

RACHEL LESINSKI, Program Associate

Consultant

BARBARA J. CULLITON, Director, NAKFI Science Writing Scholar Program

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
×

The National Academies
Keck Futures Initiative

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES KECK FUTURES INITIATIVE

The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative was launched in 2003 to stimulate new modes of scientific inquiry and break down the conceptual and institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research. The National Academies and the W. M. Keck Foundation believe that considerable scientific progress will be achieved by providing a counterbalance to the tendency to isolate research within academic fields. The Futures Initiative is designed to enable scientists from different disciplines to focus on new questions, upon which they can base entirely new research, and to encourage and reward outstanding communication between scientists as well as between the scientific enterprise and the public.

The Futures Initiative includes three main components:

Futures Conferences

The Futures Conferences bring together some of the nation’s best and brightest researchers from academic, industrial, and government laboratories to explore and discover interdisciplinary connections in important areas of cutting-edge research. Each year, some 150 outstanding researchers are invited to discuss ideas related to a single cross-disciplinary theme. Participants gain not only a wider perspective but also, in many instances, new insights and techniques that might be applied in their own work. Additional pre- or post-conference meetings build on each theme to foster further communication of ideas.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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Selection of each year’s theme is based on assessments of where the intersection of science, engineering, and medical research has the greatest potential to spark discovery. The first conference explored Signals, Decisions, and Meaning in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering. The 2004 conference focused on Designing Nanostructures at the Interface between Biomedical and Physical Systems. The theme of the 2005 conference was The Genomic Revolution: Implications for Treatment and Control of Infectious Disease. In 2006 the conference focused on Smart Prosthetics: Exploring Assistive Devices for the Body and Mind. In 2007 the conference explored The Future of Human Healthspan: Demography, Evolution, Medicine, and Bioengineering. In 2008 the conference focused on Complex Systems. The 2009 conference explored Synthetic Biology: Building on Nature’s Inspiration. The 2010 conference focused on Seeing the Future with Imaging Science. The 2011 conference focused on Ecosystem Services. The 2012 conference focused on The Informed Brain in a Digital World and the 2013 conference will explore advanced nuclear technologies.

Futures Grants

The Futures Grants provide seed funding to Futures Conference participants, on a competitive basis, to enable them to pursue important new ideas and connections stimulated by the conferences. These grants fill a critical missing link between bold new ideas and major federal funding programs, which do not currently offer seed grants in new areas that are considered risky or exotic. These grants enable researchers to start developing a line of inquiry by supporting the recruitment of students and postdoctoral fellows, the purchase of equipment, and the acquisition of preliminary data—which in turn can position the researchers to compete for larger awards from other public and private sources.

NAKFI Communications

The Communication Awards are designed to recognize, promote, and encourage effective communication of science, engineering, medicine, and/or interdisciplinary work within and beyond the scientific community. Each year the Futures Initiative awards $20,000 in prizes to those who have advanced the public’s understanding and appreciation of science, engineering, and/or medicine. The awards are given in four categories: books, film/radio/TV, magazine/newspaper, and online. The winners are honored during a ceremony in the fall in Washington, DC.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
×

NAKFI cultivates science writers of the future by inviting graduate students from science writing programs across the country to attend the conference and develop IDR team discussion summaries and a conference overview for publication in this book. Students are selected by the department director or designee, and prepare for the conference by reviewing the webcast tutorials and suggested reading, and selecting an IDR team in which they would like to participate. Students then work with NAKFI’s science writing student mentor to finalize their reports following the conferences.

Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research Study

During the first 18 months of the Keck Futures Initiative, the Academies undertook a study on facilitating interdisciplinary research. The study examined the current scope of interdisciplinary efforts and provided recommendations as to how such research can be facilitated by funding organizations and academic institutions. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2005) is available from the National Academies Press (www.nap.edu) in print and free PDF versions.

About the National Academies

The National Academies comprise the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, which perform an unparalleled public service by bringing together experts in all areas of science and technology, who serve as volunteers to address critical national issues and offer unbiased advice to the federal government and the public. For more information, visit www.nationalacademies.org.

About the W. M. Keck Foundation

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of Science and Engineering Research; Medical Research; Undergraduate Education; and Southern California. Each grant program invests in people and programs that are making a difference in the quality of life, now and in the future. For more information, visit www.wmkeck.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
×

National Academies Keck Futures Initiative
100 Academy, 2nd Floor
Irvine, CA 92617
949-721-2270 (Phone)
949-721-2216 (Fax)
www.keckfutures.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
×

Preface

At the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference on The Informed Brain in a Digital World, participants were divided into fourteen interdisciplinary research teams. The teams spent nine hours over two days exploring diverse challenges at the interface of science, engineering, and medicine. The composition of the teams was intentionally diverse, to encourage the generation of new approaches by combining a range of different types of contributions. The teams included researchers from science, engineering, and medicine, as well as representatives from private and public funding agencies, universities, businesses, journals, and the science media. Researchers represented a wide range of experience—from postdoc to those well established in their careers—from a variety of disciplines that included science and engineering, medicine, physics, biology, economics, and behavioral science.

The teams needed to address the challenge of communicating and working together from a diversity of expertise and perspectives as they attempted to solve a complicated, interdisciplinary problem in a relatively short time. Each team decided on its own structure and approach to tackle the problem. Some teams decided to refine or redefine their problems based on their experience.

Each team presented two brief reports to all participants: (1) an interim report on Friday to debrief on how things were going, along with any special requests; and (2) a final briefing on Saturday, when each team:

• Provided a concise statement of the problem;

• Outlined a structure for its solution;

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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• Identified the most important gaps in science and technology and recommended research areas needed to attack the problem; and

• Indicated the benefits to society if the problem could be solved.

Each IDR team included a graduate student in a university science writing program. Based on the team interaction and the final briefings, the students wrote the following summaries, which were reviewed by the team members. These summaries describe the problem and outline the approach taken, including what research needs to be done to understand the fundamental science behind the challenge, the proposed plan for engineering the application, the reasoning that went into it, and the benefits to society of the problem solution. Due to the popularity of some topics, two or three teams were assigned to explore the subjects.

Six podcasts were launched throughout the summer to help bridge the gaps in terminology used by the various disciplines. Participants were encouraged to listen to all of the podcasts prior to the November conference.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2013. The Informed Brain in a Digital World: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18268.
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Digital media provide humans with more access to information than ever before—a computer, tablet, or smartphone can all be used to access data online and users frequently have more than one device. However, as humans continue to venture into the digital frontier, it remains to be known whether access to seemingly unlimited information is actually helping us learn and solve complex problems, or ultimately creating more difficulty and confusion for individuals and societies by offering content overload that is not always meaningful.

Throughout history, technology has changed the way humans interact with the world. Improvements in tools, language, industrial machines, and now digital information technology have shaped our minds and societies. There has always been access to more information than humans can handle, but the difference now lies in the ubiquity of the Internet and digital technology, and the incredible speed with which anyone with a computer can access and participate in seemingly infinite information exchange. Humans now live in a world where mobile digital technology is everywhere, from the classroom and the doctor's office to public transportation and even the dinner table. This paradigm shift in technology comes with tremendous benefits and risks. Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) Teams at the 2012 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference on The Informed Brain in the Digital World explored common rewards and dangers to Humans among various fields that are being greatly impacted by the Internet and the rapid evolution of digital technology.

Keynote speaker Clifford Nass of Stanford University opened the dialogue by offering insight into what we already know about how the "information overload" of the digital world may be affecting our brains. Nass presented the idea of the "media budget," which states that when a new media emerges, it takes time away from other media in a daily time budget. When additional media appear and there is no time left in a person's daily media budget, people begin to "double book" media time. Personal computers, tablets, and smartphones make it easy to use several media simultaneously, and according to Nass, this double-booking of media can result in chronic multitasking, which effects how people store and manage memory. Although current fast-paced work and learning environments often encourage multitasking, research shows that such multitasking is inefficient, decreases productivity, and may hinder cognitive function. National Academies Keck Future Initiative: The Informed Brain in a Digital World summarizes the happenings of this conference.

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