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How the Web Became Our ‘External Brain,’ and What It Means for Our Kids #makereducation

Kid brains inline

Wired published a piece about the way technology is changing our brains and what that means for our children and the generations to follow:

The brains our children are born with are not substantively different from the brains our ancestors had 40,000 years ago. For all the wild variety of our cultures, personalities, and thought patterns, we’re all still operating with roughly the same three-pound lump of gray matter. But almost from day one, the allotment of neurons in those brains (and therefore the way they function) is different today from the way it was even one generation ago. Every second of your lived experience represents new connections among the roughly 86 billion neurons packed inside your brain. Children, then, can become literally incapable of thinking and feeling the way their grandparents did. A slower, less harried way of thinking may be on the verge of extinction.

In your brain, your billions of neurons are tied to each other by trillions of synapses, a portion of which are firing right now, forging (by still mysterious means) your memory of this sentence, your critique of this very notion, and your emotions as you reflect on this information. Our brains are so plastic that they will reengineer themselves to function optimally in whatever environment we give them. Repetition of stimuli produces a strengthening of responding neural circuits. Neglect of other stimuli will cause corresponding neural circuits to weaken. (Grannies who maintain their crossword puzzle regime knew that already.)

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