A presentation and discussion with Deborah A. Gagnon, Ph.D. Wells College.
Americans now spend most of their recreation time and much of their waking lives interfacing with communication devices ranging from smart phones and televisions to dashboard GPS systems and traditional computers.
While these devices serve as a collective memory system, putting a seemingly infinite amount of data at our fingertips, what is this human-machine interface doing to our brains? How does our newfound relationship with networked media change the way we think and how our brains function?
An earlier evolution of information medium from the spoken word to the printed word qualitatively changed how we think; is the more recent evolution to digital media changing it again? Multi-modal media allow us to multitask like never before…or not? Are there architectural limitations on the extent to which we can multitask?
This talk will address questions like these and will describe how technology may be changing not only neural structure and function but cognitive structure and function as well—how we perceive, attend, remember, make decisions, and use language. This, in turn, has implications for how people take in messages from the media and use that information. In other words, there is a synergistic maelstrom at work in which brain, cognition, and external influences (such as media) influence and determine one another. Technology does, indeed, change everything but within limits, and whether that’s a philosophic good or evil depends, in large part, on the person asking the question.
Presenter Deborah A. Gagnon, Ph.D. is an associate professor of psychology at Wells College and is currently chair of the psychology program as well as coordinator of the cognitive and brain sciences and the science, health, and values curriculum. Dr. Gagnon earned her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at the University at Buffalo and was a cognitive neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow in the Neuropsychology Research Institute at Albert Einstein Medical Center (Philadelphia, PA). Her research in psycholinguistics has focused on uncovering the representations and processes involved speech perception and spoken word recognition and production in both normal and disordered (aphasic) systems. Dr. Gagnon has taught at the University at Buffalo, Temple University, Widener University and, since 1994, at Wells College. Her recent interests have focused on the implications of technology use on both cognitive processes and neuroplasticity. She believes she can take credit for coining the term ‘Technology Exposure Effect’ or the more pleasing acronym, TEE.
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