Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mind/Brain Connections

I found this article on googling incredibly fascinating. It is based off an article from the Atlantic entitled: Is Google Making Us Stoopid?  

The story is called: How Google Is Making Us Smarter. Below are the excerpts that I found most interesting...

 In fact, the mind appears to be adapted for reaching out from our heads and making the world, including our machines, an extension of itself.

...the mind is not simply the product of the neurons in our brains, locked away behind a wall of bone. Rather, they argued that the mind is something more: a system made up of the brain plus parts of its environment.

There is no doubt that the extended mind is a weird concept. One reason it seems so strange is that our minds feel as if they are really totally self-contained. We innately believe, for example, that as we walk down a street, we are continuously filming a detailed movie of our surroundings and using that mental movie to decide what to do next. But like many beliefs we have about ourselves, this movie is an illusion. Our awareness is, in fact, remarkably narrow.

Our memory holds a great deal of information. But the extended mind moves swiftly between outside and inside sources, showing little regard for where its information comes from.

The extended mind theory doesn’t just change the way we think about the mind. It also changes how we judge what’s good and bad about today’s mind-altering technologies. There’s nothing unnatural about relying on the Internet—Google and all—for information. After all, we are constantly consulting the world around us like a kind of visual Wikipedia.

Socrates worried that writing would make people forgetful and unwise. Sure enough, writing did rob us of some gifts, such as the ability to recite epic poems like The Iliad from memory. But it also created a much larger pool of knowledge from which people could draw, a pool that has continued to expand (or, dare we say, continued to extend?).

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