FACEBOOK and other social network sites risk creating a new type of human brain that can’t cope with real-life contact, according to leading neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield.
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“My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment,” Greenfield told the Daily Mail.
“Perhaps future generations will recoil with horror at the messiness, unpredictability and immediate personal involvement of a three-dimensional, real-time interaction,” said Greenfield earlier this month, “in the same way as killing, skinning and butchering an animal to eat has been replaced by the convenience of packages of meat on the supermarket shelf.”
Sounds like the sanitised future world found by Woody Allen’s character in Sleeper, but that’s not all, as Greenfield also raised the possibility that spending loads of time on computers might be behind the rise of such conditions as ADHD and increased drug use.
“The sheer compulsion of reliable and almost immediate reward is being linked to similar chemical systems in the brain that may also play a part in drug addiction,” she said.
“When in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder.”
“It is hard to see how living this way on a daily basis will not result in brains, or rather minds, different from those of previous generations.”
* Greenfield is director of the Royal Institution and professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford.