Although I am coming to the end of the project I have been thinking more about the issue of mind change and plasticity, and about the change in modes of thinking McLuhan discusses. I came across some content of Susan Greenfield and I am going to use this post to talk about some of her work. Her work is very closely related to my study and so it is very beneficial to see what she is saying. The reason I did not discuss the following material earlier was because it is very new. Furthermore, the content that is discussed can form part of my identification of the forefront of my study.
The above video is a clip from Channel 4 involving a debate between Susan Greenfield and Dr Vaughan Bell, who is a senior lecturer at UCL. Both are discussing the arguments Greenfield puts forward in her book, Mind Change. Bell immediately open his critique by highlighting that to date, there is no scientific support to Greenfield’s studies. Furthermore she has opted against publishing her work is the Scientific Literature where it can be evaluated by scientific processes. Admittedly this is a long running issue that Greenfield finds herself defending against. She does so however by saying that her book is based on the supporting evidence of 200 peer reviewed papers and it is not reflective of experimentation, but rather a review of what is happening in regards to cognitive adaption. She makes a very good point here but it is hard to disagree that submitting her work for scientific approval would undoubtedly raise its value and authority.
She also claims that her work helps inform individuals on the wider issue and opens them up to the implications of becoming dependent on technology so that we can collectively understand the result of what is happening to our brains. She has created a very accessible book on an extremely current and relevant topic. This alone is extremely important.
Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. What we are currently experiencing is a surge in the use of digital technology and the Internet, especially among young children.
Therefore her identification that this could lead to serious cognitive issues is right at the forefront of my study. Although she acknowledges the opportunities, she claims that our exposure to these devices could lead onto autistic like symptoms. Dr Bell is very critical of this claim, along with many others but they failed to understand, which Greenfield corrects, that she says ‘autistic like’. This is very important as there is published research which suggests young, as well as old people are experiencing a lack of concentration and absorption as a result of our immersion into technology. As I have covered before in my research, this is a reflection of the nature of the technology we use, particularly online with the hypertext versus the book. This argument is very much linked to Carr who you actually discusses in depth that he is experiencing effects – which arguably are autistic like.
Greenfield has argued that our brains plasticity is prone to reshape and acclimatise to its surroundings. This notion of thinking and mind adaption is extremely important to look at in correspondence with what Carr talks about, especially when considering that thinking processes are in part the product of interaction with an environment.
Given this concept then, it could be argued that at every significant milestone of technology in our existence, our mind adapts to suit the nature of such device. We aclimatise and adapt to technology, and the Internet is another example of this. However to adapt in such a way where we can fully utilise the opportunity the medium facilitates, we must first understand the signs and conventions, and it is with the Internet that we are still learning. We are at a point where we have developed a technology which has so much to understand, and we are amid that journey.
So ultimately, her argument and discussion of the implications to the development of our mind in increasingly important given our increasing immersion into digital technology and the Internet, and therefore Greenfield and her work (including this video) are right at the forefront in my study. Furthermore it gives more emphasis on what Carr argues in terms of looking at the forefront and considering he is the main inspiration for my study, this is very important.
Greenfield, S. (2015) Mind Change. United Kingdom: Rider.
Channel 4. (2015) Technology Debate:Baroness Susan Greenfield and Dr Vaughan. News video. [online] Available at: https://screen.yahoo.com/popular/technology-debate-baroness-susan-greenfield-131846789.html [Accessed on 25/08/15]