The internet is info overload for the brain
Africa Studio/Shutterstock The brain’s problem with distractions and multitasking could be a reason why studies show too much smartphone and Internet use isn’t good for the noggin. “Technology can be tremendously helpful, but allowing a constant influx of information and distractions can promote an ADHD-like state that exhausts your brain and erodes deep thinking and efficient information absorption,” Dr. Chapman says. “Watch out for ‘Google Brain’ where you constantly look up more and more information—this activity can gobble up mental energy.” Instead, take regular short breaks from screen time and shut off alerts, especially when working on important tasks. Don’t miss these other surprising ways technology is making us stupid.
“Smarter” people may just be better at filtering distractions
Katia Fonti/Shutterstock With this thinking on distractions and the brain comes another theory of intelligence—that smart people’s are just better at ignoring stuff that’s distracting. A study from the University of Rochester found that people with higher IQs were better at detecting the movements of small objects on a screen, but worse at detecting movements of larger, background-like objects. This may be because in nature, large movements like the wind in the trees are irrelevant, but the harder-to-see animal about to pounce is more important. So in our info-laden modern world, the ability to better focus might give some people an edge. Check out these people with higher IQs than Einstein.
Memory isn’t as fixed as we think
urbazon/Shutterstock Although some of us do have impressive powers of recall, memories are in fact, constantly in flux—and this has the potential to alter how we remember things. “Our brain is not a ‘video cam’ that takes in information and stores it in our memory center precisely as it happens; instead we process scenes, conversations, and outings through our filter of rich experiences, perspectives, and thinking biases,” Dr. Chapman says. “This is why two people can witness the same event and come away with very different memories.” Even studies of so-called “flashbulb” memories of major events, like the Challenger explosion or the events of September 11, 2001, show our recollections aren’t always accurate. One good thing? We do tend to look back on our life through rose-colored lenses. “Our memories are altered and typically become more positive over time,” Dr. Chapman says. Check out the daily habits of people with an amazing memory.