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Gary SmallDescribe your latest project.
We know that technology is changing our lives, but it is also changing our brains. The average young person spends more than eight hours each day using technology (computers, PDAs, TV, videos) and much less time engaged in direct social contact. Our UCLA brain scanning studies are showing that such repeated technology exposure alters brain circuitry, and young developing brains, which usually have the greatest exposure, are the most vulnerable. Instead of the traditional generation gap, we are witnessing the beginning of a brain gap separating digital natives, born into 24/7 technology, and digital immigrants, who came to computers and other digital technology as adults.
I believe that this perpetual technology exposure is leading to the next major milestone in brain evolution. Over 300,000 years ago, our Neanderthal ancestors discovered hand-held tools, which led to the co-evolution of language, goal-directed behavior, social networking, and accelerated development of the frontal lobe, which controls these functions. Today, video-game brain, Internet addiction, and other technology side effects appear to be suppressing frontal lobe executive skills and our ability to communicate face-to-face. Instead, our brains are developing circuitry for on-line social networking and adapting to a new multitasking technology culture. In my new book, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, I define this brain evolutionary event and offer strategies for upgrading the technology skills of digital immigrants and teaching better social skills to digital natives in order to bridge the brain gap.
My wife, Gigi Vorgan, is my writing partner. Our conversations about what we are about to write are engaging, challenging, and ultimately inspiring.
Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
What do you do for relaxation?
What new technology do you think may actually have the potential for making people's lives better?
If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
By the end of your life, where do you think humankind will be in terms of new science and technological advancement?
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Gary Small, M.D. is the Director of the Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the Center on Aging at UCLA. His research has made the headlines of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today, among other publications. Scientific American magazine has named him one of the world's top innovators in science and technology.