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Ibrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind Paperback – Sep 28 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; 1 edition (Sept. 28 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061340340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061340345
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Shaped by the era of Google and limitless access to news and information, the brains of your coworkers, your children, and your competition are remapping, retooling, and evolving. Are you keeping up?

Dr. Gary Small, one of America's leading neuroscientists and experts on brain function and behavior, explores how technology's unstoppable march forward has altered the way young minds develop, function, and interpret information. iBrain reveals a new evolution catalyzed by technological advancement and its future implications: What are the professional, social, and political impacts of this new brain evolution? How must you adapt and at what price? iBrain can help us avoid the potential drawbacks—add, increased social isolation, Internet addiction, and so on—while offering the tools and strategies needed to bridge the brain gap, enabling us to compete and thrive in the age of high-tech immersion.

About the Author

Dr. Gary Small is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the university’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. He and Gigi Vorgan are the authors of iBrain, The Memory Prescription, The Longevity Bible, and The Memory Bible.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bernie Koenig TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 24 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Natural Law, Science, and the Social Construction of Reality

IBrain is great book about the effects of technology on our brains.

The man point of the book is that how learn, especially in our formative years, determines how the pathways in our brains are formed. Different kinds of information lead to different connections.

The book starts off by talking about the brain and how connections are made, especially in regards to how the different parts of the brain work together. If young people spend too much time using technology and not enough time interacting with others, frontal lobe development may be stunted. The implication of this is that such people will have difficulty in later life dealing with interpersonal relations. An example of this is given where a non technological person asks a bunch of young techies to develop a new marketing plan. They come in, do a presentation, do make small talk, do not make eye contact, and though they do a great presentation, they do not get the job because the person hiring wants to be able to relate to the people he hires.

The first half of the book goes through these issues and talks about problems such as the lack of social interaction and addictions to technology, and the problems they lead to. And in each case Dr. Small explains how these behaviors affect the brain, along with diagrams of the brain. He argues that adult deficit disorder is really a result of too much technology, which leads to the need for constant stimuli. This need is caused both by expectations and by how the brain circuitry has developed due to the extended use of technology.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SeaHen on Aug. 19 2012
Format: Paperback
I have a degree in computer science and have taken only first-year-level psychology courses. But before I'd finished Chapter 2, I'd found three severe factual errors in the background material that underlies this book's advice.

1. The authors say that learning nonverbal communication depends on lots of face-to-face social interaction. They don't present any evidence of this. From what I've read, nonverbal communication is actually mostly instinct. Plus, they don't say anything about how this claim might stop short of the old refrigerator-parent hypothesis of autism.

2. They present Akio Mori's discredited "game brain" study as fact.

3. They rely on correlational evidence to claim that video games cause violence. The causal link has been repeatedly disconfirmed in experiments, and what I've read about the Columbine shootings suggests that restricting Eric Harris's gaming may have just made him worse.

And that's just what I *know* is wrong. There's probably some accurate information in this book, but the authors clearly haven't done enough to sort the wheat from the chaff.
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By Fred Speckeen on March 10 2011
Format: Paperback
The book is outdated and disappointing. The authors cast the net very wide across the effects of technology on thinking and offer pretty obvious suggestions on how to handle the realtime, reactive mode that can result. I found _Getting Organized in the Google Era_ much more useful in providing tips on how to work more effectively. I was intrigued by _iBrain_'s title and subtitle, but it's probably the most creative element of the book. The book itself is cheaply manufactured, uses low-grade paper and is not enjoyable to handle.
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Amazon.com: 17 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
stressed? anxious? can't stop checking your e-mail? you may have techno brain burnout. April 21 2009
By Vita M. Haake - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
iBrain, written by Dr. Gary Small - a neuroscientist and director of the Memory & Aging Research Center at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior - paints a picture of the complex human brain in words that are easy for those without a science background to understand. iBrain's main focus is to educate and caution readers about damage that frequent technology use can have on interpersonal skills - an area that Dr. Small posits is a strength that "digital immigrants" (those over age 30) have over "digital natives" (those under 30 who have been exposed to technology their entire lives.)

The book starts by explaining how the human brain develops at different stages of life - malleable in both children and adults, and at it's prime in middle age. Dr. Small cites several studies in both children and adults that tie frequent technology use to conditions such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, depression, anxiety, and even sociopathic behavior. Dr. Small cautions that the damage of frequent technology use is especially prevalent for children under eight years old. The news is not entirely dismal, however; he also cites studies that show strengths in cognitive abilities that can be attributed to searching the Internet and using similar technologies.

A recurring theme in iBrain is the issue of multitasking. Dr. Small attempts to prove that multitasking is not beneficial to productivity or attention levels. He explains that a condition called "continuous partial attention" is plaguing those that use the Internet frequently. This condition is described as "keeping tabs on everything but not really focusing on anything." This phenomena can also lead to "techno brain burnout," something that Dr. Small believes is threatening to become an epidemic if people don't become more aware of how frequent technology use can effect them.

After stating his case that technology use, particularly at addictive levels, is changing the way humans interact and empathize with each other, Dr. Small provides some self-help resources. He includes several short tests to determine strengths and weaknesses in brain function and interpersonal abilities along with exercises for improvement in these areas. He also provides helpful tips for technologies (such as e-mail and instant messaging) designed to help users be more considerate to others' feelings as well as reduce multitasking challenges. Appendices include text messaging shortcuts, common emoticons, resources for addiction, and technology toolkit resources varying from brain exercises to online file storage.

The book is helpful for both digital immigrants and digital natives, though it seems to paint digital natives in a negative light at times. Dr. Small does state that the collaborative nature of the Internet and its effect on specific parts of the brain has boosted opportunities for creative expression, something seen as a benefit to society. Most of the claims made in this book are based on small or limited studies and Dr. Small admits that research on this subject is only beginning. iBrain does a thorough job of outlining potential problems and provides many solutions to help prevent us from becoming antisocial, unfeeling humans riddled with anxiety and the inability to focus on tasks at hand.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Say you want an evolution? Nov. 26 2008
By Wilma W. Dague - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Say you want an evolution?

iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind by Gary Small, M.D. and Gigi Vorgan

Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan's iBrain is a fascinating book that details how technology is changing our brains. Their main thesis is that our brains and the brains of our children are much more plastic and changeable than we have been led to believe. They differentiate between digital immigrants: people who had to learn technology such as computers and cell phones as adults, and digital natives: people who have known technology since birth. The good news for middle-aged digital immigrants is that we have the advantage over older ones and the younger natives, because our brains are plastic enough to respond to and learn new technologies than older brains, but we retain the social skills that native sometimes lack.

My son has a mild form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome, so I panicked for a moment. Did I let him watch television too much when he was younger. Play on the computer? No and no-he wasn't interested thankfully. But he is now, and I was surprised to learn that digital natives suffer some of the same symptoms as autistic individuals: lack of eye contact; a just-the-facts approach to communication, and a lack of give-and-take in conversation. So now that he's a PSP fanatic, is my son's Asperger's getting worse? I don't think so. He has enough else going on. According to iBrain, that seems to be the key. All electronics and no face time, makes for digital natives that have poor social skills, so it is very important to reinforce human connection away from electronic devices. The warning against multitasking and how is can contribute to anxiety and attention deficit disorder symptoms seem particularly relevant today when so many of us have trouble paying attention.

The book provides many resources for understanding the best uses of technology determining whether or not technology is interfering with our lives. The questionnaires designed to locate the difficulties technology are followed by tangible exercises for improving our real world connections. The authors even include a glossary of technological terms, an especially-helpful list of emoticons and texting abbreviations, and a list of professional organizations that help with cyber addictions.

The message of iBrain is not that technology is good or bad, but that it is both. Electronic devices can change the structure of our brains and leave us disconnected and lonely, but they can also help us accomplish much in terms of work, economics and social connection. For the sake of our brains, however, we must walk the fine line of being able to use and learn how to use new technologies, without losing our essential humanity.
76 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Designed to Sell Fear to the Fearful Nov. 14 2008
By Bryan Long - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read Small's book "iBrain" over the last couple of days and am very unimpressed.

I suppose by Small's description of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives, I am an early immigrant or perhaps a "pioneer" --- I went online in my early 20s connecting to the first online communities (dial-up bulletin boards in the early 80s). My brain was still a little plastic then, I suppose, so I'm like someone who immigrates as a young adult.

It seems to me Dr. Small set about to write a book that would appeal to the fears of the digital immigrants, the fears of all parents, and the disparaging emotions of those who just generally feel that the world is going to the dogs.

Dr. Small's writing is full of emotionally laden language. Teenagers don't just look at computer screens, they "stare". Their music doesn't play, it "blares". Each chapter is prefaced by a short horror story about a cyberaddicted person. Do-it-yourself "assessment tests" at the back of the book ask questions that would lead most honest people to worry about themselves -- and even more likely, to fill in the answers for their spouse or child in a negative way.

Small conflates TV with computer use in much of his writing; despite their similar screens they are completely different. He reports early in the book that "a recent Kaiser study found that young people eight to eighteen years of age expose their brains to eight and a half hours of digital and video sensory stimulation each day." Note his choice of words: "expose their brains to...". Not "experience" or "use", but "expose their brains"; like exposure to radiation. His choice of words already betrays his judgment and seeks to set the reader's bias. But the study notes that only one hour of this is using the computer! Four hours is video and TV, nearly two hours is music. Less than an hour is video games. Through the book, however, Small would have the reader worry about computer use causing not only brain changes, but autism symptoms and other antisocial personality disorders. Is this likely to be the computer use, or the TV watching?

Now of course it is clear that new technology is seductive and can be addictive. It is just common sense that playing computer games that repeatedly give you a simulation of blowing someone's head off is going to affect your emotional health. In that, some games ARE worse than TV because usually once you've watched the movie once or twice you are done with it, whereas you play the game over and over for hours. On the other hand, if you watch four or more hours of schlok TV every day, you are going to be brain damaged.

But don't blame it on the Internet. Sure, some kids or adults are going to spend too much time on the Internet, or develop addictions to porn or Facebook or Ebay. Just like some kids who smoked pot really did go on to get addicted to heroin.

In summary, I think Small throws in a few interesting tidbits about brain function, but his conclusions are suspect and his tone highly judgmental. Yes, computer use is causing changes in brain wiring, just like the printing press, telephone, radio and TV, and even automobiles. And there are always people who aren't well adjusted. Why jump to the conclusion that computers are a cause rather than a refuge? Well, everybody has to make a buck -- but I'm sorry to have contributed to his income.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Pretty much what I had expected Dec 21 2008
By Samuel Larsson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was curious when I first opened the book. I have just started an education within digital media and the subject was head on.

The book shows how our mind tries to coop up with the impressions we're feeding it with. If we're feeding it with a 24-7 computer screen and "multitasking" in the digtial field, we'll develop skills in the regions of our brain that are busy while doing this. But we don't have time for other practices so for example our face to face interaction will get understimulated. Especially if you're in an age when your brain grows alot, there is both good and bad with major iBrain impact that could effect you permanent.

I liked the book, but it felt kind of "pop-science" sometimes. I don't think many would agree that the human brain could evolve so much over just one generation (digitalnatives generation) that the book shows. But it was really intresting reading and gave me alot of stuff to work with when it comes to planning a workday in front of the computer without getting tired and zombielike 7 hrs later.

Read and discuss! But don't expect it to be course litterature in medicin.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed July 24 2010
By James Kuehne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
purchased the book after reading an intro on "SciAm Mind", having found the premise to agree with my own opinions of the changes in brain development that must be taking place. I was looking forward to a thought provoking read backed by scientific fact. Finished the first 20% in the past hour and wonder if it is worth continuing.

I was expecting more in depth scientific data/studies to be presented. So far, a short reference to an FMRI study on brain activation while doing a google search contrasting the computer savvy and computer ignorant. Big surprise, there is a difference which eventually diminishes as the ignorant learns. Has nothing to do with a fundamental change in our brain development due to digital input/interaction, My first thought was "It is just learning". I would postulate a similar study conducted of a person learning to drive a car, bounce a basketball, learning to walk would produce similar results. Yes I know you can not drive a car in an MRI machine.

I had issues when presented with a few high level paragraphs talking about Natural Selection and Evolution leading into an equating of thought process change due to digital input as Evolution. What kind of scientific conclusion is that? Will the neurology of the next generation born be fundamentally different to what has gone before? Are genetic modifications occurring? Another point - The gap between the "Digital Immigrants" and "Digital Natives" (really good terms by the way), will be gone in one generation. Sorry, assumes that the current state of digital communication is at the pinnacle. My yet to be born grandchildren will laugh at the experience of my children (natives) just as my children laugh at me now.

I was interested in the supposition that personal interaction decreased as digital interaction increased, but found not facts to back up the statement. I wonder about how the abbreviation of language might affect future communications, I worry that the quantity of communication has lowered the quality of communication (someone could post a direct communique from God with the true meaning of life on facebook right now and perhaps get a dozen "I like it"' replies in between 2 dozen farmville fruits for sale). On and on.. the topic is deserving of more research and perhaps this book will lead to more work in the field.

I really was hoping to be challenged and enlightened by this book. I am not. Perhaps I am not the intended audience.


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