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Technology and the Mind: BrainTalk#1

November 4, 2010

Technology and the mind: the implications of video gaming technology.

Technology has developed rapidly over the last 20 years. Video gaming, the internet, and high volume computer use are affecting the way we process information and learn. Is technology benefiting our brains or are there adverse effects? How are our brains re-wiring? Can we use technology creatively to enhance learning?

On October 21, 2010, at the Diamond Centre, VGH, we discussed the evolution of the mind within the current cultural climate. Dr. Tyler Black, psychiatrist, presented a talk on the connection between video games and violence. Also, a brief video was shown on the use of video gaming technology for recovery of cognitive function.

We had about twenty people show up, with representatives from neurology, psychiatry, neurosurgery, neuroscience, and software programming. Dr. Black started off the discussion by showing an excerpt form a video game that was truly disturbing in its level of violence. He explained that this was the kind of video game that children, adolescents, and adults, really would not normally be interested in due to its highly aggressive content. Certain video games are not appropriate for children, and others have questionable levels of appropriateness for anyone at all.

However, he eloquently explained that video games in general are, in fact, not linked to violence. Covering a thorough evaluation of the research to date, he showed that much research on video games and violence fails to show a connection between playing a game and violent behaviour. Stay tuned for more details on his lecture, and a video of his talk.

After the discussion, we watched a brief excerpt from Changing Your Mind, a documentary recently released on CBC The Nature of Things (see link below). Hosted by Norman Doidge, the documentary reviews current research on potential changes to treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Schizophrenia. The video excerpt that was shown details the research of Dr. Michael Merzenich and Dr. Sophia Vinogradov, physician scientists that are using video game technology to help people with schizophrenia improve cognitive processing speed, verbal reasoning, and verbal expression. Currently, they are working with software that encourages the learning of social skills. For more information, watch the documentary or read the article on Medscape, Computerized training improves cognition in schizophrenia.

Related popular press:

Does constant violence desensitize or bore teens? (October 19, 2010)

Is technology changing the way our minds operate?

Oxford scientist calls for research on technology ‘mind change’.

Changing your Mind (CBC video)

Our next talk is November 18th, 2010, about “The Shadow People: a Paranormal Phenomenon?”, with Dr. Fidel Vila-Rodriguez! Join us to discuss the neurobiology of perception, and experience a fun and very interactive lecture!

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