The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.
“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”
It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.
My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
It’s summer time. Remember our last summer together when we visited as many waterways as we could? We caught fish and crawdads at Scotts Mills, remember? The water was cold, wasn’t it? But, it was so much fun! Even Little V waded into the water.
That’s what summers are for … exploration, trials, and growth. Reduce your screen time, boys. Remember, spend no more than 2 hours of screen time TOTAL! That includes television as well as video games, computer, etc.
Why? It’s simple: your brain needs down time to process information about the world around you, about you, etc. Years ago, during a psychological experiment, researchers examined the brain activities of people under MRI as they were told to focus on certain stimuli. However, during the brief period in between the experiments, when there was a lull, the entire brain lit up. That was unexpected. What where learning now is that there might be organized into two separate systems: one system (extrinsic) that operates when we’re actively focusing on a task, and an intrinsic or default system that operates when we are at rest. Scientists now believe it is when our brain is at rest (during down time, when our mind wander) that the brain works on the self, on defining who we are, etc.
Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain.
He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.
The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.
The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.
But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down.
This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.
“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.
Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.
And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.
Scientists previously believed the self-reflective, default network in the brain was simply one that was active when a person had no task on which to focus their attention.
But researchers have found in the past decade that this section of the brain swells with activity when the subject thinks about the self.
The default network came to light in 2001 when Dr Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US state of Missouri, began scanning the brains of individuals who were not given tasks to perform.
The patients quickly became bored, and Dr Raichle noticed a second network, that had previously gone unnoticed, danced with activity. But the researcher was unclear why this activity was occurring.
Other scientists were quick to suggest that Dr Raichle’s subjects could have actually been thinking about themselves.
Soon other neuroscientists, who conducted studies using movies to stimulate the brain, found that when there was a lull of activity in a film, the default network began to flash – signalling that research subjects may have begun to think about themselves out of boredom.
But Dr Raichle says the default network is important for more than just thinking about what one had for dinner last night.
“Researchers have wrestled with this idea of how we know we are who we are. The default mode network says something about how that might have come to be,” he says.
Be bored, boys. Let your mind wander and your imagination roam. Don’t buy into the false gods and false promises of electronics. The answers to life’s major questions do not lie there. They lie out in the world. Go explore. Live. Use your imagination.
All my love, always,