Blogging makes your brain bigger?

I’ve wondered for some time what effect the richness of the internet and the enormity of information at our fingertips might be doing to our brains.

A pair of physicians that blog have conjectured that blogging itself might very well be expanding our brains. Anyone that knows me (along with the several thousand people who’ve visited my blog over the last four months) would tell you that it’s obvious my brain has shrunk!  🙂

The pair, Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide, have a blog posting that asks the question: “What effect is all this blogging having on the brains of bloggers?”

They cover a few points (to which I’ve added comments of my own) such as:

  1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.” I agree. If I or another blogger are going to be taken seriously and nakedly put our ideas out there for the world to see, then having them thought through and supported is a good thing
  2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.” Well…I think I’m already that way to a pretty great degree, but I’ll admit that blogging has caused me to think about my ‘connecting the dots’ in even more significant and different ways
  3. Blogs promote analogical thinking.” I concur. For me, critical thinking is to blogging as strategy is to business: you better think through your positions and actions carefully but change fast if it becomes necessary, always be flexible and, most importantly, connect the dots that others don’t.
  4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information.” Quality? Some times. Those bloggers that write their opinion and back it up with research (i.e., links citing material) are more believable and almost always cite reputable sources. Access? Absolutely. I find TONS of delightful and insightful sources through bloggers.
  5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.” Agree with the solitary reflection. Would with the social interaction but my blog visits haven’t yet reached critical mass nor have comments flooded in.

So you may be thinking, “Steve, looking at blogging in a singular way demonstrates that your brain HAS shrunk!” You could be right. But let me add something to that thought of yours regarding my little brain and your curiousity about whether or not it’s probable that I’m intellectually equal to a rhesus monkey.

According to an article on MSNBC, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology trained rhesus monkeys to categorize dogs and cats. These trained monkeys learned to classify computer-generated images of felines and canines. “The researchers inserted wires into the monkeys’ brains and hooked them up to monitoring devices. Then they recorded the reactions of single nerve cells in the “executive” area of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking, called the prefrontal cortex, as the monkeys responded to rendered graphics of cats and dogs.

Then they used morphing software to change these images to “sorta cat” and “sorta dog”.

The article goes on, “Regardless of how morphologically close the images looked, and even after the monkeys were retrained to learn revised criteria for dogness and catness, individual nerve cells responded by reflecting the newly learned categories.

In other words, the brain had rewired itself.

So I submit that the gigantic array of internet information sources, associations we need to make in our bloggin’ brains in order to post good, credible stuff, interactions with others about these posts, undoubtedly cause us to revise our criteria for subjects upon which we’re blogging. This goes double for the readers of blogs who are taking in huge volumes of data and making rapid cognitive associations as they surf the Web.

I gotta run now…I’m suddenly craving a banana.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.