In Fresh Air on NPR, Terry Gross interviewed Matt Richtel (the technology reporter for the New York Times) about the new studies scientists are conducting on the effects of technology on our brains.  Scientific evidence supports the idea that in modern culture, where we are inundated with information through various technological devices, the learning process, memory and even creativity, can be impeded. It is during downtime that creative ideas surface. And, with the influx of technology, we don’t have much downtime these days.

Impact of Technology

Research done at the University of California revealed that…when you are constantly interrupted by e-mail you experience. Stress equals stress hormones. Stress hormones take their toll on the brain. Specifically cortisol gets released and that can have an effect on long-term memory.

While cortisol works in conjunction with epinephrine to create memories of short term emotional events called “flash-bulb memories” as a mechanism to remember what to avoid in the future, long term exposure to cortisol results in damage to cells in the hippocampus, resulting in impaired learning.

Benefits of Downtime

At UCSF, scientists measured the brainwaves of rats and found that they express new neurons, new neural activity when having a new experience. “If the rats have downtime the new neurons make their way from the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s a kind of gateway for memory, into the rest of the brain. In short, during downtime you record memory, you set the basis for learning,” Richtel said.

The constant interruption from our various devices is just one stress among many that we face in our day to do lives, and the impact from this stress on our lives is pervasive. In order to maintain the quality of life we are striving so hard to achieve, we must take time for ourselves, or risk jeopardizing the very things that are the foundation of our ability to continue creating the life we envision; our mental, physical and spiritual health.

Value of Massage

A 2005 article published in the International Journal of Neuroscience stated that studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute revealed that cortisol levels were reduced by an average of 31%, serotonin increased by 28%, and dopamine increased by 31% following massage.

There are numerous health implications one can derive from this study, one of which is the possibility that massage can provide a state of well-being in which creativity flourishes and mental faculties are improved. And did you even need another reason to get massage?

So doing something to reduce stress, such as getting a massage, exercising or mediating, can not only make you feel more relaxed, but boost your brain power too. What do you like to do for stress relief?

  1. kneading massager Said,

    massage do make people smater

  2. shawna Said,

    🙂

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