2014 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT?

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Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Author,Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
Only *Some* Experiences Affect The Brain

When I speak to students or lay audiences about any kind of digital innovation, the first statement or question from the audience takes the form, roughly, "Do smart phones change the brain?" or "We can't let infants play with pads because it might affect their brains." I try to explain that everything that we do affects the nervous system and that the statement is therefore either meaningless or needs to be unpacked. One unpacking would proceed "Does this experience affect the nervous system significantly and perhaps even permanently?" A quite different response: "Do you mean 'affect the mind', or 'affect the brain'?" When the questioner looks blank, I sense that he/she needs a refresher in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.