GCN LAB IMPRESSIONS
Can talking about technology make you smarter?
- By Greg Crowe
- Jun 27, 2011
You can debate whether technology makes us smarter or just gives us more data to process. But apparently, talking about technology could actually improve the human brain.
New findings released by archaeologists at Lund University in Sweden indicate that developing or even communicating about new technologies has led to developments in the way we think and behave as a species.
They discovered that, although homo sapiens have lived on the planet for about 200,000 years, it was only about 100,000 years ago that advanced tool-making technology, for crafting things such as spearheads, came about.
In order to reach that plateau, the study says, increased social interaction had to occur, and over generations, the actual makeup of our brains altered. So, in essence, people getting together, planning and talking about technology had a positive impact on the physical structure of our brains — that is, talking about it made us naturally smarter.
And each generation was more adapted to the new technology than the last and, hence, smarter still.
Evidence of this exists today. Anyone who has ever witnessed a preteen teaching his or her grandparents how to get online to check their e-mail or even program their digital video recorder will tell you that the new generation tends to be more tech-savvy than the one before it.
Some could argue that it is simply that younger generations are exposed to technology at an earlier age, thus making them more practiced. And although that might be true to a certain extent, these new findings seem to indicate that there is also a biological predilection for younger generations to be smarter than older ones.
Of course, any live experiment to prove this would no doubt involve raising control subject children in isolation and periodically introducing technology to them to see what they do with it. And that would probably get the torch-and-pitchfork crowd chasing after the scientist in charge of said experiment.
But if anyone does decide to run such an experiment, it would be an ideal environment to also run my long-term cell phone exposure effects experiment. Wait...torches...pitchforks...on second thought, forget I said anything.
So in light of these new findings, the staff here at GCN will continue doing what we have done for the past 29 years: talk about technology and contribute to ultimately making the human species smarter.
You are welcome.
Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.