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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The use of smartphones has a serious effect on the human brain

Por Nina

All day long, we're inundated by interruptions and alerts from our devices. The constant notifications of messages, calls and applications of our 'smartphones' have a serious effect on the human brain, recently commented the endocrinologist Robert Lustig to the website Business Insider. According to the expert, people today are used to being distracted by incessant notifications of their phones.

However, according to Lustig, with it we 'educate' our brains to be permanently in a state of tension and stress, always waiting for the arrival of possible novelties. And that means that the prefrontal cortex, that is the part of our brains that usually deals with some of our highest-order cognitive functioning, goes completely confused, and essentially shuts down. The portal cites research that reveals that 86% of Americans say they check their email and social media accounts "on a constant basis", which, they confess, causes great stress.

Another study showed that 89% of participants said they felt "false" phone notifications, which did not actually take place. This anxiety about notifications causes the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for many important cognitive functions, to be overloaded and results in it ceasing to function normally. "One ends up doing stupid things," warns Lustig. "And those stupid things tend to get you in trouble."

Another problem is that the brains of most people - 97.5% of the population is able to focus on only one task at a time. However, each time the phone receives a new notification, the device 'forces' its owner to get distracted. With this, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released in the brain, along with dopamine, a hormone that causes a sensation of pleasure. Thus, the stress we experience trying to do several things at once worsens our condition, but, at the same time, we want to be distracted again due to the influence of dopamine that is released upon receiving a new message.

Dr. Lustig emphasizes that smartphones are not an evil in themselves, but they become a problem when they force us to distract our attention over and over again. In his opinion, it is possible to combat the negative influence of these devices with the creation of social limits for their use, comparable to the restrictions that apply, for example, to smoking. "I hope we get to a point where you cannot get your smartphone out in public," says Lustig.