Modern technology allows us to read anywhere and allows us to read fast. But does speed reading affect the way our brains process the information?

Susan Greenfield’s recent comments about how modern technology and social media are changing the way our brains work have caused quite a stir in the academic community: these changes, she claims, are as important to understand as climate change. One interesting way of assessing the value of her statements is to look at the nature of the “reading brain”.

To begin with, the human brain was never meant to read. Not text, not papyrus, not computer screens, not tablets. There are no genes or areas in the brain devoted uniquely to reading. Rather, our ability to read represents our brain’s protean capacity to learn something outside our repertoire by creating new circuits that connect existing circuits in a different way. Indeed, every time we learn a new skill – whether knitting or playing the cello or using Facebook – that is what we are doing. Maryanne Wolf/The Guardian.

Image by Adam Tow/All Things Digital.

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