Multitasking is the enemy of “deep, intellectual thought”

switch on your brainSome good friends recently bought me the book Switch on Your Brain by Christian brain scientist Dr. Caroline Leaf. They thought the book help me with some topics I’ve recently been studying. They were right. The book is full of interesting information about the neuromechanisms involved in renewing the mind and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Chapter 6 is devoted to observations about multitasking and the toll that indiscriminate use of technology can take on our ability to exercise “deep, intellectual thought.” Here is one of the things that Dr. Leaf observes:

“We are told by so-called social media experts that information needs to be in bite-size amounts and in a constant stream of new information before the previous information has even been digested.

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a Christian scientist who has spent years studying the brain.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a Christian scientist who has spent years studying the brain.

This is not stimulation; it is bombardment. We have been reduced to 140 characters and an addiction to looking for the next informational high. Students can’t sit quietly and enjoy reading a book, allowing their imagination to take flight….

Our brain responds with healthy patterns, circuits, and neurochemicals when we think deeply, but not when we skim only the surface of multiple pieces of information.

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…multitasking decreases our attention, making us increasingly less able to focus on our thought habits. This opens us up to shallow and weak judgments and decisions and results in passive mindlessness. Deep, intellectual thought, however, results in interactive mindfulness—the ‘soul harmony’ presented in Colossians 3:15 (AMP). This requires engaging passionately with the world. We need to increase our awareness of our thoughts and take the time to understand and reflect on them. (Switch on Your Brain, p. 95 & 97)

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