There is a certain example that Carr illustrates in his book that has sincerely grabbed my attention concerning the experiments done by Michael Merzenich on a group of monkeys. The discovery of the brains plasticity not even one hundred years ago has awakened an idea that Carr presents in his book that the brain is malleable and subject to change based on a constant feed of certain information. I find this incredibly fascinating when thinking about how much we have adapted and changed over time. With the aid of technology advancing rapidly within our lifetimes we have reached a point where we, as a generation, behave entirely different in many ways from the previous one, where that wasn’t nearly the case a century ago.
There is a passage on page 29 I find particularly interesting where, following his example of Merzenich and the monkey’s, Carr states: “The brain is not the machine we once thought it to be. Though different regions are associated with different mental functions, the cellular components do not form permanent structures or play rigid roles. They’re flexible. They change with experience, circumstance, and need”. As Carr continues forward on this thought, how certain areas of the brain can increase or decrease in size depending on specific constant uses of things such as instruments, I can’t help but think to the future. Though throughout this book we see comparisons between how the author used to behave as a reader/writer compared to now with the modern day technologies, there is a constant comparison between the present and the past but less of a look towards the future. As our dependency on these advancements of today continue to separate us from the archaic techniques of yesterday, what lies ahead as these technologies continue to advance?
This plasticity of the mind that allows us to adapt our brains can also be a potential hindrance in the way of forming bad habits. With debates already raging over the usefulness vs. harmfulness of computers, phones, etc. pertaining to our lifestyle changes and their effects over us, how will our habits continue to either deteriorate or evolve as these technologies become more and more advanced? Even 50 years ago, few people would have believed that within their lifetimes such a thing as “Virtual Reality” could be a possibility, this Time article discusses the rise and continual surge of VR technology, how it is opening up new possibilities in our technological world. In another 50 years, there’s no telling what kind of advancements we’ll see and how these things will change our habits from what they are now and what they used to be 50 years ago.