In recent years you might have witnessed a bit of a memory decline in your everyday life. Earlier we could remember phone numbers of several people with no difficulty and recalling the names of actors or actresses did not take more than a moment of thought. You could grocery shop to buy a particular item and even after returning with two bags of groceries you might forget the one thing you wanted to get. Things might have changed. You are not alone in this fight. Of recent years there has been a rising decline in retention power of the newer generation or the generation that has grown very close to technology.
In the days before PDA’s (personal digital assistant) mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches and such, to remember a phone number you could either write it down in a phone book or a planner and carry it around with you or just remember the number. Due to the inconvenience of the former, you ended up memorizing the number pretty quickly. That is no longer required as we have access to a host of applications and gadgets that have made it redundant for us to memorize such details. Unfortunately, a downside of this advancement in technology is that we are not only forgetting these small details but as a whole, we are having difficulty recalling things from our memory.
Whilst granted the convenience of the new devices cannot be ignored, they also cannot be used as a memory crutch. If we do not exercise our brain enough, it will undergo cognitive ageing at an unprecedented speed. Our brain will start to atrophy, leading to a phenomenon known as Digital Dementia.
This term was coined by the German brain researcher Manfred Spritzer. When Spritzer talked about this phenomenon in his book in 2012 it caused a furor. Many tech advocates, as well as critics for children, voiced their opinions. The critics believed that their views had been confirmed whilst the advocates called the research unscientific and unrealistic, rejecting its conclusions.
Sections of the scientific community have expressed disbelief in Spritzer’s work, claiming that the term has been coined for advertisement purposes and that the brain finds a way to adapt and alter with the advent of new technology. They have also said that no link can be found between the onset of dementia by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The use of the term dementia too is misleading because it points towards a loss in brain performance. What neuroscientist Spritzer had said was that due to the outsourcing of cognitive functions to gadgets there has been an irreversible loss in “neuroplasticity”. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to adapt to new requirements.
Whilst Spritzer has campaigned for a reduction in media literacy and targeted program cutting across the social strata to re-educate the media generation. But he has not provided clear cut solutions to this apparent phenomenon. The questions raised by the scientific community too have not been answered satisfactorily. This information needs to be treated with a pinch of salt and it needs to be understood that this is a theory that does not necessarily stand its ground. But if proven this theory could give rise to a dangerous revelation and leave behind entire affected generations. Simple methods to get back on track if you find yourself becoming skeptical is to maybe start exercising your brain with little mind games and memory exercises to re-develop your cognitive abilities.