Does TV Really Rot Your Brain?

I borrowed today’s blog post from Joanne Guarnieri at Theologica.  This is the full content of her post, Does T.V. Really Rot Your Brain?

If you’ve been reading the news, and news journals, you know that recently there’s been a lot of research coming out about the brain. One current article says, “The most interesting and complicated frontier in science is the human brain. This three pound universe has seemingly unlimited capabilities, yet in spite of advancements in neuroscience, the brain remains the most mysterious force in existence.”

Research has discovered that
• Men and women think differently because our brains are formed significantly differently
• Near-death experiences have been replicated in the lab simply with the use of well-placed electrodes on the head
• The old saying is completely untrue: 90% of our brain does not lie dormant – we use 100% of our brain.

But ironically, with all this excitement over the brain, a trend has been happening in our society that one author calls the cultural pattern of mindlessness: the inability, or at least the unwillingness, to look at what is happening around us in an analytical and critical way. The chief culprit seems to be television. Chances are that, at some point in your life, someone — probably a parent — has told you to “stop watching television, it rots your brain.” Guess what?! There is strong evidence it really does. Only 30 seconds of watching television causes the human brain to produce alpha waves, which are associated with an inert, almost comatose state.

Research shows that watching television “numbs” the left brain and shifts activity to the right, sometimes permanently. That’s not so good, since it’s the left brain that handles the organization, analysis and judgment of incoming information.

When you are watching television, your higher brain regions shut down, and activity shifts to the lower brain. The function of the lower brain is reactive — it only responds to stimuli, like the “fight or flight” response.

And your lower brain can’t tell the difference between real and pretend images, like all those murders, scenes of adultery, criminal activity, suspenseful situations, weird spooky images, sassy naughtiness and so on. Telling the difference between real and pretend is the job of the higher brain region — which has, remember, been shut down by you watching t.v. So your lower brain, the only part of you that is actually on while you’re watching your show, reacts to television events and images as though they were really happening, causing the release, into your brain and your body, of a whole cocktail of stress hormones and adrenalin.

Watching t.v. also causes your brain to release endorphins – the feel good chemicals that can get you addicted. Several studies have proven that your body actually suffers withdrawal symptoms if you cut down on your regular t.v. time. One study paid 182 people to agree to stop watching television for a year. Not one of them made it longer than six months and, they all showed the symptoms of opiate withdrawal: increased anxiety, frustration and depression.

The consequences of this can be pretty bad; long-term television watchers could find their judgment severely impaired; and children who watch hours of t.v. every day might actually have their brains’ development altered.

How deeply do you believe that your mind can be transformed just by reading, thinking about and applying scripture? The fact is even television has the power to change you. Some researchers contend that t.v. is making us dumber. The more you watch it, the more time you spend with your brain effectively “turned off,” in effect consciously reducing the amount of time you spend alive, conscious and a part of the world. Wow! No wonder God says to us today — don’t be conformed to the world anymore, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!

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