This is Your Brain on Technology
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the company is rebranding as “Meta.” The initiative is designed to focus the company’s vision on virtual reality (VR) in the future, through what Zuckerberg refers to as the “metaverse.” The VR world will be accessed by participants using a headset instead of a computer to interact in various digital environments. These sophisticated VR headsets are designed to “trick” the human eye into seeing a three-dimensional world with various scenes encompassing work, play, concerts or movies.1
One concerns associated with this new metaverse is that it will continue to collect more data on individual users. In this era of technology, consumer data is traded and exchanged with a value as lucrative as currency. Furthermore, tech experts assert that the more user data a company accrues, the more power it can wield in our decisions. Some tech companies are working on innovations in brain-machine interfaces that can detect neural signals when attached to the skull or other parts of the body. This type of direct interface has the potential to manipulate thoughts via electromagnetic pulses. Notably, both Facebook/Meta and Elon Musk have funded research into both noninvasive and invasive brain-machine interfaces.2
Apart from real interactions in a make-believe universe, there are innovations in technology that may have significant positive improvements in brain functionality. There may even someday be ways to prevent or eliminate dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. But for now, it’s important to plan for a long life with less-than-adequate brain functioning, and that means being financially prepared for a future that involves long-term caregiving. We offer solutions that can help fund this expense if needed or leave assets for heirs if you don’t. Contact us to learn more.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School in concert with Massachusetts General Hospital, found a way to potentially enhance the brain’s ability to regulate self-control and mental flexibility. The study discovered that stimulating a specific region within the brain with small amounts of electrical energy could improve a patients’ mental function. For example, this type of stimulation may be able to help someone with depression push beyond a pattern of negative thoughts. The findings could lead to methods of treating mental illness via precisely targeted electrical stimulation. Moreover, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved deep brain stimulation as a means of improving cognitive control, clinical trials may begin quickly using existing tools and devices.3
In another human study, a 36-year-old woman who had suffered from severe depression for years found relief when researchers applied tiny jolts of electrical current via temporary thin wire electrodes implanted into a specific region of her brain. The stimulation was calibrated so the patient couldn’t directly feel it, yet she reported improvements in both mood and energy.4
But until science catches up with our brain needs, we can practice old-school solutions. Research shows that walking in nature is correlated with enhanced mood, decreased stress levels, and reduced high blood pressure and muscle tension. Perhaps more importantly, a nature walk is a good counter to the harmful effects of today’s technological advancements – such as smart phones, computers and excessive television watching.5
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 BBC. Oct. 18, 2021. “Apparently, it’s the next big thing. What is the metaverse?” https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58749529. Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.
2 John Horgan. Scientific American. Oct. 27, 2021. “Should Big Tech’s Plan for a Metaverse Scare Us?” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/should-big-techs-plan-for-a-metaverse-scare-us/. Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.
3 Science Daily. Nov. 1, 2021. “Researchers boost human mental function with brain stimulation.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/11/211101141757.htm. Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.
4 Laura Sanders. Science News. Oct. 4, 2021. “A custom brain implant lifted a woman’s severe depression.” https://www.sciencenews.org/article/brain-implant-severe-depression-activity-stimulation. Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.
5 Daily Science Journal. Sep. 26, 2021. “Nature Walks in the Time of Technology.” https://www.dailysciencejournal.com/nature-walks-time-of-technology/. Accessed Nov. 5, 2021.
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