I saw this and just had to reply...
Jamesh wrote:That was quite an interesting interview with Pearce- re the affects of TV, computers and so on on kids.
"Researchers found that twenty years ago young people could distinguish between 360 different shadings of a single color category like red or blue. Today it's down to about 130. That's over a 2/3 loss of their ability to detect shadings of color."
I don't know if has exaggerated or misquoted scientific investigations (statistic lies), but I'll assume he isn't. Stuff like this is a worry. I watch a hell of a lot of TV, movies and computer shit, and noticed that I get more out of a good anime film than, than most normal films these days.
I think stuff like that indicates that something is going on we don't understand, and that something is not
the mere fact of watching too much TV.
There is this interesting thing called Flynn Effect -- it's the fact that IQ worldwide has been steadily, slowly going up (though it may have plateaued lately). By now, the IQ has gone up around a full standard deviation since the inception of the IQ tests, though the number varies by country.
What I suspect we may be observing is that the distribution of specialization between different parts of the brain is changing. What generally happens is that during development, brain works in a very competitive way -- the sections which receive lots of stimuli basically take over the neurons which receive less, they can take over entire cortex segments.
So, if I had to make a guess, I would say that we aren't observing simply sensory or cognitive degradation in the young generation. What we are observing, I suspect, is the change in the brain which amounts to giving up the ability to, say, distinguish super-fine color shades, but gains the ability to cope with absolutely massive information streams. I suspect it's not a simple degradation but a trade-off, and one we might make willingly if we understood what is being traded for what.
works at the University of NH IIRC, and I can dig up his name if I have to.