Fact or Fiction - Advent of the Twitter brain

January 17, 2012

Screen-based reading—computer monitors, cellphones, tablets—has some researchers expressing concern about the potential loss of peoples’ ability to think deeply. The Globe and Mail (December 12, 2011) reported that University of Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield warned that “Internet-driven ‘mind change’ was comparable with climate change as a threat to the species, ‘skewing the brain’ to operate in an infantilized mode and creating ‘a world in which we are all required to become autistic.’” Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, commented: “I do think something is going to be lost with the Twitter brain.” The hyperlinked, text-messaging screen “pulls attention with such rapidity it doesn’t allow the kind of deep, focused attention that reading a book” provides, Wolf said.

Going to the dogs

An Alberta teacher who spends his summers teaching in conflict zones around the world is now proud father to seven stray dogs he rescued from Afghanistan. Spencer Sekyer, a teacher at ­Clover Bar Junior High School, in Sherwood Park, found a ­mother and her six puppies in a gutter in Kabul. Thanks to ­Sekyer’s efforts, the dogs were rescued and flown to Canada. Air Canada waived its $28,000 fee to fly the animals, and Sekyer and his wife climbed Mount ­Kilimanjaro as part of their ­fundraising efforts. “It’s been a crazy ride but it’s all worth it,” observed Sekyer.