Your Brain on Computers

Matthew D. Richtel
2010 Putlizer Prize winner, The New York Times
Play (61min) Download: MP4 | MP3

Keynote sponsored by the IEEE

What does heavy use of technology do to our brains? Matt Richtel who has been with the New York Times since 2000, has recently dedicated many of his articles and other writing to exactly this topic. He highlights a new research stream pointing at the unanticipated side effects of electronic devices: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas. Early research indicates that the effects can be as significant as eating too much meat or consuming too much alcohol.

In 2010, Matt Richtel won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for ‘Driven to Distraction,’ a series of articles on the troubling collision of 20th and 21st century technologies-driving and multitasking. The series generated the biggest impact of anything The Times published in 2009. The term ‘distracted driving’ became so familiar that Webster’s New World chose it as its 2009 ‘Word of the Year.’

In his more recent articles, Mr Richtel focuses on the way digital devices deprive the brain from necessary downtime.