As promised the second part of Professor Merzenich's Future Salon talk. Enjoy.
You may want to jump to minute 44 where he lists 13 elements from as he says 1000s that have an influence on our brain plasticity development in ways that we don't yet comprehend and why he thinks that we are not evolved enough to handle the pace of development that we are jumping in literally head first:
We are driving culture too fast and are too dump to understand the consequences.
- Cutting umbilical cord too early: Leads to 2 minutes of no oxygen to the brain, which is a suspect for the rise in autism.
- Only very few drugs have been studied regarding their influence on the brain.
- Chemical safety regulations: 100s of 1000s of chemicals are created every year and they are only banned if there is a clear demonstration of harm.
- Car seats (He put that one up for fun). Is it a good idea to put our little kids into little prisons? Same with making our babies sleep on their back. Consequence is that the baby is slower in regards to crawling.
His prediction: We will have a female president in the future and she will be very authoritarian because of the restrictions put on her via our current car seats.
The interest of our children to go to the outdoors or to the parks will continue to decline because our children don't see what is happening outside of the car window.
We come from growing up in the wilderness and we are now wilderness deprived.
- We have paved our ways. We have hard shoes to take away the unevenness. Our brains are amazing at balancing out the differences and it actually burns lots of calories doing it, but we don't want hardship. It is not a surprise that it has been proven, that people living on cobble stone streets are healthier. It is one of the reasons why in old age we are frailer than we should be. We were not designed for paved roads.
- Hand held devices.
- We systematically make our children being afraid of all adults. What a screwy idea to make every child being afraid of every adult. It's insane.
- TV addiction
- Taking executive control of our children's lives. [24 hour surveillance.] Shouldn't that be one of your main goals to give our kids the executive control of their lives?
- Video games.
- Narcissism: One word Twitter. [Comment: That on a day when I twitter more than ever ;-)] Let's all be really self-interested. Let's practice many hours a day on how cool we are.
- Pornography and media: Is that really a good idea? Praying to the lowest denominator?
- By using GPS your brain shrinks. London taxi drivers are able to pass the license test after 3 years of studying, aka driving around on scooters to memorize streets. One year after introducing GPS the London taxi driver's extended brain shrunk back to the usual size. [Comment: There is always a trade-off. Since we can read, we can't remember as good as we used to. We just didn't know how big the difference is for your brain. Another proof of use it or loose it.]
One of our problems is, that these things are just too complicated to do anything about them.
We have about 1000 things that are really important, most of them we don't even know about. Individually we may know about one of them deeply, may be a handful, but that is it.
We have to figure out how we as a society get true expertise around these problems to resolve them and we have to figure out how by accepting our individual limitations we can accept societal solutions.
We have a long long way to go to do that and we may be incapable to do it, because remember we are inherently selfish, a fundamental problem that we have to deal with.
We are at the beginning of enlightenment or disaster. Somehow we have to bring science and knowledge back into this for a true understanding of what we are.
In a sense the only hope we have really is to identify what we are and accept what we are with our limitations.