I know I shouldn’t be chatting with people, because it’s — it’s — it’s there. MILES O’BRIEN: And all of this is likely affecting the Jains’ brains at a crucial phase in their development, but how?So, the size of the brain gets set surprisingly young. MILES O’BRIEN: Watch what happens when I try to interview her. Do you think that — of course, with i Chat, it kind of helps. MILES O’BRIEN: Just checking — what were you checking? MILES O’BRIEN: Gary Small is a psychiatry professor at UCLA and co-author of “i Brain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.” He says we are creating a generation of technology addicts, for real.
And it does this through a process called pruning — it’s kind of a gardening metaphor — of eliminating extra connections. This is the time when human beings learn to live independently in their environment — 10,000 years ago, teens would have been learning how to stay warm, what berries to eat, or how to hunt. answering the call of duty with his pal Dylan (ph). MILES O’BRIEN: On the other side of the apartment is 16-year-old Connery, who presides over a nonstop virtual salon. MILES O’BRIEN: You just couldn’t even — you couldn’t even do the interview without doing a quick check, right, you know? It’s the drug our body secretes when we do something pleasurable and/or addictive. GARY SMALL: What the technology really does, it accelerates anything that is human, anything that we like. Enough to save multitasking face and get me into the functional MRI, which images blood flow in the brain to show which areas are in use. This is my brain listening to just one question, and here I am trying to answer two at once.MILES O’BRIEN: It’s a school night, and the 16-year-old Jain twins, Rakhee and Anika, have a heavy load of homework ahead of them. All the participants come in every two years for a gauntlet of tests, including some time in a magnetic resonance imaging machine, which captures the development of their brains in vivid detail. JAY GIEDD: So, we were quite surprised to find that, by age 6, the brain is already over 90 percent of adult size. (LAUGHTER) CONNERY O’BRIEN: I am looking at funny pictures on Facebook. Their brains are wired to use it well, use it effectively. And then you have got three type — three kinds of homework that you are working on at the same time? MILES O’BRIEN: The Jains are like most kids these days. Neuroscientist Jay Giedd hopes to have an answer before too long. JAY GIEDD, neuroscientist, National Institute of Mental Health: The Internet and i Pods and Facebook and all of these video games, and these changes are so recent in terms of human history, that it is going to be very interesting to see how the brain adapts to doing all these different things, and often many of them at the same time.No disagreement from the “Halo” legend known as Flamesword, AKA Michael Chaves.
JIM LEHRER: Now: What happens to teenage brains in a multitasking, digital age? ANIKA JAIN, 16 Years Old: Well, right now, I am working on my physics lab and my “Hamlet” essay. MILES O’BRIEN: So, you have got the Facebook, a couple of — you have some chats going? It is second nature for them to be online, on the air, typing, texting, posting, perusing, constantly connected. Yes, but perpetually tempted and, well, to my eyes, distracted. MILES O’BRIEN: The Jains are part of a 20-year study Dr.
News Hour science correspondent Miles O’Brien has our look. I am also on Gmail doing chat and on Facebook chat. RAKHEE JAIN, 16 Years Old: Well, I am doing my math homework. Giedd is conducting at the National Institute of Mental Health to better understand how the adolescent brain develops. GARY SMALL, UCLA: Digital natives are essentially young people who grow up with the technology 24/7.