Some of the things we do daily are NOT helping us stay mentally sharp. In fact, although it may sound harsh, scientists say, these things are actually making us dumber! That's according to Nicholas Carr, who wrote the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. So, here's what's dumbing us down:
- Email! University of California researchers found that constantly checking email stresses us out, and reduces our ability to concentrate. The good news is: All we have to do to get smarter is to cut back. Because test subjects who limited their emailing to, say, a couple of specific times a day had lower blood pressure and better memory recall.
- Eating sugar. We ingest about 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup a year. And researchers at UCLA say that steady sugar consumption slows the brain, and reduces memory and our ability to learn in as little as six weeks.
- Our smartphones, which allow chronic, relentless multitasking. Brain expert Dr. Sandy Chapman says our phones keep us permanently distracted and that means we’re less able to absorb what we see, hear, and read.
- We’re only as smart as the TV we watch. A study found that people did worse on tests after reading a story about a stupid person. Researchers concluded that, what we consume mentally, directly affects our behavior. Which means, watching Honey Boo-Boo may be wasting away our brainpower.
- City living. A huge experiment at the University of Michigan found that people who walked through the city had learning problems, poor focus, and worse memory, compared to those who walked through a park. It’s partly because of increasing distractions, like traffic, lights and sirens. And partly due to air pollution from car exhaust, secondhand smoke, and factory emissions. Researchers at Columbia University found that the more air pollution children are exposed to, the lower their IQs.