Where Imagination Outshines Memorization

Does life online give you ‘popcorn brain’?

By Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent, CNN

(CNN) — When Hilarie Cash arrives home from work in the evening, she has a choice: She can go outside and tend to her garden or she can hop on her laptop.

The lilacs really need weeding. The computer, on the other hand, can wait, as her work is done for the day.

Despite this, Cash feels drawn to the computer, as if it’s a magnet pulling her in. Maybe there’s an e-mail from a friend awaiting her, or a funny tweet, or a new picture posted on Facebook.

“I find it extremely difficult to walk away,” Cash says. “It’s so hard to tell myself, ‘Don’t do it. Go do the gardening.’ ”

Does it really matter if Cash gardens or goes online? Increasing, experts say it does. The worry is that life online is giving us what researcher, David Levy, calls “popcorn brain” — a brain so accustomed to the constant stimulation of electronic multitasking that we’re unfit for life offline, where things pop at a much slower pace.

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