Neuroscientist says young brains being reshaped by technology

Is there a danger kids will stop using their imaginations?

Baroness Greenfield: 'Information isn't knowledge."
Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has warned that people's brains could be being reshaped by digital technology.

In a public lecture at the University of South Australia, Baroness Greenfield said the impact on young people in particular was a concern as they were growing up knowing nothing else but a wired world.

But if you were bombarded with data and information there was a risk you couldn't work out which were important and which weren't.

"The issue is that information isn't knowledge. Of course you can be bombarded with endless information, endless facts, but if you can't make sense of them one fact is the same as any other fact," she told ABC radio.

She said that, confronted with on-screen information that other people provided, there was risk that children would stop using their imaginations.

Online "friends" were often people more like an audience.

"You are out to entertain and seek their approval and the danger lies then in constructing an artificial identity that's not really you at all," she said.

"As a neuroscientist I am very aware that the brain adapts to its environment ... all these things will inevitably shape who you are," she said.

She said it was important that we had a wide discussion over the issues.

"What we need to decide - and there's not an easy answer, there never is - is what kind of society we want, what kind of world do we want to live in?" she said.

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