Saturday, 28 August 2010

Electronic Distractions

I recently read a New York Times article about how we spend too much time using electronic gadgets, whether it's a BlackBerry, video games, TV and computers.

Hong Kong is no exception. In the elevators people are on their BlackBerries checking for the latest messages -- even those who are on their way to yoga class.

But trying to stimulate our attention or relieve boredom with these gadgets may not be such a good idea.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco found that if rats have a new experience, like exploring a new area, their brains show patterns of activity. But it's when they take a break from exploration are they able to process it to create a persistent memory of the experience.

And the scientists think this conclusion applies to humans too.

"Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it's had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories," said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, "you prevent this learning process."

However, games now have the pause button available to stop at anytime or now they are being designed so that you can play them for "micro-moments", says Sebastien de Halleux, a co-founder of PlayFish that was bought out by gaming giant Electronic Arts.

I can understand people using things like BlackBerries for business, but does a taitai really need to check her messages every five minutes?

At the gym there are people who have to watch TV or listen to music in order to work out. And some gyms even offer movies on DVD for people who need to watch a two-hour movie to get enough exercise. How you can run and concentrate on a movie I don't know.

If you need entertainment as motivation to work out, then you're not really exercising for your health but just to pass the time. Not really constructive.

For swimmers like myself, there are no distractions. It's just us and the water.

It's a good place to be.

1 comment:

  1. yes after the first couple of laps , when the endophin kicks in you are in a semi-trance state. that is the time the mind rests. you are somewhat euphoric and just keep on with your strokes, counting your breaths. after so may laps you are done refreshed, renewed. same principle with tai chi- you mesmerize yourself practicing the different movements and breathing slowly in and out. when all the movements are done you feel like a million.