It is becoming the plague of our times. Check if the “popcorn brain” problem applies to you

It is becoming the plague of our times.  Check if the "popcorn brain" problem applies to you

Most of us probably feel a bit overwhelmed by the abundance of digital stimuli. The constant pace at which they reach us can also affect our brain. We explain what the “popcorn brain” phenomenon is.

Although the term “popcorn brain” sounds extremely mysterious, this phenomenon may affect a really large group of people. The digital age affects our brain and may disrupt its functioning in some way. We live in a world where we receive an abundance of information. For several hours a day, some people scroll the Internet, looking at “news” from around the world. In the laptop, we switch between open tabs. Multitasking dominates the lives of almost all of us, and it is this that is responsible for the “popcorn brain”.

What is “popcorn brain”?

The term “popcorn brain” first appeared in 2011 thanks to a scientist from the University of Washington. This term was coined by David Levy. This phenomenon occurs when we cannot concentrate on one thought or task. Our brain then “jumps” from one thing to another very quickly – like popping corn kernels while preparing popcorn. The metaphorical use of this popular snack may be the key to understanding why we find it so difficult to concentrate.

“Popcorn brain” is caused by multitasking and hyperactive thoughts as a result of the digital world. According to the creator of this term, our brain is so accustomed to constant digital activity – changing tabs while using the computer, new notifications popping up on the phone, application sounds – that it begins to imitate it itself. In practice, this means that as our attention is shortened to only one thing, task or activity, our ability to deep concentration also decreases. Additionally, it increases our stress level.

What are the consequences of “popcorn brain”?

Research shows that currently 62.3 percent of the world's population uses social media, and the average daily time of use is 2 hours and 23 minutes. Meanwhile, a study by the University of California, Irvine, found that the average time spent on any screen before switching to something else dropped from 2.5 minutes (in 2004) to 75 seconds (in 2012) and now stands at 47 seconds.

Such constant digital stimulation affects the performance of our brain, which tries to adapt to the requirements of multitasking and rapid information processing. This, in turn, may impair the ability to engage deeply in a task. This may result in potential problems with learning, memory, and even emotion regulation. It is then more difficult for us to concentrate because our brain “demands” constant stimulation. It may also have a negative impact on productivity and social interactions.

How to alleviate the symptoms of “popcorn brain”?

How can you alleviate the symptoms of this “popcorn brain”? One way is to limit your use of technology and set specific time frames. Doing such “digital detoxes” can help our brains rest. It is also worth focusing on various types of activities that do not use electronic devices, for example sports, meditation or reading, etc.

Another way is to “exercise” your brain by focusing only on a single activity and thus eliminating, at least for a moment, multitasking. It's also worth deleting some apps from your phones to limit pop-up notifications. Also check out natural ways to improve memory. You can also use tricks to improve your concentration without coffee.

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