Listening to your interview with Dr. Steven Yantis of Johns Hopkins knowing a Toronto man’s in critical condition due to a “cellphone” accident just hours earlier made it all the more powerful and immediate. ‘Spark’ (CBC.ca)
It demonstrates how technologies are impacting us beyond our ability to understand and/or adapt to them.
We’ve known of this dangerous inattention for a long time. I had a car cellphone in 1986. It was clear even then.
Still, there is a story within the story which is far bigger and more insidious. And we’ve been shunting it aside for 15 years.
The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins must be considered world leaders in researching the impact of cellphones on attention.
Yet incredibly, there’s a hole in this research study big enough to drive a Mac truck through.
Steve Yatis described research subjects listening to music while watching a screen and being observed by a functional MRI. And being observed by his team, of course. The basis for the interview was that this research result translates into the equivalent of someone listening on a cellphone. Not so.
Without knowing or addressing the many differences, one simple fact cries out for attention: Dr. Yantis’ research subjects were not actually on cellphones.
Cellphones radiation exerts all manner of effects on the brain. This radiation effects neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine, calcium e-flux and the blood brain barrier among others.
These biological effects directly relate to attention span and decision-making. To conduct any experiments without accommodating this effect and claiming equivalency – is hugely misleading in extrapolating any results.
And again, without addressing the avalanche of literature on cellphones and brain tumours – what about the impact of MRIs themselves? MRIs have not been researched thoroughly for their safety. The fact they have no x-rays means every one assumes they have no biological effects.
In fact, MRIs involve radio frequency (RF) waves which are classified as non-ionizing radiation. The very definition of non-ionizing radiation is ‘that which is too weak to break DNA strands’! Any high school kid could tell you that.
The assumption of MRI safety, like any assumption without benefit of rigorous and repeated research often comes back to bite you in the butt.
For example; RF waves do break DNA strands and so then mocks the very word ‘non-ionizing’. RF waves break single and double strands of DNA. Just to say, that’s very troubling.
But it brings us to the question of how much is the MRI itself polluting the results of functional MRIs not just in this instance but all such research.
How far behind are we in adapting to the health impacts of these ubiquitous technologies?
But hey, the good news is with 4.6 billion active “research subjects” … we are bound to catch up.