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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Obese Brain

Today, we live in a world in which most people in the developed countries have access to the high-speed Internet. Some say that we are living in the information age. The Internet gives us the ability to consume information 24 hours a day. And, this is in addition to TV, radio, print, etc. Just like the body grows with consumption of food, the brain grows with consumption of information. However, not all the information consumed by the brain is healthy, just like all the food we eat is not healthy.

Let's go back in time, when the only way to get food was physical labor. There were not many obese people at that time. Today, in many cases, genetics play a role in making people obese. However, the developed world has seen a significant rise in obesity since the industrial revolution. The easy accessibility of food with high fat content and reduction in physical labor have contributed to the rise of obesity.

Unlike the body which can not consume unlimited food, the brain can consume unlimited information. The only restriction is time. However, some people have a tendency to consume "junk" information like celebrity gossip and chatter with friends online, etc. over "healthy" information like learning a new subject and analyzing the impacts of recent world events. The concept is very similar to people preferring "junk" food like fries and wings over "healthy" food like fruits and vegetables. The problem is that the availability of "junk" information is continuously increasing and it is becoming tougher not to consume it. Since the time is limited, the consumption of "junk" information comes at the expense of "healthy" information.

For the most part, today's younger generation is much smarter than the previous generation and they do mass collaboration using the Internet to become even smarter. However, some of the younger people may develop obese brains in the coming years due to consumption of excessive "junk" information. Now, what does it mean? It means that just like obesity increases chances of some physical and mental diseases, in the same way the obese brain may increase chances of some mental and physical diseases. Furthermore, it may give rise to new disorders which we are not aware of today.