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iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  44 reviews
“A book about your brain that should make you think—twice.”

—Alvin Toffler, New York Times bestselling author of Future Shock


In his book iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, Gary Small, one of America’s leading neuroscientists, explores the remarkable evolution of the human brain caused by today’s constant technological presence. Co-written wi
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by William Morrow (first published October 1st 2008)
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3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Christine Cavalier
Don't bother with this book unless:
1. you are a Baby Boomer who is feeling overwhelmed with the web, and would like to commiserate with one of your own.
2. If you are internet addicted and in turn socially inept (there are a few pages of self-help advice).

Interspersed in all of this split personality pages are a few references to fMRI studies of which areas of the brain light up when we are completing internet tasks. You won't be able to pinpoint the studies, though, because the author doesn't
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
It does have some interesting insights in the first few chapters. The author, Gary Small, was clearly introduced to computers as an adult, and speaks about their usage with the accent of an immigrant to the digital world (to borrow one of his own descriptions). Often, his description of some aspect of online culture seems just a bit "off"--he's writing about something he's observed and studied, not something in which he's a full and comfortable participant. That occasional bit of jarring drawbac ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
Gary Small writes for the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American...among others...powerful teaching illustration for us all on pg. 94
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
iBrain is a book that makes us aware of the technological changes on the planet today and the impacts it has on the mind. It is a great book talking about the advantages of being born in such a technological world like the ability to multi-task and also explains the apparent disadvantages like a lack of social skills and communication. It is definitely not a novel and It really has no spoilers. It is like one massive news article which I believe people more interested in facts and non-fiction ma ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
The author could have (should have, really) cited the researches he mentions in-text. It's unnecessarily difficult for readers to connect them with the references.
Otherwise an interesting book.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I thought this was a unique look at how the human brain processes things differently - even using different areas of the brain - as a result of technology in our lives. Most of it is really interesting in a discovery-channel kind of way, but the last two chapters are so elementary that they come across as a bit condescending. (Then again the last two chapters are designed to help digital addicts and digital retards, so if you are neither of those things you can skip them.) And unfortunately the ...more
Another recent Kinokuniya find! Should be great to stimulate debate. The book has has two extremes ...the extremely interesting parts like the introduction of the newly-coined phrase continuous partial attention and how the middle-aged brain approaches problem solving compared to the teenager. Some good fMRI studies cited as well. But then there are the extremely bad parts ...long passages of generalizations about digital natives (does anyone else hate that term as much as I do?) and digital imm ...more
Marissa Morrison
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
This would be a useful book for seniors who are just learning how to use the internet--people the author refers to as "digital immigrants." This book contains lots of basic practical info about how to format email, use search engines effectively, etc.

The author seems to approach his topic from an "us versus them" standpoint, contrasting digital immigrants like himself with the younger crowd ("digital natives"). He suggests that people who make use of the internet are more likely to be socially
Jo-Ann Murphy
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about how the brain is being changed by technology, and not always for the better. Humans have always been able to adapt and change but now there is a real gap in knowledge and abilities between those born and educated before the technological revolution and those born since.

I do think the authors tend to generalize too much and for people who are very familiar with computers at times he may come across as condescending. However, for people who are totally unfamiliar with c
Eric Nelson
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned
Smart�s book is technical enough for someone with a background in biological studies to find detailed analysis of the modern brain while accessible enough for someone whose curiosity stems from cultural and anthropological side of things. It�s central questions are important�it seems as although our brains give us tendencies for certain lifestyle patterns, they are also amiable enough to become so adapted to our technology that we not only physically crave it, we go through physical withdrawal w ...more
Dec 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: technology fans
Shelves: science, 2009, nonfiction
This is an interesting book that discusses technology's impact on our brain. I liked the discussions of the pros and cons of technology's impact on our brain and behavior, and I really liked the areas where he discusses the rapid evolutionary changes that are taking place because of the exponentially faster and better technological improvements.

I didn't like the psychobabble that seemed to dominate the second half of the book. I understand that part of the book's purpose was to propose a set of
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this book was not what I thought it was going to be about--I think it's geared towards the older generation, which is fine, just not for me. I am not sure they had a very good editing team (page 119 drops off in the middle of a sentence) and the most recent research the authors use is from 2008. It was fun doing the inventory questions with Jacob and seeing how we stacked against each other and some of the scientific brain information was cool, but other than that, a waste of 10 b ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit, read-in-2010
If this book were a brief article, with proper citations, I could have found it more useful. It was not at all what I was expecting, which was less whining about how "digital natives" (I am really coming to hate that term) think differently than older generations, and more on the science.

I only read to the end of the fourth chapter. After so many references to the quiz to see if you are, in fact, addicted to the internet, and seeing a plethora of non-captioned drawings that vaguely illustrate th
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The concept of this book is good, I was looking forward to reading a book discussing the development of the human brain when exposed to modern devices and stimuli. It started strong, but soon became repetitive and toward the end became pretty much a manual for the "digital immigrants" to gain a general understanding of what the "digital natives" do daily. Beyond the early parts of the book, the brain development aspects were all but thrown aside. I would recommend the first few chapters to many ...more
Jun 26, 2009 rated it liked it
The first part of this one, which described the neurological ramifications of early and prolonged exposure to technology and the lifestyle it encourages, was interesting and excellent. I was disappointed, then, to feel the book fragmenting as it moved forward until, by the end, it was slapdash and unpolished. Chapters on handling your email and coding your text messages seemed to me grossly out of place in a book that started out with serious scientific and cultural pretentions.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sociology
I wasn't very impressed, and I fully disagree with many of the author's claims. One of the main points that the author makes over and over again is that technology is hampering people's social skills, especially those of younger generations. I think this is a bias of perception. Younger people may have different social conventions or skills that older people don't recognize or prefer, but that doesn't mean they are less socially mature.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A readable book on how technology being so entrenched in our current way of life is actively affecting our brains and therefore our generations in terms of social skills and human interaction. At first, I thought this book's prose was cheesy and not well written but I later realized this made it much more accessible to people. The bibliography is filled with great studies that support the seemingly general statements made in the book.
Geroge Cohta
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan's iBrain is a fascinating book that details how technology is changing our brains. Their main thesis is that our brains and the brains of our children are much more plastic and changeable than we have been led to believe. They differentiate between digital immigrants: people who had to learn technology such as computers and cell phones as adults, and digital natives: people who have known technology since birth.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: no-way-to-live
I read this because it was on the references list for another book that I'm using as research, but I found much of the information to be outdated and/or common knowledge, so it wasn't very helpful. It was written in 2008, and it is interesting to see how quickly the technology has advanced, rendering the information from such a short time ago obsolete.
Josh Chalmers
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: technology
Although it has bright moments (e.g., the study the author facilitated where they used FMRI's to test whether or not people's brains are affected by 5 hours on Google), I certainly would not recommend this book to anyone who already knows a thing or two about technology.
Kelly Hayes
Jul 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
It sounded interesting and relevant, but I was prevented from reading beyond the first chapter by the horrendous way in which it was written. Every sentence seemed to be a factoid only vaguely connected to the others around it. It was the most poorly written non-fiction book I have ever read.
Oct 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
I couldn't even finish this book. It seemed both redundant and scatterbrained at the same time. Although I found the idea for the book interesting, I though the execution, organization, and writing in this book horrible.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Similar to The Shallows, this book discusses the potential problems that arise because of our fast-paced, information-filled, and technological environment. Unlike The Shallows, however, this author actually proposes some solutions and helpful practices.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book just didn't know what it wanted to be. It couldn't make up its mind whether it was a review of literature and case studies about how technology affects our brains or a self-help book for tech challenged Baby Boomers. In the end it got rather repetitive and then just plain boring.
William Chamberlin
Had some interesting studies on how the brain works but the authors felt the need to teach me about technology which by now is all outdated. The authors also believe in evolution which reveals an error in their reasoning.
Joe Haynes
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
This was an okay book. I was hoping for a bit more about techniques to use to help my brain deal with the huge level of static generate by today's electronic devices. What I found instead was quite a bit of material covering the symptoms of brain overload and little practical material.
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Takes a look at the impact of technology on our neural pathways and what this means in terms of interpersonal relations. Thought-provoking, at a minimum. Also very scary!
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Insight on effects of technology on modern brain and social section more appropriate for those new to modern technology.
Michael Nady
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
very interesting book
it describes 2 generations, one as being "Digital Natives" and the other being "Digitial Immigrants".
I'm sure you can guess which is which ;)
Rose Symotiuk
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Definitely worth a read. The outcome is that we still don't know the longterm effects of technology on the brain.
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