Cognitive Sensations: Attention and Memory in the Digital Age

22nd January 2019 (7pm)

Join us on January 22nd at 7 pm for the second panel discussion of Cognitive Sensations, to discuss the impact of digital technology on attention and memory.

In his book ‘The Shallows’, author Nicholas Carr describes a new kind of mind that is emerging as a result of our engagement with digital technology.

“Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster, the better.” (Carr, N, 2011, p10)

This reference is illustrative of the time we have found ourselves within, where there is a compulsion within parts of our society to acquire and produce information at such a rapid rate, that it is affecting the way that we expect to process information. At just a click or swipe of our finger, our digital handheld devices enable us to store large amounts of data; scroll through websites, blogs and articles; take and upload photos to social media via a stream that is synonymous with daily activity.

This ability to manage outgoing and incoming information at such a fast rate, has awarded us with the fantastic ability to move between numerous tasks and forms of media. The argument at hand questions how efficient and beneficial this is for us. Does spreading our attention across a number of tasks split our focus? If so, does this decrease our ability to focus on singular tasks? To what extent can we we control these changes? And is there any point in fighting it?

With a recent report by Ofcom (2017) reporting that we are on average spending nine hours per day on various digital devices, and with young adults (16-24 yrs) even spending up to 14 hours on screens, this roundtable discussion is rather timely. So join us at our upcoming event, Attention and Memory in the Digital Age, where will examine if this fast rate of information exchange is affecting the functions in our brain responsible for storing and processing information, and if so, how. We will be examining attention and memory, and new neuroscientific perspectives on multitasking and cognitive load.

We’re delighted to have Prof Nilli Lavie, Vanessa Bartlett, and Dr Btihaj Ajana  join us.

This will also be an exciting opportunity to take part in A Semantic Survey of Forms, an artistic experiment exploring sensory experience in an attention era. This is a newly commissioned artwork by artist Marcos Lutyens and neuroscientist Richard Cytowic as part of this project Cognitive Sensations. How has the digital age impacted object engagement when experiences are often experienced and lived through a screen?


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Cognitive Sensations is a programme investigating the neurological effects of the digital age. Featuring talks, artworks and debates, the programme will uncover several concepts exploring the physiological and psychological changes occurring in humans, as a result of their engagement with digital technology.

Drawing on a range of neurological topics such as perception, memory and attention, Cognitive Sensations is taking place between November 2018 – May 2019, and is hosted by FACT in Liverpool and THECUBE in London, and curated by Gabriella Warren-Smith.