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  • Writer's pictureDr. Emi Garzitto

Your Brain on Twitter Notes

How It All Began

5 billion years ago Life Began!

300 million years ago: Development of Reptilian Brain (Brain Stem)

100 million years ago: Development of Emotional Brain (Amygdala)

70 million years ago: Development of Thinking Brain

4 million – 2 million years ago: Arrival of first hominines Australopithecus

2 million – 1.4 million years ago: Arrival of Homo Habilis First to create simple tools

2 million years ago: Homo Erectus

280,000 years ago: Neanderthal

200,000-160,000 years ago Homo Sapiens originated in savannas of Africa

Chimps, bonobos and human all derived from a common ancestor 7 million years ago.

We are not the only ones with complex brains: chimps, dolphins and crows also have powerful, complex brains.

Neanderthals lived alongside Homo Sapiens at least for some time and they had bigger brains than Homo Sapiens.

100 million years ago: Development of Emotional Brain (Amygdala)

Bi-pedalism came earlier than brain growth.

74,000 years ago climate cooled and destroyed most of Homo Sapien population resulting in a very small gene pool.

Collective learning, the accumulation of ideas and knowledge for one generation to the next increased human development.

The ability of a species to retain more information with one generation than is lost by the next.

Homo Habilis – 98% of calories came from berries and leaves. Needed to chew up to 9 hours a day.

When Homo Sapiens began to eat meat and make fire, it allowed for an energy transfer as stomach became more streamlined.

At this time the brain grew 35%.

71,000 – 55,000 years ago began moving across and out of Africa

55,000 years ago Arrived in Southeastern Asia (Denisovan extinction)

45,000 years ago arrived in Western Europe (Neanderthal extinction) and in Australia (extinction of megafauna)

35,000 years ago arrived into Artic

14,000 years ago arived in North America (extinction of megafauna)

13,500 years ago arrived in South America (extinction of megafauna)

Our feeling brain has evolved over 100 million years and our thinking brain has evolved over 70 million years, but made its greatest leaps over the last 60,000 years

Our frontal cortex, the part responsible for thinking, reasoning, executive functioning, evolved as we:

Ate protien and fat

Moved a lot

Worked in collectives

We seem to have arrived, as McLuhan said we would, at an important juncture in our intellectual and cultural history, a moment of transition between two very different modes of thinking.

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows

A distraction is…A chemical, physical, mental, emotional response that removes you from the responsibility of managing a felt experience.

Examples can include: online games, reading emails, online searching, all “addictions” such as gambling, compulsive eating, drugs, alcohol, exercise, dieting, and…

Anything that takes you away from attending to and listening to your felt experiences can be considered a distraction.

Distractions can bring both a benefit or deficit to our bodies and brains.

Our old linear thought process: 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 linear, literary mind has been at the center of art, science and society…

It may soon be yesterday’s mind.

There is evidence that the cells of our brains literally develop and grow bigger with use, and atrophy or waste away with disuse.

It may be therefore that every action leaves some permanent print upon the nervous tissue.

The brain’s plasticity is not limited to the somatosensory cortex, the area that governs our sense of touch. It’s universal. Virtually all of our neural circuits, whether they’re involved in feeling, seeing, hearing, moving, thinking, learning, perceiving, or remembering – are subject to change.

Neurons seem to want to receive input. (David Hubel David Hunter Hubel was a Canadian neurophysiologist noted for his studies of the structure and function of the visual cortex. The Shallows, p. 26, 29)

… the more energy our brains use to make it true...

The more a sufferer concentrates on his symptoms, the deeper those symptoms are etched into his neural circuits. In the worst cases, the mind essentially trains itself to be sick. (The Shallows, p. 35)

Writing and Typing are not the same thing…

You use over 200 muscles to write something by hand.

You use 34 muscles to type.

Hand writing:

increases retention of material,

greater ability to recall information both short term and long term

think about the information more critically. (

Even after a week of review, the students who took notes in longhand were found to do significantly better than the other students in the experiment, including the fleet typists — those who transcribed the lectures. The researchers were surprised to find that even after some of the laptop users were explicitly told to not transcribe the lectures word-for-word, they still typed verbatim notes, which lead to a lower quality of learning. “Apparently there is something about typing that leads to mindless processing. And there is something about ink and paper that prompts students to go beyond merely hearing and recording new information…” according to the APS blog post.)

Evolution and the Brain References

A Short History of Nearly Everything

The World Without Us

Big History Project

Distraction and the Brain

Nicholas Carr:

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

The Shallows:

Benefits of Play

Conflict and communication practice

Important for Social Emotional Learning

Promotes proper brain development

Promotes problem solving and creativity

Practices Convergent and Divergent Thinking.

The power of play:

Our Brains on Twitter

Favour quick responses, quick results and efficient outcomes

Electronic play does not utilize our bodies and movement, which is where social, emotional learning takes place.

Electronic play does not provide the repetitive practice required to help children learn social cues, emotional responses and collective behaviors such as sharing, taking turns and negotiating needs.

Schools and Homes need to put back in, what electronic time takes away:

Unstructured play

Outdoor activity

Quiet environments

Eye Hand Activities

Single Focus Activities

Human connection and interaction


Take small steps

Repeat them daily

Reinforce success

Create consistent routines

Do less

Have less


Eat meals together with no electronic devices including the TV

Have 30 minute family time where all electronic devices are shut off and everyone is gathered in the same location

Initiate 20 minute family walks

Work together on a project – puzzles, Lego buildings, art projects, baking, ect.

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