Technology and the Brain: Lessons from Patient Care, Social Media and the Internet

Donald M. Hilty*

Technology and the Brain: Lessons from Patient Care, Social Media and the Internet.

Technology is sweeping through our society in unparalleled fashion, affecting our day-to-day
life, education, social relationships, healthcare and business. Our human experience and neuroscience both determine how we interface with technology such that we have “good” and “bad” experiences.

With regard to healthcare, the patient-centered era features quality, affordable, and timely care; technology is a key part of that, particularly among younger generations. Indeed, the consumer movement related to new technologies may be passing some clinicians by, as new ways of communicating with others.

Cognitive psychology focuses on learning, memory and perception. Learning is a complex neurobiological and social phenomenon. How we learn is dependent on our personal
experience and professional training, including what is formally taught and what we learn
on our own. Discussing what we know, what we don’t, and how to learn better/more is a key
developmental step. Evaluating our strengths and weaknesses is also essential for professional
development. Using our ‘best’ learning styles and facilitating others’ gives us many ways to
approach problems.

Neurobiology informs us on learning, including Hebbian theory about adaptation of neurons in the brain during this process. Synaptic plasticity and increased synaptic efficacy arises from the presynaptic cell’s repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic cell.
Similarly, behaviorists think of animal learning as the ingraining of habit by repetition. Injury
and mental illness disrupt this. Repetition and planned redundancies help us enhance our retention by allowing us to “relearn” things as we build toward more complex skills.

The patient-centered healthcare movement and technology have interesting intersections in psychiatry. The field of child and adolescent psychiatry is rapidly trying to adjust to the use of social media and patient-doctor texting, e-mailing and such; this research is different than neurobiology, autism, and genomics; even beyond clinically based innovations.

Psychol Cogn Sci Open J. 2017; 3(3): 89-93. doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-3-128