In modern society, we are surrounded by information. Whether we are looking at twitter, texts, status updates, constant emails, or accessing infinite amounts of information on the internet, our brains are processing an overwhelming quantity of data. Is all this information a really a good thing?

In a study done at Temple University an MRI scan showed a brain that had just processed information. The prefrontal cortex lights up, just as it should. However when the brain was given too much information the activity stopped. Having too much information right in front of us is pushing our brain towards the less complex alternative; not processing anything at all. When we are given so much we have a hard time making decisions and so we chose to process less information. To give an example, imagine you are asked to choose any crayon in a box of 12. You would naturally choose your color quickly knowing that you only have a few to choose from. However if you were asked to choose one crayon from a box of 99, you’d probably just opt out of using crayons at all. 

Consequently, our brains eventually choose to stop processing so much and rather process what is at hand. We forget about the past information because we are “programmed” to only handle a certain amount. Avoiding this information overload will actually give you the exact results you want. When our brains process less, they tend to think better. If we are making our best decisions without the help of all this info, why are we given it? There is only so much information the human brain can process at any given point and more is definitely not better. 

 

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Can Too Much Information Be a Bad Thing? by Cheryl is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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5 Comments
  1. Melissa 9 months ago

    Cheryl,
    I know that I am guilty of bombarding myself with too much information. With so much available its hard to pick out what is correct and even harder to find what is important. I think its interesting that our brains function better when handling less information. This post reminded me of some of the reasons people are so found of meditation and mindfulness practices. I really liked your crayon analogy and can totally think of instances that too many choices made taking action much harder. Thanks for your interesting post!

  2. Sean 9 months ago

    Cheryl,
    This is a very important issue that I myself have dealt with, when faced with many different problems or many different things happening at once I find myself just shutting down or just trying to focus on one thing at a time and struggling. The overload of information is definitely not better. it needs to be less.

  3. NIki 10 months ago

    Cheryl, I thought this was very interesting. I agree that my attention span has gotten very short and I am often unwilling or unable to stay focused on one thing or ill be overloaded with to much that will keep me from getting anything useful done. Overall I think technology and all this info we have everywhere can be very useful if we use it right, but can also hinder us.
    I saw this article about flooding your brains engine with too much if you would like to check it out

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conquering-cyber-overload/201102/flooding-your-brain-s-engine-how-you-can-have-too-much-good

  4. Colin 10 months ago

    Cheryl I found your piece very intriguing, and very relatable. The amount of activity an average teenager does on a device connected to the internet is astonishing. The fact that too much information actually inhibits learning is very interesting. I have come to notice this when I try to cram for an exam, or practicing for sports. I think we have lost our way of studying effectively. We either study way to much to the point of exhaustion, or get to bored with the material. I found an article on why students get bored and don’t perform well. https://www.livescience.com/23493-why-we-get-bored.html
    Great work Cheryl, I can’t wait to see what your write next.

  5. Catherine 10 months ago

    Cheryl, I thought this was really interesting, and I notice it happening a lot in my day to day life. For example, I can’t work on math for more than two hours, even if it’s a concept I’m really good at, because I start forgetting everything and making careless mistakes. This also happens to me in Theater, where the fiftieth time I recite a monologue when I’m trying to memorize I actually make more mistakes than my earlier attempts at working on it.
    I found this article about having information at our fingertips which might interest you if you want to research further into this topic and how it relates to decision making. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/glue/201212/why-too-much-data-disables-your-decision-making
    Keep it up, this was a really cool topic to learn about.

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