"It's an unnecessary burden if we have to learn how to use a new technology or device, but the tool causes more trouble than it is useful”, says brain researcher Katri Saarikivi.

Technology complements human abilities – Neuroscientist says technological innovations are meant to enhance cooperation

Smart clothes help people with speech difficulties, a smart watch analyzes our health, and a smart ring detects an intoxicating substance in a drink. Moreover, smartphones are ubiquitous in our pockets, and technological aids are integral to our daily work. Can we live without technology anymore, and do we even need to? 

"Different skills have been important at different times, but at each point in time, it has been important to know how to use the current technology," says neuroscientist Katri Saarikivi.

Saarikivi is a cognitive neuroscience researcher in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Her research interests include learning, empathy, cooperation, and how these work in online environments.

"The brain perspective is emphasized when technology penetrates so much into the thinking area. The use of technology aims to automate certain thought functions, which is a completely rational aim. Our innate abilities come second to a machine in many areas, such as memory accuracy and processing speed." 

What is the optimal relationship between technology and the human brain? 

Today's people are utterly dependent on technology. We have complemented our abilities with various tools since the prehistoric axe. Our problem-solving ability grew exponentially when modern technology entered the picture. 

"Our living environment and we humans are glazed with technology. Clothes and for example glasses are early technology, buildings are technology, and various smart devices have appeared in our lives in recent decades. Our relationship with technology is optimal when it helps our species survive, solve problems, and improve. It does not depend on the quantity of technology, but on how we use it." 

The faster technology develops, the more it demands that we are optimistic about technology and eager to learn. If learning how to use a technological program or tool causes more distress than delight, it is called a technological burden. 

"It's an unnecessary burden if we have to learn how to use a new technology or device, but the tool causes more trouble than it is useful." 

The computer is not a mediator of empathy – Communication tools lag behind development 

Interaction with a colleague can lead to brain synchronization at best. This, in common parlance, brain synch, can be seen in the electroencephalogram (EEG). It means that the brain works as if it were in the same rhythm: for example, the activity intensifies at the same time in specific frequency bands. 

"Brain synch predicts a better connection between people and performance in tasks that require cooperation," Saarikivi clarifies. 

Inter-brain synchronization, or brain synch, has been scientifically studied a little. However, we have been using the idiom "getting on the same wavelength" for a long time. It refers to when you don't have to guess the other person's thoughts, but you are of one mind. Or that there is no friction in the interaction, and things roll along without much thought. The best kind of interaction is one that requires only a little thinking. 

The enduring goal of technology is to enhance the efficiency of human activities. However, there ian urgent need for the development of communication tools. The quality of interaction is compromised as essential information is overlooked, due to technological shortcomings. 

"Current interaction technology can disrupt brain synchronization. Many people have already noticed that people talk over each other in a video call more than they would face-to-face. This is because even a small delay causes difficulties in taking turns and problems with syncopation. Deciphering body language is a game of milliseconds. I dream that in the future, technology will enable a better connection than face-to-face contact. Only then would the tool do what it ought to. Why should we be satisfied that the interaction tools do not support the mechanisms that create the best connection between people?" Saarikivi summarizes. 


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