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Modern technology depletes human cognitive abilities more rapidly than drugs, according to a psychiatric study conducted at King's College, London. And the curse of 'messaging' is to blame.

Email users suffered a 10 per cent drop in IQ scores, more than twice the fall recorded by marijuana users, in a clinical trial of over a thousand participants. Doziness, lethargy and an inability to focus are classic characteristics of a spliffhead, but email users exhibited these particular symptoms to a "startling" degree, according to Dr Glenn Wilson.

The deterioration in mental capacity was the direct result of the trialists' addiction to technology, researchers discovered.

Email addicts were bombarded by context switches and developed an inability to distinguish between trivial and significant messages. Incredibly, 20 per cent of trialists jeopardized their immediate social relations by rushing off to "check their messages" in the middle of a conversation.

Wilson's research is no flash in the pan. Computer technology in its modern, "interconnected" form is dumbing down the population more rapidly than television.

A study of 100,000 school children in over 30 countries around the world testified that non-computer using kids performed better in literacy and numeracy schools than PC-using children. Education experts have dubbed it the "problem solving deficit disorder".

Awash with facts, we've forgotten how to think.

King's College's pioneering study focussed solely on messaging - but there are many other emerging technologies that could be dumbing down technologies too, and their consequences haven't been fully explored.

World peace - through a computer [The Guardian]

We look forward to studies that examine the IQ lossage involved in the many other unavoidable parts of everyday life. Chores such as editing the Windows Registry (-2) , writing a weblog (-15), or reading the Ask Jack column in The Guardian (-175). ®

Related link

Emails 'pose threat to IQ'

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