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Doors: 7pm Talk starts: 7.30pm
*Ticket Includes 1 Selected Soft or Alcoholic Drink*
Humans have been termed «hypersocial animals.» Our ability to share concepts, to communicate, and to co-operate have enabled us to do and create more than any other species on Earth. But the way we communicate is changing.
In the brain of an individual, the attention system selects important information, highlights it, and makes sure that we act upon it. In the collective mind of a society, this role is played by the networks which route conversation and news between individuals and groups.
The rise of broadcast media in the first half of the 20th century changed the way Western society processes information. The advent of the Internet caused another major change. Over the last 15 years, the intermediary of the publisher-broadcaster has lost its central role; the Web and social media have decentralised our web of communication and opened up new forms of discourse.
Psychology and cognitive neuroscience show us that social media is gradually but deeply changing the ways in which we communicate. In this talk, we examine recent results on adolescent depression, body image, and behaviour change (the «extended chilling effect»).
Why these harmful effects? To explain, we trace the history of online communication and social media, showing how a once-open system has been gradually taken over by two forces which can be very harmful to open, free discourse: targeted advertising and political influence.
We conclude by investigating how attention research can inform the design of online communication services and exploring how they can serve us better.
Dr Fintan Nagle is a vision scientist and cognitive psychologist. After Masters degrees in computational biology, his doctoral work investigated, for the first time, the mechanisms of temporal visual search on dynamic natural scenes.
Fintan is now a postdoc at UCL, working on the mechanisms of attention and task switching in automated driving. He is also Convenor for Psychology at New College of the Humanities, where he has developed and taught four undergraduate Psychology modules. He has also taught at MSc level at UCL CoMPLEX, Moorfields Eye Hospital and Imperial College.
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