New Science, New Solutions: Technology and the Brain main content.

Technology and the Brain

Part of New Science, New Solutions

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Brain with green circuits

Does babies’ exposure to digital technologies like smartphones and touchpads affect the way their brains develop? How is technology shaping our cognitive abilities, attention span, and mental prowess? As “digital natives” enter the professional workforce, employers must find ways to balance the skills and capabilities of a new generation with the expertise and experience of previous generations. Join this panel discussion led by scientists Adam GazzaleyLinda Charmaraman, and Emily Weinstein, exploring some of the neurological advantages and challenges of living in a digitized world.

Meet the Panelists

Linda Charmaraman is a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. As Director of the Youth, Media, and Wellbeing Research Lab, Dr. Charmaraman has been funded by Children and Screens and NIH to conduct research on early adolescents and their parents to determine health and wellbeing effects of early social technology use. She directs the ongoing Media & Identity project, an international survey study of over 5000 participants about media use, social identities, and civic engagement. Recently, she has piloted participatory workshops to co-design apps for healthier social media strategies with middle school students.

Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D. is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at the UCSF, and the Founder & Executive Director of Neuroscape at UCSF. Dr. Gazzaley is co-founder and Chief Science Advisor of Akili Interactive, Sensync and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has been a scientific advisor for over a dozen companies, filed multiple patents, authored over 140 scientific articles, and delivered over 675 invited presentations around the world. He wrote and hosted the nationally-televised PBS special “The Distracted Mind with Dr. AdamGazzaleyand co-authored the 2016 MIT Press book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World”, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award”. He is the recipient of the 2015 Science Educator Award from the Society for Neuroscience.

Emily Weinstein, Ed.D., is a senior researcher at Project Zero, a research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her work examines how social media influence the everyday lives of tweens, teens, and young adults. With Carrie James, Emily currently runs the digital dilemmas project, studying how people of different ages think about thorny dilemmas of networked life. Emily also collaborates closely with Common Sense Media and speaks regularly with schools and families to reshape how communities approach digital citizenship. Her studies appear in peer-reviewed journals across multiple fields, including communication, psychology, and youth development. She holds a doctorate in Human Development & Education and a master's degree in Prevention Science & Practice, both from Harvard University. She is also a proud graduate of Cornell University. 

Meet the Moderator

Vivian Trakinski is the Director of Science Visualization at the American Museum of Natural History. Vivian joined the Museum in 1999 as a documentary filmmaker, spending more than a decade traveling the globe to create short films about how we study the natural world. More recently, Vivian has been collaborating with scientists, artists, and programmers to produce scientifically accurate and visually compelling data driven experiences for visitors to AMNH’s Hayden planetarium and exhibition halls.


This program is generously supported by the Abel Shafer Public Program Fund, a fund created by the Arlene B. Coffey Trust to honor the memory of Abel Shafer.

A program of the Sackler Brain Bench, part of the Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins.

Select Sackler Educational Labs are offered free of charge through the Con Edison STEM Days Out program.