November 30, 2018
We are all familiar with the emoticon, the little symbol we use to strengthen whatever it is we really mean or would like to convey in a text, chat, message or email. The symbols have become more important as these forms of communication have supplanted some forms of face to face contact. Researchers have now learned that our brains no longer treat emoticons as a form of punctuation, but have started to respond to it as if it were a real face. A study published in the journal Social Neuroscience found that the part of the brain that is activated when we look at real faces is now triggered by smileys too. It’s yet another example of how our brains are adapting to the changing demands placed on them by technology, a subject that not only has profound implications for the way we relate to technology but also the way we work and the ways we design and manage our surroundings and especially how we maintain focus and interact with our colleagues.