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Author: Elliot Smith

Does brain activity while watching TV make us more susceptible to ads?

It’s not that brain activity completely decreases when we watch cable TV, but rather, it shifts. Plenty of conspiracy theories and “save our children” websites will teach us that this shift in brain activity while watching television is habit-forming and a subtle method of mind control, but claims like this have yet to be substantiated by any study conducted since the Civil Rights era. On the other hand, we do know that right-brain activity – which tends to be more unstructured and creative – increases during TV watching, and that left-brain activity – which is more logical and reason‒focused – goes baseline. Additionally, the brainwaves present during activities like doodling disappear and more evolutionarily ancient ones take their place. The details of these trends are interesting, but more scholarly than we need for this article, so to summarize their findings you’ll need to remember that TV shifts activity to the right side of our brain and activates brainwaves in a subtle fight-or-flight response. Just so we have the full picture: related studies examining the adage that “TV rots your brain,” show that television can either benefit or interfere with learning and brain development based on the quality of the programing and whether it’s a part a diversified lifestyle or the sole means of recreation and entertainment in an individual’s life. Because this evidence is inconclusive, we won’t include it...

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What would it take to never see another TV in your life?

Have you ever wondered what you’d have to do in order to avoid seeing a television for the rest of your life? Neither had I, but there’s a first time for everything and the idea of a life sans TV intrigues me so let’s go with it. For starters, we a need a scenario that would compel someone to forgo ever glancing, even by accident, at a television. We also need to define some of the parameters of our Gedanken experiment so there’s no loopholery. First, the motivation behind not viewing television should either be a contest or a threat. Since either will do, let’s pretend your kids get $1 billion each if you can go your whole life without another Superbowl, Doctor Who regeneration, or Jersey Shore episode on cable TV. The money obviously goes to your kids because you’d have to die before it was certified that you’d never enjoyed the warm glow of a flat screen against your cheek. Second, we need to clarify some of the more ambiguous definitions of TV before adopting the life of a hermit and/or Unabomber. This contest doesn’t permit glancing at a TV screen of any kind. Lest you go insane, computer screens are allowed, but streaming TV clips is not (that means no Roku or AppleTV), and neither is playing console games. PC gamers are in luck, however, as...

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Exclusive interview with viral illustrator Jon Defreest.

If you’ve been online at all over the past year, you’ve likely seen some of Jon Defreest’s work. Jon is a designer and illustrator best known for his work on the pop culture blog Tauntr as well as his work in the New York Magazine TV blog, Vulture. From an “Arrested Development” themed flavor of Ben & Jerry’s, to the characters of “Parks & Recreation” in cartoon form, Jon has made countless illustrations that have spread far and wide across the web. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat briefly with Jon about his role in entertainment, and to see what he thinks we can expect down the road in terms of TV trends. Here’s the complete interview. 1. What attracted you to designing illustrations around entertainment? My illustrations have always revolved around entertainment and pop culture as far back as I can remember. Some of my my earliest memories of drawing involve me drawing either Ghostbusters or Ninja Turtles. I’ve just always enjoyed drawing scenes with established characters in situations where you wouldn’t normally find them. Once I started illustrating professionally, I learned that creating pop art was a great way to get a lot of attention very quickly. Which was nice, because it’s the same stuff I’d be drawing even if no one was paying me. I think people identify with pop art more easily...

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