The Shallows


Nicholas Carr

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Neuroplasticity Term Analysis

Neuroplasticity is the concept that the brain can change. Contrary to now debunked views that the brain became ‘fixed’ in childhood, scientists now know that the brain is changeable––or plastic––and that neurons rewire when exposed to repeated stimuli. This scientific concept is a vital to Carr’s theory that our brains are being changed, as neuroplasticity creates the opportunity for him to prove that digital life is indeed having a deep, lasting, and anatomical effect not just on our thinking but on our actual brains.

Neuroplasticity Quotes in The Shallows

The The Shallows quotes below are all either spoken by Neuroplasticity or refer to Neuroplasticity. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The History of Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton and Company edition of The Shallows published in 2011.
Chapter 2 Quotes

When it came to the brain, the child was indeed, as Wordsworth had written, the father to the man.

Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

The genius of our brain’s construction is not that it contains a lot of hardwiring but that it doesn’t.

Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

Plastic does not mean elastic.

Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

To read a book was to practice an unnatural process of thought, one that demanded sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object. It required readers to place themselves at what T.S. Eliot, in Four Quartets, would call “the still point of the turning world.”

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

The words in books didn’t just strengthen people’s ability to think abstractly; they enriched people’s experience of the physical world, the world outside the book.

Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
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Neuroplasticity Term Timeline in The Shallows

The timeline below shows where the term Neuroplasticity appears in The Shallows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Scientific Context Theme Icon
...of nerves in their hands. This concept of the brain’s plasticity––or ability to change––is called neuroplasticity. (full context)
Scientific Context Theme Icon
The concept of neuroplasticity united two differing philosophies on the nature of mind: empiricism and rationalism. Empiricism, exemplified by... (full context)
Value, Depth, and Intelligence  Theme Icon
Scientific Context Theme Icon
Much of the evidence for neuroplasticity comes from studies on the brain’s reaction to both physical and mental experiences. Phantom limb... (full context)
Chapter 3
The History of Technology Theme Icon
Scientific Context Theme Icon
The scientific discovery of neuroplasticity has shed some light on the issue, however. While the basic form of the brain... (full context)
Chapter 9
Distraction and Focus Theme Icon
Efficiency, Speed, and Relevance  Theme Icon
Value, Depth, and Intelligence  Theme Icon
Scientific Context Theme Icon
Worse yet, due to neuroplasticity, the more we use the Internet the more we train the brain to process information... (full context)