Dr. Manfred Spitzer

Professor Dr. Dr Manfred Spitzer is a German psychiatrist, psychologist and neuroscientist. He is (since 1998) Medical Director of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Ulm, Germany, and founder (2004)  of the Transfer Center for Neurosciences and Learning (ZNL).  A graduate of the University of Freiburg, he has additionally worked at Heidelberg, Harvard, and the University of Oregon. Widely published in neuroscience, learning, and psychiatry, author of numerous texts and a well-regarded speaker (in English as well as German), Professor Spitzer is host of the German public television show “Geist und Gehirn” (“Mind and Brain” – available on YouTube).  He is the father of six children.

Professor Spitzer is recipient of the1992 DGPPN Duphar Research Award of the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology; the 2002 Cogito Prize of the Cogito Foundation; and the 2010 Science Prize of the Margrit Egnér Foundation. Manfred Spitzer’s groundbreaking neuroscience text, The Mind Within the Net: Models of Learning, Thinking and Acting, MIT Press, 1999 – an introduction to neural networks – remains fresh and lively today. He has also written highly regarded volumes on psychopathology, learning, child development, and music.

In 2012, Professor Spitzer published  Digitale Demenz: Wie wir uns und unsere Kinder um den Verstand bringen (Digital Demetia: What We and Our Children are Doing to our Minds).  Spitzer’s conclusions are stark: Digitalizing classrooms can have a negative effect on learning, especially in young children, undermining the neuroplastic capacity of their brains. And, in contrast, there are no independent studies “that unequivocally establish that computers and screens in the classroom make learning more effective.” Over time, leaning is stunted, and reliance on digital devices results in dependency. “In reality”, concludes Professor Spitzer, “using digital media in kindergarten or primary school is actually a way of getting children addicted.”  And additionally, the multi-tasking that comes with smart phones, tablets and computers inhibits concentration and impedes the development of the right side of the brain.

References:

Spitzer, Manfred. The Mind Within the Net, MIT Press, 1999 (Softcover 2000).

Spitzer, Manfred. Digitale Demenz, Droemer, 2012 (Spanish Edition, Demencia Digital, Ediciones B, 2013)

http://www.worldcrunch.com/tech-science/does-the-internet-make-you-dumb-top-german-neuroscientist-says-yes-and-forever/digital-dementia-manfred-spitzer-neuropsychiatry/c4s9550/#.Ut3HnfTnaIU

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/10138403/Surge-in-digital-dementia.html

http://www.uniklinik-ulm.de/struktur/kliniken/psychiatrie-und-psychotherapie/klinik-fuer-psychiatrie-und-psychotherapie-iii-ulm/home/personen/prof-dr-dr-manfred-spitzer.html