Why did we make this site?We made it for fun on the side at a place called Agency Enterprise, a company with the abstract goal we don't yet fully understand of trying to make all technology increase human agency.We want to increase awareness about how easily our behavior can be changed over time. The interactive game on this site is for educational purposes. Although playing it can *technically* change your brain, the effect is small and easily reversible, similar to playing a conventional video game for a short period of time. In the same vein, think about how much time you spend scrolling through social media feeds or how many times you scanned your phone for new messages today. If a couple minutes on this site can marginally affect behavior, the implication of these more prevalent technologies and patterns is huge.
So how does this work?Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to build and reorganize its function. It happens constantly and is critical to our ability to learn. It's what makes us human. Neuroplasticity is not limited to the motor system, i.e. the parts of the nervous system responsible for movement. Our opinions, beliefs, and ideas are all shaped by the environment and how we interact with it. That effect can be so subtle that we don't even realize it is happening.On the short time scales of the few minutes this task takes, your brain is simply adapting. That means it's taking a known program, like using a computer mouse, and adapting it to a new task, in this case, a reversed computer mouse (where up is down and left is right). We do this all the time. When you buy a new car, you don't need to learn to drive from scratch. You simply adapt to the new car, and usually pretty quickly.Over longer periods, adaptation gives way to neuroplasticity. In short, we learn. If you spend enough time doing a new task, like learning to play the piano, your brain literally rewires, dedicating more resources to hand-eye coordination, individuated finger movements, and so on. If you did the quick rewire task long enough, your brain would start to change ever so slightly to store both a normal mouse application and a backward mouse application. This is not recommended as a good use of your time.
How do I learn more?Even though this wasn't a serious psychological study, it isn't too far off from the kinds of methods that psychologists use to study behavior and learning. There is also a wealth of research on how humans might harness the power of plasticity to help us overcome mental and physical problems. If you find this interesting, you may enjoy the following resources.Go Back