Both Ronni Bennett and Ann Althouse have linked to this fascinating post at the Eide Neurolearning Blog about how blogging likely changes the brain.
Why ask this question? The primary reason can be found in one of the central tenets of modern neuroscience: "The neurons that fire together, wire together." What this basically means is that our mental activities actually cause changes in the structures of our brains--not only what we think, but how we think as well. Given such activity-directed change, it always makes sense to ask whenever large numbers of people start using their brains in new and different ways, what effects these new activities are likely to have on brain structure and function.
No one has yet hooked a blogger up to an fMRI or PET scanner in medias res, but the Drs. Eide -- a pair of physician-parents specializing in learning and learning difficulties -- do some informed speculating, based on the way blogging changes the mind. If you're a blogger curious or worried about whether this new habit will cause you to become blind or feeble-minded, you will find the Eides' post very reassuring and encouraging. You may even get a swelled head.
Ann quotes the post at length, so I won't. Go there for a good overview of it, and for the pleasure of . . . well, I don't know if blogging quite rises to an art form, but the pleasure of hearing Ann do a little war-dance of exultation, like an artist who's finally found her form. (The old Amsterdam sketchbooks she's been scanning and posting can be seen as an early sortie in search of that form.) Here's her cry of homecoming:
I feel that I came to blogging with a brain ready to do exactly this and previously severely frustrated by an inability to do this. And I am also very aware that blogging has really affected my mind, mostly in good ways. For one thing, it's gotten me past that severe frustration of not blogging. . . .
I feel I can think more clearly and quickly about what matters — in a bloggish sense of what "matters" . . . . And I have a cool feeling of being able to pay rapt attention to whatever I'm thinking and writing about while still being ever distractable.
I think this explains why Ann is such a successful blogger. (I used to think it was because Glenn liked her -- true enough as far as it goes, but really just envy: after all, why did Glenn like her?) In a blog -- as on the radio, which is the medium I think it most resembles -- the movement of your mind is the whole action. And Ann's mind -- and her ability to let us watch it in motion -- is highly entertaining: powerful, playful, omnivorous and unpredictable. (Commenter Ruth Anne Adams says to her: "You emblogify blogs.") The brilliant, darting, probing way Ann's mind moves reminds me of nothing so much as a hummingbird -- one of the larger hummingbirds, I hasten to add. She's the 800-pound hummingbird of the blogosphere.