Cognition and Watching Television

  • John J. Burns
  • Daniel R. Anderson
Part of the Foundations of Neuropsychology book series (FNPS, volume 3)


Television viewing has been popularly hypothesized to shorten attention spans, increase frantic behavior, and cause brain damage. A review of the scientific literature reveals no support for these claims. In fact, contrary to popular conceptions, it appears that television viewing is a cognitively active behavior, sharing many characteristics of other leisure-time activities such as reading. Although there is some evidence of subtle cognitive effects, such findings require further study to verify the link and the direction of causality. In the same vein, though different patterns of EEG have been reported when comparing television viewing with other activities, these findings indicate only that television viewing differs in some respects from other activities. Like the research on cognitive effects, nothing in this research supports the commonly hypothesized devastating effects of television viewing.


Visual Attention Television Viewing Cognitive Effect Scene Change Sesame Street 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Burns
  • Daniel R. Anderson

There are no affiliations available

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