Online College Courses for Credit

The Zombie Look

The Zombie Look

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate, and use different types of print, digital, and multimodal media.
  • Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.
  • Gain an understanding of how excessive TV viewing affects the brain and a person's mood.
  • List the differences between beta and alpha brain waves.
  • Define the orientation reflex and the meaning of true addiction.
  • List suggestions from the video to help curb tube time.
  • Predict the effects HDTV will have on the brain and analyze why very little studies have been conducted on this topic.

This packet presents information about the effects excessive TV viewing has on the brain and a person's mood.  Students will learn about the differences between beta and alpha waves and consider whether or not someone can truly become addicted to TV.

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Background Information


Source: Ketherine Westphal from Trash Your TV

TV Addiction: Myth or Fact?

From reality TV to soap operas, TV watching is a favorite American pastime. But is it possible to actually have an addiction to television?

Discussion Questions

  1. T/F? There have been very few studies done to examine the phenomenon of "zombie-eyes."
  2. T/F? While watching TV, people generally become less alert and more passive.
  3. While watching TV, your brain goes into a _____________ state.
  4. T/F? When you shut off the TV, your brain immediately returns to a state of alertness.
  5. T/F? The TV is a great way to learn about subjects that require analysis and careful thought.
  6. Researchers found that after turning off the TV, people's  ____________ were about the same or worse than before they turned the television on.
  7. While watching TV, which side of the brain is lulled into a stupor by the television's flicker?
  8. Other studies have linked the passivity to the left side of the brain shutting down. The left brain is primarily responsible for logical analysis and thought. In the Mulholland experiment, 10 children watched their favorite television program, while the researchers monitored their brainwave patterns. The researchers expected that the children would show a preponderance of beta waves. This would indicate that they were involved and responding to their favorite programs. Instead, they stayed in alpha. They just sat back. They stayed almost the whole time in alpha. That meant that while they were watching they were not reacting, not orienting, not focusing, just spaced out, said Dr. Eric Peper. In your own words, explain what happened in this study.
  9. There has been virtually no follow up on these experiments. Researchers could not get funding. Aside from a few early experiments in the US and in the 1970's and early 1980's in Australia, the neurophysiology of watching television is relatively unexplored. Why do you think this is? Explain.
  10. Very little is known about how the new high definition TVs (HDTVs) will affect brain function. Given that the technology involves staring at a more detailed picture, it is possible that the effects will be the same as regular TVs, but significantly stronger. Viewers will basically be guinea pigs in a giant experiment. Speculate on the effect HDTV will have on our society. Think about everything you just learned about how the brain responds while watching TV.
  11. According to the video, what is the orientation reflex?
  12. What are the differences between beta and alpha waves?
  13. What is the meaning of "true addiction" and can people really be addicted to TV?
  14. TV encourages inactivity. What are some suggestions the video gives to curb tube time?