When I was working in the area of Niiklas Luhmann's systems theory+, I devised a handy way of conceptualizing the complexity of a system - which was as the ratio of internal communications within a system, divided by the amount of communication between a system and its environment.
This can be applied to thinking:
the complexity of cognition would then be a ratio of an organism's internal cognitive activity over the amount of communication between the organism and its environment (including other organisms).
If cognition is measured using time, then this roughly translates to:
Time thinking/ Time communicating
Time spent thinking is mostly solitary.
Time spent in communicating includes conversation and other social interactions, the media and news, and also the learning of new information etc (including learning of all types including scholarship, including writing) and the expounding of information (including teaching).
This means that an increase in time spent in social interaction, in contact with the media and in learning new stuff (time in-putting data) will tend to simplify thought unless the amount of (mostly solitary) thinking time is proportionately increased.
This explains why the European Middle Ages attained the highest complexity of coherent abstract thought (Thomas Aquinas and the environment in which he operated) - since there were few books, no mass media, 'monastic' seclusion - and in general a great deal of time spent thinking relative to the amount of stuff flowing into and out-of the mind.
This explains why the internet has not led to any advances in genuine understanding, since the millions-fold expansion in the amount of data (plus increased social interaction via electronic media, plus increased volume and usage of the mass media) have led to an equally vast simplification of cognition.
The average modern human mind is now more like a relay station than a brain - performing just a few quick and simple processes on a truly massive flow-through of data.
This applies equally, or especially, to intellectuals who are plugged-into oceans of data in a way never before possible.
When all (almost all) intellectual output is simply a summary of un-assimilated input, as we see all around; then we can perceive that intellectual processing has become grossly simplified.
The 'sound bite' is simply a literal transcription of the (largest) unit of modern thinking.
This explains (in general terms) the importance of sleep - when the mind becomes more-or-less cut off from the environments and cognitive processing is almost-wholly internal.
To improve the complexity of cognitive processing is, however, a simple matter: more time alone and thinking, less time socializing and in-putting.
+Note: For some theory, see the Appendix to my 2003 book:
I should point out that I now regard the basic argument of this book as wrong - however, the description of systems theory seems correct.