Does Multitasking Truly Work?

LilacsResearchers, including MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) neuroscientist Earl Miller, are finding that multitasking simply doesn’t work!  In a post by Daniel J. Levitin, Miller says that our brains are

not wired to multitask well. . .When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly.  And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

Levitin calls multitasking “a powerful and diabolical illusion.”  His article includes more information from Miller and other researchers about multitasking.  As we switch from one task to another, we ignore the task that is not our primary focus, but it stays in the back of our head, as we worry that “it will come crashing down any minute.”  Not focusing entirely on the task at hand makes us less efficient, studies have shown.

As if this isn’t enough, “multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking,” Levitin writes.  It also creates a dopamine effect that rewards our brains for losing focus, and we continue to search for external stimulation when it’s not needed.  He continues:

The irony here for those of us who are trying to focus amid competing activities is clear: the very brain region we need to rely on for staying on task is easily distracted.

Click for Levitin’s full in-depth article, Why the modern world is bad for your brain.

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