The multitasking illusion (or the modern world is bad for your brain).

spinning+platesWhen people tell me that they’re great at multitasking my usual response is to ask them never to take up brain surgery. Nobody really wants a neurosurgeon who claims to be able to do more than one thing at a time. I want the person with the scalpel full on, one subject only, one thought only, if it’s me that is at the sharp end.

From John Naughton’s blog

“Although we think we’re doing several things at once, multitasking, this is a powerful and diabolical illusion. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, 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.” So we’re not actually keeping a lot of balls in the air like an expert juggler; we’re more like a bad amateur plate spinner, frantically switching from one task to another, ignoring the one that is not right in front of us but worried it will come crashing down any minute. Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.”

Here’s the full article

 

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