Multitasking: It’s All in Your Head

Don't act like you've never used the bathroom on the phone...

Don

So my generation has been labeled the generation of “multi-taskers.” We manage to eat, talk on the phone, smoke bowls, load our iPods and flip people off — all while driving. Okay, maybe just me and not all of us but I think you catch my drift. It’s like socially acceptable ADD. However, researchers are starting to say that’s it’s all in our heads. We aren’t multi-taskers, we’re attention shifters….wait, I gotta check my messages….okay, anyway, NPR reports:

‘People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves,” said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, “The brain is very good at deluding itself.”

Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

What we can do, he said, is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.

“Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not,” Miller said.

“You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.”‘

Miller said there are several reasons the brain has to switch among tasks. One is that similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.

“Think about writing an e-mail and talking on the phone at the same time. Those things are nearly impossible to do at the same time,” he said.

Ha, I agree. I feel like such a weirdo when I have to type something AND talk on the phone. I give people this awkward bitchy silent treatment. I really don’t mean to, but if I feel as if I can conquer the world through doing these two things at once, then nothing will ever stop me. The researchers have even seen people’s brains struggle through this. I can’t even imagine what mine looks like, especially mid-bong hit. They also noted that if we behaved this way as hunters back in the day, we would have been munched on quickly. Now, it’s a prescription for Zoloft or a head on collision. So people, listen up. Stop overwhelming your brain with nonsense and stick to one thing at a time. Don’t become a slave to technology…there was a time when we had home phones and answering machines….and that decade kicked ass!

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