Ep. 119 – The Dangers of Multitasking

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Good morning and welcome to Episode 119 of The Train Your Brain Podcast with Dr. Michael Trayford. Every Monday we produce a 30-minute episode. Tuesday through Sunday we produce episodes with five-minute tips. Every episode of the Train Your Brain Podcast features a tip, so you can receive pointers 365 days a year that will help enhance the performance of your brain!

On this fine Sunday Dr. Trayford shares a brain training tip that we can practice this very day. The tip is to concentrate on one thing at a time. When we multitask we are less-likely to retain, which means there is less longterm memory production. Additionally we are more distracted and more likely to make mistakes. Instead of trying to do many things at one time, consciously completely one activity at a time. Give this a try! Multitasking just results in superficial interactions and learning experiences. Thanks for listening!

If you have any concerns regarding the information and applications discussed in this podcast, please consult your physician and a doctor who is experienced in functional neurology. Michael Trayford DC, DACNB is available for consultation by calling (828) 708-5274. Thanks for listening.

I’d imagine that multitasking is an important part of your life.

Multitasking is a part of everyone’s life these days. It’s a big challenge that you could debate for a long time. The bottom line is that the human brain did not evolve to be able to multitask in the ways many of us demand of our brains in this day and age.

There are evolutionary shifts being recorded at this point in time that have happened in the last few decades that we haven’t seen in the last hundred thousand years. This is significant, when you look at things like industrial, agricultural and technological revolution, we’re in the midst of this technological boom for some time now.

The challenge is how do our brains handle these rapid changes. We are just ever connected to the distractions of our lives. Granted some of these distractions contribute productivity to our lives in business and education.

The Harvard School of Public Health published an article Multitasking and Medical and Mental Hazard. There are significant challenges associated with multitasking and they are changing some of the fundamental ways the human brain works.

There was a book that came out called Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, by Hammerness and Moore. They talked about how simple things increase the chances of making mistakes, as well as missing important cues associated with other tasks. When you’re multitasking all the time you’re not getting into any depth of learning and communication.

Multitaskers are less likely to keep information in working memory and can also have issues related to long term production and assimilation of memories. If you challenge your working memory, then you don’t process long term memories as well.

They talk about, instead of trying to do a bunch of things at one time, they advocate a process called Set-Shifting. This entails consciously completing one activity and then shifting your attention and focus to the next activity. When people have five or ten windows open on their browser, they’re generally not keeping track of any one thing in particular. Instead they are jumping back and forth, having simple conversation or limited learning experiences.

If you make an effort to work on one single thing and attending to it to completion, you will have fewer mistakes and learn more about the topic at hand.
The biggest changes in the brain are in the anterior cingulate, which live behind the frontal lobe of the brain. It has to do with shifting attention. It’s getting bigger and denser in human beings in the past couple of decades than any other time in human evolutionary history.

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