Pattaya Daily News

22 August 2010 :: 17:08:58 pm 36189

The Pros & Cons of Multitasking

Are we as humans really multitasking or merely switching back and forth between different things?
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We watch TV while reading, knitting, studying, talking on the phone and we drive whilst eating, singing, entertaining the children in the back. Mothers nurse their babies and children whilst cooking, carrying babies why beating eggs.  Studies from the Neuron magazine suggests that our brains are merely trained to work faster at juggling our tasks and that we actually only do one thing at a time, but that extensive training can make us better at doing two different tasks at the same time.

It is said that with practice comes routine, routine, becomes automatic. The new study states that multitaskers will consult the prefrontal cortex (the very front of the brain located right beneath the forehead, responsible for executive functions such as mediating conflicting thoughts and making choices), but training will get the thinking part of the brain to think faster, enabling us to switch tasks quick enough to appear to be doing them simultaneously.

Today, the way of life has become quite fast with having to, rush back and forth to work, school, shopping, appointments as well as taking phone calls, cooking cleaning, demand makes the list is endless, so we tend to try and do as many thing in one go as is possible and this we call ‘multitasking’.

The late 90’s and early 2000’s brought about electronic devices, pushing the use of new technology to accomplish several tasks at the same time. This brought about the word ‘multitasking’ as office workers restyled themselves as high tech performers and adding ‘multitasker’ to their CV’s (résumés).

Recently thoughts on the possible dangers of multitasking have emerged, such as the use of cell phones and other electronic gadgets whilst driving which have now been declared an illegal act.

There have been concerns of time management and warnings of distractions in the workplace brought on by multitasking with reports that workers were found to be distracted by emails, phone calls etc suffered a drop in IQ by more than twice that of a marijuana smoker, causing a serious threat to workplace productivity, but it is understood that some areas of multitasking is necessary in order to stay on top of contacts, events, activities and appointments.

One study that monitored interruptions in a workplace, found that workers who were interrupted by phone calls and emails, took around twenty minutes to recover from the interruptions and return to their task in hand.

Further studies using MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging) found that when a person engaged in multitasking, the flow of blood to particular areas of the frontal cortex increased.  With training, the brain is able to learn to switch tasks effectively, but it is found that multitasking can contribute to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline which if not controlled can cause long term health problems.

Further research into technology may help by creating sensors or software that could be instructed to take on tasks in order to ease the workload on humans. Today’s youngsters are growing into a generation of ‘multitaskers’ or ‘task jugglers’ as technology becomes an essential part of their lives.

Photo : Internet   Category : Lifestyle

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