1 in 40 of us really can multitask

March, 2010

A study assessing multitasking ability has found that a very few (5 out of 200) were unaffected by doing two complex tasks simultaneously (indeed their performance on the memory task improved!).

A study assessing the performance of 200 people on a simulated freeway driving task, with or without having a cell phone conversation that involved memorizing words and solving math problems, has found that, as expected, performance on both tasks was significantly impaired. However, for a very few, performance on these tasks was unaffected (indeed their performance on the memory task improved!). These few people — five of them (2.5%) — also performed substantially better on these tasks when performed alone.

Reference: 

Watson, J.M. & Strayer, D.L. 2010. Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. In Press.

Full text is available at http://www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition/publications/supertaskers...

Related News

A small study that fitted 29 young adults (18-31) and 31 older adults (55-82) with a device that recorded steps taken and the vigor and speed with which they were made, has found that those older adults with a higher step rate performed better on memory tasks than those who were more sedentary.

A study involving 66 healthy young adults (average age 24) has revealed that different individuals have distinct brain connectivity patterns that are associated with different ways of experiencing and remembering the past.

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of mindset in learning, with those who have a “growth mindset” (ie believe that intelligence can be developed) being more academically successful than those who believe that intelligence is a fixed attribute.

Because this is such a persistent myth, I thought I should briefly report on this massive study that should hopefully put an end to this myth once and for all (I wish! Myths are not so easily squashed.)

In 2013 I reported briefly on a pilot study showing that “super-agers” — those over 80 years old who have the brains and cognitive powers more typical of people decades younger — had an unusually large

The first detailed characterization of the molecular structures of amyloid-beta fibrils that develop in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease suggests that different molecular structures of amyloid-beta fibrils may distinguish the brains of Alzheimer's patients with different clinical his

A very large genetic study has revealed that genetic differences have little effect on educational achievement. The study involved more than 125,000 people from the U.S., Australia, and 13 western European countries.

I’ve reported often on the perils of multitasking. Here is yet another one, with an intriguing new finding: it seems that the people who multitask the most are those least capable of doing so!

By using brain scans from 152 Vietnam veterans with a variety of combat-related brain injuries, researchers claim to have mapped the neural basis of general intelligence and emotional intelligence.

An online study open to anyone, that ended up involving over 100,000 people of all ages from around the world, put participants through 12 cognitive tests, as well as questioning them about their background and lifestyle habits.

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news