In today's world, we have to deal with a huge amount of information. But multitasking develops at the expense of our other abilities.

The modern person has to deal with a huge amount of information, and thanks to the development of technology, business increasingly haunts us outside the workspace. Solving several problems at the same time, many people think that in this way they do much more. On the other hand, the media and scientists are increasingly sounding the alarm - perhaps multitasking is developing at the expense of our other abilities. How justified are the fears and what exactly is the problem?

Multitasking and IQ

Scientists have been studying multitasking for about 20 years. Most of the data obtained shows that multitasking reduces efficiency and productivity. At Stanford University, they found that those who are accustomed to concentrating on several tasks at once, remember information less well, have difficulty organizing their thoughts, and do not know how to filter out unnecessary information.

What happens to the brain at the moment when we try to do two things at the same time? Observations using MRI show that the human brain has enough resources to do two things at the same time, but if you add a third task, the speed of information processing decreases and the number of errors increases significantly.

The fact that multitasking directly affects brain activity, says a study by the University of Sussex, which was published in September this year. It found that people who often use multiple multimedia devices at the same time have lower gray matter density in the front of their cerebral cortex compared to those who use only one device at a time.

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This area of the brain is responsible for empathy, as well as cognitive and emotional control. Previously, scientists have shown that the structure of the brain can be changed with prolonged exposure to new conditions; changes can occur depending on behavior, environment, emotions.

“The way we interact with devices can change the way we think. And these changes can occur at the level of the brain structure,”says Kepki Loch, a neurologist and lead author of the study.

The Infomania experiment of psychologist Glenn Wilson from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London made a lot of noise and was quoted many times in the media. The experiment showed that people who try to perform intellectual work in multitasking mode, there is a noticeable drop in IQ indicators - up to 10 points (moreover, in men, the level of intelligence fell more than in women). According to the scientist, in terms of the consequences for work productivity, multitasking is comparable to using marijuana or trying to work after a sleepless night. But the number of participants in the experiment - 8 people - was clearly insufficient to draw far-reaching conclusions.

Emotional intelligence

If multitasking does have a negative impact on the front of the cerebral cortex, as research suggests, then emotional intelligence - the ability to be aware of and manage emotions in ways that promote emotional and intellectual growth - could be affected. High emotional intelligence (IQ) scores are associated with leadership ability.

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It turns out that when a person solves several problems at the same time, not only the level of his productivity decreases at a given time. Such a habit can subsequently damage the part of the brain responsible for further professional achievement.

In addition, it is quite easy to get hooked on such a rhythm of work. Neuroscientist and musician Daniel Levitin is convinced that the habit of multitasking is difficult to overcome, because each new task triggers the release of dopamine, which is an important part of the brain's reward system: “People feel good switching between tasks, but multitasking does not work. Not only does it get less done, but the result of the work becomes less creative."

Multitasking Wizards

But, despite all the above arguments, multitasking should not be considered an unambiguous evil, and the advice to concentrate on one type of work is a universal recommendation. A recent study in Portland, USA, demonstrates the ability of 10-19 year olds to be more productive when multitasking.

“This study shows that digital natives (adolescents who grew up in the tech boom) have developed the ability to expand working memory. They are better at coping with tasks in distracted environments than not being distracted by focusing on one task,”says one researcher. Scientists also suggest that some people - "supertaskers" - have an innate talent for coping with several tasks at the same time, but they make up no more than 10% of the population.

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So, perhaps, there is no single recipe - but you should not overestimate your abilities. The human brain is capable of multitasking in mundane activities, but some areas, no matter how much we practice in them, require too much involvement and concentration to become a habit. This means that the brain does not have enough resources to cope with something else efficiently.

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