Neural activity

Movie research results: Our brains are bad at multitasking

The brain works most efficiently when it can focus on a single task for a longer period of time. Previous research shows that multitasking, which means performing several tasks at the same time, reduces productivity by as much as 40%. Now a group of researchers specialising in brain imaging has found that changing tasks too frequently interferes with brain activity. This may explain why the end result is worse than when a person focuses on one task at a time.

Our brains are most efficient when facing tasks one at a time, research...
Our brains are most efficient when facing tasks one at a time, research suggests.
Source: shutterstock/Tatiana Shepeleva

'We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure different brain areas of our research subjects while they watched short segments of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and James Bond movies,' explains Aalto University Associate Professor Iiro Jääskeläinen. Cutting the films into segments of approximately 50 seconds fragmented their continuity.

In the study, the subjects' brain areas functioned more smoothly when they watched the films in segments of 6.5 minutes. The posterior temporal and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices, the cerebellum and dorsal precuneus are the most important areas of the brain in terms of combining individual events into coherent event sequences. These areas of the brain make it possible to turn fragments into complete entities. According to the study, these brain regions work more efficiently when it can deal with one task at a time.

Inadequacy and overloading

Jääskeläinen recommends completing one task each day rather than working on a dozen of different tasks simultaneously. 'It's easy to fall into the trap of multitasking. In that case, it seems like there is little real progress and this leads to a feeling of inadequacy. Concentration decreases, which causes stress. Prolonged stress hinders thinking and memory,' says Jääskeläinen.

The neuroscientist also sees social media as a challenge. 'Social media is really nothing but multitasking, with several parallel plots and issues. You might end up reading the news or playing a game recommended by a friend. From the brain's perspective, social media only increases the load.' In addition to Jääskeläinen, Juha Lahnakoski from Max Planck Institute, Mikko Sams from Aalto University and Lauri Nummenmaa from the University of Turku participated in the research.

 

Source: Aalto University

29.04.2017

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

Neurodegeneration

Scientists identify the cause of Alzheimer’s progression in the brain

For the first time, researchers have used human data to quantify the speed of different processes that lead to Alzheimer’s disease and found that it develops in a very different way than previously…

Photo

Neurology

The 'thermostat' that prevents our brain from overheating

The mechanisms by which the body measures temperature and regulates its own body heat are vital, but still poorly understood. The discovery of the first heat sensor on nerve cells in the skin, for…

Photo

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

New predictive biomarkers for ALS identified

Some blood lipid biomarkers linked to cardiovascular disease risk are also associated with a lower risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) suggest the findings of a large epidemiology study. ALS…

Related products

mediaire – mdbrain

Artificial Intelligence

mediaire – mdbrain

mediaire GmbH
Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

Research Use Only

Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

SARSTEDT AG & CO. KG
Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Mass Spectrometry

Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Shimadzu Europa GmbH
Shimadzu – LCMS-8060NX (RUO)

Mass Spectrometry

Shimadzu – LCMS-8060NX (RUO)

Shimadzu Europa GmbH
Shimadzu – MALDImini-1

Research Use Only

Shimadzu – MALDImini-1

Shimadzu Europa GmbH