Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

After all… you can only do two things at once.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 16, 2010

What!?

You can only do one thing at a time?

Welcome to the real world.

With a view toward reality and efficiency, the buzzword “multi-tasking” is on its way out.

In a study to be published this week in “Science,” a scholarly journal, neurological researchers at Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France have discovered the brain’s Medial Frontal Cortex (MFC) divides the brain in half when it comes to performing tasks.

Automatically, that means that consciously or cognitively, our brains can only allow us do two things simultaneously.

Study researcher Etienne Koechlin said, “What really the results show is that we can readily divide tasking. We can cook, and at the same time talk on the phone, and switch back and forth between these two activities. However, we cannot multitask with more than two tasks.”

In an experiment involving 32 subjects, researchers led by Mr. Koechlin asked them to complete a letter-matching and arranging task which, when they saw words on a screen, had to determine if they spelled a word, or if a latter was missing. Their motivation/reward was monetary if they had no errors. During the experiment their brains were scanned with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Researchers discovered that with greater monetary reward, there was corresponding greater activity in the MFC, which divided the task between the brain’s hemispheres. Yet when the task was more difficult – which involved changing back and forth from upper and lower case letters – they noticed the difference through decreased regional brain activity.

Researcher Koechlin said, the subjects’ brains appeared “as if each frontal lobe was pursuing its own goal.

When introduced with a third letter-matching task, researchers saw a significant decrease in subjects’ accuracy.

Observing the test subjects’ performance, researcher Koechlin said “subjects perform as if they systematically forget one of the three tasks.”

Earlier research has confirmed that choices between two things are more readily received than those among three or more, and that the brain discards all other choices until there are two.

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