The Principle: The studies mentioned below prove that multi-tasking damages the brain. It is contrary to basic cognitive function. Neural stimuli, competing in such an environment, prevent the brain’s synapses from strengthening. For our children who are rapidly developing neural pathways, multi-tasking should not be encouraged or taught.

Part One

Multi-Tasking – Part of a Modern Day Dichotomy

Although many job descriptions list multitasking as a required skill, in truth, multi-tasking is a biologically unsound assumption and contrary to effective cognitive function. Neural stimuli, competing in such an environment, prevent the brain’s synapses from strengthening. Hence, cognitive resources are simply wasted. Multi-tasking is not an employable asset. It is a thief of neural nutrition, a symptom of interpersonal dysfunction, and a hindrance to neural organization.

Part Two

The Daily Mail, September 25, 2014

New research now verifies that multitasking shrinks the brain, literally. Studies in the UK, at The University of California, and others have documented through MRI’s that multi-tasking is now considered harmful to the grey matter. “University of Sussex researchers said: ‘Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains.’ … the part of the brain that shrinks is involved in processing emotion.” Our thanks to The Daily Mail.

Part Three

Multitasking Damages Your Brain And Career, New Studies Suggest
by, Travis Bradberry
Forbes Magazine, Oct 8, 2014

You’ve likely heard that multitasking is problematic, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A Special Skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking Lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Brain Damage From Multitasking

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

Learning From Multitasking

If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge—it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.

Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low self- and social-awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90% of top performers have high EQs. If multitasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, it will lower your EQ in the process.

So every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Our thanks to the author, Travis Bradberry, Contributor, Forbes Magazine

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