From an October installment of National Public Radio “Talk of the Nation” exploring the topic of multi-tasking and how modern citizens of this world can get better at it….
Daniel Weissman, University of Michigan professor who studies neuroscience and attention: Well, there’s no question that technology is accelerating, and that all around us, we are multitasking all the time, essentially. And all around us are these distracting things, cell phones, Blackberry’s, text messaging on cell phones. I mean, there’s so many things that we’re being pushed into a situation where learning to be good multi taskers is actually a very rewarding thing. It’s interesting that you were talking before about what people can do to sort of improve their ability to multitask.
It actually reminds me of some studies that Daphne Bavelier and her colleagues, performed at the University of Rochester. They actually trained people to play video games. And what they showed was that after people were trained to play games, their attentional abilities on a wide variety of standard laboratory tasks, including tasks that required some switching between different mental sets or tasks, improved. Video games, I think when you talk about young people today are very popular. And it turned out that some of those results were very specific to particular video games and particular, the ones that are first person shoot them up “Doom” type games. But still, I think that these sorts of experiences may have a training effect that people can learn to become good multi-taskers, if they engage in activities that lend themselves to multitasking.