Training the brain to ‘divide and conquer’ may be the secret to multi-tasking

From ABC News in Science, 13 October 2015:

The trick to multi-tasking may be training our brain to ‘divide and conquer’ each task separately, Australian researchers have found.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, Professor Paul Dux and Dr Kelly Garner from the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology used real-time brain imaging to look at patterns of activity of 100 volunteers while they attempted to perform two tasks simultaneously.

The study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the brain can be trained to be better at multi-tasking on a specific set of tasks.

The human inability to multi-task well is something of a conundrum, given our brains’ enormous processing capacity.

“There has been a long serious body of work trying to understand the mechanisms of why we have trouble doing two simple things at once,” the authors said.

It is thought that we have trouble multi-tasking because parts of the brain such as the frontoparietal and subcortical areas have limited capacity to process multiple stimuli at once. Read more.

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