As technology continues improving at unimaginable rates, we are becoming more easily susceptible to the multimedia multitasking which inhibits our learning capacity. Instead of learning through the hippocampus – an essential tool for episodic memory, spacing such as maps, and our long-term memory for facts and events, people are becoming assembly-line specialists.
Credit: http://www.razvoj-karijere.com/media/images/o/man-multi-tasking.jpgWhoa hold on a second. First of all, what is the difference between regular multitasking and multimedia multitasking? I’m glad you asked. Regular multitasking involves doing several things at the same time. In reality, people are capable of taking on several practiced physical tasks at the same time like rubbing your stomach and patting your head or walking and texting. Well actually, people clearly struggle with walking and texting as seen here on YouTube, but it’s still possible; (just proceed with caution). On the other hand, figuring two mental tasks proves too much for our brains. Just try to compute 14X21 while thinking about what you ate for lunch yesterday. They both must be thought about individually.
Now, multimedia multitasking involves dividing attention between two or more different media platforms simultaneously which include but are not limited to these activities: texting friends, watching television, and working on an assignment on the computer. As we try to watch our favorite program and switch to working on an assignment during commercials, our concentration is lost in each interruption causing our brain to perform poorly. For instance, Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology, and the psychologist Eyal Peer at Carnegie Mellon conducted a study to test the brain power lost from an interruption. They found that “both interrupted groups answered correctly 20 percent less often than members of the control group.”
So, until we find some kind of technological upgrade to enhance our outdated brains, focus on one mental task at a time. Who knows, you may be able to find your way through a relatively new city without your phone’s GPS or remember a loved one’s anniversary or birthday.