Is multitasking hazardous to your cognition?

CNN reports:

A new study suggests that people who often do multiple tasks in a variety of media — texting, instant messaging, online video watching, word processing, Web surfing, and more — do worse on tests in which they need to switch attention from one task to another than people who rarely multitask in this way.

Specifically, heavy multitaskers are more easily distracted by irrelevant information than those who aren’t constantly in a multimedia frenzy, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One reason may be because the multitaskers tend to retain the distracting information in their short-term memory, which affects their ability to focus, compared with people who don’t check their e-mail while talking on the phone and sneaking in some online shopping.

The article is available here (subscription required).

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One response to “Is multitasking hazardous to your cognition?

  1. Interesting article overall, but the headline is totally incorrect. Reading the article it seems clear that there is a relation between multitasking and performing less highly on some tests. However, the article title seems to indicate a cause-effect relationship, which does not appear to be suggested in the article.