Multitasking damages your brain… seriously

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“Multi-tasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time” ~Gary W. Keller

Despite this constant barrage of in the corporate world, demanding all workers need to excel in “multitasking” and “able to manage a fast paced environment”, research offers a startling FUCK YOU to it all.

In short: if you multitask, you will give each task less of yourself, and the constant switching hurts your brain long-term by reducing your focus, work quality, attention span, ability to show empathy… and — wait for it — multitasking has also been shown to reduce your IQ.

It seems since the 1990s, researchers have been proving again and again that multi-tasking is actually bad for you. I wonder why the corporate world didn’t get the memo? Sure.  It is true that we autistics struggle with multitasking, but perhaps that’s not a negative after all!  I mean, all this research shows us that all humans have the same problem.  We ALL suffer when we multitask. So why put this big dark cloud over autistics?



FYI – just a few research papers supporting this:

  • Carrier, L. Mark, Larry D. Rosen, Nancy A. Cheever, and Alex F. Lim. “Causes, Effects, and Practicalities of Everyday Multitasking.” Developmental Review 35 (2015): 64-78.
  • Foerde, K., Knowlton, B. J., & Poldrack, R. A. (2006). Modulation of competing memory systems by distraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences103(31), 11778-11783.
  • Gorman, T. E., & Green, C. S. (2016). Short-term mindfulness intervention reduces the negative attentional effects associated with heavy media multitasking. Scientific reports6, 24542.
  • Hirnstein, M., Larøi, F., & Laloyaux, J. (2018). No sex difference in an everyday multitasking paradigm. Psychological research, 1-11.
  • Janssen, CPGould, SJJLi, SYWBrumby, DRCox, AL(2015) Integrating knowledge of multitasking and interruptions across different perspectives and research methods.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 79, 1-5.
  • Kirschner, P. A., & De Bruyckere, P. (2017). The myths of the digital native and the multitasker. Teaching and Teacher Education67, 135-142.
  • Loh, K. K., & Kanai, R. (2014). Higher media multi-tasking activity is associated with smaller gray-matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex. Plos one9(9), e106698.
  • Meyer, D. E., Evans, J. E., Lauber, E. J., Gmeindl, L., Rubinstein, J., Junck, L., & Koeppe, R. A. (1998). The role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for executive cognitive processes in task switching. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10.
  • Mills, K. L., Dumontheil, I., Speekenbrink, M., & Blakemore, S. J. (2015). Multitasking during social interactions in adolescence and early adulthood. Royal Society open science2(11), 150117.
  • Rosen, C. (2008). The myth of multitasking. The New Atlantis, (20), 105-110.
  • Rottapel, M. (2017). Pardon the interruption: An examination of the antecedents and outcomes of multitasking in the workplace (Doctoral dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University).