Do multi-taskers have an edge up on the rest of us?


We spend a lot of time talking about brain development at Parents as Teachers. A child’s brain grows to three quarters of its adult size in the first two years of life. There’s a lot going on in there!

That’s why I was so intrigued by a new study by Stanford University’s Clifford Nash. Nash is a professor of communications…specifically Communication between Humans and Interactive Media. He’s also worked as a computer scientist at Intel Corporation, so his interest in computer multi-tasking is well placed.

His study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed multi-taskers are not as high functioning as one might think. They don’t pay attention or easily switch from one task to another, according to Nash’s study. They’re  distracted by irrelevant information and have difficulty focusing on the task at hand. Excessive multi-taskers pay a mental price. They’re not better at getting things done; they’re actually worse!

Is there a place for serious multi-tasking? Isn’t that what parents do everyday?

Consider these digital artists from the Fast Forward program at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Listen to them talk about the role multitasking plays in their work.

Multi-tasking is the new norm.

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2 thoughts on “Do multi-taskers have an edge up on the rest of us?

  1. David HIne

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I am trying to locate an article by Clifford Nash in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on multi-taskers. Are you able to direct me to the article?

    Thanks and kind regards.

    David Hine

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