April 15, 2012

Multitasking helps with multitasking

Study reveals modern multi-tasking is good for your brain” says the Herald. This time they don’t say where they found the study, though we do get told the researchers’ names and institution, so perhaps a B- on provenance.

Multi-tasking in this day and age can leave you in a bit of a tizz.

Juggling too much technology at once – such as texting or browsing online while watching TV – is said to make you less efficient.

But Chinese researchers have found that multi-tasking 21st-century style can be good for the brain.

What they actually found was that multitasking made you better at a specific multitasking-type computer test, which    is interesting, but isn’t at all relevant to whether ‘Juggling too much technology at once’ makes you less efficient.

Connoisseurs of the tabloid science style will not be surprised to find that the story came via The Daily Mail. A better source is the journal’s press release, which also links to the journal article.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »