How Multitasking Alters Our Brains

December 22, 2015

An article at Forbes, “Is Technology Making Us Dumb and Numb?” brings neuroscience to bear on the topic, and the conclusion is not pretty. Contributor Christine Comaford, who regularly writes about neuroscience in relation to leadership, tells us:

“Multitasking reduces gray matter density in the area of the brain called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC)…. The ACC is involved in a number of cognitive and emotional functions including reward anticipation, decision-making, empathy, impulse control, and emotion. It acts like a hub for processing and assigning control to other areas of the brain, based on whether the messages are cognitive (dorsal) or emotional (ventral). So when we have reduced gray matter density in the ACC due to high media multitasking, over time we see reduced ability to make sound decisions, to modulate our emotions, to have empathy and to connect emotionally to others.”

Hmm, is that why our national discourse has become so uncivil in recent years? See the article for a more detailed description of the ACC and the functionality of its parts. Maybe if we all kick the multitasking habit, the world will be a slightly kinder place.

Cynthia Murrell, December 22, 2015


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