Monday, August 31, 2009

Zombie says "Brains, Brains..."

It's been some time since I've done as I said I would and really paid attention to the seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. It turns out people get really hot and bothered when neuroscience information is used to explain human behavioral characteristics, even when the neuroscience information is irrelevant. But this article bring it back to mind, in the simplest way. It is titled "Multitasking Muddles Brains, Even When the Computer Is Off" and reports:
In several benchmark tests of focus, college students who routinely juggle many flows of information, bouncing from e-mail to web text to video to chat to phone calls, fared significantly worse than their low-multitasking peers." (According to the researcher, the tests...) are all very standard tasks in psychology...In the first, there’s lots of evidence that if people do poorly, they have trouble ignoring irrelevant information. For the second task, there are many demonstrations that this is a good reflection of people’s ability to organize things in their working memory. The third task shows how fast and readily people switch from doing one thing to another.”
Interesting research. Worth noting, they didn't measure brain activity at all. Matter of fact,
(One researcher) next plans to use brain imaging to study the neurology of multitasking...
So why title the article "Multitasking Muddles Brains"? Why not "Multitasking Muddles Attentional Focus" or something more accurate? Probably because, as noted, people get all wet and moist about brain information, even when it is unimportant.

Listen, I understand that attentional focus is functional on brain activity. So is vision (so is everything we do). You'd never hear, though, anyone say eating carrots improves brain activity due to alleged carrot effects on vision. Someone'd say eating carrots improves vision.

Posted at Reverse Sickology

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