Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Your brain really can focus on two things at once

Scientific American - 4.15.10 (by Katherine Harmon)

New research shows that rather than being totally devoted to one goal at a time, the human brain can distribute two goals to different hemispheres to keep them both in mind--if it perceives a worthy reward for doing so

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MULTITASKING: Researchers used fMRI to examine subjects' brains as they switched between two tasks (actions A and B) for which there were separate rewards (goals A and B).

The human brain is considered to be pretty quick, but it lacks many of qualities of a super-efficient computer. For instance, we have trouble switching between tasks and cannot seem to actually do more than one thing at a time. So despite the increasing options—and demands—to multitask, our brains seem to have trouble keeping tabs on many activities at once.

A new study, however, illustrates how the brain can simultaneously keep track of two separate goals, even while it is busy performing a task related to one of the aims, hinting that the mind might be better at multitasking than previously thought.


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