Why Multitasking Is Unhealthy For Your Mind, From A Neuroscientist

Why Multitasking Is Bad For Your Brain, From A Neuroscientist

Practice spending time focusing on a task and thinking deeply about it. Meditation is a great way to do this, build brains, or learn something new by focusing deeply on the information you want to learn, be it from a book, article, podcast, or a class. This deep, intellectual thinking activates the prefrontal cortex in a positive way.

This type of thinking also trains the brain to build memory well. In 2012, a research group at the University of Washington completed an interesting study on the effects of meditation training on multitasking. They found that subjects had fewer negative emotions, stayed at work longer, had improved focus, switched between tasks more effectively and in a more organized manner (as opposed to randomly switching between tasks), and spent their time more efficiently.

We have seen similar things in my own research with patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and students and adults with learning and emotional disabilities. I trained them in a new technique I had developed to foster a deeper intellectual pattern of thought and showed them how to apply it to their lives. The changes were almost immediate: better focus, better understanding, more efficient switching between tasks, and overall effectiveness in creating quality work. There were even positive emotional changes, especially in terms of self-motivation and self-esteem. Over time, they continued to improve their cognitive and emotional functions.

In my recent clinical studies, we have found that people who are consciously and deliberately focused on managing their mind in the moment do not multitask. As a result, they feel less anxious and depressed and are more able to cope with the challenges they face.

An added benefit of deep thinking is increased gyrification, a beautiful word that means more wrinkles in the cerebral cortex. These extra wrinkles allow the brain to process information faster, make decisions faster, and improve memory. In sum, deep, mindful thinking means a healthy brain.

Of course, life can be distracting, and the temptation to multitask can be difficult to resist. However, it is a choice of how and where to draw your attention. Always remember that you cannot use multitasking. You control the distractions; The distractions don't control you.


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