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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Multi-tasking: How the Brain Fools You

Are you impressed with the multi-tasking abilities of young people? Don't be. Our brain works hard to fool us into thinking it can do more than one thing at a time. It can't. Recent MRI studies at Vanderbilt prove that the brain is not built for good multi-tasking. When trying to do two things at once, the brain temporarily shuts down one task while trying to do the other. In their study, even doing something as simple as pressing a button when an image is flashed causes a delay in brain operation. It is highly likely, though not yet studied, that the delays and confusion magnify with increases in the number of different things one tries to do simultaneously.

For details on this research go to the Web supplement for my book on improving memory:


  1. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Hello Dr. Bill!

    I am doing some research on my own about multi-tasking. These are for my own personal life. Recently, my husband has been training for a law enforcement job, and has been doing great except for the multi-tasking ability. He is challenged when it comes to doing many things at once, and being confident in what he is doing. Is there a way that he can improve that? Any excercies that can help his brain to funtion better at this? I was thinking of trying to give him omega-3 and folic acid supplements to help this problem. We were also wondering what area of the brain controls the muli-tasking abilitiy?

    Thank you,

  2. Christina:

    First, I would not assume that your husband's poor ability to multi-task is a deficiency. It probably means that he does a better job on the things he focuses on.

    I don't know of any formal training programs that help people multi-task, other than the automatic fallout of growing up today as a teenager.

    I doubt that Omega 3 would improve multi-tasking. Folic acid supplement might, but only if one is deficient in the first place. Vitamin B12 is good for general nervous system function. And don't forget aerobic exercise!

    Dr. Bill
    "Memory Medic"

  3. I really appreciate the kind of topics post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!
    Brain Supplements


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