Communicating Concepts

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Multi-Tasking Myths 

What is Multi-Tasking?
       Multi-tasking, also known as multiple tasking, involves engaging in two or more tasks simultaneously. However, multi-tasking is only possible if two conditions are met:
  • At least one or more of the tasks is so well learned as to be automatic requiring no focus or thought necessary to perform the task (e.g., driving).
  • The tasks involve different types of brain processing such as reading while listening to classical music because reading comprehension and processing instrumental music engage different parts of the brain.
       The process of multitasking is actually a serial tasking or the process of engaging in simultaneous tasks by shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession.

       Our brains aren't structured as a parallel processor. Rather our organic computer performs very simple actions in a strict linear sequence. The brain must complete the first task, or part of that task, before it can move on to the next task. What we term multitasking is actually task switching.

       In order to switch tasks the brain must distinguish between the tasks that must be performed and prioritize tasks so it can limit its commitment of resources or shut down tasks completely.

       To maximize learning performance, most teachers rely on a learning process known as single tasking or focusing only on a task that is absolutely essential to skill acquisition. This fundamental focusing skill still remains the most effective tool for making small, yet profound gains in productivity.

Short and Long Term Memory
       The implication of a study being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a respected scientific journal. The research shows that juggling many tasks can divide attention and hurt learning and performance. The research also shows that multitasking takes a significantly greater toll on our working memory as we age.
 
      Our short term memory acts jut as a bank in that it holds recent events until they can be processed and possibly converted to long term memory. Our mind has a limited storage capacity that can can only hold so much information in short tern memory, before it reaches capacity and deletes data to avoid becoming overwhelmed. This causes the deleted memory to be irretrievably lost. This may increase as a part of the aging process or can be caused by mediations used to treat various injuries (as a head injury) or illness
(Dementia or Alzheimer's).
      
     Studies have shown that extensive training can make us better at doing two things at once. But it turns out that we still consult the prefrontal cortex and with training can improve our speed of thinking. So in reality we’re just switching tasks more quickly and it just creates the appearance of doing them simultaneously.

     Another theory is that with lots of practice some muscle/nerve responses to become automatic. The less we require the brain to be be involve at a conscious level, the more time we spend consciously thinking. As we are able to  access more of our brain's capacity for critical thinking, it appears we are multi-tasking.

      The following links offer the perspective of different authors on the myths associated with multitasking:

Recommended Reading:
    
Debunking The Myth of Multitasking   Aug. 25, 2008  In his new book, The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done, Crenshaw explains the difference between "background ...

Myth of Multitasking    Book  Dave Crenshaw in a compelling business fable, The Myth of Multitasking

The Myth of Multitasking:   Podcast July 15, 2009 ... The Myth of Multitasking. A study in the journal Neuron suggests that though we can train our brains to work faster as we juggle, we never actually manage to do more than one thing at a time.

The Myth of Multitasking (or The Truth About Multitasking)    Inspired by Merlin Mann's podcast of the same name. Further supplemented by this and likely many other articles and blog posts saying the same thing.

The Myth Of Multitasking: Focus Or Fail   July 13, 2009  Focusing is underrated, and has been for quite some time. Yet it's the secret to great work. Eliminating all distractions is essential to multitasking.

The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done    Aug. 21, 2008  The Myth of Multitasking is a short book that conveys a single, critical idea: to do two things at once is to do neither.

The multitasking myth - Computerworld Blogs   Sept. 23, 2009  My consulting work with leading technologists, business people, athletes, and coaches offers further support to my belief that multitasking ...

Short Term Memory Loss | Memory Loss Treatment  Short term memory loss: learn about causes and treatments for short term memory ... events until they can be processed and passed on to long term memory. But the short term memory can only hold so much, and in today's busy, multitasking society.

Memory Loss Guide | JohnsHopkinsHealthAlerts  Free guide on the early signs and treatment options for Memory Loss.

References:

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

Resources:
   
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Learning Considerations
PDF  Attentional Focus
PDF  Spatial Disorientation
PDF  Effects of Mood on Performance
PDF  Confidence through Motivation
PDF  Transfer of Learning Issues

All materials are copy protected. 

The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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