On one of this mornings while preparing to go to school, my son was asked by his mom about something simple and easy to recall, I don't think is worth it to mention here, and my son answered: Mom, you know I have short memory. When we as parents know, he is smart enough and enjoys of good memory. After a few seconds, he replied: Oh, wait I remember that.
Multitasking Harms Memory
My son as many of the kids in this gaming generation think they can multitask. They believe themselves they can perform more than one task at time. It is not difficult to see them playing the Gameboy, using Facebook, texting on their cellphone and watching TV. But to me and to a dozen of experts, the 'I have short memory' has an explanation.
John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist, the director of the Talaris Research Institute, and one of the top experts on brain studies. He suggests multitasking is impossible for brain follows a four step process of the Executive Network, which delays and avoids full concentration. In his blog he writes: "The brain is a sequential processor, unable to pay attention to two things at the same time. Businesses and schools praise multitasking, but research clearly shows that it reduces productivity and increases mistakes."
In fact, we are multitasking everyday. Walk and sing, listen music and talk. But the multitasking here refers to new learning. Multitasking when performing certain tasks may be helpful, the bottom line is that if you listen to the radio while studying for a test, you end up needing the music to be recall what you learned.
A study performed back in 2006 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, says tasks that distract you while you try to learn something new are likely to negatively affect your learning. In such study, multitasking didn't harm memory during the learning but appeared to make it more difficult to retrieve what was learned later, reason why my son was thinking he had a short memory.
Multitasking disrupts memory. That's the conclusion of the study. Researcher Russell Poldrack, PhD, co-author of the study and UCLA associate professor of psychology, said in this interview: "When distractions force you to pay less attention to what you are doing, you don't learn as well as if you had paid full attention,...Even if you learn while multitasking, that learning is less flexible and more specialized so you cannot retrieve the information as easily."
Hopefully, some empirical evidence regarding multitasking will cut through the myths about learning at school. Until then, make sure your son is paying attention to what he does, so he or she can retrieve what was learned later.
Remember I said walking and singing? That kind of tasks can be done at once , where brain does not have to move back every time to complete the Executive Network proposed by Medina.
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