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Movie research results: Multitasking overloads the brain

26 Apr 2017

Previous research shows that multitasking, performing several tasks at the same time, reduces productivity by as much as 40 per cent. Now, a group of researchers specialising in brain imaging has found that changing tasks too frequently interferes with brain activity. This may explain why the end result is worse than when a person focuses on one task at a time. Part of the research was funded by the Academy of Finland.

“We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure different brain areas of our research subjects while they watched short segments of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and James Bond movies,” explains Aalto University Associate Professor Iiro Jääskeläinen.

The impact of a short segment of the Indiana Jones movie on the diverse areas of the brain. Image: Juha Lahnakoski

Cutting the films into segments of approximately 50 seconds fragmented their continuity. In the study, the subjects’ brain areas functioned more smoothly when they watched the films in segments of 6.5 minutes. The posterior temporal and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices, the cerebellum and dorsal precuneus are the most important areas of the brain in terms of combining individual events into coherent event sequences. These areas of the brain make it possible to turn fragments into complete entities. According to the study, these brain regions work more efficiently when it can deal with one task at a time.

Source: Aalto University press release

Last modified 2 May 2017
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