Earl Miller says younger generation will be better multitaskers
EarthSkyToday, Hayley McCrea of Portland, Oregon asks the scientists:
Hayley McCrea: If the younger generation will have an easier time multitasking than the older generation? And more specifically, if the brain is going to be wired differently for the younger generation than the older generation?
We asked Earl Miller, professor of neuroscience at MIT, and an expert on the subject of multitasking.
Earl Miller: Well, the short answer to that question is yes, In many ways, the brain is constantly wiring and rewiring itself in response to experience. And if you have a lot of experience multitasking, you're gonna get better at it. And getting better at it means your brain is wired a little more towards multitasking than somebody who is not used to it.
Today, a teenager might be doing her homework, while also watching TV, texting her friends, and checking her Facebook page on the computer. But, Miller said, she is not actually doing all these things simultaneously.
Earl Miller: In actuality, people can only really think about two or three, maybe four cognitively demanding thoughts at one time. So what's actually going on is your brain is switching back and forth between the different tasks.
So, Miller said, while there's no such thing as true multitasking, the younger generation will be better at switching focus from one task to another.