Your Brain on Multitasking
We all have a zillion tasks that need to be done now. Does multitasking help you work more efficiently and productively? Or does it allow you to do lots of things poorly? Is it better to focus on one task at a time and then move on quickly to the next? What exactly does multitasking do to our brains? Do gender or age make a difference when it comes to multitasking? A panel of the country's top experts on multitasking – neuroscientists, psychologists and a time-management pro – provide the latest findings on how to work more effectively while juggling multiple activities.
Dr. Gazzaley is the founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, an Associate Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, and Principal Investigator of a cognitive neuroscience laboratory. His laboratory studies the neural mechanisms of perception, attention and memory in humans, with an emphasis on the impact of distraction and multitasking on these abilities. A major focus of his research has been on the alterations in the aging brain that lead to cognitive decline. His most recent studies explore how we can use this knowledge to enhance our cognitive abilities through the use of video games. Dr. Gazzaley has authored over 60 scientific articles, delivered over 200 invited presentations and his research and perspectives have been consistently profiled in high-impact media, such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Discover, PBS, NPR, CNN and NBC Nightly News.
Prof. David E. Meyer, Ph. D., is a faculty member of the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. A mathematical psychologist and cognitive scientist, he received his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan and subsequently worked for several years as a Member of Technical Staff in the Human Information Processing Research Department at the Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan. Prof. Meyer is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a fellow in the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and American Association for The Advancement of Science. The American Psychological Association has honored him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and he has also received the William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science in recognition of his lifetime contributions to basic research. Prof. Meyer's teaching and research -- sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and Office of Naval Research -- have dealt with fundamental aspects of human perception, attention, learning, memory, language, movement production, reaction time, multitasking, executive mental control, human-computer interaction, personality and cognitive style, cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience, mathematical models, and computational models. Reports of this research have appeared in various books and periodicals such as Science, the Psychological Review, Cognitive Psychology, Memory & Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Memory and Language, and volumes of the Attention and Performance symposium series, as well as other publications. The public news media consider Prof. Meyer to be a leading expert on human multi-tasking and he has been interviewed frequently by radio, newspaper, and magazine journalists. After completing their doctoral degrees, Prof. Meyer's numerous graduate students have taken professional positions at major universities and research institutions throughout the U.S. and overseas. He has also served extensively on journal editorial boards, grant review panels, and administrative committees in his professional field. More information about Prof. Meyer and his professional activities may be found at his laboratory website.
Peter Bregman is the author, most recently, of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. He advises and consults with CEOs and their leadership teams in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups to nonprofits. He speaks worldwide on how people can lead, work, and live more powerfully. He is a frequent guest on public radio, provides commentary for CNN, and writes for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, and Psychology Today. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change. Peter lives in New York City, and can be reached at www.peterbregman.com, where you can subscribe to be notified when he writes a new article.
Rachel Emma Silverman is a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, where she has worked since 1998. She currently covers workplace, management and career issues and contributes to The Juggle, the Wall Street Journal’s work-and-family website. She lives in Austin with her husband, two young sons and dog.