Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Multitasking: Not so bad for you after all?

Date:
April 12, 2012
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Our obsession with multiple forms of media is not necessarily all bad news, according to a new study. Those who frequently use different types of media at the same time appear to be better at integrating information from multiple senses -- vision and hearing in this instance -- when asked to perform a specific task, new research shows.

Our obsession with multiple forms of media is not necessarily all bad news, according to a new study by Kelvin Lui and Alan Wong from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Their work shows that those who frequently use different types of media at the same time appear to be better at integrating information from multiple senses -- vision and hearing in this instance -- when asked to perform a specific task. This may be due to their experience of spreading their attention to different sources of information while media multitasking.

Related Articles


Their study is published online in Springer's Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

To date, there has been a lot of publicity about the detrimental aspects of media multitasking -- using more than one form of media or technology simultaneously. Especially prevalent in young people, this could be instant messaging, music, web surfing, e-mail, online videos, computer games or social networking. Research has demonstrated impairments during certain cognitive tasks involving task switching, selective attention and working memory, both in the laboratory and in real-life situations. This type of cognitive impairment may be due to the fact that multitaskers tend to pay attention to various sources of information available in their environment, without sufficient focus on the information most relevant to the task at hand.

But does this cognitive style have any advantages? Lui and Wong's study explored the differences between media multitaskers' tendency and ability to capture information from seemingly irrelevant sources. In particular, they assessed how much two different groups (frequent multitaskers and light multitaskers) could integrate visual and auditory information automatically.

A total of 63 participants, aged 19-28 years, took part in the experiment. They completed questionnaires looking at their media usage -- both time spent using various media and the extent to which they used more than one at a time. The participants were then set a visual search task, with and without synchronous sound, i.e. a short auditory pip, which contained no information about the visual target's location, but indicated the instant it changed color.

On average, participants regularly received information from at least three media at the same time. Those who media multitasked the most tended to be more efficient at multisensory integration. In other words, they performed better in the task when the tone was present than when it was absent. They also performed worse than light media multitaskers in the tasks without the tone. It appears that their ability to routinely take in information from a number of different sources made it easier for them to use the unexpected auditory signal in the task with tone, leading to a large improvement in performance in the presence of the tone.

The authors conclude: "Although the present findings do not demonstrate any causal effect, they highlight an interesting possibility of the effect of media multitasking on certain cognitive abilities, multisensory integration in particular. Media multitasking may not always be a bad thing."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong. Does media multitasking always hurt? A positive correlation between multitasking and multisensory integration. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2012; DOI: 10.3758/s13423-012-0245-7

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Multitasking: Not so bad for you after all?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105529.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2012, April 12). Multitasking: Not so bad for you after all?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105529.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Multitasking: Not so bad for you after all?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412105529.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins