multitasking employee stressed with too many responsibilities multitasking employee stressed with too many responsibilities Effective multitasking is an art that's lost on many. (Photo: REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock)

This trick can help you multitask like a boss

Researchers discovered the mechanism at work when you're trying to do many things at once.

When several tasks are competing for your attention, what's the effect on your brain?

In many cases, it's ... a whole lot of nothing. Not only do we fail to accomplish the most prominent or important task at hand, we also forget about all the others and lose focus, and our productivity reaches a standstill. This is why so many people have reached the conclusion that multitasking is a myth: you can't do more than one thing at the same time. You can only shift back and forth between different tasks.

But according to a new study, that's not entirely true. A student at Israel's Tel Aviv University named Jasmine Herszage, under the direction of Professor Nitzan Censor, has identified a brain mechanism that can actually help you become an efficient multitasker.

She calls it "reactivating the learned memory," which essentially means you're learning a task, storing it, then getting a brief reminder or cue, and using it when you need it.

"When we learn a new task, we have great difficulty performing it and learning something else at the same time," Censor said. "Our research demonstrates that the brief reactivation of a single learned memory, in appropriate conditions, enables the long-term prevention of, or immunity to, future interference in the performance of another task performed in close conjunction."

Brain scanYou can, indeed, train your brain to multitask better. (Photo: sfam_photo/Shutterstock)

To conduct their research, Herszage and Censor taught subjects a specific sequence of finger movements on a computer keypad with one hand. Later, they were asked to perform the task briefly with both hands. In the end, the researchers noted that the subjects were able to perform both tasks without interference.

What researchers don't know, however, is why this is happening.

"Is it the result of hardwired circuitry in the brain, which allows different learning episodes to be integrated?" Censor wondered. "And how is this circuitry represented in the brain? By functional connections between distinct brain regions?"

The next step, he said, is determining whether the identified mechanism can be applied to other types of tasks and memories, such as remembering where in the world you put your phone, your wallet, your keys, or your children

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