People often think that they are good at multitasking- of course we’ve all tried watching TV, eating, and using our smartphones at the same time. However, chances are you’re not really that great. You might be able to do these tasks at the same time but you can’t really concentrate perfectly well on all these things.
“Decades of research in cognitive science have shown that our attention is limited. We are able to concentrate on a few different things at a time, but add in one extra distraction and we stop doing so well. Our cognitive resources have to be shared between the different tasks and something has to give, “author of BBC, Clauda Hammond explains.
Moreover, a study revealed that there are actually some exceptions- a group of individuals, called “supertaskers”, can cope with several tasks at a time. They can even do better the more their attention is divided!
A study of David Strayer and Jason Watson, cognitive neuroscientists from the University of Utah and the University of Colorado Denver, wanted to know what happens when people sat at a driving simulator while chatting on a hands-free phone. To make it harder, they also had to memorize a list of words mixed with mental arithmetic problems.
Not surprisingly, almost everybody weren’t very good at it. Either the distractions slowed their reaction times or affected the quality of their driving. However, five participants (three men and two women) outperformed them all. They seem to deal with any distractions they were asked to face. With their findings, they suggested that an exceptional 2.5% of the population are supertaskers.
Supertaskers can multitask well because
their brains are wired for it- the more they had to do, the more efficient they became. However, it doesn’t have known advantages yet and no known reason for why it’s such a rare skill. If you’re interested nonetheless in knowing if you’re one of them, you can try out this test at https://supertasker.org/