Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

"One Moment, Let Me Just Get This Text . . ."

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

"One Moment, Let Me Just Get This Text . . ."

Article excerpt

COGNITIVE CONTROL

OPHIR ET AL. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. PNAS, 106, 15583.

Recent technologies allow users to be online at all times through monitoring their phones, text messages, e-mails, and Web sites, often simultaneously. Ophir et al. investigated the consequences of this "media multitasking" on the control of basic cognitive processes. Media multitasking has two potential effects: On the one hand, directing attention and other limited cognitive resources from one environmental source to another might reduce the typical limitations of human cognition through mere practice, allowing cognition to be more flexible and reducing the costs of performing several tasks simultaneously. On the other, media multitasking might make cognitive control more difficult.

To investigate these issues, Ophir et al. used an individual differences approach, increasingly popular in the study of cognition (e.g., Vogel & Awh, 2008, Curr Dir Psychol Sci 17:171). First, Ophir et al. developed a questionnaire to identify individuals who were heavy versus light media multitaskers. These individuals then performed several lab-based cognitive tasks that tapped specific cognitive processes. Perhaps the most relevant was task switching, in which participants reported either whether a number was even or odd or whether a letter was a consonant or vowel. …

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