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A new study has found that media multitasking, which refers to using different devices or apps at the same time, could lead to poor memory.
Researchers from Stanford University wanted to determine if media multitasking could influence people’s ability to recall things. They designed an experiment to find the relationship between memory and multitasking.
To test the participants’ memory, the researchers asked 80 people aged 18 to 26 to look at different sets of images on a screen. The participants had to pinpoint any changes to the images while the researchers monitored their brain activity and pupil size. Afterward, the researchers measured the participants’ multitasking abilities by asking them how often and how well they could use multiple media concurrently within an hour.
After comparing the participants’ results from the memory task and media multitasking reports, the researchers found that heavier media multitaskers performed badly on the memory activity.
Kevin Madore, the study’s lead author, explained that heavy multitaskers may have difficulty paying attention, which could be affecting their ability to retain information. He said that this difficulty could be lessened by being aware of potential distractions and limiting them.
However, the researchers emphasized they are not claiming that media multitasking causes poor memory and attention lapses. They said that their findings simply suggest a relationship between the two factors.
Still, the researchers hope that their study can aid in the development of interventions to help improve people’s attentiveness and memory. Such interventions could be useful for people experiencing brain illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.