Why Multitasking Is Harder for Men
The popular belief that women are better than men at multitasking has been supported by some studies and unproven by others. Now, a new study shows that it may indeed be more difficult for men to multitask in a number of different areas.
The term "multitasking," used to refer to the brain’s ability to perform several tasks at once, is inaccurate. It actually involves "task switching" from one task to another in a very short amount of time. A recent study examined gender differences in task switching performance. The research, which was conducted in Russia, involved 140 people—69 men and 71 women—between the ages of 20 and 65. Researchers performed neuropsychological tests to measure attention-switching ability and memory, and used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe brain activity while participants switched their attention among random tasks.
This study showed that men required more brain power to multitask. Switching tasks activates certain areas of the brain—specifically the dorsolateral prefrontal areas, the inferior parietal lobes, and the inferior occipital gyrus; in men however, bilateral activation of the supplementary motor area was also observed. According to researchers, this difference is barely noticeable in normal day-to-day activities but may be more relevant in highly stressful or critical situations.
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