Multitasking Increases Short-term Brain Fun at Expense of Long-term

Volume 3, Issue 13

Speaking at the recent Wharton Advertising 2020 Conference in New York (where I also had the honor of being one of the speakers), neuroscientist Carl Marci used his closed fist to illustrate the brain. He described the fingers, curved under to touch the palm, as the brain’s newest evolutionary part, the prefrontal cortex. He noted that this latest brain development curls back to reach for and touch the much older limbic system, the seat of motivation and emotion.

His interpretation of what the DNA is looking for in doing this, is that the service of the most intellectual part of the brain seeks contact with the primal driving forces that are the seat of the goals in the goal-seeking organism. As if the power of mind exists — like every other part of the organism — to serve the highest ends of the DNA coding the system.

It is all highly purposive and this interpretation lends greater respectability to the primal drives that for centuries have been characterized as “lower” aspects of our being. This also gets back to Freud’s depiction of the id as being the animalistic and gross, babyish and least acclaimed part of our selves. In an earlier posting I offered an alternative view of the id as being our true selves, our original essence divorced from the later layering of experience-driven neuronal nets of software that expand the true self into new territory, some of it counterproductive.

Carl went on to spellbind us with an outpouring of ideas, one of which is that multitasking is so popular especially among Millennials because it gives them a jolt of pleasurable brain chemicals (presumably oxytocin or adenosine, or serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc.) by maintaining novelty-driven attention on something again and again by adding in another element whenever boredom sets in, which it all too easily does.

This jibes with my theory that the Acceleritis-ridden culture shifts us into avoidance of going deeper into percepts. Due to the overwhelming daunting list of questions arising in our brains from all this stimulation, which one subconsciously wants to avoid opening like a Pandora’s Box. This avoidance of the deep makes us lovers of the breadth – seeking more brain-juice cocktails by taking the overdose of stimulation even further.

However, as Carl noted, we are less effective when multitasking. Single-pointed attention is the way to Flow state/the Zone. This means that the seeking of momentary brain pleasure actually works against the organism attaining the goals of its heart. In the long run this reduces brain pleasure more profoundly and in a more lasting way. Borrowing on the credit card of brain-juice by multitasking burns your credit in the end.

Best to all,


NOTE:  Learn more about dopamine in this article.

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