I am studying the concept of multi-tasking. The premise upon which I am asking this question is my belief that multi-tasking is a myth(as discussed in a few books on the same topic) and that the brain processes its tasks/brain requests sequentially, one by one. The moment we try doing two tasks, that interfere with each other in terms of the areas of brain that are activated while doing those tasks, we hit an efficiency bottleneck; our efficiency of brain resource usage goes down.

The same belief now led me to think that an efficient way of performing any task is to schedule the task in the brain in such a way that its adjacent tasks have no chance to interfere with the current task in terms of their usage of brain's resources. So, what are those different brain resources that together accomplish an activity? Can anybody give me a full list of the abilities of the brain as per the latest scientific results available?

In the process I tried to list down the various activities that we enjoy doing while we are able to give our full attention/concentration to them and then tried to see what are the varieties of things that a brain can actually do, so that we can quickly identify the activity and classify it in terms of its effect on brain's usage.

A few significant things brains beautifully do are:

calculations(math) = counting

Literature = imagination + verbal

music skills = counting + aesthetic

learning new language = memory + verbal usage + pattern detection

falling in love = reproductive + courting

imagery and sexual fantasy = reproductive + visual imagination + aesthetics

poetry = verbal + counting(metre) etc

traveling = recall + curiosity

adventure = same as above

sports = strategy + motor skills etc etc etc

The above list includes the types of creative activities that brain does, but does not list the basic, elementary set of abilities that together accomplish these activities. So my question here is, what are those various distinct faculties that a brain uses to accomplish a task? You may provide a list of all the faculties(RHS of the above "so called" equations :)), or map the different parts of brain with unique abilities, or provide a totally different way of looking at the brain altogether...

For more clarity:

As an analogy with a computer system which has processing units and related resources like ALUs, Memory, etc what are the different processing unit and resources in the brain which together accomplish a task. I am looking for that list basically

  • $\begingroup$ It might be easier to produce the equations that you are looking for by looking at different "neurotransmitter systems" that are activated. For example the reward circuitry would be triggered in the case of falling in love, sexual fantasy, travel and adventure. An extra layer would be stating which systems are not activated. For example having fear or anxiety would prevent a person from enjoying adventure or travel. $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Aug 10 '15 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ As per request from some folks, I have edited(added a few lines at the end of my question) my question to make it more clear $\endgroup$ – Sushant Aug 11 '15 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ I see a lot of people coming to this site with this idea of parallels of human-brain to computer systems. I know that I had it originally. From what I've seen, this model does not hold up to scientific scrutiny. $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Aug 12 '15 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex Stone, Can you provide a better model. Also, I have tried to make myself clear by explaining the question. Could someone please answer? $\endgroup$ – Sushant Aug 14 '15 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ I've seen people use a "hologram" model - a hologram can have more pixel density or less. It is the same hologram, but having more pixel density makes it sharper and more detailed. Remove pixels and hologram eventually disappears. Human experience is similar - one can do math or experience pleasure but with more/less clarity. What can be obvious to one person in a split second would take another person 30 minutes. They are dealing with the same concept, but there's more "resolution" to the first person's thinking and less to the second. Remove resolution and eventually one cannot comprehend $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Aug 17 '15 at 14:40

The length of your question and it's tags make it quite confusing, however what you mentioned about the brain processing tasks sequentially and then hitting an efficiency bottle-neck when using conflicting resources reminds me of the research of Neils Taatgen.

He uses a cognitive model called ACT-R to do computer simulations to predict what efficiency bottle-necks a person might experience. His research might help clarify some theories you have.


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