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Scientists studying the matter generally believe multitasking, and women's superiority at it, to be a myth. Men come out slightly better multitaskers than women but there's not really any meaningful difference. The way it's defined is critical though; it's being able to do two things that typically require focal attention at the exact same time. For ...


21

This is a part-answer to your question and it doesn't come from occupational psychology, but from expertise research. Findings from Expertise Research In their seminal paper on the role of deliberate practice for the acquisition of expert performance, Ericsson et al. (1993) report a number of constraints that play a role in the acquisition of expert ...


16

As part of my PhD within the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), one of the things I am trying to support the user in is multitasking. This might be relevant for you since interruptions and multitasking are highly interlinked. I'll refer you to some of the key papers I encountered during my background research, including some on the effects of ...


15

The widely quoted figure of "10% at a time" is actually overestimating simultaneous brain activity by up to an order of magnitude. As demonstrated by Lennie 2003 (Current Biology), the number of neurons that can be substantially active concurrently is possibly as small as 1% of the brain's neurons, due to the high metabolic cost of spiking. Generally, ...


11

Probably the most striking evidence of "happiness homeostasis" is a now classic study by Brickman, Coates and Bulman (1978) which compared the self-reported happiness of lottery winners and accident victims with a control group. The following quote describes the part of the outcome you'd be interested in succinctly: Lottery winners and controls were not ...


9

There's one condition that is linked to negative cognitive effects after masturbation in a small subset of population, it is called Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS): The sufferer experiences mental symptoms, physical symptoms, or both. Common mental symptoms include cognitive dysfunction, intense discomfort, irritability, anxiety, craving for ...


8

As mentioned in a recent study by Thompson et al. (2012), there are two perspectives which account for the effects of background music on reading comprehension specifically (but as I argue later, these seem generalizable): the Cognitive-Capacity hypothesis and the Arousal-Mood hypothesis. In short, the potential cost of background music listening for ...


8

Not using your brain might well be deleterious, but it's impossible not to use your brain unless you're in a coma or something. There are some cool studies on plasticity (see Shayna's answer above) in amputees, where the parts of the brain that control the amputated limb go unused but are taken up by other functions instead. However, "perpetual brain ...


8

Yes, brain power is eroded via a lack of practice. This occurs through the processes called synaptic pruning and brain plasticity. I will leave you with a very basic answer as I am unsure of your level of understanding of cognitive processes. First, you must understand neurons. Then, you can begin to understand synaptic pruning and brain plasticity. Finally,...


8

Increasing Concentration A method that is geared espeacially towards reading scientific texts is SQ3R. SQ3R is short for survey, question, read, recite and review. So instead of "just reading" a text, one is supposed to survey it first to grasp the basic outline by reading the abstract, introduction or table of contents formulate questions as to what it ...


7

I like to think of multitasking as rapid task switching. See Pashler's (2000) article for the implications of "multitasking." References Pashler, H. (2000). Task switching and multitask performance. To appear in Monsell, S., and Driver, J. (editors). Attention and Performance XVIII: Control of mental processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press


7

You might find Self Determination Theory interesting, which takes a detailed look the concept of motivation. Even if you don't explicitely mention it in your question, you seem to be refering to the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which is a distinction that is traditionally made with respect to motivation. In SDT this is taken a ...


7

Is there a name for the phenomena of not putting effort into study because of fear of failure which in turn results in actual failure? Yes, this is called self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is the process by which people avoid effort in the hopes of keeping potential failure from hurting self-esteem. What causes this? The main and most ...


7

A caveat: "productivity" is not a term used much by cognitive science, so I'll talk about cognition instead. It's not necessarily the same thing, but it's more of an answered question. And as a general issue: any time a question has "more" in it, the real question is "more than what?" More productive early in the morning than later in the morning? More ...


7

How much sleep is needed for peak cognitive performance. If some were for >example wake up one morning at 12:30 pm would a sleeping pill help obtain >better sleep required for that performance the next morning at 08:00 am ? It depends on what pharmacotherapies - per the clinical judgement of their treating physician - one may have consumed. Conceptually, we ...


6

An alert of a follow up paper ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF JOB PERFORMANCE: THE ROLE OF MEASUREMENT CHARACTERISTICS IN OBSERVED DEPARTURES FROM NORMALITY and subsequent search brought me to this discussion. I don't have full access to these articles unfortunately. Of the two questions that posed, no, I wouldn't expect to find a normal distribution and no, I ...


6

Alcohol consumption causes deficits in motor coordination by affecting the cerebellum, which is the main area involved in regulating finer adjustments in movement and motor learning. From Belmeguenai et. al (2008): It has previously been shown that ethanol modulates inhibitory transmission in the cerebellum and affects synaptic transmission and plasticity ...


6

From the Wall Street Journal: Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, academic studies have found, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the ...


6

I've discussed a lot of this recently on my answer to this question: Are there recent theories on physiognomy? In summary, yes. Can't remember which of the tons I referenced mentioned well-being, but if you run a search function (Ctrl F, or ⌘F if you don't like good computers) on the text of the freely available articles I provided hyperlinks for, I ...


6

Far from being one single organ performing a single homogeneous function, the brain is actually several lobes, and each lobe is like a separate organ performing a dozen functions. Putting it in another way, the brain is not like a "thinking machine", it is more like a collection of computers, instrument panels of an aircraft, radars and sonars of a submarine,...


5

Benefits of touch typing on task performance: I assume that when comparing skilled individuals, two handed touch typing on a traditional keyboard is faster, more reliable, and more automatic, than the other methods of text input that you mention (e.g., phone or tablet keyboards). These advantages are discussed here. Faster input means that ideas can be ...


5

Our university has a public grade distribution database, so I did a really quick analysis on some historical data to see if there was any support for this idea. To my surprise, it appears that there might be. But, my analysis is very limited. I downloaded the grade distributions for all intro psychology and intro computer science classes from 2010-2014. ...


5

Masturbation in men or women does not negatively affect cognitive processes As I pointed out in another question in Health.SE, masturbation was a diagnosable psychological condition until DSM II in 1968 (Ley, 2014), and the American Medical Association consensually declared masturbation as normal in 1972 (Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2003). ...


5

I would like to add a bit of terminology to @what's answer. Of course memory is a pretty big topic with different and sometimes conflicting theories and I would not consider myself an expert. Having this said, the distinction between Long Term Memory (LTM) and Working Memory is widely used, so I will use it, too. The problem that you describe in your ...


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