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Is Multitasking Bad for the Brain?
[ 2012/10/7 15:02:00 | By: 梦翔儿 ]
 

Question: What happens to the mind when we get used to paying partial attention?

Gary Small: We all know we multitask. I mean this is a common part of everyday life and you know I like to drink my coffee in the morning and read the newspaper, so that’s a form of multitasking. Now of course I don’t do that when I’m driving because that is dangerous, so we know of many dangers of multitasking. We know that middle-age people who multitask don’t do as well as people who are focusing on one task and we also know that young people who multitask, they can complete the task more rapidly, but they make more errors, so we’re becoming faster, but sloppier when we multitask, but there is another mental process related to multitasking that’s often called partial continuous attention. Here we’re not just doing two or three tasks at the same time, we’re scanning the environment for new information at any point and this is a process that I think is becoming very popular now that we have all these new electronic communication gadgets, cell phones, PDAs, computers, the internet, so many people are at their workstation or at home in bed because we don’t have much demarcation these days between leisure life and work life, and they may be having a conversation on the phone or with someone next to them and they’re waiting for a little ding or a little sound or a new message that might be more interesting and exciting than whatever mental activity they’re engaged in at that time. Now there's dangers to that I think. Certainly there are social dangers. You can certainly insult someone if you answer your cell phone in the middle of a conversation, but I think it also may be a state of heightened mental stress because we’re constantly scanning the environment and we know from other studies that chronic stress is not good for the brain. In fact, laboratory animals under stress have smaller memory cells in the hippocampus. Human volunteers injected with stress hormones like cortisol have temporary impairment in learning and recall, so I think partial continuous attention it’s hard to resist, probably our dopamine circuits that are involved in reward systems drive it because we want that exciting new bit of information, but we have to be aware of it and try to manage it better.

Question: How can we counteract the effects of partial continuous attention?

Gary Small: I think the first step to managing partial continuous attention, or PCA if you want to give it an acronym, is to be aware of it and to certainly be aware of how it affects our face-to-face communication skills, how it can affect somebody personally. Not long ago I said to my teenage daughter, “You know, Rachel, when I’m talking to you and you’re texting at the same time I just don’t get the sense that you’re paying attention to my conversation.” So she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry Dad, I don’t do this with my teachers.” And then looked right down and continued her texting. Now I can laugh about that, and she is an adolescent and it’s a different culture to some extent. It’s tolerated more in their age group, but I think there are still social gaffes that people get into as a result of partial continuous attention. I think another thing that’s important to do is to take breaks from the computer and if we’re having a face-to-face meeting maybe turn off some of the gadgets and not be tempted to be distracted by them.

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多重任务处理正在损伤你的大脑?

(加里·思摩是加利福尼亚大学洛杉矶分校、医学院、精神病学和衰老研究方面的教授。)

    问:长期的不完全注意力会对我们的思维造成怎样的影响?

    加里·思摩:

    我们都在进行着多重任务处理。我是说这已经成了我们每日生活中很常见的部分,我早上边喝咖啡边看报纸,这就是多重任务处理。当然我开车的时候不会那么做,因为这很危险,由此我们都知道多重任务处理存在诸多危险。我们知道中年人进行多重任务处理要比只做一件事的人完成度低,我们也知道年轻人进行多重任务处理,能更快速完成任务,而他们往往会犯更多错误,所以多重任务处理让我们变得更快、也更马虎了。而在多重任务处理之外还存在着一种与之相关的脑力现象,被称之为“不完全注意”。而这就不只是同一时间处理两或三件任务了,而是随时随地都在虚拟空间中找寻新的信息,而鉴于我们拥有了所有这些新式电子交流设备——手机、笔记本、电脑、网络,这一现象将会变得相当流行,于是很多人如果不是在家里的床上睡觉就等于是在工作岗位上,因为今天我们的工作和生活之间已经没有什么界限。你和一个人坐在一起的时候,可能和另外一个人在电话上进行对话;你在处理一件事情的时候,可能等待着一条短信、“叮的一声”、或者其他什么声音,而那比你正在处理的任何思考都要新奇有趣。而此时危害就势必要出现了。毫无疑问的,社交危害将会出现。在对话中间接电话一定会冒犯别人的,但我也想这种情况可能是心理压力的一种显现,因为我们不断地浏览着虚拟空间、并且一些其他的研究也告诉我们长期的压力对大脑是有害的。事实上,实验室中,那些处于压力下的动物的海马组织中的记忆细胞会更小。人类志愿者在注射了压力荷尔蒙,如“可的松”后,学习和记忆能力都会出现暂时性的削弱。所以我想“不完全注意”的难以避免是因为受到了存在于反馈系统中的多巴胺循环的驱使,因为我们需要那些个令人兴奋的信息。但我们应该对其加以关注,并更好地对付它。

    问:我们怎么做才能抵消“不完全注意”产生的影响呢?

    加里·思摩:

    我想对付“不完全注意”的第一步(如果你想给它个简称的话也可以叫它PCA),是关注它,并且关注它到底是怎么影响我们面对面的交流技巧的,以及它是怎么影响到我们个人的。不久前,我对我十几岁的女儿说,“你知道,瑞秋,我跟你讲话的时候你在同时发着短信,我根本感觉不到你在认真听我说话。”于是她抬头看了看我,说“爸,别担心,在老师面前我不会这样的。”接着低下头,继续发她的短信。我一笑了之,她是个青少年,某种程度上来说是一种不一样的文化,在他们的年龄层中间,这是可以忍受的。但我还是觉得不完全注意会使人在社交时造成失态。我想我们要做的另一件重要的事是关了电脑、休息休息,如果在进行面对面的交流,就关了那些个电子设备吧,并且不受引诱、不被分心!

http://bigthink.com/ideas/18148

http://xue.youdao.com/article.z?id=-7165144999193386985&keyfrom=PopWindow

 
 
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