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Is living in an always-on world diminishing our ability to think and work?

Today it's not uncommon to simultaneously watch TV, respond to e-mails, and browse friends' status updates. But just because technology allow us to take multi-tasking to new heights doesn't mean it's good for us. According to an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle:

A team at UCSF published a study last week that found further evidence that multitasking impedes short-term memory, especially among older adults. Researchers there previously found that distractions of the sort that smart phones and social networks present can hinder long-term memory and mental performance.

A 2009 study at Stanford University found that, surprisingly, persistent multitaskers perform worse than infrequent ones on tests that require them to jump from task to task. It seems they were more easily distracted by irrelevant information thrown up during the evaluations.

The study results suggest that multi-tasking may diminish your cognitive abilities and productivity. And there's the potential for this behavior to result in an unhealthy dependence on technology.

Stanford psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude, MD, comments in the story, "The best way to define it is in terms of the offline consequences ... Are we suffering in terms of our cognition and attention spans because of all the time we spend online? Is our professional life negatively impacted because of all the nonessential Internet surfing we do at work?"

Previously: More on the dangers of the "E-personality", Virtually You: The dangerous powers of the E-Personality and Stanford Magazine examines the social and psychological consequences of the digital revolution
Photo by Alex Erde

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