What happens in the human brain when we multitask?

French scientists Sylvain Charron and Etienne Koechlin found in a study that as we multitask, the left half of the part of our brain that controls our motivation to pursue goals devotes itself to one task and the right half to the other and this division of labor allows us to multi-task.

The researchers performed a series of experiments to understand how the two areas of the brain, frontopolar cortex which drives our ability to do more than one thing at a time and medial frontal cortex (MFC) that drives motivation, cope with multi-tasking. They used a brain-scanning technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brain activity of 32 volunteers, with a variable cash reward depending on the tasks.

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