Researchers at University of California Berkeley learned that when we’re searching for something, parts of our brains can be used in unexpected ways. They found that when “we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal or thing. That means that if we’re looking for a youngster lost in a crowd, the brain areas usually dedicated to recognizing other objects such as animals, or even the areas governing abstract thought, shift their focus and join the search party. Thus, the brain rapidly switches into a highly focused child-finder, and redirects resources it uses for other mental tasks. ‘Our results show that our brains are much more dynamic than previously thought, rapidly reallocating resources based on behavioral demands, and optimizing our performance by increasing the precision with which we can perform relevant tasks,’ said Tolga Cukur, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study.” The data collected put another nail in the coffin of multitasking: “The findings help explain why we find it difficult to concentrate on more than one task at a time.”
“Lost Your Keys? Your Cat? The Brain Can Rapidly Mobilize a Search Party.” 2013. Press release, University of California Berkeley, http://www.newscenter.berkeley.edu.