An analysis published on October 28 by the journal Nature, reveals that engaging in several forms of digital media could adversely affect the attention and memory of people.

This media multitasking could include simultaneously surfing the web using the phone while watching TV or using the smartphone while using a laptop for work.

Scientists in the US conducted lab experiments to see how media multitasking affects people, and they found that heavy media multitasking at home impaired the ability to remember things flashed on a computer screen, MailOnline reported.

Experts said that advances in measuring recall could help better understand the underlying causes of diseases or health conditions that affect memory.

Media Multitasking Affects Memory And Attention

Stanford University researchers said that people engaging in media multitasking had measurable changes in their brain wave activity and eye pupil size. These changes in them could effectively predict how well a person recalls something that they have seen.

They examined 80 adult participants aged 18 to 16 to see whether media multitasking is connected to spontaneous attention lapses and whether this could negatively relate to remembering.

The participants were briefly presented with some images of a hat, pan, bracelet, insect, or a kitchen sink on a computer screen. Then ten minutes later, the participants were presented again with the second round of images in which they have to identify whether they are bigger or smaller, more pleasant or unpleasant if they had seen the picture before,

This technique was developed by Dr Anthony Wagner of Stanford University in his study in 2005 about the Cerebral Cortex.

The researchers observed that the participants' pupils changes in size as well as their brain wave activity. The brain waves referred to in their study is called the "alpha power" which was recorded using an electroencephalogram (EEG).

Kevin Madore, one of the study authors, said that an increase in alpha power in the back of the skull had been linked to lapses of attention, min wandering, distractibility, and many others. Also, constrictions on pupils are related to slower reaction times and more times of mind wandering.

According to UPI's report, the study may have implications for memory disorders like Alzheimer's disease. It could also lead to applications in improving the attention and memory of people in their daily lives, the researchers said.

Read Also: Children Who Play Video Games Are Better at Working Memory Tasks, Says Study

Light vs Heavy Media Multitaskers

The scientists also compared the memory performance of media multitaskers on how well they can engage with multiple digital media.

Heavy media multitaskers are those people who simultaneously watch TV while browsing the internet, and listening to music, or playing a video game. In comparison, light media multitaskers are those that watch TV while texting.

According to the researchers, heavy media multitaskers are linked to poor memory which is also linked to lapses in attention.

But attention lapses and poor memory could be reduced by the conscious efforts of the person and limiting potential distractions, they said.

Moreover, the study does not identify media multitasking as a definite cause for attention lapses and poor memory. They have stressed that what they found in their research is just a link between the two factors.

Read More: Scientists Find That Gut Bacteria Can Improve Memory in Yet Another Breakthrough Study About Probiotics
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