Deep Inside the Brain: Neuroscientists Discover the Missing Piece of the Brain’s Multitasking Network

Brain Network Artist Concept

Deep inside the brain the putamen, not just the cortex, contributes to multitasking ability.

Multitasking performance stems from the speed of information exchange between inner and outer regions of the brain, according to new research in eNeuro.

Doing two things at once courts disaster, as multitasking requires outer cortical brain regions to rapidly communicate with each other. The speed of this information exchange limits multitasking capability yet can improve with practice. But that’s not the whole story: multitasking also depends on the striatum, a previously overlooked region deep inside the brain.

Modulatory Influence of Multitasking

Proposed model for the modulatory influence of multitasking. Credit: Garner et al., eNeuro 2020

Garner et al. compared the brain activity of 100 healthy adults before and after a week of multitasking practice. The participants completed two different tasks, first separately and then at the same time. The putamen — a brain region in the striatum involved in habitual behavior — and two cortical regions were activated by the tasks separately and increased activity during multitasking. After testing a variety of potential models, the research team found that multitasking ability hinged on how effectively the putamen could exchange information with the cortical areas. A week of practice improved the participant’s task performance in concert with an increase in communication rates between the putamen and the cortex.

Reference: “Cognitive Capacity Limits Are Remediated by Practice-Induced Plasticity Between the Putamen and Pre-Supplementary Motor Area” by K.G. Garner, M.I. Garrido and P.E. Dux, 17 August 2020, eNeuro.
DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0139-20.2020

7 Comments on "Deep Inside the Brain: Neuroscientists Discover the Missing Piece of the Brain’s Multitasking Network"

  1. … Yeah, that is bit confusing.
    Earlier, I was reading some article in which was a claim that multitasking is not existing, however the scientists are now finding the way to figure out the responsible stuff for it.

    I wonder what is next, …

  2. Theresa Robinson | August 18, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    Interesting read.So very much that we don’t know about the Brain.We can put a Man on the Moon,but when it comes too,So many different types of Brain injuries and trying too get a cure for Millions and Millions of our Loved ones who have been stricken with Dementia,IT seems like something easy too fix,but after reading so much information on Dementia it Saddens me. Also finding out 7 months ago,that my Dear Mom is in early Stages of Dementia.I really took it hard,and I’m still Loosing a lot of sleep..Reading and reading on Dementia..Hopping that what I read next will be in Big letters..That there’s a Cure!! For this Horrific Dease.DEMENTIA.I believe that it’s crucial that the Nurses take these Residents outdoors for a walk.Or even a park.As I’ve read that it’s not good for them too be Stuck indoors.You can catch the Virus Wether your indoors or outdoors. They need too look at something different instead of the same thing everyday..Also Activities are So important for these Dear People.:(

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