Brain area that can be `trained` to improve multitasking skills identified

Washington: Researchers have identified the area of brain that is involved in multitasking and how people can train it to be better at the skill.

The findings by the IUGM Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal and the University of Montreal are important because they might help scientists develop better targeted cognitive stimulation programs or improve existing training programs.

Sylvie Belleville said that the work showed that there was also an association between the type of cognitive training performed and the resulting effect. This would be true for healthy seniors who want to improve their attention or memory and is particularly important for patients who suffer from damage in specific areas of the brain.

She further added that they have a long road ahead and they don't know for sure if that would indeed be a desirable outcome, however, the findings could be used right away to improve the daily lives of aging adults as well as people who suffer from brain damage.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate the impact of this training on various types of attention tasks and on brain function. The team showed that training on plasticity and attention control helped the participants develop their ability to multitask. However, performing two tasks simultaneously was not what improved this skill.

The researchers used this data to create a predictive model of the effects of cognitive training on the brain based on the subjects' characteristics.

Two papers are published in AGE and PLOS ONE. 

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