Study: Senior Citizens Stink at Multitasking

Paul Lilly

A research team at the University of California used functional magnetic resonance imaging to figure out that older people are worse at multitasking than younger people. Specifically, they looked at the ability of people between the ages of 60 and 80 to retain information in their working memory for short periods of time and found that the distraction of multitasking had a bigger effect than it did in younger adults, USA Today reports .

They conducted the study by showing adults a nature scene, which was then interrupted by a picture of a human face. Subjects were asked to guess the person's gender and age, followed up by questions about the nature scene.

Older people were slower to update their working memory, making it harder for them to turn back to the task they were working on before a new one diverted their attention. It's a memory deficit that also exists in younger people, only they're better at pulling up the working memory of a previous task, making them better multitaskers, according to the study.

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