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Richard Restak

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In the excerpt from Richard Restak, he talked about how the plasticity of our brain is changing the way we do things toay. The human brain is changing everyday and there is no way anyone can stop it. Richard Restak, an expert on the brain, talks about how the plasticity of our brains is changing constantly. He believes that this change is negatively hindering our ability to focus and produce a single task. The rewiring of our brains is forcing us as humans to make many changes to our everyday lives, and the main change it is causing us is that in order to function we need to multitask. Multitasking is the new thing today; everyone wants to be able to do as many things as possible at one time. The plasticity of our brain is changing, and it’s negatively affecting us. Because of the new rewiring of our brain, multitasking is a negative thing because it shortens our attention span, devalues relationships, distracts us from the real moment and it causes people to be less efficient.

First off, multitasking is negatively affecting humans because it is shortening their attention span. Restak says, “Multitasking forces our brain to process ever-increasing amounts of information at, ever-increasing rates”(410). Because people are trying to process so much information at one time it’s forces our brain to adapt, and it’s choosing to adapt with ADD and ADHD. Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is the inability to concentrate on a task for a length of time. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder resulting in poor concentration and hyperactivity. These disorders are becoming more of a cognitive style, which isn’t a good thing. People need to focus on one thing at a time so their brain doesn’t adapt and change to make these disorders cognitive. In today’s society, technology is the controller of everything. People have to be connected to technology every second of the day.

The plasticity of our brains responds to technology, as “… our brain literally changes its organization and functioning to accommodate the abundance of stimulation forced on it by the modern world”(411). By the modern world Restak mean technology as a whole, it has become the most powerful thing, the world is driven buy it. Restak talk about the crawler on the television, the crawler is now used to force an on going split in our attention, which leads back to the fact that multitasking is shortening our attention span. By trying to multitask, focusing on the television and the crawler is hindering our brains.

By trying to see what is on the crawler, Restak lost focus on the real conversation going on and completely missed the question he was looking to get answered. Our attention can be captured so quickly by the tiniest thing, such as a crawler on the bottom of a screen during a show. Because of this experience, Restak says, “One consequence of this change is that we face constant challenges to our ability to focus our attention”(411). Because we can’t focus, it hinders us from conquering the task at hand, especially tasks as simple as watching television.

Secondly, multitasking negatively affects humans in all areas of their life. But one place it really hits is relationships. Multitasking devalues relationships in many ways. Today people want the reasons to why things happen right then and there. One of Restaks friends who happens to have ADD/ADHD says, “Don’t tell me anything that is going to take more than 30 seconds for you to get out” (416). This devalues relationships because it causes people to not listen to their partner and what they have to say. And in relationships, communication is the key. Because the plasticity of our brains is changing to adapt and contract ADD or ADHD which we are beginning to need to function, people don’t want to listen to someone talk for more than a short period of time. This change to the plasticity of our brain is negatively affecting our ability to connect with people.

All people want to hear, is the summary or shortened version of what someone was originally going to say, they want answers now. People want the shortened version because we are being forced to take in so much information at once, leading to the changing in our brains. Restak says, “Our brain is being forced to manage increasing amounts of information within shorter and shorter time intervals” (416). This is why we have “no time to listen”. Not having time to listen, also devalues relationships. An example of this would be the anecdote Restak talks about. Where the subway driver unfortunately watch a man commit suicide by throwing himself in front of her train. He goes on to talk about how she needed help, and wanted to talk about the incident. Restak says, “no one would give her more than a few minutes to tell her story. They either interrupted her or in her words, “gradually zoned out.”” This makes the value in relationships decrease because people know that in order for someone to listen to them, what they are saying must be short. It almost makes them not want to talk to people. This change to our brains is shortening our attention span and hurting our relationships.

Thirdly, life is moving faster than ever today. With technology today, it’s nearly impossible for people to be “in the moment”. Everything is moving at warp speed so all people can do is try to do as many things as they can at once and its turning out to negatively affect the value of relationships between people. Everywhere you go in today’s world you see people glued to their cellphones. This just goes to show that their mind is really some other place other than where they actually are. An example technology would be the advancement to get information in a simpler way.

Managers of businesses don’t want to be handed a binder full of statistics, they want to be given one piece of paper with all the information. They want to see short answers that are too the point, they want to see summaries of work or information, not have to find it themselves. If you were to hand them the binder full of information instead of that one sheet of paper they would get mad, devaluing the relationship you have with your manager. It all goes back to one point, multitasking devalues relationships because people focus on other things rather than what’s really happening. You’re never really there anymore because people have so much going on at one time.

Lastly, multitasking negatively affects humans because it causes them to be less efficient. Restak says, “ In order to be successful in today’s workplace you have to incorporate some elements of ADD/ADHD”(416). Not being able to focus for long periods of time on one thing isn’t going to benefit you in your workplace today. Even though you must learn to rapidly focus information in today’s world to function, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. The main negative effect of multitasking is that it hinders your ability to perform multiple tasks at once to the fullest.

If you’re scattered everywhere each task isn’t going to be handled the way it should be, leaving you with an unsatisfactory outcome. It’s also more time consuming than just tackling each task separately one at a time. By doing one at a time it not only gets takes less time because all your attention is focused on one thing but it allows you to be 100% efficient with it as well. Restak says, “A penalty is almost always paid when two activities are carried out simultaneously rather than separately”(423). An example of this would be texting and driving, nothing good ever comes from that, only accidents. Efficiency is key, no one wants a bunch of jobs done that are all incorrectly, they want to see how many tasks can be done to 100%.

In conclusion, multitasking negatively style that is becoming more and more common everyday. This cognitive lifestyle is hindering people’s brains. Multitasking is a negative thing because it shortens our attention span, devalues relationships and it causes people to be less efficient. Even though ADD and ADHD are becoming a cognitive lifestyle in toady’s world they are still holding us back. Our brain changing, is negatively affecting our brain and body as a whole.

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