The Internet can be a fantastic source of information and help us tremendously, but it is also at the same time our biggest source of distraction, with just the fact to need to find something on the internet, you suddenly come across several open tabs and wonder how you went to a page that had nothing to do with what you were researching.
We already know from past studies that the overall human ability to multitask is quite limited and that when we do so, brain processing capacity decreases, but some people have better online multitasking ability than others. The ability to switch between multiple pages and still be able to find the content we were looking for is mainly due to our working memory.
But what is the working memory?
The working memory is a part of the brain responsible for storing and processing information, decision-making capacity, and planning. It is also responsible for the attention, quality and quantity of information that is stored both in short-term memory and in long-term memory, in other words, it is the ability to retain certain information while processing other information or tasks.
Our working memory can only store a limited amount of information, and other studies have shown that disruptions can greatly affect the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time.
In a study carried out, when 30 students were asked to search for a topic from a group of which half of the subjects were completely new, the students with the greatest working memory had a greater capacity for multitasking, and several strategies for research Such as the use of different browsers, the formulation of different conjugations of terms for search and the constant navigation between browser separators.
In addition to that, those who had lower working memory capacity considered unfamiliar subjects to be more complex as the research progressed. They also said that they were unable to formulate new and more complex research, unlike with those they had previously known about.
This study also confirmed that people with poor working memory have a lower ability to stay focused and to focus attention on relevant information.