The ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time starts to weaken as a person grows in age, a new report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals.
A group of neuroscientists from the University of California conducted the experiment on 20 adults with an average of 69 years. The volunteers were made to work on a brain game when linked up to a fMRI machine.
Initially they were shown a picture of a nature scene and after a few seconds they were asked to find a matching picture for that scene. While all the volunteers had no trouble finding the matching image when immediately asked, they had trouble remembering the image if a second task, such as showing another picture with a face and asking to identify its age and sex, was given immediately after showing the image.
While the adults in their twenties had no problem coming up with the correct matching image even after being given the second task, the elderly had trouble remembering what the initial picture showed.
"It's that reengagement of original memory network and disengagement from what has interrupted you, that switch-over seems to be worse in older adults", lead researcher Dr Adam Gazzaley said.