Monday, July 23, 2007

Multitaskers Are Born, Not Made

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According to Live Science science and staff writer, Ker Than, "multitaskers" are born, not made.

Research studies are showing that the ability to listen and comprehend two conversations simultaneously is largely influenced by a person’s genes. The finding, detailed in the August issue of the journal Human Genetics, could help researchers understand a diverse group of disorders in which people hear perfectly fine, but have trouble comprehending.

This gave me something to think about today.... as I watched my husband doing his morning Sudoku puzzle and pretending to listen to me at the same time. I knew, without even having to resort to a research study based on twins and their behaviors, that no matter what I said, or what I talked about, nothing was going to be retained for future comprehension.

Focusing on his puzzle contra-indicates focusing on my talking. I also knew, equally as well, that no matter what most people say, it will most likely not be remembered by me later on.....especially if I am sewing or quilting. I was not surprised to find out that this study shows that people vary widely in their ability to process what they hear, and these differences are due largely to heredity.

According to study team member James Battey, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) our ears are important for picking up sound. But what we call “listening” takes place largely in the brain, which is responsible for extracting information from what would otherwise just be noise.

Thus, many 'hearing or listening disorders' are actually brain disorders that interfere with our ability to interpret the world. Known as Auditory processing disorders, or APDs, they are estimated to affect as many as 7 percent of school-aged children in the United States, as well as older adults and stroke victims. They did not say, however, what age constitutes an 'older adult', nor what sex is more likely to suffer from such a 'listening' disorder.

So, you ask what good does knowing this do for any of us? Not much. Unless you consider this: If he is not listening to me, and I am not remembering what is said to me...well, then maybe neither of us will notice and/or remember things later on (that at the time) seemed upsetting.

In other words, I'll get over the fact that he didn't listen to me while I was reading the newspaper out loud to him, and he'll not even remember that he asked 'what's for dinner' with no answer as I was quilting.

If he can still finish the Sudoku and I can still finished my column or row...I guess all's right with the world in the long haul. And, without irritations and big meals, we'll be neither fat nor sassy.

Shown: Two completed rows seamed in Finn's Orphan Train Challenge. I didn't hear a thing anyone said, but I still managed to sew all the way through dinner.