, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 647-653

Does media multitasking always hurt? A positive correlation between multitasking and multisensory integration

Abstract

Heavy media multitaskers have been found to perform poorly in certain cognitive tasks involving task switching, selective attention, and working memory. An account for this is that with a breadth-biased style of cognitive control, multitaskers tend to pay attention to various information available in the environment, without sufficient focus on the information most relevant to the task at hand. This cognitive style, however, may not cause a general deficit in all kinds of tasks. We tested the hypothesis that heavy media multitaskers would perform better in a multisensory integration task than would others, due to their extensive experience in integrating information from different modalities. Sixty-three participants filled out a questionnaire about their media usage and completed a visual search task with and without synchronous tones (pip-and-pop paradigm). It was found that a higher degree of media multitasking was correlated with better multisensory integration. The fact that heavy media multitaskers are not deficient in all kinds of cognitive tasks suggests that media multitasking does not always hurt.