AMA #11: Improve Task Switching & Productivity and Reduce Brain Fog

AMA #11: Improve Task Switching & Productivity and Reduce Brain Fog

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Andrew Huberman, a Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine, introduces the Huberman Lab podcast that discusses science and science-based tools for everyday life.
  • This episode is an 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) session which is part of their premium subscription channel.
  • The subscription channel was established with a dual goal of supporting the standard Huberman Lab podcast and generating funds for breakthrough research at Stanford and elsewhere, which focuses on human mental and physical health, and performance.
  • The Tiny Foundation has agreed to match every dollar generated from the premium channel for research studies, enabling a doubling of funding for studies on mental health, physical health, and human performance.
  • The subscription options include a monthly, annual or a lifetime model; all subscriptions can be made through hubermanlab.com/premium.
  • Existing premium subscribers should download the premium subscription feed from hubermanlab.com/premium.
  • The first 20 minutes of the AMA episode is accessible to non-premium subscribers to decide about getting a premium subscription.

Is There a Way to Get Better at Task Switching? (00:01:46)

  • Task switching refers to the ability to change focus and engage different thought processes depending on the task at hand. This involves the use of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for directing focus, cognition, and context-specific behavior.
  • Task switching is different from cognitive flexibility. While the latter involves the ability to shift cognitive operations, task switching requires cognitive flexibility but involves specific changes in attention to different tasks at specified intervals.
  • Effective task switching also includes the ability to disengage certain neural circuits while activating others. This transition often takes time and people should not expect to transition from one task to another instantly.
  • Introducing brief transition gaps between tasks is highly beneficial for task switching. This is especially crucial when transitioning from a task that required deep focus.
  • Checking smartphones immediately after a task can often disrupt the efficient transition to a new task due to the introduction of new information.
  • Specific exercise: a time-based perception practice involving shifting visual focus between distances and focusing on bodily sensations can train the brain for effective task switching.
  • Having a well-planned to-do list, with a maximum of three critical tasks for the day, can also aid in efficient task switching.
  • Within task switching, it is important to also understand the context of time-domain, i.e., how the brain perceives time. Shifting visual focus at different distances can change the perception of the passage of time, which can affect task switching.

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