As a popular belief women are better at multitasking than men. New research states that it is more difficult for the male brain to switch between tasks, as it uses more resources to do so. Multitasking refers to the brain's ability to perform several tasks at once.
One study found that women outperformed men in computer-based, task-switching tests, as well as in "paper-and-pencil" multitasking tests. Men were also significantly slower in switching between tasks. New research now looks at how much energy the male brains spends when performing task-switching tests.
The study revealed that compared with women, young men aged between 20-30 had greater bilateral activation in the prefrontal areas and higher activity in the right parietal lobe and insula. In addition, men displayed bilateral activation of the supplementary motor area, which was not observed in women.
"We know that stronger activation and involvement of supplementary areas of the brain are normally observed in subjects faced with complex tasks. Our findings suggest that women might find it easier than men to switch attention and their brains do not need to mobilize extra resources in doing so, as opposed to male brains." Svetlana Kuptsova
Although the difference found in reaction time is scientifically relevant, in day-to-day life it is barely noticeable, explains Kuptsova, with the exception of perhaps "really stressful circumstances or critical situations which require frequent switching of attention."