Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Gertina J. van SchalkwykEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1466


Multitasking is the ability to conduct two or more tasks at the same time both requiring attention and various advanced cognitive processes. All human action requires a series of associated brain functions in order to efficiently execute the task. Moving from one task to another also requires complementary stages of goal shifting and rule activation. When conducting more than one task simultaneously, the interrelated cognitive processes establish priorities among tasks and allocate the mind’s resources to them.

Human multitasking is common for automatic tasks (e.g., walking and chewing gum), or for familiar tasks, or for those actions that have been repeatedly practiced to the point of becoming automatic (e.g., playing piano). Notably there are individual differences in people’s ability to multitask, particularly when confronted with new and unfamiliar tasks or tasks requiring complex rules of performance (Burgess et al. 2000). There is always a time cost involved in...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Burgess, P. W., Veitch, E., de Lacy Costello, A., & Shallice, T. (2000). The cognitive and neuroanatomical correlates of multitasking. Neuropsychologia, 38(6), 848–863.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Deprez, S., Vandenbulcke, M., Peeters, R., Emsell, L., Amant, F., & Sunaert, S. (2013). The functional neuroanatomy of multitasking: Combining dual tasking with a short-term memory task. Neuropsychologia, 51(11), 2251–2260.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.07.024.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Salvucci, D. D., & Taatgen, N. A. (2008). Threaded cognition: An integrated theory of concurrent multitasking. Psychological Review, 115(1), 101–130.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.115.1.101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MacauTaipaChina