Multitasking mayhem

Learn how different parts of your brain deal with different tasks, test your multitasking skills, and explore how some activities 'interfere' with each other.

small girl in dungarees with one hand on her head and another on her belly
Phoebe trying to pat her head and make circles on her tummy at the same time, Image credit: The Royal Institution


Make a game out of everyday tasks.

ExpeRiment with doing two things at once.

Learn how different parts of your brain deal with different tasks.

About this activity

Aaron and Phoebe experiment with their ability to multitask. By trying to do a variety of activities in combination with each other, they explore why some sorts of multitasking are easy, and some are almost impossible. Can you count while someone else says numbers at you? Can you rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time? Can you sing one song while listening to another? These pairs are all similar tasks that 'interfere' with each other, because the same part of the brain is needed to carry both out.

However, try rubbing your head while counting, and it's not so hard, because your brain can tackle each task simultaneously. Experiment at home to see what combinations are hardest, and whether you can manage them with a bit of practise.