Science News reports on recent research indicating that any kind of multitasking while driving is dangerous. Not just the obvious distraction of juggling a cell phone, but even talking to a passenger or listening to a book on tape. The researchers used a driving simulator inside an MRI machine to measure brain activations. "Attending to what someone says galvanizes language-related brain areas while simultaneously reducing activity in spatial regions that coordinate driving behavior. This finding suggests that people who combine relatively automatic tasks, such as speech comprehension and car driving, exceed a biological limit on the amount of systematic brain activity they can accommodate at one time, the researchers propose. As a result, the less-ingrained skill — in this case, driving, which is learned long after a person grasps a native language — takes a neural hit."
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