[Paleopsych] New Scientist: 'Info-mania' dents IQ more than marijuana

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'Info-mania' dents IQ more than marijuana
      * 14:32 22 April 2005
      * Will Knight

    The relentless influx of emails, cellphone calls and instant messages
    received by modern workers can reduce their IQ by more than smoking
    marijuana, suggests UK research.

    Far from boosting productivity, the constant flow of messages and
    information can seriously reduce a person's ability to focus on tasks,
    the study of office workers found.

    Eighty volunteers were asked to carry out problem solving tasks,
    firstly in a quiet environment and then while being bombarded with new
    emails and phone calls. Although they were told not to respond to any
    messages, researchers found that their attention was significantly

    Alarmingly, the average IQ was reduced by 10 points - double the
    amount seen in studies involving cannabis users. But not everyone was
    affected by to the same extent - men were twice as distracted as

    "If left unchecked, info-mania will damage a workers performance by
    reducing their mental sharpness," says Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at
    the University of London, UK, who carried out the study, sponsored by
    Hewlett-Packard. "This is a very real and widespread phenomenon."

Losing sleep

    Wilson adds that working amid a barrage of incoming information can
    reduce a person's ability to focus as much as losing a night's sleep.

    The study also polled 1100 workers and found many are becoming
    addicted to modern modes of communications. One in five workers said
    they would answer messages during a meal or a social engagement, while
    two thirds admitted to checking emails outside working hours and even
    on holiday.

    Christopher Kimble, from the University of York, UK, adds that the
    quality of information contained in communications can also be a major
    problem for workers.

    His own research, carried out within a large multinational company,
    shows that key employees, such as secretaries and IT support staff,
    can be particularly affected by misleading or incomplete emails. These
    increase the time required to complete the task, when a short phone
    conversation would have been much more efficient.

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      * [18]Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
      * [19]http://www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/
      * [20]Hewlett-Packard Bristol Research Labs
      * [21]http://www.hpl.hp.com/bristol/
      * [22]Computer Science, The University of York
      * [23]http://www.cs.york.ac.uk/


   12. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7210
   13. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7210
   14. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18524854.400
   15. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18524854.400
   16. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3775
   17. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3775
   18. http://www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/
   19. http://www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/
   20. http://www.hpl.hp.com/bristol/
   21. http://www.hpl.hp.com/bristol/
   22. http://www.cs.york.ac.uk/
   23. http://www.cs.york.ac.uk/

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