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Dads Can Develop Postpartum Depression if ‘T’ Drops

Postpartum depression is a relatively common occurrence among females. Now, a new study finds that an elevation or a decline in a father’s testosterone level after childbirth may play a significant role in emotional health and relationship satisfaction.

Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) discovered fathers face a risk of experiencing depression if their testosterone levels drop nine months after their children are born.

Moreover, researchers also found that a father’s low testosterone may affect his partner, but in an unexpectedly positive way. Women whose partners had lower levels of testosterone postpartum reported fewer symptoms of depression themselves nine and 15 months after birth.

Paradoxically, fathers whose testosterone levels spiked faced a greater risk of experiencing stress due to parenting and experienced a greater risk of acting hostile. Characteristics of hostile behaviors include showing emotional, verbal, or physical aggression toward their partners.

The findings support prior studies that show men have biological responses to fatherhood, said Dr. Darby Saxbe, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at USC.

“We often think of motherhood as biologically driven because many mothers have biological connections to their babies through breastfeeding and pregnancy,” Saxbe said.

“We don’t usually think of fatherhood in the same biological terms. We are still figuring out the biology of what makes dads tick.

“We know that fathers contribute a lot to child-rearing and that on the whole, kids do better if they are raised in households with a father present,” she added. “So, it is important to figure out how to support fathers and what factors explain why some fathers are very involved in raising their children while some are absent.”

Saxbe worked with a team of researchers from USC, University of California at Los Angeles, and Northwestern University.

For the study, which appears in the journal Hormones and Behavior, researchers examined data from 149 couples in the Community Child Health Research Network. The study by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development involves sites across the country, but the data for this study came from Lake County, Illinois, north of Chicago.

Mothers in the study were 18 to 40 years old; African-American, white, or Latina; and low-income. They were recruited when they gave birth to their first, second, or third child. Mothers could invite the baby’s father to participate in the study as well. Of the fathers who participated and provided testosterone data, 95 percent were living with the mothers.

Interviewers visited couples three times in the first two years after birth: around two months after the child was born, about nine months after birth, and about 15 months after birth.

At the nine-month visit, researchers gave the fathers saliva sample kits. Dads took samples three times a day — morning, midday, and evening — to monitor their testosterone levels.

Participants responded to questions about depressive symptoms based on a widely-used measure, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression. They also reported on their relationship satisfaction, parenting stress and whether they were experiencing any intimate partner aggression. Higher scores on those measures signaled greater depression, more stress, more dissatisfaction, and greater aggression.

Relatively few participants — fathers and mothers — were identified as clinically depressed, which is typical of a community sample that reflects the general population. Instead of using clinical diagnoses, the researchers looked at the number of depressive symptoms endorsed by each participant.

Men’s testosterone levels were linked with both their own and their partners’ depressive symptoms — but in opposing directions for men and for women.

For example, lower testosterone was associated with more symptoms in dads, but fewer symptoms in moms. The link between their partners’ testosterone levels and their own depression was mediated by relationship satisfaction. If they were paired with lower-testosterone partners, women reported greater satisfaction with their relationship, which in turn helped reduce their depressive symptoms.

“It may be that the fathers with lower testosterone were spending more time caring for the baby or that they had hormone profiles that were more synced up with mothers,” she said. “For mothers, we know that social support buffers the risk of postpartum depression.”

Fathers with higher testosterone levels reported more parenting stress, and their partners reported more relationship aggression.

To measure parenting stress, parents were asked how strongly they related to a set of 36 items from the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form. They responded to statements such as “I feel trapped by my responsibilities as a parent” and “My child makes more demands on me than most children.” A high number of “yes” responses signaled stress.

Relationship satisfaction questions were based on another widely-used tool, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Parents responded to 32 items inquiring about their relationship satisfaction, including areas of disagreement or their degree of closeness and affection. Higher scores signaled greater dissatisfaction.

Mothers also answered questions from another scientific questionnaire, the HITS (Hurts, Insults, and Threats Scale), reporting whether they had experienced any physical hurt, insult, threats, and screaming over the past year. They also were asked if their partners restricted activities such as spending money, visiting family or friends, or going places that they needed to go.

“Those are risk factors that can contribute to depression over the long term,” Saxbe said.

Although doctors may try to address postpartum depression in fathers by providing testosterone supplements, Saxbe said that the study’s findings indicate a boost could worsen the family’s stress.

“One takeaway from this study is that supplementing is not a good idea for treating fathers with postpartum depression,” she said. “Low testosterone during the postpartum period may be a normal and natural adaptation to parenthood.”

She said studies have shown that physical fitness and adequate sleep can improve both mood and help balance hormone levels.

In addition, both mothers and fathers should be aware of the signs of postpartum depression and be willing to seek support and care, Saxbe said. Talk therapy can help dads or moms gain insight into their emotions and find better strategies for managing their moods.

“We tend to think of postpartum depression as a mom thing,” Saxbe said. “It’s not. It’s a real condition that might be linked to hormones and biology.”

Source: USC

Let’s Talk About Self Harm

Let's talk about self harm

My self harm story started when I was just 11 years of age. I didn’t know that I had a Social Anxiety Disorder, I didn’t know that I was suffering with Depression. I was just 11 years old. To me, I was just a weird kid who pretended to be sick every day so I didn’t have to go to school, the kid who was bullied most out of the whole class, the kid who obviously didn’t fit in or know how to function as a real person.

The amount of loneliness I felt at that age was insane and I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know any better, I didn’t think life would get any better.

At the time my Grandad was my best friend, I spent every day that I didn’t go to school at his house and even when I did go to school, I’d go straight to his house afterwards. I remember the day I first cut myself like it was earlier today. I remember watching TV with my Grandad, needing the bathroom and while in there, seeing his razor. I’d never even heard of self harm before but for some reason all I wanted to do was cut myself with it. So I did. Two bleeding arms later and I’m wrapping them in toilet tissue and covering it with my sleeves. Back downstairs watching TV and no one ever knew.

It quickly became a drug to me. I hurt myself in the toilets at school. I hurt myself in my bedroom a few times a day. I hurt myself in the shower. I couldn’t stop. It was the only thing that I knew how to do to make myself feel better.

Of course it was only every a temporary, fleeting relief. Sometimes it made me feel calm when I was angry or sad and sometimes it helped me to feel something when all I felt was numb.

I successfully hid my self harm addiction from everyone for 3 years. After a suicide attempt, my family saw my injuries and then everybody knew.


The Turning Point

Finding out that I had a Social Anxiety Disorder after my suicide attempt was probably the biggest turning point in my recovery. I finally had an answer to what I was feeling. I wasn’t “just a weird kid who would never fit in”, I had a mental illness that was treatable. Finally, a small flickering ember at the end of my long and sombre tunnel.

It took me until I was 18 to truly feel like I was over my addiction and when I say over it, I mean able to not give into impulses, to not be triggered every time I hurt myself accidentally, to not go back to how it was after every slip up – and trust me there were a few slip ups.


Self Harm Myths

It’s unusual that it’s taken me this long to talk about my self harm, even though my whole blog is based on a mental illness that I have and am not ashamed or embarrassed to talk about. I just think there are still so many misconceptions about it that make it harder to talk about.

Myths such as…

It’s only for attention
Only teenagers self harm
People who self harm enjoy pain
Self harm is an “emo thing”
Self harm is a mental illness or only people with mental illnesses self harm
Self harm is a suicide attempt

There are so many things that can be misconceived about self harm. It’s not so black and white. Some people self harm and don’t have a mental illness like I did. Some people can self harm only a few times, it’s not always an addiction.

I’ve known adults to self harm. I’ve self harmed as an adult myself. It’s not just a teenage thing.

I definitely don’t enjoy pain, I actually hate it but pain made me feel alive at a time when I couldn’t feel anything and sometimes it was just punishment to myself for just being me.

Self harm isn’t usually for attention, in fact a lot of people who self harm go to great lengths to cover it up. If someone is going to that extreme for attention though, they need just as much help!

Also “emo” wasn’t even a thing when I started self harming. Self harm has also been around a lot longer than that unfortunately. Lots of different people self injure, sometimes people you would never expect. People of any age, gender, race or religion. It doesn’t just happen in one specific group of people.

Lastly self harm isn’t a suicide attempt. Not everyone who self harms is suicidal. It’s a coping strategy.


There is help for self harm

I wish I’d have known about all the help when I was 11 years old but that was 16 years ago and I didn’t have a computer or the internet, so I wasn’t a Google whizz back then. I think it’s much easier to find help now that the internet and all these great organisations are far more accessible.

Here’s just a few of them:



The Mix

Self-Injury Support

National Self Harm Network (NSHN)


Recover Your Life


Recovering from Self Harm

There are lots of different ways to recover from self harm but first is trying to recognise what it is that is actually causing you to self harm, recognising triggers and patterns. It’s difficult to recover from self harm if the reason you’re using it as a coping method in the first place is still occurring. Trying to find different, healthier ways of coping may be a good short term solution. Exercising releases the same kind of chemicals that cutting releases but in a healthier way. Trying to keep your hands busy.

Putting on my headphones and going for a long walk is my favourite way of overcoming a self harm urge. Or punching or screaming into a pillow if things get really bad. There’s always an alternative, I promise.

It’s been nearly 3 years since I got my first self harm tattoo. I had birds on my arms where I used to cut as a teenager, inspired by Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (my favourite song) and I’m planning on having my legs tattooed as they are much more badly scarred and where I hurt myself as an adult. It helps to look down and them and know how far I have come but it also kills any urge to want to cut, as I wouldn’t want to ruin my beautiful tattoos!


Self Harm Tattoo


Do you have a self harm story? What has helped you to stop self harming?


The post Let’s Talk About Self Harm appeared first on Anxious Lass.

Antidepressant Medications are not Placebos

Antidepressant Medications are not Placebos

A new Swedish study rebukes the assertion that the benefit of antidepressant drugs, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are a result of the placebo effect.

The theory had gained considerable attention in international media, including Newsweek and the CBS broadcast 60 minutes.

According to the challenged hypothesis, the fact that many people medicating with antidepressants regard themselves as improved was because they expected to be improved by the medication — even if the medicine lacks actual effect.

However, if SSRIs had indeed acted merely by means of a placebo effect, these drugs should not outperform actual placebo in double blind clinical trials. These trials or experiments, measure depression relief when patients have been treated with an SSRI or with a placebo pill. The study design means that neither the physician nor the patient knows which treatment the patient has been given until the study is over.

To explain why antidepressants in such trials nevertheless often cause greater symptom relief than placebo, it has been suggested that SSRI-induced side effects influence a patient’s perception. That is, the side-effects inform a person that they have not been given placebo, thereby enhancing his or her belief of having been given an effective treatment.

The beneficial effect of SSRIs that has been shown in many studies should thus, according to this theory, not be due to the fact that these drugs exert a specific biochemical antidepressant action in the brain, but that the side effects of the drugs enhance a psychological placebo effect.

This theory has been widely disseminated despite the fact that there has never been any robust scientific support for it.

In order to examine the “placebo breaking the blind” theory, a research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, analyzed data from the clinical trials that were once undertaken to establish the antidepressant efficacy of two of the most commonly used SSRIs, paroxetine, and citalopram.

The analysis, which comprised a total of 3,344 patients, showed that the two studied drugs are clearly superior to placebo with respect to antidepressant efficacy also in patients who have not experienced any side effects.

The researchers conclude that this study, as well as other recent reports from the same group, provides strong support for the assumption that SSRIs exert a specific antidepressant effect.

The finding shows that the benefit of antidepressants is real, and not a function of a placebo interpretation.

Investigators warn that the frequent questioning of these drugs in media is unjustified and may make depressed patients refrain from effective treatment.

Source: University of Gothenburg

5 Reasons To Talk To Other People With Anxiety

Dealing with anxiety alone can be really isolating. Even if the people in your life know that you have anxiety and are supportive, it can still be difficult when you can’t talk explicitly about it to someone who knows what it’s like.

For years I had no idea that other people would wake up in the middle of the night panicking about some tiny embarrassing thing they did 10 years ago! Or that other people think extremely hard about where to place their hands in a conversation or hate going to get a hair cut because the small talk is excruciating.

I also didn’t realise that other people struggled to make eye contact the same way I did for years and struggle making or answering phone calls the same way I still do.

It was so thrilled the first time I got to speak to other people who suffered with Social Anxiety, just like me. To find out that all the quirks I had because of my disorder were totally part and parcel of it and there were other people who felt just the same way as I did, that was strangely comforting.

I think it’s so important to talk to people about your anxiety but also even more important to talk to people who struggle with the same issues. It helps to know that there are people in the same boat but it also helps to have someone there who can encourage you too.

These are my top 5 Reasons To Talk To Other People With Anxiety:

  1. You can learn from them. Talking to different people with different ways of managing their anxiety can help you find something new to try. If you were going to try a new product for example, would you want to see reviews from real people and see what people were saying about the product? It’s the same way for me when I’m in an anxiety group, I like to see what people are doing to help manage and overcome their anxiety because it encourages me to try it myself.
  2. You feel understood. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand your anxiety if they’ve never had anxiety before, although it is super lovely when they try to and it’s absolutely not their fault if they can’t quite understand it. Just like I couldn’t imagine what it’s like not being able to hear because that’s not something I’ve ever dealt with myself and while I can completely acknowledge the difficulties, I can never fully understand what it’s like without going through it myself. That’s a major reason I love support groups, I’m in them for anxiety, PCOS, endometriosis… because every illness is different and having a group of people who understand your symptoms is incredibly comforting.
  3. You don’t have to feel embarrassed. When everyone is in the same boat, it feels less embarrassing to talk about. I’d be embarrassed to tell someone who doesn’t have anxiety themselves that I have to wee a million times before a social situation but I would never be embarrassed to tell other people who have anxiety cause they SO get it.
  4. You can encourage each other. Having people to talk to who also have anxiety can be great when you’re able to encourage each other. You can set each other goals, or help each other achieve your own goals or even help each other with homework you’ve been set in therapy. Having someone give you a pep talk or tell you that you’re doing well is fab when they understand what you’re going through.
  5. Your achievements will be acknowledged. If, for example, you had a Social Anxiety Disorder and you managed to go on a bus journey for the first time or you managed to answer the door to a postman without hiding in another room, you instantly have someone who will see this as the massive achievement that it is. Whereas sometimes people who don’t have social anxiety themselves might see those day-to-day things as mundane, us lot see it as a mountain we’ve climbed!


This is why I created The Anxiety Lounge – a closed Facebook group just for people with anxiety, to support each other and give each other positive encouragement to achieve our goals. I wanted a group where you could ask for advice, post your goals and talk to friendly people who also have anxiety. This is what we’re doing.

If you’d like to be a part of the group, we’d love to have you there <3


5 Reasons To Talk To Other People With Anxiety

The post 5 Reasons To Talk To Other People With Anxiety appeared first on Anxious Lass.

i was named one of the best depression bloggers of 2017

i am proud to share that for the second year in a row my blog was named by as one of the best blogs on depression. healthline carefully selected these blogs because we are “…actively working to educate, inspire, and empower readers with frequent updates and high quality information.” it is truly an honor to be included on this list and each one of you helped to make this possible. i am grateful every day for the positive impact that this blog is making – both for me personally and for my readers. each conversation, each story helps me heal. and to know that my own experiences are helping others find hope and inspiration means more than i could every say (or write). mental illness isn’t easy to live with and it isn’t easy to talk about. this blog has given me a safe place to do both. so thank you – from the bottom of my heart.

check out healthline’s writeup on bluelightblue:

on blue light blue, amy marlow chronicles her experiences living with major depression, anxiety, and ptsd. At thirteen, amy lost her father to suicide, a loss that continues to inform her view on the world and her own journey living with mental illness. her posts are reflective, thoughtful, and deeply personal. check out her blog for more on living with loss and depression, as well as creative takes on how depression changes daily life.

and a little more background on why they recognize the best blogs each year:

everyone gets the blues now and then, but do your blues last for weeks at a time? if so, you may have depression, and you’re not alone. major depression is one of the most common mood disorders in the united states — about 16.1 million adults (that’s almost 7 percent) and 3 million teenagers will have at least one major depressive episode per year.

there are also multiple types of depression, including major depression,persistent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. postpartum depression, experienced after giving birth, affects up to 1 in 7 women in the united states.

depression can make it difficult to do everyday things, like getting out of bed or concentrating at work. depression can also be incredibly difficult to talk about. that’s why we’ve rounded up the best blogs on depression out there. these online warriors are fighting depression and inspiring others to do the same by sharing their stories.

The post i was named one of the best depression bloggers of 2017 appeared first on blue light blue.

Notebook: Laila Song Lyrics – Dhvani Bhanushali | LyricSoUp

Laila Song Lyrics in the latest Bollywood movie Notebook sung by beautiful Dhvani Bhanushali and song composed by Vishal Mishra.

If Your Social Anxiety Was A Real Person, How long do panic attacks last

If your social anxiety is anything like mine, you’ll most likely have those persistent niggling thoughts every time you approach a social situation. They probe your brain and infect it like a virus, whispering nasty things not just to you but about you. These thoughts attempt to establish themselves as truth until we believe them above everything else.

Thoughts that if said out loud by a real live person to someone we love, we’d accuse them of bullying.

Imagine your best friend, brother or sister, being told “You’re not good enough”, “Everybody in the room is going to laugh at you”, “Everything you say is wrong and nobody likes being your friend”. How would you feel about the person expressing those poisonous words?

Would you want your loved one to invite them into their life and trust them? Would you want them to listen to their demeaning and cruel dialogue? Would you stand back and watch that person chip away at your loved one’s self-esteem without saying a word? I doubt that very much.

You would probably want to protect them from this person. You’d brand a relationship like that abusive and toxic.

Why is it then, that we let our social anxiety talk to us in that way? We convince ourselves that all the negative things that creep into our mind is true. We give it such a big platform that it takes over our lives, sometimes so much that we avoid things we’d actually rather like to do. Instead of thinking of the potential any social situation may have, we think of how we might screw it up, or how it might hurt us.

Maybe, we should think about our anxious thoughts as we would a person talking to someone we love. Every time that voice chimes in to tell you that “you don’t fit in” or “everyone here thinks you’re weird”, ask yourself how you’d react if you heard a random person saying that to someone you care about? How wrong those words sound out loud.

Let’s give our negative thoughts and self doubt less power.


If Your Social Anxiety Was A Real Person

The post If Your Social Anxiety Was A Real Person appeared first on Anxious Lass.

‘Owning’ Your Mistake Can Enhance Chances of Future Success

'Owning' Your Mistake Can Enhance Chances of Future Success

Profound new research suggests the common strategy to not dwell on mistakes and to move on to the next experience, may be unproductive.

Ohio State investigators believe truly feeling the pain of failure helps you admit what went wrong and stimulates you to try harder the next time. They believe this approach is a better method to correct mistakes than simply thinking about what went wrong.

Researchers found that people who just thought about a failure tended to make excuses for why they were unsuccessful and didn’t try harder when faced with a similar situation. In contrast, people who focused on their emotions following a failure put forth more effort when they tried again.

“All the advice tells you not to dwell on your mistakes, to not feel bad,” said Dr. Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study and a professor of marketing.

“But we found the opposite. When faced with a failure, it is better to focus on one’s emotions — when people concentrate on how bad they feel and how they don’t want to experience these feelings again, they are more likely to try harder the next time.”

While thinking about how to improve from past mistakes might help — this study didn’t examine that — the researchers found that people who reflect on a failure do not tend to focus on ways to avoid a similar mistake.

When asked to think about their mistakes, most people focus on protecting their ego, Malkoc said. They think about how the failure wasn’t their fault, or how it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway.

“If your thoughts are all about how to distance yourself from the failure, you’re not going to learn from your mistakes,” she said.

Malkoc conducted the study with Drs. Noelle Nelson of the University of Kansas and Baba Shiv of Stanford University. Their results appear online in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

Researchers conducted several studies to come to their conclusion. In one, 98 college students were asked to price search online for a blender with specific characteristics, and with the possibility of winning a cash prize if they found the lowest price.

Before they found out if they won, half the participants were told to focus on their emotional response to winning or losing, while the other half were instructed to focus on their thoughts about how they did. They were told they would write about their response afterward.

The price search task was rigged, though, and all participants found out that the lowest price was $3.27 less than what they found. After writing about their failure, the students had a chance to redeem themselves.

The researchers wanted to find out if the effort put forth by participants in a new task would be related to whether they focused on their thoughts or emotions involving the previous failure. The researchers believed that a task similar to their failed job — in this case a search for the lowest price — would trigger participants into recalling their unsuccessful attempt, while an unrelated job would not.

So the participants were given another task. Half were asked to search for a gift book for a friend that was the best fit for their limited college-student budget. In other words, they were looking for the lowest price, as they were instructed in the first task.

The other half of the participants were given a non-similar task, which was to search for a book that would be the best choice as a gift for their friend.

The results showed emotional responses to failure motivated participants much more than cognitive ones when they were faced with a similar task.

Emotionally motivated participants spent nearly 25 percent more time searching for a low-priced book than did participants who had only thought about — rather than dwelled on the pain of — their earlier failure.

There was no significant difference in effort made by participants when the second task wasn’t like the first (when they were searching for the best gift, rather than the cheapest).

“When the participants focused on how bad they felt about failing the first time, they tried harder than others when they had another similar opportunity,” Malkoc said.

“But the situation has to be similar enough to trigger the pain of the initial failure.”

One reason why an emotional response to failure may be more effective than a cognitive one is the nature of people’s thoughts about their mistakes.

When the researchers analyzed what participants who thought about their failure wrote about, they found significantly more self-protective thoughts (“This wasn’t my fault,” “I could not have found it even if I tried”) than they did self-improvement thoughts (“I know how I can do better next time”).

Unfortunately, that may be the default mode for most people, at least in many everyday situations.

In another similar study, the researchers didn’t tell some participants how to respond to their failures. They found that these people tended to produce cognitive responses rather than emotional ones, and those cognitive responses were the kinds that protected themselves rather than focused on self-improvement.

Malkoc said that in most real-life situations, people probably have both cognitive and emotional responses to their failures. But the important thing to remember is not to avoid the emotional pain of failing, but to use that pain to fuel improvement.

“Emotional responses to failure can hurt. They make you feel bad. That’s why people often choose to think self-protective thoughts after they make mistakes,” she said.

“But if you focus on how bad you feel, you’re going to work harder to find a solution and make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.”

Source: Ohio State University

Multi-tasking Hinders Memory but Important Facts Retained

Multi-tasking Hinders Memory but Important Facts Retained

Multi-tasking is now a common characteristic of everyday life. Emerging research has suggested, however, that splitting our attention hinders our ability to remember and process important information.

New research looks into this dilemma and quantifies how much of our memory is actually lost when we multitask.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) investigators explain that the expansion of technology has fueled the practice of multi-tasking. “In a world of computers and iPhones, it’s rare that we’re fully focused,” said Alan Castel, a UCLA professor of psychology.

In the study led by Castel and Catherine Middlebrooks, a UCLA graduate student, the investigators found that while divided attention does impair memory, people can still selectively focus on what is most important — even while they’re multitasking.

The research appears in the journal Psychological Science.

In one experiment, the researchers showed 192 students 120 words, divided into six groups of 20 words each. Each word was visible on a computer screen for three seconds, and each was paired with a number from one to 10.

Investigators explained to the students that they would receive scores based on the point value of each word they remembered, making the words with high point values “more important” than the others.

The participants, all UCLA students, were assigned to one of four groups: One group gave the task their undivided attention. For the second group, researchers played audio of a voice reading numbers from one to nine while students were viewing the words and their numeric values. Students were told to press the spacebar on their computer keyboard every time they heard three consecutive odd numbers.

Having to juggle those two tasks proved very distracting: Each participant heard eight sequences of three odd numbers, but on average, they identified only 1.87 of the eight.

A third group of participants heard familiar pop songs by Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna while they viewed the words. And a fourth group was asked to watch the words while listening to pop songs they hadn’t heard before.

After each set of 20 words, participants were asked to type as many of the words as they could remember. The researchers calculated a total score for each student after each set of 20 words based on the number on the screen when each word appeared.

So, if they remembered the word “twig,” which appeared on screen at the same time as a 10, and “corner,” which appeared with a six, the participant would receive 16 points. The researchers then repeated the process for each student five times, taking them through all 120 words.

The researchers found that the first group of participants — those who viewed the words and numbers with no distractions — recalled an average of eight words from each set of 20, while those who were distracted by having to listen for consecutive odd numbers recalled an average of just five words.

Both groups of students who listened to music while watching their screens remembered the words almost as well as the group of undistracted students.

Importantly, investigators discovered that multitasking did not affect students’ ability to recall the information they were told was most important — the highest value words.

In fact, participants in all four groups were nearly five times as likely to recall a 10-point word as they were to remember a one-point word.

“Everybody consistently prioritized the high-value words and shifted their attention towards those,” said Middlebrooks, the study’s lead author. “They all came to the realization that they needed to remember what is the most valuable, even though some were distracted and some weren’t.”

The researchers set up a second, similar experiment with 96 other students — showing each participant six sets of 20 words, each with a numeric value from one to 10, but this time changing the distractions.

Again, one group of students viewed the words without any disruptions. But for the other three groups, the researchers played a series of tones: one group was told to identify whether each tone was the same as the previous one, another was told to indicate whether two tones played one after the other were the same pitch or not, and the final group was told to identify each sound as high-pitched or low-pitched.

As in the first experiment, students who weren’t distracted remembered an average of eight words from each set of 20. Those who were distracted by the other tasks remembered an average of about five out of every 20 — and the information they forgot tended to be the “less important” words. Participants in all four groups were again nearly five times more likely to recall a 10-point word than a one-point word.

“The data are very clear in showing that with divided attention, we don’t remember as much, but we are still able to focus on what’s most important,” Castel said.

The researchers also found that students’ ability to remember information improved as the experiments progressed: In both studies, students in all four groups generally remembered more words by the sixth round of 20 words than they did in the first set.

Middlebrooks recommends that people who are studying or learning new information avoid distractions as much as possible.

“All is likely not lost if you’re occasionally interrupted by a text or if someone nearby turns on music while you’re studying,” she said. “Our world is filled with tantalizing distractions, and we seem to adapt by being selectively focused.”

Source: UCLA