Multitasking is important in its own right, but I honestly think your average hard-working person learns how to multitask well enough without practicing the art of writing backwards while simultaneously reading and speaking. You can tell he was not speaking at his 100% maximum ability until he stopped focusing on writing. He clearly engages the audience more deeply, and says more profound things after he's finished writing and reading.
A while back I came across a study (or a review/meta-analysis) which concluded that doing crossword puzzles (or a similarly demanding task) would basically only enhance a few mental faculties, particularly those involved with words, strings, syllables/phonetics, and language recall. They went on to speculate that engaging in mentally demanding tasks will, sadly, only "enhance" a few specific faculties...unsurprisingly, they thought the faculties most involved. So, according to these researchers, if you have a hard heart, you can tell your grandma that she's not really doing much to keep her mind sharp by doing crosswords in her spare time. These researchers believed that the brain only learns to specialize in a few faculties, and that it's virtually impossible to enhance them all. By the time you did crosswords, you'd want to move onto maths problems, then Sudoku, then chess, then philosophical inquires, so that by the time you cycled through all your faculties and your tasks of choice, the one's for crosswords and maths problems would already have returned to baselines, whereas you'd have a modest improvement in chess abilities, and a still lingering, powerful increase in the faculties involved in philosophical inquiry. After you did crosswords for a week, so they maintained, you'd start to lose your philosophical edge. It's really depressing to think that our brain has such limits/quotas imposed upon it, but maybe it's true. Of course, you could doubt this research, but I remember it being very convincing. We could always hope for magical nootropics which radically enhance the brain, but at the risk of being labeled as Hitler 2.0, I'd like to suggest that the only feasible way to overcome such innate limits is to radically alter the genes which code for brain faculties and the nature of neurons.
I can't remember exactly where I saw it, but if anyone is interested, I'll try to find the studies so you can check it out first-hand.
Edited by dasheenster, 31 July 2012 - 12:49 AM.