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Designed for distraction: Why our brains find it difficult to focus

| | August 30, 2018
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Laser focus leads to success, or so they say. Except it actually doesn’t. Researchers have found that rather than being laser-like, attention is actually more akin to a spotlight that continually dims and comes back on again.

The researchers found that in between those bursts of attention, we are actually distracted. During those periods of distraction, the brain pauses and scans the environment to see if there is something outside the primary focus of attention that might be more important. If there is not, it re-focus back to what you were doing.

“The brain can’t process everything in the environment,” explains [researcher] Ian Fiebelkorn.

So why does our brain make us go through attention pulses at such a fast rate? The researchers suggest that it corresponds to an evolutionary advantage. “Think about when life was more dangerous,” Fiebelkorn says. “You would have to constantly be on the lookout, you would want to always be aware if there was something around you with bigger teeth.”

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In modern life, this particular feature of the brain allows us to realise, for instance, that a car is coming as we are crossing the street. Our spotlight of attention, in this sense, has been and still is key to our survival.

Read full, original post: Here’s scientific proof your brain was designed to be distracted

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