Tag Archives: attention

Nature Improves Attention

When study­ing com­plex tasks, tak­ing a moment away from the prob­lem is a proven way to refo­cus one’s thoughts.

How dif­fer­ent sur­round­ings affect this “atten­tion res­tor­a­tion” has now been stud­ied and it has been dis­covered that the more com­plex a prob­lem, the more a nat­ur­al (non-urb­an) scene bene­fits our focus and study–wheth­er this nat­ur­al scene is real (e.g. a walk in a park) or not (e.g. land­scape pho­to­graphs) does­n’t mat­ter.

In a second exper­i­ment, stu­dents did both a back­wards digit-span and a second, visu­al atten­tion task. Instead of going for a walk between tests, they viewed pic­tures of nat­ur­al scenes or urb­an scenes. Once again, scores improved sig­ni­fic­antly more on the digit-span task after view­ing nat­ur­al scenes com­pared to urb­an scenes. On the visu­al atten­tion task, the stu­dents were only bet­ter at the task in cer­tain cases. For very simple tasks with few dis­tract­ors, there was no dif­fer­ence between the stu­dents see­ing nat­ur­al or urb­an scenes. But for more com­plex tasks requir­ing more focused atten­tion, again the stu­dents who had seen the nat­ur­al scenes did bet­ter.

The Neuroscience of Driving

Eld­erly drivers are the most dan­ger­ous on the road, we are often led to believe thanks to the news high­light­ing acci­dents involving the aged.

This is not neces­sar­ily the case, research is show­ing, but it’s partly true due to the decline of many cog­nit­ive func­tions. In a com­pre­hens­ive art­icle look­ing at the neur­os­cience of driv­ing, Drake Ben­nett looks at what safe­guards can be put in place to pre­vent unsuit­able drivers from tak­ing to the road and why eld­erly drivers aren’t inher­ently bad.

“[Study­ing driv­ing] turns out to be an excel­lent way to look at the lim­its of our atten­tion­al abil­it­ies, espe­cially as we get older and we start to show sig­ni­fic­ant declines,” says Dav­id Stray­er, a psy­cho­logy pro­fess­or at the Uni­ver­sity of Utah. “It’s one of the most dir­ect ways to be able to look at how atten­tion works, how multi-task­ing works.” […]

There is such a thing as too much cau­tion, of course: driv­ing too slowly on a high­way can be as dan­ger­ous as driv­ing too fast. But accord­ing to the research­ers who study them, the wis­dom of the eld­erly driver con­sists in treat­ing driv­ing as some­thing dan­ger­ous – which, no mat­ter how sharp our skills, it is.

via Mind Hacks