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