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Posts Tagged ‘Multi-tasking’

What was I saying? Oh, right, Absent-mindedness…

April 26th, 2018 No comments

It’s a Saturday night. You come home early to catch your favorite TV show. You’re in such a hurry that you throw your keys somewhere carelessly. When it’s time to go out, you can’t remember where you put your keys. It’s not at the regular spot where you usually place your keys. It takes a long time for you to find them. Does this seem familiar? When things like this happen, you might wonder if there’s something wrong with your mind. In fact, it is a common phenomenon called absent-mindedness.

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Absent-mindedness is a cognitive bias that happens when people “zone out” and make mistakes in daily life (Broadbent, Cooper, FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982). The mistakes can be anything related to a lack of attention, e.g., walking in a room and forgetting why you came in, dropping something unintentionally, or throwing your phone in a trash can and keeping the coffee cup (which happened to me once). Absent-mindedness is where attention and memory come together, even though they seem to be two separate things.

How is absent-mindedness related to attention? Before answering this question, we need to know that our attention has a limited capacity (Sanbonmatsu, Strayer, Biondi, Behrends, & Moore, 2015). One theory suggests that when our limited attentional resource is occupied, the rate of absent-mindedness may increase (Fisher & Hood, 1987). This means that if you are talking to a friend while walking down the street and paying little attention to your surroundings, you might end up bumping into someone if that person is being absent-minded as well!
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Playing Video Games Will Help Your Grades……Maybe

November 24th, 2015 5 comments

guy-with-joystick-playing-video-games

 

What comes to mind when you hear the word “gamer”? For non-gamers this term is often accompanied with a negative stigma. For some people, you might envision an average person, someone who studies hard in school or works a nine to five job while enjoying video games in their down time. But for others, many will associate this word with someone who lives in their parent’s basement, lacks social skills, has a diet consisting of Doritos and coke, and hardly sees the light of day. Some people may even think back to the time they saw that YouTube video of a “gamer” freaking out and breaking their TV or keyboard via a rage infused “gronk” spike. If you don’t know what a gronk spike is, click here.

In the modern age, because of how large of an influence technology plays in our daily lives, this negative stigma seems to be fading as more and more people are playing video games. However, spending hours a day playing is still often viewed as unproductive and wasted time. But what if I were to tell you that playing video games, specifically first person shooter games (FPS), could increase a person’s attentional capacity- the amount of information that a person can attend to at any given moment, the processing of peripheral information, and ability to multitask? To start, I’d bet there would be a lot of kids rushing to their parents defending their hours of play video games in hopes of being allowed to spend more time playing. I can envision the conversation now: Read more…

Categories: Attention Tags: ,

A Tip on How to Improve Your Focus: Turn Your Cell Phone on Silent

November 24th, 2015 6 comments

NotificationHave you ever worked on a homework assignment with your cell phone near you so that you can hear when you get a notification?  I know I have.  Cell phone use has become widespread in today’s society.  Everywhere you go, you see people with cell phones in their hands, and they commonly try to use their cell phones as they do something else.  You might see someone looking down at a cell phone while driving, texting while chatting with a friend, and scrolling through a social media app while doing homework. Research has shown that the use of cell phones during a concurrent task can be very distracting and can impair performance on that task, but what about when you receive a notification and do not check or respond to it?

Many people carry their phones with them almost everywhere they go.  For example, you might bring your cell phone to class and store it in your pocket, or leave your cell phone lying on your desk while you work on a homework assignment.  So what happens when you hear a ring or feel vibrations from your cell phone, alerting you that you’ve received a notification?  Does it affect your attention?  Does simply getting a notification on your cell phone, without checking it, have a cost to your attention?  Researchers Stothart, Mitchum, and Yehnert (2015) conducted a study to examine this question.

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Working Memory and Individual Differences: Attention Like You’ve Never Seen It Before!

December 13th, 2013 3 comments

Have you ever tried to keep up with your day by switching between all the things you have to do? Of course you have. Multi-tasking and even just trying to focus our attention on one out of the million stimuli in the modern world are just part of everyone’s lives. The system that makes this possible is called working memory. Working memory is what takes in all the stimuli of the environment, organizes it, attends to it, and decides whether to rehearse or try to remember the information or whether it simply should be thrown away and forgotten.

Working memory is made up of 4 main parts. First off there are the two “slave systems.” These are the visuo-spatial sketchpad and the phonological loop. These are basic holding areas for incoming stimuli, the visuo-spatial sketchpad holds visual information such as maps, while the phonological loop deals with stimuli such as read words, numbers, or auditory stimuli. These segments simply take in the information, it is up to the other systems to choose what happens to that raw input. Read more…

Categories: Attention, Memory Tags:

Cell phone use, driving, and limited attention

March 11th, 2013 No comments

distracted driving

Attention is a finite resource (Kahneman, 1973) and most cognitive activities – talking, remembering, carrying on a conversation – require some amount of these  limited resources. This means, from a practical perspective, that there is a limit to the number of tasks in which we can concurrently engage. Multi-tasking, or attempting to perform multiple tasks at once, generally results in poorer performance on all tasks. Experimental evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that talking on a cell phone while driving – in a simulator, of course!) results in marked impairment in braking times, detecting road signals, and maintaining a safe distance from other cars (Strayer & Johnston, 2001; Strayer & Drews, 2007). The degree of impairment can be comparable to the impairment in driving observed when one drives under the influence of alcohol (Strayer, Drews, & Crouch, 2006) and measures of brain activity show decreased reactivity to traffic signals while talking on a phone (Strayer, Drews, & Johnston, 2003).

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