Navigation Links
Unable to focus? Welcome to our distracted society's attention deficit
Date:6/19/2008

Cell phones, Blackberries, e-mail, laptops allowing people to bring their work anywhere, news arriving in perfectly condensed and filtered snippets via the Internet and TV, never before has communication been so instantaneous and information distributed so quickly. Never before have people been so connected.

One would assume that this preponderance of advanced communication technology would promote a well-informed and close-knit society. While this is true to some extent and there are many benefits to be gained from these technologies, award-winning author and journalist Maggie Jackson surprisingly has found that compared to past generations, we are in fact less capable of quality analytical thinking, more ignorant about many issues, and more fragmented as a community. Never before have we been so disconnected. This, she concludes, is due to the erosion of attention. After extensively researching the history of communication and transportation technology, today's society, and scientific studies of human cognition, Jackson has documented her compelling case and some possible remedies in DISTRACTED: THE EROSION OF ATTENTION AND THE COMING DARK AGE (Prometheus Books, $25.95).

MIT professor Alan Lightman calls it, "an important booka harrowing documentation of our modern world's descent into fragmentation, self alienation, and emptinessbrought on, to a large extent, by communication technologies that distract us, dislocate us, and destroy our inner lives."

Jackson's definition of "attention" stems from studies in neuroscience that have identified a cognitive system comprised of three networksawareness, focus, and executive attention (planning and decision making)that work together to act as the "brain's conductor, leading the orchestration of our minds." The awareness and focus networks are systems responsible for gathering information about the environment, and the executive attention network is responsible for making decisions based on that information. Sustained attention is necessary for learning, deep thinking, emotional development, building relationships, and many other essential tasks. Attention is the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. Without it, it would be impossible to function in any meaningful way.

In DISTRACTED Jackson demonstrates that the erosion of attention began with the development of communication and transportation technologies in the late 1800's. The introduction of the telegram meant that people could communicate across the globe almost instantaneously, and the advent of railroads and steamships allowed people to travel the world at unprecedented speeds. These developments changed the way that people viewed the world in terms of time and space. In today's world, this altered perspective has been greatly accelerated. Cell phones, e-mails, and numerous other devices compete for our attention. Because of this constant nagging, it becomes nearly impossible to utilize our capacity for sustained attention, and the implications are felt in business, the home, and society at large.

Jackson notes that the average worker switches tasks every three minutes and once interrupted takes nearly half an hour to go back to the original task. Families and friends find it increasingly difficult to meet face-to-face and even more difficult to do so without interruption or willful multitasking. News segments bombard us with superficially simple pieces of information. We have essentially been ushered into a world of constant distraction in which reflective thinking and undivided attention (single-tasking) has become exceedingly rare.

This is a dangerous path to follow. Analytical reasoning exams show that children and college graduates have a decreased capacity for rigorous thought and analysis. These are important skills for running businesses, making informed political decisions, and innovating new ideasall of which are necessary components of an advanced democratic society. Parents' lack of focused attention directed toward their children often leads to a myriad of emotional and behavioral problems. Not giving loved ones our undivided attention causes relationships to disintegrate. The erosion of attention is largely equivalent to the erosion of our society. Jackson warns that dark ages have been marked by brilliant technological innovations coupled with a lack of widespread interest in academic pursuitsmuch like the current atmosphere. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL agrees that DISTRACTED "concentrate[s] the mind on a real problem of modern life."

Still, Jackson remains optimistic. Although she makes it clear that if we squander our powers of attention our technological age could ultimately slip into cultural decline, she also notes that we are just as capable of igniting a renaissance of attention by strengthening our skills of focus and perception. Scientific studies have found that people derive real benefits from practicing meditation. Many researchers are harnessing technology itself to improve our ability to sustain attention. Scientists have utilized computer-based programs to increase the IQs and focus of children. Others have used programs to increase the working memory of children with ADHD. And programmers are developing software that prioritizes interruptions and identifies the best times to actually interrupt workers. We are capable of bringing sustained focus back into our lives.

Peter C. Whybrow, MD, director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, calls the book "An important and timely work [that] challenges us to reconsider the information saturated and demand driven world that we have created. Does our sensate culture, in eroding attention, threaten the self that is at the very pith of our humanity?" In his foreword, Bill McKibben agrees, "This bookforces our attention oninattention. And in so doing, it asks us implicitly the uncomfortable question about what our lives are for." DISTRACTED is an original expos of the multifaceted nature of attention, an engaging and often surprising portrait of postmodern life, and a compelling roadmap for cultivating sustained focus and nurturing a more enriched and literate society. More than ever, we cannot afford to let distraction become the marker of our time.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jill Maxick
jmaxick@prometheusbooks.com
800-853-7545
Prometheus Books
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Patient Data Analysis Report Finds More Than 75 Percent of Chronically Ill Patients Unable to Obtain Needed Healthcare Have Some Form of Insurance
2. Axsun Technologies Announces Exclusive Cardiac Supply Agreement for Advanced OCT Tunable Lasers with LightLab Imaging
3. Women With IBS Unable to Switch Off Pain Response
4. Gunther von Hagens BODY WORLDS Exhibitions Welcome Specimens From Worlds First Living Body Donor for Plastination
5. Sinexus Welcomes New CEO and Completes Series B
6. Susan G. Komen for the Cure(R)s Circle of Promise Welcomes Gabrielle Union, Lalah Hathaway, Synthia SAINT JAMES as National Ambassadors
7. Gulfport-Biloxi Airport Welcomes Installation of New YoNaturals Healthy Vending Machines
8. 2008 Welcome Back Awards Winners Honored for Extraordinary Achievements in the Field of Depression
9. Andre Agassi College Preparatory School Welcomes YoNaturals Healthy Vending Program
10. Stratos Product Development Welcomes Back John Havard as Vice President of Engineering
11. US Oncology Welcomes New Director of Federal Government Relations
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Unable to focus? Welcome to our distracted society's attention deficit
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... As part ... two webinars in February 2016. Each webinar features a dynamic expert and thoughtful ... benefit their athletes, patients and facilities. Both events are free to attend, but ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Emergency rooms provide emergency care to ... this can leave patients with dental emergencies at risk of losing a tooth or ... dental care. , Common dental emergencies include:, , Avulsed ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... bring together more than 200 of the country’s top healthcare executives to share ... “The true benefit of the Forum is the provider-centric perspective, experience, expertise and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... AHRA: The ... and inspirational speaker Jan Fox will serve as keynote speaker at the organization’s ... participants with tools to more effectively communicate with their own organizational staff and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 10, 2016 , ... Everseat has joined the award-winning Allscripts ... physicians. The integration will enable Allscripts users to post open appointments to the ... app. , The partnership gives Everseat substantial added power to help Allscripts meet ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  CVS Health (NYSE: ... living in Santa Clara County, CA ... on the Santa Clara University campus. CVS Pharmacy stores ... protect patients against the disease. Students at Santa Clara ... get vaccinated. In addition, anyone who has had close ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... LOS ANGELES , Feb. 10, 2016  Oxis ... blood cancer drug, OXS-1550, was described as a "clinical ... with the drug went into complete cancer remission. ... the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. ... the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Feb. 10, 2016  LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, a ... announced the launch of LexisNexis Provider Performance ... helps improve and optimize the quality and efficiency ... using severity-adjusted scores. By measuring provider performance through ... to deliver better outcomes, improve the patient experience ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: