by Eugene Y. Chan, MD
Ever wonder why you can’t sit still and finish your work? This is a general problem with the population at large these days. The quick answer is that there are too many distractions: smart phones, the internet, kids, and television. Yes, these are things that can ultimately cause you to be unfocused, unproductive, and unnerved. This decrease in attention has indeed been studied by numerous groups out there. For instance, Higginbotham et al. 1993 showed that both normal and diagnosed children with ADHD, when subject to active and passive distractions, led to decrease in performance. It is no question that distractions, especially sensory ones related to visual and auditory, are undesirable. On the other hand, this is not the only reason. For instance, Booth et al., 2005 demonstrated that there is a decreased inhibitory network in those with ADHD, suggesting that there is an underlying physical basis for decreased attention. What should you do about it?
- Unplug! Have dedicated periods of time in your day where you are free from your phone, TV, internet, and any electronics.
- Practice focusing. This can be done by reading, writing, or some other active form of concentration. This forces your mind to exercise its inhibitory neurons.
- Eat carefully. See previous post, avoid any refined sugars, avoid stimulants, go for small meals, and wisely supplement.
Take care and stay focused. Booth, JR et al. Larger deficits in brain networks for response inhibition than for visual selective attention in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 2005. J. of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 46:1, pp 94-111. Higginbotham, P. and Bartling, C. 1993. The effects of sensory distractions on short-term recall of children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder versus normally achieving children. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, Vol 31(6), Nov 1993, 507-510.