Attention Surfeit Hypoactivity Disorder and mindful Twittering: The paradoxical, Zenlike state of focused distraction

June 4, 2009 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

New York magazine recently published a fantastic piece by Sam Anderson titled, “In Defense of Distraction.”

Anderson plays the role of philosopher, historian, pop social scientist, and futurist as he ruminates about the influence of technology on the wiring of our brains, and on our abilities to engage in meaningful personal relationships. In the article, he imagines the personal computer as the perfect B.F. Skinner box, because of “the variable ratio schedule” of the Internet; shapes the morality debate among scientists about  use of neuroenhancers, and explains why some are worried about “species-typical upper bound limits” of cognition;  outlines the weaknesses of lifehacking; and, ultimately, explains how to “embrace the poverty of attention.” The science of neuroplasticity and meditation are also explored:

The most promising solution to our attention problem [may also be] the most ancient: meditation. Neuroscientists have become obsessed, in recent years, with Buddhists, whose attentional discipline can apparently confer all kinds of benefits even on non-Buddhists. (Some psychologists predict that, in the same way we go out for a jog now, in the future we’ll all do daily 20-to-30-minute “secular attentional workouts.”) Meditation can make your attention less “sticky,” able to notice images flashing by in such quick succession that regular brains would miss them. It has also been shown to elevate your mood, which can then recursively stoke your attention: Research shows that positive emotions cause your visual field to expand. The brains of Buddhist monks asked to meditate on “unconditional loving-kindness and compassion” show instant and remarkable changes: Their left prefrontal cortices (responsible for positive emotions) go into overdrive, they produce gamma waves 30 times more powerful than novice meditators, and their wave activity is coordinated in a way often seen in patients under anesthesia.

Click here to read the article.

play, think…
J.R. Atwood

Advertisements

Entry filed under: etc, think. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

“As cost of sports rise, students balk at fees” Stereotype threat effects on black and white athletic performance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 87 other followers

Twitter Feed

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.


%d bloggers like this: