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Concentrate! How to tame a wandering mind

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https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20141015-concentrate-how-to-focus-better

bbc.com

Concentrate! How to tame a wandering mind
I am about to be zapped in the head with an electromagnet, once a second, for eight minutes. I fidget, trying to get comfortable in a huge black chair with jointed metal arms that stand between me and the door. I feel faintly ridiculous wearing a tight headband with what looks like a coat hook on the top.

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Your brain can be changed

Neuroscience has shown that the adult brain remains malleable throughout life.

The circuits we use most often become stronger and more efficient — the ones we don't use, shrink and fade away....

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How to control a wandering mind

To change anything in the brain, you have to focus your attention on the task at hand. However, most find it challenging to concentrate for long periods of time without daydreaming.

Curb your...

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Brain target

  • The default mode network of our brain, responsible for mind-wandering and creativity, needs to be turned down when we want to work for any length of time.  
  • The...

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Focus

Brain training, using magnetic brain stimulation followed by computer-based training, may help a person to focus for longer.

Brain stimulation with a weak electromagnetic pulse can turn down ...

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Mind nudge

Your ability to pay attention is not about putting all your energy into the task - it's about allowing the brain to wander occasionally and gently refocussing.

When you get too stressed tryin...

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The downside of adult brain training

Just like physical exercise, you have to keep training your brain to retain the benefits, or you’ll end up as before.

While research on brain training is still ongoing, mindfulness meditation...

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Our attention is fragile

Research indicates our mind wanders 50 percent of our waking hours. Internal and external distractions easily disrupt our attention from the task at hand.

To gain control over our attent...

What mindfulness is

It’s about paying attention to the present moment with awareness and without emotional reactivity.

Mindfulness training

It can be broken down into two major categories:

  • Focused attention exercises cultivate your brain’s ability to focus on one single object, like one’s breath or walking.
  • Open monitoring helps you learn to pay attention to what’s happening around you without becoming attached to it.  

Altering the brain

Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benef...

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

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The Importance Of Boredom

It drives us to engage in activities that we find more meaningful than those at hand. Without it, we’d be perpetually excited by everything.

Research shows that people who are bored...

Focus And The Brain

When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming

  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

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