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Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute

Understanding rhythms of attention

At any given moment, our brain focuses on a single point of interest. Like a filmstrip, the brain takes pictures of these moments, then assembles them into a cohesive story.

About four times every second, the brain stops taking snapshots of individual points of focus and collects background information about the environment, like sound, people, temperature, and so on. It then uses all the information to put together a narrative of the complete experience.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute

Scientists Reveal the Number of Times You're Actually Conscious Each Minute

https://www.inverse.com/article/48300-why-is-it-hard-to-focus-research-humans

inverse.com

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Key Ideas

Our attention systems

According to scientists at Princeton University, the brain oscillates in and out of focus four times every second.

That means the brain stops focusing on the task at hand about 240 times a minute.

Rhythms of attention

The brain is distractible. We focus in bursts with periods of distractibility in between those bursts, where the brain seems to look at the rest of the environment outside to see if there's something important going on elsewhere.

This rhythm affects our behavior all the time.

Understanding rhythms of attention

At any given moment, our brain focuses on a single point of interest. Like a filmstrip, the brain takes pictures of these moments, then assembles them into a cohesive story.

About four times every second, the brain stops taking snapshots of individual points of focus and collects background information about the environment, like sound, people, temperature, and so on. It then uses all the information to put together a narrative of the complete experience.

Modern society

Modern life insists that we perform all sorts of hyper-focused tasks that overburdens our distractible brains.

Consider driving and drinking coffee while you're on the phone. It means that you're continually switching attention that could cause an accident.

Taking advantage

Every four times a second, our brains are open to stimuli outside our initial focus.

If there's something very bright or blinking at that time, you will shift your attention. Advertisers take advantage of this. For example, when you're on the internet and ads are popping up.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.

Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so. 

Think like Sherlock Holmes

“What Sherlock Holmes offers isn’t just a way of solving a crime. It is an entire way of thinking."

"Holmes provides... an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought...

Engagement

As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.

 As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.

Pitfalls of the Untrained Brain

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.

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The reward system

The reward system in our brain exists to ensure we seek out what we need. If eating nutritious food or being smiled at pleases us, we try to secure more of these stimuli. However, seeking pleasure ...

Desire and pleasure

In 1986, a discovery was made that dopamine did not produce pleasure, but in fact, desire. While dopamine makes us want, pleasure comes from opioids and endocannabinoids ( a kind of marijuana produced in the brain), which paints pleasure on good experiences.

Potential clinical application

We cannot explain away our minds by brain mechanisms. Brain mechanisms are part of our minds.

Understanding that desire and dread, for instance, share the same brain operations, could help ease schizophrenia symptoms by restricting a particular dopamine neuron that produces fear.

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