Attention
What is attention and why do we need it? Is it possible to multi-task effectively? Is the modern world too distracting and over-stimulating for our brains? The answers to these questions are revealed in this engaging video that explores various aspects of attention, including distraction, divided attention, joint attention, and enhancing cognition. Essentially all organisms, including human beings, rely on attention as a means of survival. In the video, Jonathan Flombaum states that attention is "the way we're preset to focus in on what seems to be just the kind of information that we need to get around and survive in the world." While it is possible and often necessary to multi-task, the brain cannot focus completely on more than task at a time. The example of driving while talking on the phone is introduced to show how attention is vulnerable to distraction. An experiment is then presented in which individuals are asked to count the number of times team members pass a ball around. More likely than not, viewers fail to notice a gorilla that enters the scene for several seconds.
Joint attention, which occurs when humans or animals use signals or eye-gazing to communicate, is often studied by developmentalists. This capacity typically develops within the first year of life in humans and is thought to be a precursor to language. Problems with joint attention and other attention disorders are likely caused by disturbances in the prefrontal cortex and thalamus areas of the brain. Although medications and other activities have been shown to enhance cognition, Howard Egeth says that "equally important is crafting the world to fit the human.


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