The Brain’s Balancing Act Understanding and Managing Attention Publication date : September 2, 2015
Jean-Philippe Lachaux is a researcher in the cognitive neurosciences and the director of the Brain Dynamics and Cognition Unit at the French National Health Research Institute (Inserm), in Lyon. He is a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, and the author of the highly successful Le Cerveau attentif, published by Editions Odile Jacob.
The brain is constantly selecting the information it considers most important. To do this, it relies on ‘attention’, a system that has been seriously disrupted, in recent years, by our numerous digital devices — particularly smartphones, which have significantly extended the amount of information our brains have to sift through. How can we become more attentive? How can we optimise our brains, so as to avoid becoming distracted by the overwhelming amounts of information that vie for our attention, and, instead learn to concentrate our efforts on what matters most?
Attention management is a skill that can be acquired by developing a new sense of equilibrium, known as ‘attention balancing’. According to the author, every activity that requires our attention resembles a tightrope act. The skills described here will enable the brain to advance safely along the rope, one step at a time, and to catch its balance at the slightest slip.
Besides showing how to improve attention skills and management, the author provides several pointers to help readers determine why they cannot focus, and how to reverse the situation.
• Based on the cognitive neurosciences, an effective method to improve attention skills.
• A review of how current technology has impacted the way the brain works.
• Described here are several attention-enhancing tools: Explicit Attention Programmes, the RAPPEL (remember) method, etc.