Morning Nugget – Focusing Your Attention, Part 2

Focusing our attention on what we see changes blood flow patterns in the visual part of our brain
Focusing our attention on what we see changes blood flow patterns in the visual part of our brain.


Hello! Are you ready for something new to focus on? It’s all about focus today based on Optimizing Brain Fitness by The Great Courses.

An early physiologist, Hermann von Helmholtz, conducted an experiment on covert attention, which is when we gather information in a situation without awareness of it. Helmholtz hung a poster with letters and numbers at the end of a hall, then turned the lights off and on rapidly. He didn’t retain anything on the poster. Then he voluntarily decided to focus his attention on a particular part of the poster, and by doing so while ignoring the rest, he could remember that chosen area.

Without question, we all know focus is an important function in our day, but knowing what takes place in the brain when we focus is worth noting. Focusing attention has an affect in the brain by changing blood flow patterns and, in the case of Helmholtz’ experiment, it was the visual part of the brain.

There’s also a linkage between intention and attention, as seen in the experiment. We decide to do something, and we devote our attention to it excluding attention from other areas. In a magic trick, for example, the magician directs our focus to an unimportant part of the trick.

Attention Exercise-

Choose a time in your day, or night, to suddenly ask your child to close their eyes. Ask them to give a description of the room they are in, where the windows are, etc… Then have them open their eyes and take note of what they had correct and what was not correct. They should begin to notice their surroundings in a more detailed way after this type of exercise.

We are planning to end our week with dinner at a casual buffet restaurant, Souplantation to be exact (feed a family of 6 for $30 and with lots of veggies!). I’m going to spring this question on them once seated. How about you? Where are you going to test your child’s attention?

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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