Attention Deficits

I’ve recently been paying some attention to the commentary and research surrounding questions of whether and how the “always on” lifestyle we currently are subsumed by impacts our ability to maintain focus. Daniel Goleman has a new book out on the subject, reviewed by Nicholas Carr in tomorrow’s Sunday Times—expect it to be a good read.

Along the same lines, I’ve recently stumbled on a few start-ups that are pursuing brain science + web in interesting ways. The one I’ve spent the most time with is Lumosity, which I must admit I’m already a tad addicted to. Lumosity scores your brain performance along a couple axes, one of which is attention. I was, well, a bit bummed to see that my initial scores were very low compared to my peers—especially my attention score.

There were several curious things here, the first being how they measure attention, the second being whether the scores are reflections of inherent brain performance or merely practiced skill in the games offered. But I also wonder what the percentiles are based on—I after a week of Lumostiy “training” am still only in the 27th percentile of people my age, but it’s unclear if those are Lumosity users or if it’s based on third party research. The question interests me because it seems like there might be a budding data set here on which to test a variety of hypothesis about technology’s impact on our attention. Lumosity clearly gets that as they have a Human Cognition Project to facilitate future research.

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