People who are finding it difficult to focus on one thing at a time should not worry about it, because apparently, the human brain is designed to be distracted.
The brain is an amazing organ, capable of recovering despite missing parts and triggering gut feelings through connections with the brains of other people. However, it also makes sure that you are unable to maintain your attention on a specific task at hand.
Human Brain Can't Focus On One Thing At A Time
Neuroscientists believe that the brain fires neurons on a consistent stream so that people will be able to maintain their focus on one thing. New research, however, proves the opposite.
According to a study by a team from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley, there is instead a so-called brain rhythm. Neurons become less active at a rate of four times per second, and during those breaks, the researchers believe that the brain checks the person's surroundings for another thing to pay attention, whether it is something dangerous or interesting.
"Your brain's checking in on the rest of environment to see if it should focus on something else," Princeton University cognitive neuroscientist Ian Fiebelkorn said to Gizmodo. "Not that it unfocuses, but to see if something else beats out your current focus."
The Evolution Of The Human Brain
Brain rhythms were detected when electroencephalograms, or EEGs, were invented in 1924, but its purpose has since been largely unknown. However, with the findings of the study, brain rhythms can now be linked to human behavior.
"This is a very surprising finding, more since these rhythmic processes are evolutionarily old-we find them in non-human primates as well as in our own species," said Princeton Neuroscience Institute professor of psychology Sabine Kastner.
The researchers suggested that the pulsing attention provided by the brain is an evolutionary advantage, as it allows people to constantly check if a threat is approaching. The brain rhythms were measured in both humans and macaque monkeys.
Brain Rhythms And ADHD
Kastner added that the discovery may help people who are suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, speculating that brains affected by it may be unable to balance the brain rhythms. This locks in the person's attention on one thing or too many things over a short period of time.
The discovery of the purpose of brain rhythms opens opportunities for therapy that will retrain the brains of people with attention disorders though rhythm therapy.