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Enhanced Concentration

  1. Feb 12, 2017 #1
    Some people want to improve their powers of concentration, and even help others do the same. Perhaps some members of this forum have found useful techniques they would like to share.

    One thing that fascinates me is how the subconscious comes to the rescue at times. For example, I make a mistake when I write something, due to lack of concentration, which is usually caused by fatigue or emotional stress. Then in the middle of the night I wake up realizing I made a mistake. Hopefully it is not something too serious, which I can correct easily.

    Obviously our brain keeps on working on problems even when we are asleep. This is well known. At these times we are physically relaxed and we have reduced sensory input. No doubt these are important factors.

    I wonder if psychologists who specialize in such matters have come up with a proven method for inducing a waking mode in which we can focus our mind to the maximum possible extent.

    I know drugs such as Ritalin are sometimes prescribed, but I am looking for a purely psychological technique which has been verified to work under controlled conditions.

    I have heard of, but not tried, technology that uses feedback techniques which attempt to put the brain into a certain mode. If there is something that actually works, could it be used in schools?

    It's been a few years since I've done any kind of teaching. But now I'm becoming involved in education again. I know these are not new questions, and maybe educational technology is way ahead of me. I look forward to replies.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2017 #2
    It is indeed possible to train the mind to be very focused using a technique that can be used wherever one is. It's a very old technique. It's called ana-a-apana, anapana or 'awareness of in and out breathing'.

  4. Feb 12, 2017 #3
    I just tried it. One thing I noticed is that the ten minutes flew by very quickly and I felt calm. This is very interesting. I will look into some meditation techniques. Thanks very much.

    I would like to know what he says at the end.

    I still invite links to more hi-tech solutions, using brainwave monitoring, etc. Perhaps a synthesis of old and new would be useful.
  5. Feb 12, 2017 #4
    You're welcome. In the end he says 'may all beings be happy' three times, the meditators say 'we agree'. It's an old tradition.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  6. Feb 12, 2017 #5


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    There is a real danger with questions like this to get into pseudo-science.

    Before you get into any kind of brainwave monitoring, if you're just looking to improve your concentration make sure you try the (what I would consider to be)obvious steps first.
    1. Control your environment to minimize distractions. Set up a study space that is quiet and has minimal external stimuli (house mates playing their stereos, television in the background, a phone that buzzes for every incoming text, etc.) When you're studying, you're studying.
    2. Plan out your work into manageable steps and stick to a time budget. If you can't solve a particular problem after a solid effort, move on and then come back to it later.
    3. Try to be aware of those things that generate noise in your head and avoid them. Some people really like diving into political debates in online forums, for example. While there's nothing wrong with this on the surface, but it can take up a substantial amount of "cognitive bandwidth" for lack of a better term - particularly when you're dealing with something you're passionate about. Another example are those little "click bait" adds that populate the corner of web pages.
    4. Get adequate sleep - on a regular basis.
    5. Eat well.
    6. Get good exercise.
    7. Routine. Have specific times in the day that you set aside for studying. Try to avoid the end of the day when you're tired.
    8. Practice. It can be nearly impossible to just sit down and concentrate if you're not used to doing it on a regular basis.
  7. Feb 12, 2017 #6
    All the items you list are good common sense. But my question goes beyond those items. I think it's also good to look for scientifically validated technology that can enhance our powers of concentration.

    I emphasis scientific validation. This is why I stated we should use psychologists working under controlled conditions. We must be wary of claims that have not been verified using the scientific method.

    I'm willing to experiment on myself with classic meditation, but I would not advocate it for others unless it had been verified in a laboratory setting. I have heard of such studies, but I don't know the results. What I do know is that our ability to monitor brain activity has been developing over the years. It's been a few years since I looked into this topic. Perhaps someone in this forum is more up to date?

    Unfortunately the technique which is often used in schools to help students concentrate is to prescribe certain drugs. I am looking for beneficial technological alternatives for students that do not involve drugs, since drugs may cause undesirable side effects. Whether this would involve a sort of machine-enhanced technique of meditation with feedback, or something else, I really don't know, but I'm very curious about it.
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