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Technology leaves humans with shorter attention span than goldfish, research says


Scientists estimate that goldfish can keep their attention for nine seconds; Researchers claim that our attention today is held by eight.

Research by Microsoft suggests that the attention span of humans is already shorter than that of goldfish - and this may be technology's fault.

The survey was conducted in Canada and involved 2,000 people who answered questions and participated in online games to assess their ability to concentrate.

The researchers also performed electroencephalograms on 112 other Canadian volunteers to monitor their brain activity.

According to the research's conclusion, humans' ability to concentrate is being reduced by the impact of handheld devices and digital media.

In 2000, human attention span averaged 12 seconds. In 2013, this capacity dropped to eight seconds - a second behind the average attention span estimated by goldfish scientists.

Three categories

The researchers asked the volunteers questions and asked them to participate in games designed to measure attention span. From the answers and results, the research participants were divided into three categories: high, medium and low concentration capacity.


Drop in attention level may be a brain adaptation, according to researchers.

The electroencephalogram exams were performed while volunteers watched various types of media and participated in various activities. The researchers then analyzed when the attention of these volunteers shifted from one subject to another.

In the survey, volunteers who used digital devices beyond average tended to have more difficulty concentrating in situations where attention was most needed.

"Canadians with a more digital lifestyle (those who consume more media, browse multiple screens at once, social media enthusiasts, and early adopters of technology) have a hard time focusing on environments where prolonged attention is needed. what? Because of the adrenaline rush of what's new, "write the researchers.

Early adopters of these technologies, or those who use them more often, learned over time to allow large amounts of information to be processed before shifting their focus to something else. The result is that in these cases the high level of concentration increases in peaks.

"They are better at identifying (the themes) they want or don't want to get involved with and need less time to process and allocate things in memory," the researchers added.

On the other hand, people who tend to use multiple screens at the same time - such as those who use their cell phones while watching television or looking at another screen - tend to have difficulty filtering the information coming from these digital devices.

The reassuring news from researchers is that our brains may be adapting to new technologies - and a shorter attention span may simply be a normal side effect.

(//www.bbc.co.uk/english/news 2015/05/150515_atencao_peixinho_tech_fn)