1. Learn something new
Simply learning new information or using existing knowledge in new ways can help boost attentional skills, a new study finds.
It’s just the same way that young children learn to ‘train’ their brains: they learn new things about the world.
Acquiring knowledge and then thinking about how it fits into what we already know helps boost our attention.
2. Eat chocolate
Dark chocolate can improve attention and a new formula may also lower blood pressure, a study shows.
Professor Larry Stevens, who conducted the study, said:
“Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way.
It can increase brain characteristics of attention, and it also significantly affects blood pressure levels.”
The study measured the effects of eating 60% cacao chocolate (commonly called dark chocolate) on the brain waves of 122 participants.
They found that chocolate boosted attention and people were more alert for a period — although their blood pressure increased.
Practising meditation can help improve your focus while reading, a study finds.
For the research, some people were sent on a one-month intensive vipassanā meditation training program.
They then took a reading test which had nonsensical sentences deliberately placed within it.
Compared with a control group, those who had been practising meditation were better able to detect the gibberish, suggesting they were paying more attention.
Learning to periodically self-check can improve attention and help people focus better on tasks, recent research finds.
The study used brain imaging to predict when people were starting to lose their focus on a boring task they were given.
The researchers found that after just one training session to improve attention, those who had received the feedback performed better than a control group.
5. Count your breaths
A short breathing exercise is enough to refocus the minds of highly distracted people, new research finds.
Heavy media multitaskers benefited most from simply counting their breaths, psychologists found.
The mindfulness task simply involved counting groups of nine breaths: nine inhales and nine exhales.
Participants did this a few times before being given tests of their attention.
Dr Green explained:
“No one can stay focused on it indefinitely.
When you notice your attention slipping away, you bring it back over and over.
You’re practicing that skill, refocusing your attention.”
6. Brightly coloured room
Brightly coloured rooms can boost your concentration, new research finds.
This is because people perform at their best when somewhat stimulated.
Too much and too little stimulation, though, tends to make people’s performance worse.
The study’s results showed that participants’ reading comprehension was higher in the vividly painted red and yellow rooms.
7. A little language learning
Mental agility can be increased by even a relatively small amount of language learning.
After only a week of study, students show improved attention skills — as well as learning a new language.
Language learners were better able to switch their attention and filter out irrelevant details.
Continuing to learn a new language led to sustained improvements 9 months later, the researchers also found.
Need more pointers? Here you go:
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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