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Monicque Lorist: what does it mean if someone cannot concentrate?

What does it mean if someone cannot concentrate?

The environment that we live and work in floods our minds with an overload of information. Look around you, notice the sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations. We perceive all this information through our senses, which then send this information to our brain. As you can imagine, the amount of information that reaches our brain in this way is enormous. This can cause problems. Our brains are unable to process all of this information. We do not have sufficient capacity. In principle, this is not a problem, because not all of this information is important for what we are doing.

Monicque Lorist

With the help of ‘attention’, we can select the information that is important for what we are doing. We focus on the smartphone message that we want to read, for example. At the same time, we ignore other information from our environment that is less important at that moment, like the cup of coffee in our hand that is still warm.

Usually, this works well, but... what if the system fails? It may happen when we grow older. Our research shows that in most cases, older people can concentrate well on relevant information, but they have difficulty suppressing information that is not important. They are more distracted than young people. We can use these insights, for example, when setting up a working environment for older employees.

prof. dr. M.M. (Monicque) Lorist
First name
Full Professor
Cognitive Neuroscience
Dynamics of the Healthy Brain
Last modified:03 September 2019 10.40 a.m.
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