Concentration and the Brain
Whether you are reading a book, studying for a class, or simply doing your job, concentration plays a major role in how we accomplish those tasks during the thought process. In the same manner, our concentration allows us to clearly focus on the task at hand. Concentration is simply the mental process of focusing your mind on a single thought or task. In some ways, our brains are very much like computers. We receive data, process the data and somehow compute thoughts, and verbalize the information. Sometimes our concentration doesn't perform the way we expect, we may have a slower than normal response and we become frustrated. A person's intelligence level is tied to their ability to concentrate. There is research that suggests the level of intelligence a person has can be traced hereditarily. Meaning that you may inherit the smarts of your parents. In theory if any one person has a high level of concentration, their intelligence level would also likely be high.
The process of concentration is a very important part of what we do on a daily basis. Without the ability to concentrate, thoughts could be lost and memories wasted. Some consider concentration a way of branding our brains to recall things and assist our memory. For example, when studying for an exam, you study by concentrating, you read; focus on the key words, in addition to the phrases and exercises that will assist you with remembering the details. Famous intellects such as Einstein, must have mastered this ability quite well. It is easy to assume that highly intelligent people were born with a bigger brain, or larger capacity for learning. However, it is also fair to assume that enhancing the way we think, and focus can ultimately produce better concentrating skills. In essence, concentration is an ability we are able to maintain and enhance to better ourselves.
Let's discuss where this function takes place as it obviously originates from our brain. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells, commonly called neurons. Neurons basically gather and transmit electrochemical signals that evoke our thoughts and motor functions. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that is associated with our memory, thought, attention, awareness, and consciousness. This is also, where concentration comes into play. With everything we do there is a certain amount of concentration that takes place. If you are eating ice cream, you are most likely thinking or focusing on the taste and texture and possibly the fact that you will have more when you are finished. When you are reading the newspaper, or your favorite magazine you are concentrating on the words and details that bring the articles to life, and finish up with a nice crossword puzzle. Just as you read the text for this class, you are stimulating your brain and putting forth an effort to concentrate.
It is interesting in an office setting how different people adapt to the surroundings of their environment in order to do their job. Some people find it very easy to concentrate with background noise, while others find it quite distracting. There are also those that prefer to be locked away silently in order to properly focus. Imagine working in an office consisting of cubicles. There is virtually no privacy, no way to drown out the noise of the day to day, such as co-worker's phone calls, or the busy sounds of printers, faxes and staplers. Yet over and over we hear that people in these settings simply adapt, their minds allow them to drown out things they do not need to hear. It is as if all irrelevant background noises disappear. Haven't you ever been so deep in thought, so deep in concentration that someone speaks to you and you simply do not hear them? So the second time they ask, you respond with a half-hearted "Huh"? I didn't even hear you. - and they are just astounded that you were nearly deaf for that moment. Thousands of thoughts literally cross our minds daily, and with so much activity taking place it is hard to imagine solidly focusing on one simple task or one thought. For many it is difficult to concentrate on one task, let alone multitasking. Even as we are performing a physical function, the instruction to do the task is of course coming from the brain. If we were puppets, our brains would surely act as the puppeteer of our every move, and in reality it pretty much seems to work that way.
Attention, focus, thought and concentration are interrelated. Without one it would be difficult to utilize the others. In order to concentrate if you need to focus if you cannot focus, you simply would not be able to pay attention. Concentration, attention, and focus all involve thought and therefore assist one another in the thought process.
To be able to enhance the way you concentrate means to be able to find the answers to what may be restricting your ability to do so, and what other factors are involved.
1. Brain - the part of the central nervous system that includes all of the higher nervous centers; enclosed within the skull.
2. Concentration - exclusive attention to one object; or close mental application.
3. Focus - a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity.
4. Cerebral cortex - The extensive outer layer of gray matter of the cerebral hemispheres, largely responsible for higher brain functions, including sensation, voluntary muscle movement, thought, reasoning, and memory.
5. Mind - The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination.
6. Mental - involving the mind or an intellectual process.
7. Neurons - Any of the impulse-conducting cells that constitute the brain.
8. Electrochemical signal - Signal transmitted throughout the brain by neurons.
9. Consciousness - an alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation.
10. Memory - the mental capacity of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling and recognizing previous experiences.
11. Thought - to have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
12. Attention - Concentration of the mental powers upon an object; a close or careful observing or listening.
Why Can't I Focus?
You sit down fairly relaxed to read a book, but you just can't seem to focus. You get into a comfortable position, get a snack and yet you are still not quite able to get on track. How can our minds be so restless not allowing us to solidify a common focus? Everyday we are bombarded with so many things that it can be easy to lose focus on what we want to do and should be doing. We can be busy doing a thousand and one things that are just second nature to us and we do not utilize one bit of concentration in doing so. It can simply be because of a monotonous routine. We are a generation of multitaskers, texters, typers and cell phone users. Everyone can literally reach us in some way shape or form, even when we do not want to be reached.
Everyone nowadays is busy busy busy. While technology has greatly improved our lifestyles, it can sometimes take away from our natural ability to think things out ourselves. We no longer proofread documents verbatim, we use spell check. While it may be difficult to pin point a single reason that you may not be able to concentrate, you may want to start with your day to day routine.
There are constantly various life distractions in our midst, personal situations and things in our immediate environments that affect our ability to concentrate. It is up to each of us to decipher what is holding us back from obtaining the most clear and concise concentration. When we start to take note of our routines, our lives and the things that may be affecting us, we can begin to change those things appropriately to benefit us in the end.
An enhanced sense of awareness, memory and overall concentration can lead to success down the road. In school, in our jobs, and in our personal lives. Destressing and decluttering our minds of unnecessary details and thoughts can help up to clear the way for bigger and better modes of thinking.
Sleep deprivation is another major contributor to a lack of focus, this major lack of proper rest can shut down our mind's ability think clearly. Only you can decide what things that you will need to change to accommodate a high level of thinking and focus.
Just to prove how funny our brains can work try the following exercise. While sitting raise your right leg and start moving your foot in a circular motion, and the same time using your right hand, make circular motions with your right hand. Now change the directions of the circular motions you are making with your right hand. What happens?