Attention Physiology

Attention has no independent value and only accompanies other processes. As a psychical process, it features its own particular physiological mechanisms. Figuratively speaking, attention is like a filter or a magnifying glass, which allows your brain first perceive some information, then gradually obtain more of it and ignore the rest of it.

The most understandable and well-known attention concentration mechanism is the orientation reflex. It is humans' and animals' inborn ability to respond to environmental changes. The strength of an organism's response depends on the signal's novelty. For example: somebody enters the room and you look in their direction straight away, even if you are busy with something. However, if you know that someone is about to enter while you are occupied, you probably won't get distracted. Nevertheless, if someone enters singing out loud, he will still attract your attention, because of his unusual way of appearance.

The energy of the brain's cognitive activity is wholesome. Focusing on one object distracts you from the other objects. If you could have a look into your brainpan, and if the areas of cerebral hemispheres involved into the cognitive activity glowed, you would see some kind of a beacon in a dark background in the area involved in the observation.

Three Stages of Attention

  1. Functionality of attention's physiology consists of 3 main stages. Incoming signals are perceived by peripheral psychic mechanisms. Sense receptors are being adjusted at this stage. When listening, the person turns to the source of the sound changing his eardrum tension. If you want to have a better look at something, you narrow your eyelids as if focusing your visual organs to get a better picture. Your breathing also changes during concentration.
  2. Information is coded into nervous impulses and moves further from your sense receptors. It gets to your brain through the system of nervous pathways called reticular formation. Here the information is preprocessed. The signals that require instant reaction get a response before they reach the brain.
  3. Cerebral hemispheres and frontal lobes are responsible for the final processing and voluntary (deliberate) attention.

Being Attentive to Attention

To maintain your intellectual and creative capacity through the years and remain independent and useful you have to keep your nervous system healthy. Of course, the main means of keeping it healthy is having enough sleep, keeping fit, and eating well. While you sleep your brain rests and sorts the information you receive throughout the day, becoming prepared for new activities. Your brain gets more oxygen during exercise and walks in the fresh air, which also restores your nervous system.

Attention Diet

Main microelements that are required for acute perception and attention are calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C. Dairy products, oranges and dried apricots are rich in calcium. Magnesium, as well as calcium, helps to transmit nervous impulses. Peanuts, bananas, skimmed milk and wheat germs contain magnesium. Sources of iron, which helps concentration, are lean meats, dried fruit, beans, and green vegetables. Vitamin C is good for general tonus. As you know, most of the fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in this vitamin.