If you find you are easily distracted, the explanation may be that…. HEY. BACK OVER HERE.
As I was saying, if you find you are easily distracted, it may be that parts of your brain are just too darn big.
Researchers at University College London believe people more susceptible to distraction are likely to have more gray matter in the left superior parietal lobe (SPL).
The team, led by Ryota Kanai, carried out two experiments. The first was simply to ask people a range of questions about whether they had distraction problems in various life situations, then take an MRI of their brains. That found a pattern of high distraction and high volumes of SPL gray matter.
A second experiment, designed to find out if there was such a biological link, involved the individuals wearing a magnet (designed to reduce activity in a specific brain area) over the part of the skull housing the SPL. This showed that on average, people took 25% longer to carry out a task when wearing the magnet, suggesting this area of the brain is indeed a key factor in attention.
Both experiments had some limitations. The first relied on self-reporting about distraction levels rather than measuring them objectively. And the second had a sample group of 15 subjects. But the team are hoping to build on the results, with an ongoing test of what is effectively the flip-side of the magnet test: applying a small electrical current to the relevant part of the head in the hope of stimulating attention skills.
The working theory for an explanation at the moment is that the additional grey matter makes the brain less efficient. It may also be a sign that the individual’s brain has not matured at the same rate as most adults, meaning he or she is more likely to have a “childish” attention span.