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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Multitasking a Myth?

A NYT piece on the science of concentration says that focus, once broken, can take twenty minutes to re-establish.

Overviews some of the findings in the book Rapt, by Winifred Gallagher.

Covers neuroscience work on the subject. Has implications in advertising as they suggest: " ... “It takes a lot of your prefrontal brain power to force yourself not to process a strong input like a television commercial,” said Dr. Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T. “If you’re trying to read a book at the same time, you may not have the resources left to focus on the words.” ... '

As new social services bloom, our online world continues to fragment our attention and moving it from focus to focus may be more difficult than we had thought. In the store, how we interact with shelf facings and their increasingly complex 'interface', laced with colors and interactive screens, may also be at risk.

Experiments with advanced packaging and mobile devices that extend that packaging and cart devices that seek to engage the shopper need to be thought through carefully. While eyetracking can be utilized to address these issues, it is not often used in sufficiently long time-contexts to understand aspects of sustained focus. Much room for new understanding here.

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