Focus. Today’s world of increasing complexity demands more of it, while the technological advances seem to take it away. The buzzing and beeping never seems to stop, and it always feels like something is competing for our attention. Whether its someone blasting music in their car or the never-ending stream of advertisements in public spaces, our attention is constantly being diverted. This affects our neural pathways, disrupts our attention span and depletes focus.
It seems like the power of our focus is being sacrificed as a result of new technologies that compete for our attention at a time when we need it the most. We can either get mentally stronger to overcome these new challenges, or suffer the consequences of foggy thinking and lack of direction. This article is going to help by outlining the mechanics of how the brain maintains focus, while giving strategies on how to deal with the technological environment. Also included are supplement suggestions that can enhance your brain for better function.
Philosopher René Descartes is quoted as saying “I think therefore I am”, and many people would agree that in order to have success in life we need to carefully monitor how we think and where we focus in order to achieve our goals.
Focus can be both short and long-term. There’s the focus required for short-term tasks like studying or working along with future-based focus that is required to keep track of where we are going in life and what we want to achieve.
This was easier in the past when all we had were TVs and radios. Cable was expensive, programs were limited, and they could be turned off and forgotten.
That’s all changed now.
We call it a “phone”, but the rectangular-shaped computer that fits in our pockets is more than just a telephone, TV or radio. It’s a full-scale satellite-driven entertainment device that delivers a non-stop flow of interesting content, in addition to constantly keeping us connected to other people and tracking our every move.
The pervasive distractions we experience form a low-level storm of noise composed of visual and auditory stimulation. Researchers at MIT have discovered that when we pay attention to something specific, neurons in the visual cortex fire up synchronistically if we think it’s important. Conversely, if we don’t care about what’s being presented to us, they seem to quiet down and become suppressed. This synchronistic behavior appears to be similar to an internal dial that turns up the power of focus when we think it’s necessary.
Our modern mental environment demands more and more focus on a non-stop flow of events and tasks. Consider how increasingly higher amounts of people (especially children) are being diagnosed with conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – while these are classified as mental “disorders”, it may be helpful to use the MIT research mentioned above to think differently about the situation.
Consider the following scenarios you (or someone you know) may have experienced:
- Complete focus and attention for hours on end while playing video games despite an “ADD” diagnosis
- Scrolling Instagram and recalling small details like airbrushing and filters while instantly forgetting the name of someone after an introduction
- Seeing dozens of screens in public places playing scenes of shocking news and events that return to your mind throughout the day while not being able to remember what you had for breakfast
- Non-stop beeping from your mobile phone that has the power to completely cut your focus and forget what you were previously doing
- Reading a website page and losing track because of the clickbait pictures in the sidebar
All of the above require our attention, but our brains “chose” the most sensationalist things to focus on.
Could a deficit of attention and lack of focus simply be mental fatigue?
Recall the “dial” mentioned earlier, and how our brain turns it up when we think something is “important”. It pays to ask oneself if all the social media noise, cinematic news events or constant communication is important at all. Every notification, beep, and shocking scene we see on the screen releases stress hormones that turn up that dial.
All this has the potential to damage our brain, deplete focus and shorten our attention span, along with a myriad of other health issues.
Many people come to us for advice on how to help these conditions with nootropics, but the reality is that one needs to define the cause of the problem before finding a solution.
Nootropics are useful to heal and enhance the power of your brain, but the source of the problem must first be identified. Taking back control from the mental environment is required before the healing process can begin.
Think about nootropics as being similar to sports supplements. People that want to build muscles aren’t going to achieve that by drinking protein shakes and watching Netflix. There needs to be an underlying lifestyle change that must happen in order to get the best results.
Once you get back control from the technological environment you can use nootropic supplements with success to heal neural pathways and fortify connections. Here are some of our favorites that work to reduce free-radical damage, reduce stress and enhance neurotransmitter function:
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (30% Beta-glucan)
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) is a mushroom found in East Asia, North America and Europe that has been used for thousands of years in Asia to enhance cognitive function.
Research studies have shown that it may improve memory and mental cognition, which has an overall positive effect on attention span and focus.
Magnesium L-threonate is a proprietary form of magnesium developed by researchers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is designed specifically to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Research has shown that it can improve mental cognition and focus through studies that demonstrated how it can potentially reverse Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and treat certain forms of memory deficit.
Alpha GPC 99%
L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine or Alpha-GPC is a choline compound found naturally in the brain. Taking this supplement helps replenish what’s been depleted through stress. It can help increase dopamine concentrations and improve attention span (when combined with caffeine and phosphatidylserine).
For information on these products and more, visit our Focus page for more details.