As fragile as it is precious, our attention span is the basis not only of our learning but also of the accomplishment of all our daily tasks. In these times of overstretching, one of the first steps we can take to preserve and improve it is to get to know it better. Here are a few figures to that effect!
0.25 seconds. This is the minimum interval required for the brain to switch from one task to another.
Between 0.33 and 0.5 seconds. This is the time it takes us to access the meaning of a word.
40 seconds. This is the time we manage to maintain our attention on a computer, regardless of the type of screen.
64 seconds. That’s how long it takes you to return to your original task after checking an email.
3 to 4 times per second. It is at this frantic pace at which the perception-action loop – the basis of our nervous system’s functioning – occurs. So, we’re talking about 3 to 4 brain decisions per second… At this rate, most of these decision sequences are synonymous with reflexes.
4 %. That’s the proportion of adults who would be diagnosed with ADD.
1 of 9 characteristics. Attention is one of the nine characteristics of the state of flow described by Csikszentmihalyi, which corresponds to that optimal state of deep well-being, concentration and intense motivation that can be felt when performing an activity.
5 to 10 minutes. To maximize our attention in a task, the cognitive neuroscientist and attention specialist, Jean-Philippe Lachaux, suggests that we set ourselves micro-objectives of 5 to 10 minutes each.
25 minutes. This is the time it takes for the brain to refocus on a task following a distraction. The typical worker, however, has only 11 minutes to do this.
70 years old. The decline in attention associated with normal ageing would appear quite late, typically occurring after 70-75 years of age. However, it would vary greatly from one person to another, depending on their level of education and their acquired ability to control their attention.
- Csikszentmihalyi, 1991
- Sergent C. et al., 2005
- Mark et al., 2008
- Le cerveau attentif – Jean-Philippe Lachaux
- Harris et Mark, Center for Humane Technology