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Distracted-- the Coming of a New Dark Age; Rob Kall Interviews author Maggie Jackson

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Maggie Jackson:-Yes.- Well, there are now considered to be three types of attention.- One is that kind of wakefulness called alerting, sensitivity to your surroundings.- That's likely what the hunter needs.- And we all need to be aware of our surroundings.-

Second, there is focus.- It's called orienting in scientific circles.- That's the spotlight of your mind""the ability to problem solve but also to give you the ability to relate to others.-

Finally there is something called executive attention and sometimes called executive function- That is the ability to plan, to judge, to resolve conflicting information.- So these are actually now considered three different independent types of attention.- You can be focusing on a speaker in a room and yet be half asleep.- They're two different types of attention.- It is really fascinating.-

Scientists are now beginning to understand when attention develops in children, when it kicks in, when are the prime or "sweet spots' of developing the certain types of attention.- And what is the role of parenting.

Rob Kall:-Which kind of attention is eroding?-

Maggie Jackson:-Well, I think, I argue, and there' s no scientific study to prove all of this, but I would argue that we are eroding our...the higher echelon order of all types of attention.- In other words, we're not using our attentional powers well.- Yes, we're somewhat aware of our surroundings.- Yes, certainly we are using our executive attention skills to get through the day at our jobs.- Sure, we can focus on something, you know, a train wreck if we really need to.- But I think that we're not doing it well, because we're allowing ourselves, our attention to be fragmented, to be diffused.- We've sort of moved to the furthest spectrum.

And the other thing that's really important, is, I mentioned awareness of our environment. Well, humans are biologically programmed, they're born to be interrupted because you need to pay attention to what's new in your environment. At the same time, you need to pursue your goals. You need to remember what you're doing. You need to plan for five years, or five hours from now. It's kind of a balancing act. But...

Rob Kall:-That's the name of your column!

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