Human attention span shorter than goldfish

You need to pay attention to this. The question is, can you?

New brain research from Microsoft finds the human attention span is down to a mere eight seconds — one second less than a goldfish.

The study which surveyed 2,000 Canadians and looked at electroencephalograms (EEG) of 112 more, points out that 15 years ago, our attention span was 12 seconds … but by 2013 it had fallen by four seconds.

So why the decline? Our electronic gadgets.

Overall, digital lifestyles deplete the ability to remain focused on a single task, particularly in non-digital environments.

Alyson Gausby, consumer insights lead at Microsoft Canada, says there is little doubt that shorter attention spans are related to our constant use of smartphones and other electronic devices.

“It is heavily related to digital lifestyles and behaviours,” she said.

“Consumers who are more active digitally, who spend more time online, who spend more time with social media, who are earlier adopters of technology — we see that they have shorter attention spans overall.”

But there may be an upside to being connected.

Connected consumers are becoming better at doing more with less via shorter burst of high attention and more efficient encoding to memory. People who are more digitally active tend to “front-load” their attention, meaning they pay close attention at the beginning of a task, but lose interest as time goes on.

“So they have these higher bursts of intense attention in the short span,” said Ms Gausby. “But the lead they have over the less digitally-savvy consumer, that decreases over time.”



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