Improving Attention

When TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked about the secret to her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”

If you struggle with ADHD, however, that’s a lot easier said than done.

About 6 million children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD, with an estimated four percent of U.S. adults also struggling with the disorder.

The good news is that support and education help. Plus, there are things you can do. In fact, if you’re looking for something you can do to help yourself or a child who struggles, you’ll want to know about the following two studies on attention.

Both studies indicate that attention can be trained. In other words, attention can be improved through exercises for the brain.

Improving Attention in Senior Adults

The first study, conducted by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, used fMRI technology to measure senior adults’ ability to filter out distractions. The question on the table was this: Could eight hours of mental exercises improve senior adults’ ability to focus in the midst of distractions? The eight hours included one-on-one mental workouts along with group brain exercise programs.

“We used to think that with age, brain cells shriveled up, died, and that was that,” explains Paul Laurienti, the lead scientist on the study. “Now we know that even older brains can grow new, stronger connections.” Laurienti and his team discovered that the brain exercises did, indeed, improve participants’ ability to focus.

Improving Attention in Babies

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, another study came to the same conclusion—that attention can be trained—this time through research done with 11-month old infants. After training, the babies were able to focus attention for longer periods of time, and also ignore distractions better as well.

Even more significantly, the trained babies also focused better in a real-world-setting, when they were playing with toys.

Sam Wass of the University of London’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development highlighted the relationship between attention and success when he said, “The connection is an intuitively obvious one: the better a child is at concentrating…the better that child is going to learn.”

Attention and Brain Training

At LearningRx, we provide one-on-one brain training, a form of cognitive training that improves attention and other cognitive skills. While we do not diagnose or treat any medical conditions, we do work with people who have been previously diagnosed with many disorders, including ADHD. In fact, among the diagnoses people have received when they come to us for help, ADHD is the most common.

Here’s how our programs work: We team clients of all ages with personal brain trainers for mental exercises that strengthen three kinds of attention. Improvements are measured scientifically by pre- and post-training assessments, and they are often dramatic. Brain training programs typically run for 12 to 32 weeks, depending on the program, and consist of about 5 hours of fun, challenging mental workouts every week.

How much can brain training improve attention? One study measured the attention performance of 5,416 children and adults with ADHD who came to LearningRx. Before training, these clients scored, on average, in the 42nd percentile in attention, indicating that attention skills were below the skills of 68 percent of their peers.

After LearningRx brain training, the average performance in attention for these clients rose from the 42nd to the 66th percentile. In other words, attention performance went from “below average” to “above average” after brain training.

If you struggle with attention—or you love someone who is struggling—there is hope and help.

Give us a call at one of our centers at (972) 267-8900 to find out more about what we do and to schedule your first assessment.