Why are some people more easily distracted than others?

Pay attention and get your head out of the clouds, some people struggle to concentrate more than others.

9th March 2017
Why are some people more easily distracted than others? (Getty)

Asked by: Callum Milne, Gloucester

Differences in attention span are a result of genes and environmental experiences. These influences can impact upon brain development and functioning, making it more difficult for one person to pay attention than another.

A distinction can also be made between ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ attention. The former involves us becoming distracted by a salient feature in our environment, such as a bright light. The latter is when we focus on something based on our internal goals – we may give a boring document our full attention because we want to pass an exam. These types of attention share some underlying mechanisms, with the frontoparietal network of the brain important for both, for example. 

 


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