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Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask--read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on t Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask--read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on the road, and the unheard conversation at the table. In The Distracted Mind, Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen--a neuroscientist and a psychologist--explain why our brains aren't built for multitasking, and suggest better ways to live in a high-tech world without giving up our modern technology. The authors explain that our brains are limited in their ability to pay attention. We don't really multitask but rather switch rapidly between tasks. Distractions and interruptions, often technology-related--referred to by the authors as "interference"--collide with our goal-setting abilities. We want to finish this paper/spreadsheet/sentence, but our phone signals an incoming message and we drop everything. Even without an alert, we decide that we "must" check in on social media immediately. Gazzaley and Rosen offer practical strategies, backed by science, to fight distraction. We can change our brains with meditation, video games, and physical exercise; we can change our behavior by planning our accessibility and recognizing our anxiety about being out of touch even briefly. They don't suggest that we give up our devices, but that we use them in a more balanced way.


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Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask--read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on t Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask--read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on the road, and the unheard conversation at the table. In The Distracted Mind, Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen--a neuroscientist and a psychologist--explain why our brains aren't built for multitasking, and suggest better ways to live in a high-tech world without giving up our modern technology. The authors explain that our brains are limited in their ability to pay attention. We don't really multitask but rather switch rapidly between tasks. Distractions and interruptions, often technology-related--referred to by the authors as "interference"--collide with our goal-setting abilities. We want to finish this paper/spreadsheet/sentence, but our phone signals an incoming message and we drop everything. Even without an alert, we decide that we "must" check in on social media immediately. Gazzaley and Rosen offer practical strategies, backed by science, to fight distraction. We can change our brains with meditation, video games, and physical exercise; we can change our behavior by planning our accessibility and recognizing our anxiety about being out of touch even briefly. They don't suggest that we give up our devices, but that we use them in a more balanced way.

30 review for The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    I would be more comfortable with the opening words of The Distracted Mind 'This book is the first of its kind to explore the daily challenges we face with the highly engaging but extremely distracting high-tech world we now inhabit' if I hadn't read The Cyber Effect a few months ago. Admittedly Distracted Mind's intro goes on 'from the dual points of view of a psychologist and a neuroscientist', where The Cyber Effect was by a lone 'cyberpsychologist'... but to be honest it's the quality of the I would be more comfortable with the opening words of The Distracted Mind 'This book is the first of its kind to explore the daily challenges we face with the highly engaging but extremely distracting high-tech world we now inhabit' if I hadn't read The Cyber Effect a few months ago. Admittedly Distracted Mind's intro goes on 'from the dual points of view of a psychologist and a neuroscientist', where The Cyber Effect was by a lone 'cyberpsychologist'... but to be honest it's the quality of the content and the writing that counts, not the authors' specific qualifications. (Which made the repeated reference to one of the authors as 'Dr. Rosen' rather irritating.) Still, I was determined to overlook this early setback and luckily there is genuinely interesting and different material here, starting with the way that interference (hi tech or traditional, internal and external) gets in the way of completing tasks, though sadly this material is put across in the book in a plodding, textbook-like manner. Early on we get effective use of specific examples, but this doesn't continue through the book. Perhaps the biggest problem here is the classic literary agent's cry 'Is it a book or an article?' This strikes me as an excellent magazine article, but there didn't seem enough material to make a full book out of it. I learned that ignoring is an active process. It takes resources to filter out what is irrelevant. I saw how people, particularly younger people who try to multitask with devices all the time, distract themselves from tasks. And we're all being affected by the technology. And that's about it. It didn't help that sometimes the book felt like an advertorial - I lost count of the number times 'The Gazzaley Lab' got a name check, and there did seem to be one or two products being pushed later on. I don't want to be too negative about this book. Like The Cyber Effect before it, it genuinely has an important message about the way that information and communication technology is having an impact on our ability to concentrate. There are truly shocking statistics here, like the way that students set an urgent 15 minute task could only go about 3 minutes before they switched to checking social media or texts. We need to be more conscious of how we make use of this technology and how to forego it when we want to concentrate or let our minds wander creatively. I'm just not sure this is the ideal book to get that message across.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    It might be more fair to give this book 3 stars, but I am currently feeling betrayed by fellow scientists, so it's 2. I wouldn't not recommend this book; it's interesting and informative, not to mention very relevant. It covers human cognitive limitations, and then how we can't actually handle juggling the tech we surround ourselves with (internet, social media, and messaging especially), despite expecting otherwise. There's no such thing as true multitasking, and since we have now moved into a w It might be more fair to give this book 3 stars, but I am currently feeling betrayed by fellow scientists, so it's 2. I wouldn't not recommend this book; it's interesting and informative, not to mention very relevant. It covers human cognitive limitations, and then how we can't actually handle juggling the tech we surround ourselves with (internet, social media, and messaging especially), despite expecting otherwise. There's no such thing as true multitasking, and since we have now moved into a world of constant task switching, responding immediately to everything, we can no longer perform single tasks properly, or at least with the same efficiency. In general terms, the authors aren't wrong; the introduction of cellphones has caused problems, and we should make an effort to understand our limitations to better address these issues. What really irked me about this book was: 1) small facts that were glaringly wrong; 2) an insanely biased perspective that does not allow a really objective and scientific approach to the topic, leading them multiple times to ignore directions of causality or providing more nuanced understanding. 3) reliance on research that was also insanely unobjective. Point 1 I don't know how it happened, but more than once the authors site numbers that I could tell at a glance were wrong and I don't understand why they or the editors didn't notice. An example was when they write "smartphones are now so ubiquitous than 860 million Europeans own one". I double checked, and in fact at the time of publication the European population was only 740 million. OK, so not everyone knows world populations, but it should be at least surprising enough to verify a number like 800 million, especially when only 70% of Americans own a smartphone. Another even more obvious example was when they write that "the most technologically active groups- iGeneration teens and Net generation adults, used technology about twenty hours per day". I am in the middle of those two generations and I promise you no one is sleeping only 4 hours and constantly online the rest. Point 2 is the main reason I give this book 2 stars; I just can't trust a scientist that uses such biased language like "three in four smart phone users admit to being within 5 feet of their phone day and night". It's not an "admission" if they don't feel embarrassed about it. Or another sign of the author's bias coming from a specific generation when he writes "no longer was the bedroom a place to watch nighttime television and sleep". I am pretty sure television does not belong in a bedroom any more or less than a smartphone; it's just what the author grew up with. These are just window dressing, but then in practice the authors present only research that supports the thesis that smartphones are damaging, without addressing the complicated interactions that are actually involved. For example, the authors point out that college "students who used more interfering technology in the classroom also tended to engage in more high risk behaviors including using alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs, drunk driving, fighting, and having multiple sex partners"; notice how most of the items if not all on them are also highly correlated to more extroverted and social behavior in college students? So maybe, just maybe, people who constantly message during class are just the ones with more active social circles? hmm? It's not to say that smartphones haven't had a negative impact on these people, just that it's not the smartphones increasing drug use. Point 3 is tied to point 2; scientists in this field tend to be as emotionally invested as the eventual general public, so research tends to not be as critical of itself as it should, and findings tend to be interpreted in the best possible light by like-minded authors. One example of this includes a cited study in which the mere presence of a phone in a room with two people meeting for the first time in a psychology experiment resulted in reduced social connection after the conversation compared to a room with just a notebook in it. I went and looked up the paper, since that is a pretty extraordinary claim that a phone that belongs to neither of the participants was enough to have an impact. No where did the authors acknowledge that maybe the participants were a little weirded out by their being an unknown phone, in fact a potential recording device, in an empty psych experiment room. I have participated in these studies; you're wary of everything. The authors don't really provide any explanation as to why someone else's phone would cause interference; they just sort of leave it implied that we're so jazzed up by tech that even a phone in the same room throws us off our game. The other study that really infuriated me was one I had heard about years ago, and only now took the time to look up; it was a study by Harvard in which they make the bold statement that "light emitting e readers" dramatically reduce sleep quality. Having read it, I learned that the authors had done everything in their power to tip the scales against e-readers that it was disgusting. First, they didn't actually use an "e reader" but an iPad; considering that "e readers" commonly refers to devices using "e ink" such as the kindle, and a light emitting e reader would be the kindle paperwhite, I (and probably others) was completely mislead. Then they put the subjects in a dim room and had the iPad fixed at 35cm from their face at MAXIMUM BRIGHTNESS! That setting is meant to read under direct sunlight! Anyone who uses it regularly in a dim room is either legally blind or about to be. In comparison, participants could hold the book as far from their face as they wanted, but were not provided a reading lamp, which many might have used. Lastly, they had participants read for 4 hours before bed! No one does that! Maybe they work on the computer for 4 hours, but that's not what was being tested, was it? These are all problems with the original study; this book simply didn't delve into the details, but this omission was interesting because a page or so later they off-hand mention that later studies found that if you use a dim lighting setting and more than 14cm from your face (so normal reading conditions) the negative effects are gone. So knowing this, why should we even consider the first study? Another odd feature is what they didn't include. Somehow, the authors have formed a fairly high opinion of action video games, to the point of recommending them to improve cognitive control capacity, despite addictive gaming actually being a psychiatric diagnosis, not to mention a demon for sleep, studying, and otherwise healthy activities. The big difference from cellphones is that it is not "distracting" you from regular activity, and is in fact impervious to distractions itself, so strictly within the limits of the book's topic it might not be a bad thing for the "Distracted Mind", but it certainly has negative impacts. Like cell phones, video games also have a nuanced impact on society. Lastly, what was missing was evidence of real impacts across generations and time. It's one thing to say that in a study they found reduced performance, it's another to say society has been going down hill since the introduction of the internet. I'm sure there could be proof of it like there is for social media's impact on mental health leading to an increase in teen suicides and depression/anxiety, but the authors don't provide any data for the specific impact on cognitive load and the "Distracted Mind". Have SAT and IQ scores gone down in the past 50 years? Have teen car accidents increased? There's always a lot of factors that influence changes over time, but in fact if you can't extract even a little bit of a correlation related to the sudden presence of smartphones, maybe they haven't had such a negative impact after all? Or the negative has been offset by something positive? I think it's fair to write a book about the negative impacts that smartphones have had, but I would have trusted the message more if scientists in this field kept their biases more in check.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Would have liked more tips on how to solve the issue. Authors backed up their assertion that the mind struggles with all the inputs but I didn't need 200 pages of convincing on that. Would have liked more tips on how to solve the issue. Authors backed up their assertion that the mind struggles with all the inputs but I didn't need 200 pages of convincing on that.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Have you noticed how many people are looking at their smartphones while walking, crossing the street or even driving? Does it drive you up the wall that your friends keep checking their phones while you're trying to talk to them or share a meal? Our addiction to gadgets and gizmos has brought us to the brink of an attention crisis, which is not just harmful but dangerous. 80% of all car accidents and 16% of highway deaths result from distracted driving, and every year texting while driving kills Have you noticed how many people are looking at their smartphones while walking, crossing the street or even driving? Does it drive you up the wall that your friends keep checking their phones while you're trying to talk to them or share a meal? Our addiction to gadgets and gizmos has brought us to the brink of an attention crisis, which is not just harmful but dangerous. 80% of all car accidents and 16% of highway deaths result from distracted driving, and every year texting while driving kills thousands of folks before their time. In addition, hundreds of billions of dollars in productivity are lost annually to distraction, not to mention the loss in overall quality of life. Why do we all do this even though we know it's terrible for us? And is there a cure? Goal interruption is the ultimate problem, and the culprits are distractions and interruptions (there's a difference!). According to Drs Gazzaley and Rosen, we are susceptible to them because we still have brains designed for foraging, always scoping the environment for novel information to enhance survival. Unfortunately, modern gizmos plug directly into this foraging circuit, making us go "Squirrel!" even when it's just a picture of one on a screen, and we don't really eat squirrels anymore anyway. Gazzaley and Rosen -- a neuroscientist and psychologist, respectively -- make a strong case that distraction is indeed diminishing the quality of our lives in significant ways. They lay out the science of attention and information processing in a way that is thorough yet accessible to a general audience. What I particularly like about this book is that they themselves have done some of the pioneering research on distraction and attention, so you're getting it straight from the source. I gained a lot of insight into how goal interruption happens. For example: -- Suppressing irrelevant information is not a passive process. It requires effort, and as you get older, you get worse at it, and are more distractable. -- Your brain can only handle one cognitive task at a time, so multitasking is impossible. What you're really doing when you think you're multitasking is 'task switching', and the brain can only do that via network switching: activating a whole different set of circuits. This slows you down, big time. So we've identified the problem -- now what? The last two chapters of the book propose some solutions: educational initiatives, meditation, exercise, brain games, and video games, some of which (like Beepseeker and NeuroRacer) are being developed in the Gazzaley Lab right now. This is cutting-edge stuff, folks, and potentially revolutionary. There's so much more in the book that simply won't fit in a short review. For me, the information was especially important because I've been feeling a lot of my energy and productivity frittering away from distractions like email and social media. How much more could I get done if I managed my mind better? "The Distracted Mind" non-judgmentally frames the problem as the urgent crisis that it is, while proffering some straightforward solutions. Maybe you, too, would like to take back some of your time and attention, or have a loved one that really needs help in this department. If so, this book is the persuasive wallop you need to make the change towards a more goal-oriented, productive, healthy life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jake McCrary

    Probably unfortunately for this review, I read the first part and then set it down as I got distracted by other books. I finally picked it back up and finished the second two parts. A fair number of books I've read deal with related topics. How does the modern world affect our ability to focus and interactions with others? How can we focus on tasks better? The book presents information on how distractions affect us. It adapts the marginal value theorem (MVT) model to explain why we task switch so Probably unfortunately for this review, I read the first part and then set it down as I got distracted by other books. I finally picked it back up and finished the second two parts. A fair number of books I've read deal with related topics. How does the modern world affect our ability to focus and interactions with others? How can we focus on tasks better? The book presents information on how distractions affect us. It adapts the marginal value theorem (MVT) model to explain why we task switch so frequently and to present strategies for increasing the time spent on tasks. Overall, I enjoyed this book. If you've read other books on similar topics, there will be some repeated themes. Even if you haven't, this book might seem repetitive. This isn't a thrilling page turner. It doesn't pull the reader through the material like some other pop-science books. I still enjoyed it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    My distracted mind could not finish this book. Imagine your most boring science teacher ever. The content is good and could be interesting if there was ANY personality in the writing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kyle van Oosterum

    An exceptional study of the psychology of technology, i.e.: how our ancient brains cannot deal with the high tech world. The authors delve into our fundamentally limited capacity and how technology exacerbates and manipulates us with its multitasking flexibility, bombarding notifications and so forth. Gazzaley and Rosen cite numerous studies with shocking statistics about the impact of technology on our relationships, working life and everyday tasks. Such examples include how drunk driving and t An exceptional study of the psychology of technology, i.e.: how our ancient brains cannot deal with the high tech world. The authors delve into our fundamentally limited capacity and how technology exacerbates and manipulates us with its multitasking flexibility, bombarding notifications and so forth. Gazzaley and Rosen cite numerous studies with shocking statistics about the impact of technology on our relationships, working life and everyday tasks. Such examples include how drunk driving and texting while driving have EQUALLY deleterious effects on our driving, we check our phones 150-200 times a day. As they suggested, they did not wish merely to report but to prescribe some solution for our Distracted Minds. Essentially, we need to reduce the accessibility we have to technology, realize that life can be boring and that’s okay, be aware of our mental states and analyze where our anxiety comes from. Ironically, I’m writing this review while being bombarded with distractions in my external environment. This book is brilliant for informing us about a problem whose scope we were unaware of, and it conducts good scientific practice by evaluating all of the evidence for the solutions it provides. Highly recommend!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Barber

    I heard these guys interviewed on radio, and they were interesting, so I read the book. The first part, which is more technical regarding the inner workings of the brain are a bit of a chore to get through...and could be skipped. The second and third parts, which are more practical, address problems of distraction and strategies to better cope with distraction. Overall, an interesting read. Now put down that cellphone and get back to work!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Case

    The Distracted Mind (always capitalized in this study of the same name) refers to our current state of affairs due to both our neurological makeup and our current use of technology. The authors—a psychologist and a neuroscientist—address the problem of our distractions from three angles. First, they want to explain our chronic distraction neurologically (why we’re wired to be so easily distracted) and socially (how our technology is changing us and exacerbating the problem). Finally, they want t The Distracted Mind (always capitalized in this study of the same name) refers to our current state of affairs due to both our neurological makeup and our current use of technology. The authors—a psychologist and a neuroscientist—address the problem of our distractions from three angles. First, they want to explain our chronic distraction neurologically (why we’re wired to be so easily distracted) and socially (how our technology is changing us and exacerbating the problem). Finally, they want to offer some practical solutions for things that we can do about it, short of a Luddite rejection of those technologies that have become a perceived necessary for professional life. The first part of the work was the driest and most technical. Written primarily by Gazzaley, it is a detailed explanation of how and why of the human mind. Specifically, it discusses the structure of cognition and metacognition (our ability to think about how we think) as related to attention. Gazzaley provides an analysis of internal and external distractions and our proclivity to multi-task, which, as he explains, is not actually doing multiple things at once but rather rapidly switching between tasks. This portion of the study includes a bit of history about the development of our understanding of how the mind works here, including some really uncomfortable nuggets about lobotomies and how they revealed the aspects of neural structures related to keeping one’s attention on a goal and managing distractions. A primary analogy used in understanding why we’re wired toward distraction, why we’re so intent on flipping from source to source or device to device foraging for information, is a squirrel running from tree to tree looking for nuts, and a good portion of the work is Gazzaley providing an explanation for this “information foraging” nature of human thought. The second portion of the work was more interesting to me. As a college professor, I feel like I’m on the front lines of the struggle against distractions brought about by technology. Because of research like that outlined in this book, I have a “no device policy” in my classes, and it’s amazing to see how difficult it is for college students to go for a single fifty-minute period without consulting their devices. In the second half of the work, Rosen (switching now from the neurologist to the psychologist) outlines the current state of our relationship with technology and examines how smartphones and the internet’s mobile accessibility represent a huge jump in technology and our distracted engagement with it. Quoting from a wide array of studies, Rosen gives data about average usage to show how ubiquitous this technology has become and how tied we are to it (how many minutes go between email or message checks, for instance, or studies about how stress increases when people are kept away from their phones). At the same time, Rosen outlines the social cost to all this, which includes stress, loss of life (texting while driving), detriments to feelings of well being and sleep patterns. In sum, the conclusion is that our technology drives us to distraction and contributes to feelings of anxiety and stress. No real surprises here, though they carefully document studies outlining what I’ve always offered simply as cranky-old-man anecdotes. Rosen and Gazzaley are not simply cranky old men though. They’re much more reasonable than me, as I’ve sworn off a smartphone entirely because I fear what that amount of accessibility and distraction would do to me. [Swipes this screen while writing the review to check Facebook.] But the authors, recognizing that my amount of crankiness toward technology may not be practical for most, spend the third section of the book outlining ways to be smarter about our technology usage. If we have a good handle on our own metacognition (on our understanding about the way we think and the way we’re driven to distraction), they argue, we can take steps to use our technology more efficiently. Being scientists though, they can’t simply offer what they think are good ideas. They have to analyze what’s actually been shown to work and give evidence for whether this will have any real impact. And being scientists they don’t want to take anything off the table, even approaches like drug therapies, brain stimulation treatments, and mental exercises that might be impractical for most readers (admitting that these are largely new and experimental and thus unconfirmed approaches). Indeed, the only real thing that holds up enough evidence for them to recommend without equivocation is physical activity, which has been shown in studies to contribute to focus and improve feelings of well-being and ability to concentrate. Other pieces of advice run the gamut to more technological fixes (recommended apps that can block or control the messages coming into your phone or the sites you’re allowed to visit during specific periods) and the blatantly obvious (such as carpooling to work to avoid the danger of texting or being on one’s phone while driving). There aren’t any big “ah-ha” take-aways from this book, as the writers themselves admit. We all know we’re distracted. We all know our technology is probably largely behind this. What Gazzaley and Rosen want to outline though are the mechanics of this distraction in the human mind itself, the psychological details of the impact of our technology, and some (pretty straightforward and obvious, for the most part) suggestions of how we can address this. For me, working to provide a space where students are free from the tyranny of their own devices and forced to think without using their hand-held brains—at least for short periods of time—it provided solid scientific grounding for some of the arguments I already use, but it didn’t provide any real guidance for how to help my students navigate or transcend their own distractions. Because the point, as the authors touch on, is that many of us want to be distracted. It feel good, in the short term. But for those of us who recognize it as ultimately frustrating and shallow, a drain on cognitive energy, a syphoning away into a hundred small distractions what could be channeled toward those things that take deep thought and concentration to actually carry to fruition, The Distracted Mind provides an affirming call to action.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Azam Heydari

    I think for most people reading the last two chapters can provide with the practical benefits. Very lengthy and overall not an enjoyable style of writing but it is useful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Feng Ouyang

    This book discusses the distractions in our daily lives, especially from electronic devices. The discussions are based on a novel theory, the marginal value theory (MVT). It says that as our ancestors foraging for food, we forage for information among multiple sources. We move from one source to another to increase our marginal intake (intake at the unit time). The decision to switch depends on two things. One is the value of the current source, which is supposed to deplete as we stay longer. Th This book discusses the distractions in our daily lives, especially from electronic devices. The discussions are based on a novel theory, the marginal value theory (MVT). It says that as our ancestors foraging for food, we forage for information among multiple sources. We move from one source to another to increase our marginal intake (intake at the unit time). The decision to switch depends on two things. One is the value of the current source, which is supposed to deplete as we stay longer. The other is the cost of moving. We carry out more moving (distraction) because the value of stimulation is much higher with a new source, and we underestimate the cost of moving (i.e., the reduction in productivity during multi-tasking). The book goes to some details in each aspect and provided guidance on how to counter the distractions. The first part of the book discusses brain neurology. Our attention is influenced by both cognitive activities (top-down) and external stimulus (bottom-up). The cognitive control of attention is what we desire: we allocate attention according to the high-level goal. However, our cognitive control capability is limited, especially in children and the elderly. Another lesson we learn from neurology is the cost of multi-tasking. There is significant overhead when we switch from one task to another, involving working memory and attention mode. The message is: we are not as good as we think both in multitasking and in controlling our attention. The second part discussed the cause of distraction. In addition to cognitive control weakness, we are also subject to several “pushes” for distraction. We overestimate our ability to multitask. We are driving by boredom to switch information tasks. And we are anxious about missing out on the latest messages or chats. On the other hand, electronic technologies provide a powerful pull for our attention. They are very stimulating and addictive. Excessive use of electronic devices shortens our attention span and reduces our tendency of deep thinking (engaging in a problem for a long time). These factors, as designed, make us easy prey for distraction. The third part of the book discusses several approaches in countering distraction. These include several special technologies for cognitive capability enhancement, such as brain-boosting drugs, meditation, etc. The most proven effective method, according to the book, is regular physical exercises. The other way is behavioral changes to address the causes discussed in the last part: accessibility, boredom, anxiety, and over-confidence. There are many books on distraction and coping strategies. This book is unique because it provides a perspective from the neurology angle. It accepts the fact that our brain is prone to distractions, and it will get worse as we age. We cannot overcome distraction by sheer will power. But we can address it with other techniques and behavioral changes. However, the book does not really propose any solutions beyond common sense. In my view, this is not a cure-all book. At best, it provides some insight into the problem, which may lead to novel solutions. Introduction: Interference Definition: interference and disruption. Interference means unwanted information or sensory inputs competing for attention. Disruption means activities that move people from their original goals. The book advances a new theory: marginal value theory (MVT) on information foraging. There is a reward to move to a new field because perhaps your gain will be higher than the current depleted field. Unfortunately, this evolved characteristic may not work well in today’s world. Goals Human mental activities have two routes. Bottom-up is the ancient way: actions are triggered by sensory inputs. Top-down is a more advanced form: you start with a goal, which organizes mental activities. Cognitive control Attention: selective input and processing of sensory input. Attention can be directed by sensory input (e.g., unexpected loud noise or something that usually signals danger). It can also be directed by the goal. The attention span is typically limited. The ability to hold attention to something for a long time is not natural. Another related quality is working memory, which holds information for a short time (such as 7 seconds) to enable activities. Working memory is a scars resource and is allocated to tasks as directed by the goal. The brain and control The frontal lobe executes the goal control, managing attention and working memory. Control limitations Distraction: unwanted sensory inputs compete with goal-directed attention, reducing the performance of the latter. Our attention filtering abilities are limited. Even when we know some information should be ignored, they still distract us. The frontal lobe helps with directing our attention, to some extent. Unwanted vision and auditory inputs also distract us from mental activities such as recalling form memory. Mind Wondering: internal distraction that diminishes mental performance and also makes people less happy. Other control limitations Attention: Range: if the attention is distributed over a large range (e.g., a large field of view), it is less acute. Duration: we have finite attention spans, especially when the task is boring and unengaging. A person with ADHD can only focus on homework for a few minutes but can play a video game with rapt attention for hours. Time to recover: it takes time to switch attention from one point to another and process the captured information before returning to look for the next event of interest. Working memory is limited by capacity and accuracy. It is also corrupted by distraction (unrelated information) before recalling. Goal control: Multitasking results in high costs for switching attention and content. Even tasks involving different sensory systems compete for cognitive capability. Fluctuations and variations The ability to focus changes with aging. Brian matures slowly until the twenties. It then degrades as age advances. This happens to both the ability to resist distraction and the ability to manage multiple tasks. So these abilities are a part of the cognitive capability. The ability to focus also depends on the state, such as sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use, and stress. Several clinical conditions are affecting the ability to focus. The psychology of technology Technology has been growing and updating at a faster and faster pace. Modern technologies are not only powerful in processing information, but they also rely on multi-sensory avenues to deliver information to people, making them very strong attention grabbers. As a result, most people interact with electronic devices very often and almost constantly. People are not only prone to distractions from notifications or even the mere presence of electronic devices, but they also develop short attention spans and actively seek distraction. Studies found that in the workplace and schools, distraction is prevalent. People spend a lot of time responding to text messages and emails and a lot of time to recover and return to the work they are supposed to do. Students can concentrate only for 5 to 9 minutes before self-distracting to check electronic devices. Younger generations engage in more multitasking activities, especially with “multi-screen,” i.e., distributing attention among multiple electronic devices. Juggling chainsaws: the impact of constantly shifting our attention This section looks at the impact of distraction in various life settings. Higher education Studies have found that accessing Facebook during study sessions, regardless of how often, is a good predictor of student GPA. Both multitasking and distraction affect study performance: retainment accuracy and required time for study. Students with high social media usage also have lower relationship and emotional health performances. Workplace Emails and instant messages distract people from their current tasks, and it takes some time to recover and refocus. Open offices create more distractions and are shown to degrade job performance. Safety Driving while distracted by phone use is shown to be very dangerous. Issuing voice commands while driving is also dangerous. So the key is cognitive load, not hand movement. Talking to passengers is not shown to be dangerous. Maybe it has a different cognitive load. Emotional wellbeing Smartphone use distracts people in social interactions and degrades the qualities of such interactions. Smartphone use degrades sleep conditions. Sleep deprivation negatively affects job performance, cognitive abilities, and emotional wellbeing. The impact of technology on special populations Electronic device usage by children is prevalent and harmful. Electronic devices cause very young children to be wrapped in playing without interaction with the real world. They also cause severe sleep deprivation in teenagers. For older people like baby boomers, the feeling towards electronic devices and technology is mixed. For the various types of people with mental problems (ADHS, autism, depression, etc.), the use of electronic devices exacerbates their problems. Why do we interrupt ourselves so much when we know it is not good for us? (with Adam Gazzaley) The theory of information foraging: we move to new sources after a while to obtain an optimal return in information foraging. With electronic devices, the information source seems to deplete as we work through it. The last part of a long article, the last few emails, or the last moments of a conversation does not seem to contain as much information as when we started. There are internal drives for us to switch tasks. We are driven by boredom and the anticipation of novelty to switch information sources very often. Studies show that our level of arousal declines as we work through a task. The arousal rises 30 seconds before we switch, probably indicating the stress and anticipation of excitement that push us over the top. The electronic devices provide rapid rewards to alleviate boredom. Such an effect makes us easier to be bored, thus relying on distractions from electronic devices more. Anxiety is another driving force. When we are separated from our phones and other devices, we often feel anxious, which drives us to access them. Anxiety could be rational: we are afraid of being left out in some exciting activities. But it can also be conditioned by the habit of frequent checking devices. Anxiety deprives us of any idle time for daydreaming. Asides from boredom and anxiety that push us to the electronic devices, the latter also pull us with constant accessibility and attention-grabbing. Accessibility: in the technological age, it is almost effortless to go to a distraction by clicking a button or opening a window. Such easy access enhances the false impression that the cost of distraction is low. Many people don’t realize the mental cost of distraction. They think they can handle multitasking better than others. Boosting control (Adam Gazzaley) Several technical options aim at helping people to retain concentration or handle multi-tasking (task switching) more effectively. They carry various degrees of support, from intuition (it should work) to signals (it seems to work) and randomized trials (it is proven to work). The options include traditional education, meditation, naturalistic practices, brain games, video gaming, biofeedback, neurological drugs, exercise. Most of them are not supported by random trials. Some of them (e.g., video games and neurological drugs) may have unknown side effects. So far, it seems the best approach is exercise, which has proven useful and carries other benefits. The researches are still going on to refine within each approach and to study a combination of multiple methods. Overcoming the distracted mind using strategies to modify your behavior (Larry Rosen) Returning to the MVT perspective, we need to have a realistic estimation of the switching cost and the remainder information value of the current patch. Unfortunately, the availability of electronic devices tends to distort our assessment subconsciously. In several scenarios (driving, sleep, deep work, etc.), we can modify our behavior to reduce distraction. Behavior adjustments include the following aspects: Metacognition: understand the harmful effects of distraction on safety, health, and productivity. Remove accessibility: put the devices away or use apps and other technologies to suppress the impulse of accessing the devices. Reduce anxiety: use apps to allow important calls to go through and arrange break time to check messages. This way, we are not afraid of missing something important while putting the devices away. Reduce the sense of boredom. Try to make the main activity more engaging and more attractive.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    tl/dr review: I thought I would hate this book but I didn't. longer review: Based on the subtitle ("Ancient Brains in a Hi-Tech World"), I was wary of this book but pleasantly surprised by the extremely thorough, competent, carefully-referenced review of the cognitive neuroscience of the many different systems underlying both focus and distraction. I also loved that the take-home recommendations weren't tech avoidance or hand-wringing nostalgia for past times (like certain other books that recomm tl/dr review: I thought I would hate this book but I didn't. longer review: Based on the subtitle ("Ancient Brains in a Hi-Tech World"), I was wary of this book but pleasantly surprised by the extremely thorough, competent, carefully-referenced review of the cognitive neuroscience of the many different systems underlying both focus and distraction. I also loved that the take-home recommendations weren't tech avoidance or hand-wringing nostalgia for past times (like certain other books that recommend buying your high schooler a flip phone), but rather how we can best adapt to a rapidly changing world. Also thought it was open and refreshing that many of the proposed solutions leveraged technology. *Also* thought it was refreshing that it included research that points to both deleterious and beneficial effects of social media, where many other books of this ilk only include the research that underscores their agenda. That all said, you could absolutely tell which sections were written by Gazzaley and which by Rosen (sorry Rosen!). The tone and style of writing would suddenly shift from careful, theoretically-drawn, empirically-based research to a flurry of self-reported, correlational statistics combined with worn anecdotes and long diatribes, presented to overwhelm the reader with alarm about smartphones and other social media. Such as: "55% of women would rather leave home not wearing make-up than leave home without their phone!" (Imagine! Who will save us from the women venturing into the world in their natural state!?) And "people would rather run a marathon than give up their Facebook account!" (Presumably forever? Cutting off their social connections to their extended social network and possibly five years of stored baby and vacation photos? And maybe they like running?). A single nod is given to the fact that these data are correlational and the direction of causality could go in the reverse direction - but unless I missed it, no consideration of third variables whatsoever - and the writing quickly reverted to causal interpretations like "Spending more time on the internet also *increased* ill-being for teenagers." Not only were the writing styles very different, but I also thought the messages warred a bit, which introduced a certain discord to the book. Still, these sections are the lesser weight of the book and easily skimmed through.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deni Jane

    If you want to know more about the limitations of your brain, that's your book. We are kind of brainwashed into believing that the brain has unlimited power to handle information, but the truth is, it doesn't. The book explains to great length how signals who use the same resource make the brain slow down or freeze and I think that's the greatest take away from the book - multi-tasking is a myth, and even if we can train to multi-task somewhat, if we want something done and done well, we need to If you want to know more about the limitations of your brain, that's your book. We are kind of brainwashed into believing that the brain has unlimited power to handle information, but the truth is, it doesn't. The book explains to great length how signals who use the same resource make the brain slow down or freeze and I think that's the greatest take away from the book - multi-tasking is a myth, and even if we can train to multi-task somewhat, if we want something done and done well, we need to focus. Also a cool thing I didn't know was that focus and ignoring the distractions are two different processes and the latter is the one which degrades with age. But the good news is that it can be trained to recover somewhat. I also liked that it discussed mediation and its effect on cognitive capacity. That was pretty cool.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I appreciated the accessible and thorough way that the authors explained how our brains work in order to best illuminate the potential impacts of technologies on us. That said, I often found myself feeling distracted by the length of some of their explanations. Perhaps this means I'm an exemplar of what they aim to expose, but I actually think it's because I didn't need to be convinced of the science behind their findings, what I actually craved more of was what came in part 3: the cure. I appreciated the accessible and thorough way that the authors explained how our brains work in order to best illuminate the potential impacts of technologies on us. That said, I often found myself feeling distracted by the length of some of their explanations. Perhaps this means I'm an exemplar of what they aim to expose, but I actually think it's because I didn't need to be convinced of the science behind their findings, what I actually craved more of was what came in part 3: the cure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Exceptionally clear explanation of cognitive controls, specifically attention, working memory, and goal management, followed by cogent analysis of the impacts - and distractions - of today's pervasive technology environment. Exceptionally clear explanation of cognitive controls, specifically attention, working memory, and goal management, followed by cogent analysis of the impacts - and distractions - of today's pervasive technology environment.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aviad Eilam

    Good overview of some basic topics in human cognition and how modern technology interacts with them, but I was hoping for something a bit more conversational and engaging in the tradition of, say, Steven Pinker.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Useful info that calls us on our distractions. A lot of science, not a lot of tips to modify habits.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Somewhat dry but really important read. Last chapter sums most of it up. It gave some ideas and solutions, but I wanted more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bianca Liebhaber

    A bit redundant but still an interesting message overall.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Chong

    I first heard of Adam Gazzaley from Tim Ferris's interview with him. There are some fantastic description about the research he is doing at his Gazzaley Lab and he seems like a genuinely good fellow that is serious about curing the main issue with current technologically fueled generation: attention deficit. However, although the intention is good, but as I read the book, I cannot help but feel that it would be better with some help from a journalist or other writers with non-fiction pedigree. T I first heard of Adam Gazzaley from Tim Ferris's interview with him. There are some fantastic description about the research he is doing at his Gazzaley Lab and he seems like a genuinely good fellow that is serious about curing the main issue with current technologically fueled generation: attention deficit. However, although the intention is good, but as I read the book, I cannot help but feel that it would be better with some help from a journalist or other writers with non-fiction pedigree. The book is heavy on scientifically backed knowledge. They started by thoroughly dissecting what the current research knows about human brain, especially theories on why the brain is formulated this way, by using a model of our ancient ancestor on lookout for a jaguar's attack. The examples are quite entertaining at first. Though, that slowly descended into the writing style of an academia, filled with quite a bit of technical jargons. Come Part 2 where they detail the impact of distracted mind to the society at large, it starts to become a bit unbearable. It feels like the author is trying too hard to persuade people that distracted mind is dangerous. I mean, I get that it's dangerous, which is why I am reading the book to solve it, you don't have to stuff in every perceivable effect on every permutation of age group to persuade the readers. It does feel like a lengthy academic research paper at times. I struggled to finish Part 2 and just skip to Part 3 because I was already convinced of its adverse consequence. Part 3 details the potential solutions to this problem, which is tidily summarized in the form of 1. What is it 2. Theories on how it helps 3. Current research progress The summary of the entire part 3 is "The potential solutions are video games, sleep, exercise, brain games, meditation, nature, drugs, neurofeedback, brain stimulation. We strongly prescribe exercise, nature and meditation as they have been readily tested and proven to work. Other solutions might need longer time period to access long term effect". The rest are filled with specific strategies for safe driving and some scientific model for meta cognition. All in all, there are great knowledge in this book and if you are someone who enjoys dry, textbook writing style, you will definitely enjoy this. Else, do NOT read this in one sitting. You will end up hating this book. Jump around to sections that are relevant to you, I find part 1 and 3 quite interesting. Still, I can't help but think that if they could partner with someone like "Stephen J. Dubner", who helps to translate Steven Levitt's fascinating data into a more fascinating book, it would be better. It is very hard to sustain attention for a long time when the writing style makes you feel like you are reading some academic journal.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Great information, occasionally stiff writing that made it slow to read. Still, I got through it and learned a lot about why technology is ruining our minds. There are lots of hysterical "sky is falling" demonizations of social media and our device, but this book is by the book as far sharing insights backed by research. The big takeaway is that the information firehose delivered by the combination of the Internet/social media and our smartphones is hijacking our foraging instincts. We forage for Great information, occasionally stiff writing that made it slow to read. Still, I got through it and learned a lot about why technology is ruining our minds. There are lots of hysterical "sky is falling" demonizations of social media and our device, but this book is by the book as far sharing insights backed by research. The big takeaway is that the information firehose delivered by the combination of the Internet/social media and our smartphones is hijacking our foraging instincts. We forage for information the same way we do for food and having the Internet in our hands at all times is like living in a food court. Not that having too much information is the same as having too much food. But because of the way we forage, we jump from one thing to the next like ADHD children because there's virtually no switching cost. This analogy struck a chord with me because I do forage. If you're in the woods picking berries, at some point a particular bush will start to get thin and you start to think about finding another bush. Is it worth getting those last few berries on the current bush, or is it time to jump to the next one that hopefully has literal easy pickings? According to these authors, that's the thinking that drives us from one social media post to the next, from one website to another, from one device to another. There were some really interesting background sections talking about goal-setting and how our brains work, but this book took me forever to get through for some reason, so the early sections are dim memories, unfortunately. One nugget is that our goal-setting abilities have evolved much further than our goal-achieving abilities. They lay out the different factors of attentional control and all that was really interesting, but it is dim now. They explode the myth of multitasking. I already knew multitasking wasn't technically possible but they go deep on it. We can only do one conscious task at a time and so when we claim to be multitasking, we're just rapidly switching between tasks. The problem is that we're not good at switching and even minor interruptions can take minutes to recover from, making the case for setting aside blocks of quiet focus. The closing section of what can we do about it was laid out well and they ranked each intervention by how well it was backed by research, but some of it seemed fairly obvious and I found the end less compelling than the earlier sections.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Brainerd

    I finished this a while ago, but didn't post that in Goodreads. I guess I was distracted. As a believer in the Living God and, by extension, the truths of the Bible, getting through the abject evolutionist Darwinism of the first part of the book was kind of a slog. During that part of the book the interesting part of reading is seeing how very wide of the truth the authors are. The latter part of the book is pretty interesting. It provides a fair amount of researched information about the nature o I finished this a while ago, but didn't post that in Goodreads. I guess I was distracted. As a believer in the Living God and, by extension, the truths of the Bible, getting through the abject evolutionist Darwinism of the first part of the book was kind of a slog. During that part of the book the interesting part of reading is seeing how very wide of the truth the authors are. The latter part of the book is pretty interesting. It provides a fair amount of researched information about the nature of distraction and interruption, how they inhere in something called a smartphone, as well as in our co-workers, etc. Evaluating the quality of the research is outside of my competency, but what they say is happening seems to agree with existential observation. When you get into their 'solutions,' anyone who has parented children would probably say 'Well...yeah.' As a parent you had to do things to keep your children attentive to particular things that weren't as inherently interesting as other things. Now we need to do things like that for ourselves, because we carry around things that are more interesting than many of the things we are otherwise responsible for. Shiny. "Squirrel"...in my pocket. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the book is something they leave out, probably something that was outside the scope of their work, and maybe even within their comfort zone...the increasing level of self-absorption that seems to inhere with increasing technology use. Or, since I finished this some while ago...maybe I got distracted and missed that part.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    This book is really not the best written - and is especially trying at the very start. Perhaps you get used to their style as the book progresses... if you have the persistence. The first section - exploring the cognitive psychology of attention and goal-oriented behaviour - is the worst written. The combination of jargon and stilted examples gets in the way of enjoying the content of the argument, or appreciating the evidence being stacked up piece by piece. The authors do eventually make a reas This book is really not the best written - and is especially trying at the very start. Perhaps you get used to their style as the book progresses... if you have the persistence. The first section - exploring the cognitive psychology of attention and goal-oriented behaviour - is the worst written. The combination of jargon and stilted examples gets in the way of enjoying the content of the argument, or appreciating the evidence being stacked up piece by piece. The authors do eventually make a reasonably convincing argument that goal-oriented behaviour is a quintessentially human behaviour, and that attention is the key to achieving goals. But it is a long stilted path to get there! The second and third sections were easier to handle, dealing with social and technological factors in distraction and finally in potential ways to reduce this. They are interesting, but overall it feels like this book needed a more conversational editor. This feels part-way between textbook and a non-fiction classic. Unfortunately it is also guilty of my #1 pet peeve for non-fiction: constantly referring to the title. I do not want to hear the authors say 'Distracted Mind' (capitalised every time!?) three times each chapter. Yes, I remember what the title of your book was, and no, it's not a normal phrase so it didn't just slip into the galley proof. I wish people didn't do this! Style needs something, otherwise not too bad and interesting regardless. Not recommended to many.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frans Saxén

    This is a thought provoking book on the impacts of modern technology on our ancient, distracted minds. The authors, a psychologist and a neuroscientist, walks the reader thru a series of studies showing the detrimental impact of the constant interruptions that our technology imposes on us. A blinking logo here, a red badge there, all asking for our immediate attention, just for a second we promise, then you can go back to doing whatever you were doing. The problem is that it takes us far longer This is a thought provoking book on the impacts of modern technology on our ancient, distracted minds. The authors, a psychologist and a neuroscientist, walks the reader thru a series of studies showing the detrimental impact of the constant interruptions that our technology imposes on us. A blinking logo here, a red badge there, all asking for our immediate attention, just for a second we promise, then you can go back to doing whatever you were doing. The problem is that it takes us far longer to get back to what we were doing, and so these distractions take a heavy toll on our productivity, and ability to focus. This is true for fully functioning adults in their prime age, but even more so true for children and others with limited cognitive control. After presenting a large enough number of studies on the negative impacts of technology induced interruptions, the book closes with two chapters with practical advice for how to deal with this. These are very practical, like don't try to multitask, keep a clean desk, keep your phone out of sight (thus out of mind), turn of notifications, etc. The message in this book is relevant for everybody dealing with the information and communications technology of today. It can be particularly relevant for parents grappling with how much screen time to give their children (as little as possible), but really, this is also relevant for adults. As a reading experience, this was not the best book, and the central thesis could surely have been worked out in a magazine article. But as often, one of the benefits of a book is that you get to engage with the ideas over a longer time, thus giving you more time to analyze and familiarize yourself with the arguments.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Connor Henley

    I learned a surprising amount of neuroscience and cognitive psychology from this book, and I’d guess that the fundamentals covered in the early chapters were all the more interesting because they were related to my daily experience with distractions from the internet and from my smartphone. The last couple chapters offered both general and very specific advice for mitigating these distractions (even recommending specific apps to download), which I found very helpful and have already put to use. Ul I learned a surprising amount of neuroscience and cognitive psychology from this book, and I’d guess that the fundamentals covered in the early chapters were all the more interesting because they were related to my daily experience with distractions from the internet and from my smartphone. The last couple chapters offered both general and very specific advice for mitigating these distractions (even recommending specific apps to download), which I found very helpful and have already put to use. Ultimately, though, I was most affected by the litany of studies presented in the middle of the book that documented the potential negative consequences of smartphone and internet use. If you’re having issues controlling your smartphone use, or if you think that constant internet access is having a negative impact on your quality of life, then you’re not alone. The problems are pervasive and serious and clearly affect more than just an “undisciplined” minority. Those adverse effects that you’ve been noticing are also probably more serious than you realize.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stiltzkin Vanserine

    This book starts slow, like the dying embers of a morning fireplace, but then picks up its pace and reaches the plateau of awesomeness. It provides detailed scientific knowledge on the workings of the human encephalon (which is basically a fancy word for "brain") and explains how modern technology is hijacking our biological instincts and fragmenting our attention. See, attention has become the currency of the current Internet age. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are s This book starts slow, like the dying embers of a morning fireplace, but then picks up its pace and reaches the plateau of awesomeness. It provides detailed scientific knowledge on the workings of the human encephalon (which is basically a fancy word for "brain") and explains how modern technology is hijacking our biological instincts and fragmenting our attention. See, attention has become the currency of the current Internet age. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are specifically tailored to hook people. They are addictive by design. Remember: when you're not paying for the product, you are the product. Digital Minimalism and NoSurf have become trends because people are starting to realize how excessive connectivity is beginning to damage their well-being, both physically and mentally. It's time to regain control. It's time to rediscover what's important and ignore what's not.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robby Allsopp

    Its not a page turner, but it is jammed with helpful science. Read if you want a pretty deep understanding of what unhealthy things we might be doing to our brains with social media and other iThings. The book also give suggestions on how to combat unhealthy behaviors (spoiler alert, exercise! But there are some other interesting tidbits...). One thing I did not like was how eye-rollingly codger-like the authors are about smartphone use and kids these days always looking at their cellphones at t Its not a page turner, but it is jammed with helpful science. Read if you want a pretty deep understanding of what unhealthy things we might be doing to our brains with social media and other iThings. The book also give suggestions on how to combat unhealthy behaviors (spoiler alert, exercise! But there are some other interesting tidbits...). One thing I did not like was how eye-rollingly codger-like the authors are about smartphone use and kids these days always looking at their cellphones at the dinner table and ho hrumph! Some of their old man rants get downright unscientific, but there was enough content that actually seemed supported by real science that I was still able to look past it and learn something.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Lots of fascinating statistics about how the distraction of the high-tech world is not just affecting our lives but is actually changing the entire society (and our brains), mostly in a negative way. The book seems occasionally redundant, and the suggestions at the end are OK but might have been developed further. Still, I'm glad I read it. I used the book’s stats for a presentation during a getaway with my students (to good effect). I think the book is a good companion, one piece of a puzzle, w Lots of fascinating statistics about how the distraction of the high-tech world is not just affecting our lives but is actually changing the entire society (and our brains), mostly in a negative way. The book seems occasionally redundant, and the suggestions at the end are OK but might have been developed further. Still, I'm glad I read it. I used the book’s stats for a presentation during a getaway with my students (to good effect). I think the book is a good companion, one piece of a puzzle, with action items made clearer by the following books: Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It, Getting Things Done, and The Willpower Instinct.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wee Meng Lee

    Based on the facts, I think Dr Adam has great explanation to the mechanisms in our brain functioning that let us addicted to the advanced technology around us. By using the MVT model around his book, he comes up with ideas to help curb this multi-tasking and FOMO phenomenon that leads to us being less productive. In the first few chapters, those who are first-time readers into psychology will be quite abstract to know the vital parts of the brain that gets influenced by using smartphones, the In Based on the facts, I think Dr Adam has great explanation to the mechanisms in our brain functioning that let us addicted to the advanced technology around us. By using the MVT model around his book, he comes up with ideas to help curb this multi-tasking and FOMO phenomenon that leads to us being less productive. In the first few chapters, those who are first-time readers into psychology will be quite abstract to know the vital parts of the brain that gets influenced by using smartphones, the Internet and social media. At the back end, it'll be easier to understand as strategies suggested are meant to curb multi-tasking and addiction, which helps to improve on focus and productivity.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pat Hodge

    This is a great book, with the right blend of science and explanation for the lay reader. Besides being horrified at the exponential growth of distracted minds since the invention of the internet, and at the thought of all the distracted minds driving vehicles, flying planes, doing surgery, etc., there were very well explained methods described to assist all of us to minimize distractions. The section devoted to the effects of the distracted student mind on cognitive function should be required This is a great book, with the right blend of science and explanation for the lay reader. Besides being horrified at the exponential growth of distracted minds since the invention of the internet, and at the thought of all the distracted minds driving vehicles, flying planes, doing surgery, etc., there were very well explained methods described to assist all of us to minimize distractions. The section devoted to the effects of the distracted student mind on cognitive function should be required reading for all parents. This is a good book to re-read from time to time, and I hope they publish updates to the studies and information presented here.

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