Your Digital Brain: Why You Now Have A Shorter Attention Span Than A Goldfish

Do you consider yourself easily distracted? You are not alone. The bad news is that your phone may be to blame. Luckily, there is also GOOD news. Read on!

Microsoft Canada performed a study on consumer behavior. They surveyed 2000 participants and studied the brains of 112 participants using EEG. They describe two striking findings regarding our changing cognitive abilities.

A Shorter Attention Span Than A Goldfish?

Our attention spans go down. In the year 2000 the average human attention span was 12 seconds. This was BEFORE the mobile revolution began. This has now dropped to 8 seconds. Yes, that is one second less than that of a goldfish. And since goldfish are notoriously known for their weak attention spans, should we be worried?

Improved Multitasking

Second, we become BETTER at multitasking. Participants who were on social media a lot showed MORE ‘intermittent bursts of high attention’. To quote the study: “They are better at identifying what they want (and don’t want) to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory.”

What Causes This Change In Our Cognitive Abilities?

The researchers from Microsoft opt that these changes might be our brain adapting to our evolving technological world. Until our brains catch-up to this new digital age, we will keep experiencing a mismatch between what we can and what we want. We may want to focus long on a single task, but perhaps we are evolving towards switching between multiple activities.