Alternating attention working and Exercises to work

Alternating attention

Over time, a wide variety of stimuli have been developed that affect our daily tasks. Technological advances have allowed us to have daily contact with electronic devices that simultaneously generate notifications and warnings on different topics. This fact unfolds at a time of constant changes in the world and denotes a permanent effort, since human beings must have the ability to direct their concentration towards a large number of specific objectives in short periods of time.

More about Alternating attention

Alternating attention is the ability of human beings to change attentional focus from one stimulus to another in very short periods. In turn, here the information processing speed that the brain has is highlighted as one of the main pillars to understand this quality.

For this reason, attention is one of the cognitive functions that interfere in the understanding of knowledge and in their interrelation.

What is alternating attention used for?

Below you will find the two main functions of alternating attention:

information selection

First, it must be borne in mind that people process information through different means. Here come into play the nervous, auditory, olfactory, respiratory system, among others. However, even if these systems are in contact with a considerable variety of external stimuli, it is certain that it is not possible to simultaneously process all the data that are acquired.

In view of this, alternating attention allows the person to select relevant information over other less serious data. An example of this characteristic can manifest itself in the work environment when a person decides to pay attention to his boss instead of the messages from someone else that keep coming to his phone.

Multiplicity of tasks

Secondly, this capability gives the possibility to perform several tasks in short periods of time . In turn, the speed that alternating attention implies allows changing the attentional focus from one stimulus to another without the need to lose the actions previously performed.

On the other hand, depending on the level of difficulty of the tasks being performed, in some cases it is possible to carry them out simultaneously, depending on the resources of each person. For example, it is common for some people to listen to music while doing household chores such as washing or ironing clothes, among others.

How does alternating attention work?

As we mentioned earlier, people receive an important amount of external stimuli that are processed through different channels. However, what is certain is that it is not possible to place one type of attention above others, since cognition only focuses on those most important aspects that are occurring at a given moment.

Alternating attention works through three main qualities:

  • Stimulus uptake : process through which sensory receptors begin to work to receive the stimulus.
  • Maintenance : consists of sustaining the degree of attention for a brief period of time. In the case of alternating attention, the duration is usually variable due to the variability of stimuli.
  • Finalization : culmination of the work of the sensory receptors in the face of the stimulus on which the focus of attention was placed.

Exercises to work on alternating attention

How to work alternating attention? In order to develop this cognitive function, it is important to know the possible methods of approach. For this reason, below we will show you the most effective exercises to work on alternating attention:

  • Creation of numerical sequences : within the same game, the idea is to follow a determined sequence of numbers according to imposed rules. For example, a number might mean that the person must move three spaces forward. In this way, the redirection of attentional focus to more than one task is favored.
  • Alternating attention cards : the objective of this activity is to arrange cards of the same color and/or shape inside a box. The person will have to order them according to particular slogans.

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