The first step to learning new information is concentrating on what you want to learn. The way that we think about human concentration is that it is like a torch.
In the same way a torch has limited battery life, our ability to concentrate is limited. That’s because our brain is like a battery, in the sense that it only has a limited amount of charge. Also like a torch, we can focus our concentration very narrowly or very broadly.
Neurobiologically we can think of Concentration having three parts:
- The first of these is switching on our brain in the same way we switch on a torch. This is about reaching the right Activation level, so we have the most helpful neurotransmitters, like noradrenaline and dopamine, in our brains for focusing. This helps us to be alert enough to learn.
- The second part of concentration is focusing our attention on what we want to achieve. This requires the dorsolateral area within our prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain helps select what we are going to focus on. In a work context writing down our goals will help us to focus our torch of concentration onto the information we want to learn.
- The third and final part of concentration is sustaining and refocusing our attention. The specific part of the brain we use for this is our orbitofrontal cortex, that is the part just behind the eyes. We will get distracted, but if we have a plan about how we are going to refocus, distraction will be less problematic, and take up less of our finite time.
These insights are from the ‘Learning to Learn: Focused Practice’ Audio Masterclass (this content is part of our MePower-TeamPower® PREMIUM PROGRAMME🏅). Listen to the full ‘Learning to Learn: Focused Practice’ Audio Masterclass and access the Learning Strengthens plan by signing up for a FREE trial.