Archive for September 3rd, 2014

September 3, 2014

Directed Attention Fatigue

last child in the woods

Directed attention fatigue (DAF) is a neurological phenomenon that results from overuse of the brain’s inhibitory attention mechanisms, which handle incoming distractions while maintaining focus on a specific task. The greatest threat to a given focus of attention is competition from other stimuli that can cause a shift in focus. This is because one maintains focus on a particular thought by inhibiting all potential distractions and not by strengthening that central mental activity.

Directed attention fatigue occurs when a particular part of the brain’s global inhibitory system is overworked due to the suppression of increasing numbers of stimuli. This temporary condition is not a clinical illness or a personality disorder. It is rather a temporary exhaustion of mental resources. According to inhibition theory it is natural for one to alternate imperceptibly between periods of attention (work) and distraction (non-work) while completing a task. Even when every undertaking is unique, each incoming stimulus calls upon the same directed attention mechanism.

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