The low attention span person may be primarily of two modes: 

1.  One with lots of “brain noise” and/or
2.  One of adrenaline addiction.

Attention span is only of concern because we need to pay attention and concentrate long enough to be productive and/or to achieve a goal.  It is the ability to mentally focus, attend, and sustain concentration, an internal process within the human brain-mind, to be able to “figure things out” and to use wisdom and to make good decisions in life.


Scan the following definitions for more clarity,  if you wish.

(You can also look in and )

Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a single activity. The ability to focus one's mental or other efforts on an object is generally considered to be of prime importance to the achievement of goals.

Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one thing while ignoring other things. Examples include listening carefully to what someone is saying.

It is tied so closely to perception. As such, it is a gateway to the rest of cognition.

The most famous definition of attention was provided by one of the first major psychologists, William James:

"Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought.  Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German."

Focused attention: This is the ability to respond discretely to specific visual, auditory or tactile stimuli.
Sustained attention: This refers to the ability to maintain a consistent behavioral response during continuous and repetitive activity.
Selective attention: This level of attention refers to the capacity to maintain a behavioral or cognitive set in the face of distracting or competing stimuli. Therefore it incorporates the notion of "freedom from distractibility."


Ah, yes, but you say “but I can get things done.”  Yes, but can you pay attention long enough to read or scan this article attentively?  Can you stick with something long enough to fully complete it, if it requires concentration?  If not, especially as observed by knowledgeable others, is there is any doubt, then, that you have a low attention span and would find it very beneficial to alter that condition. 

We focus on children in this regard but we often fail to note how that “habit”  sustains itself in adulthood, where the adult often has to hide it in various ways and/or make up for it.  It makes life tougher.  For those who are aware of the effect and of the problem, they try to protect and nurture this internal ability in children, but then forget about it later. 

[It is a habit, a pattern of behaving/thinking.  Those who love them will often find themselves making excuses for them, such as “that’s just the way he/she is.”  But such a statement is a limiter and an encouragement to make no change.  It also reflects a misunderstanding and a belief that it is a “permanent” condition; however, it is definitely changeable, and the individual has a brain capable of accomplishing that change – it’s just been underutilized.  Do not, we repeat, do not project the past into the future, for then it is the past that determines the future in that case – but we have a much better choice, and that is to be proactive in the matter and to create what we really want – a greater ability to live life at a higher level.]


1.  Too many fast-paced images (such as in TV watching) over-stimulate and permanently "rewire" the developing brain.   And they do all the work for us, so we do not learn to develop our thinking abilities, much to our detriment in life and in making good decisions. 

Dr. Jane Healy writes in Endangered Minds, "A 'good' brain for learning develops strong and widespread neural highways that can quickly and efficiently assign different aspects of a task to the most efficient system…Such efficiency is developed only by active practice in thinking and learning which, in turn, builds increasingly stronger connections. A growing suspicion among brain researchers is that excessive television viewing may affect the development of these kinds of connections. It may also induce habits of using the wrong systems for various types of learning."

When certain brain centers are over-stimulated, it is at the expense of under developing crucial parts of the brain that are needed to sustain attention.  It's a downward spiral from there. If we hyper-activate low brain centers,  they eventually "take charge." Instead of the thinking cortex being the CEO of the brain's workings, the reptile function of impetuous reactions runs the show.

[Such as the amygdala, the part of the brain that watches for danger.  It is primitive and mechanical.  Using the mind less for the higher level functions and/or not overriding the lower level functions, allows the lower brains to dominate, often resulting in higher anxiety in adults.  Retraining is essential in this case, for a life with a lot of anxiety is not a pretty way to live.]

2. Smoking and/or drinking are hazardous to your intellect, not just to your life and physical health!  In turn, how you breathe affects attention span, as full oxygen is needed to focus.

[Ironically, the low attention span person also breathes in a way that creates more anxiety, kind of a self-perpetuating downward spiral.  Learning to breathe in the mode that signals safety to the body and mind (e.g. deeper, longer breaths) is essential to break the cycle.]

3. Lack of testing and exercising the brain, even taking the easy way in school.  Not that we want intellectuals, but we do want people able to use their brains fully in life.


1.  Overstimulated, such as those on the autistic syndrome, where there is an inclination to shut down or escape into distractions.

2.  Inattention and impulsivity

3.  Hyperactivity

4.  Learning disabled [“less” abled], to some degree

5.  Lowers productivity and discipline, less is easily achieved in life, there is less satisfaction, the individual escapes to “easier” ways. 

6.  Certain aptitudes that require concentration and/or thinking may be low.  (Those aptitudes would be increased through training, and thereby make life easier.)

QUESTIONS TO ASK, to identify the symptoms that show the cause to be present

Ask these questions of oneself, but especially of those around oneself, as they are, if being honest,  more able to “see” it: [The common rationalization: Oh, my kids are just that way.  They’re not like other people.  Let’s let them just be.] 
Do you or other people find that you are often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.

Do you find you are forgetful in daily activities.

Are you often "on the go" or acting as if you are "driven by a motor."

Are you anxious?  (It is a “substantial problem” if we over-activate the human propensity to “focus on emergency situations to the exclusion of background phenomena which may be more significant.”)

Is your reading impaired?

Does your attention break sooner than you would like?  [Unfortunately, you may have gotten so used to it that you believe it is “normal”, that other people experience no better concentration.  But that is not true, and it is the reason that others have often achieved more, but, ironically, with no more effort.]   (At the extreme, it is hard for one to extract sense and meaning from a sentence or a paragraph because before the thought it expresses to one is complete, one’s attention has veered away and it takes one considerable extra effort to veer back and pick back up the old focus of attention and hold that attention on this thought sequence for long enough for the entire sequence to take full form in one’s mind!)  Is it hard for you to read anything complex?


Developing attention is much like building muscle strength.  Do some heavy lifting for a longer period of time and you’ll soon find yourself much stronger.  Read longer books.  Focus on anything for a longer period of time where your brain is engaged (tv does not qualify!). 

One interesting, tested procedure generated a gain of 20 I.Q points in 25 hours of “easy, entertaining practice.”  See the Appendix.

Some of the exercises can be as simple as doing math in one’s head or describing anything in more detail, either while you are examining it or from memory.

Embarking on a rigorous learning program requiring some focus and/or concentration is a key – it will not only make one more capable in terms of knowledge, but it will make one more capable of using that knowledge and of thinking more smartly.

In general, it is recommended that parents, other family, and/or spouses encourage the individual to do things that require more attention, especially more study or rigor, such as in courses using the Socratic Method or requiring some analysis and/or detailed description.  


Note that these are substantial benefits, changing even those who are marginally on this spectrum quite significantly.

Improves intelligence and understanding (from more focused thinking, one processes more and better)

Confusion drops, anxiety drops  (from no longer not understanding;  improved learning and the acquisition of wisdom helps one to live a better life and to have more confidence in responding more appropriately and productively).

The actual practicing of it “rewires” the brain, which in turn makes one more capable and makes it easier. 

Your personal power as an individual will also improve remarkably, as you become more capable of making your points and hanging in there longer to make your point and “to more easily sustain efforts which other people aren’t up to making.”

It considerably improves one’s relationships.  (One is more “aware” and responsive.)

Makes a profound difference in the quality of one's thinking and perceiving!

You’ll be more productive, with the ability to sustain any kind of effort at whatever activity, having in effect of increased "wind."  Some important things in life do require sustained effort.

Takes less effort (no longer have to effort and/or try to do a dance to pretend you understand or are following what is being said). 

Motivation improves (one can understand and see the future benefits more easily and with more clarity, and barriers are removed)

Increases confidence (Like going from being asleep in a reactive world to actual sustained solidity)

Ability to problem solve improves, often dramatically.

Have fewer problems (note that the problems which we have left around us are the ones which we did not focus on or stick with long enough to solve based upon what we know or can gather. Also, we tend to think more openly and not cling rigidly to what we [think we] “know”, therefore allowing fresh perceptions in.) 

Less (emotionally) reactive in life (Anger, anxiety, emotional upset, being easily triggered, blaming – all diminish when we can think more deeply and sustainedly and develop the confidence to know that we can “solve” rather than flee or fight.)

Impulsivity declines considerably.

Hyperactivity virtually disappears, replaced by a calmness and dropping of many addictions designed to try to cope with too much going on. 

Increases the “wired in” happiness capability, so its easier to be happier. [Many scientific studies of the brain vouch for this.  See The Mind And Life Institute studies and discussions with the Dalai Lama.]


So, might I propose, based on those benefits and the magnitude of the effect that they have on life, that you do everything you can to increase that attention span and capability!!


“This, precisely, is the procedure tested by Southwest State University since 1989 and found to generate 20 points "I.Q." gain for 25 hours of easy, entertaining practice. Perform the same Image-Streaming below, and you will experience similar gains.

While our combination of effects is new, most of its component elements are quite ancient in scientific and historical terms, for example, the Socratic Method, dating back at least 2200 years. The Socratic Method viewed broadly: not so much the argument and fierce questioning, but what those tactics elicited: the person examining and searching through his perceptions, inner and outer, and responding from there, describing in detail what he discovered there.

As just cited on the three factors which get reinforced by one's describing from his own perceptions, the century-old "First Law" of psychology largely accounts for why the various forms of Socratic Method are so effective. [Many of the teaching methods in growth/philosophical-development, such as Landmark Education, use the Socratic Method to help people to think, conceptualize better, learn better, and ultimately to be more capable of making better choices.  Some people don’t like this more effective method; those people might be inclined to say, in different words, “just spoon feed it to me, tell me what to think, just give me the facts (as I instantly understand them [not true!]), this is too much work.”  But, indeed, for the results obtained, it is not too much work and is a much more effective and efficient way of using one’s learning time!]

Combine Socratic Method as we have here, with the also historically potent system of Einsteinian "Deep Thought Experiments," and this gives rise in turn to the Post-Einsteinian Discovery Technique far beyond most systems or sets of effects which have gone before. The Einsteinian Method is to let one's visual mental imagery run loose, while observing it as closely as possible to see what you can discover from it. The original deep thought method was easy to fall asleep on instead of staying on task: Einstein would hold a rock in each hand so if he nodded off, the falling rock would recall him to task. Describing instead, while observing these images, to a listener, not only keeps one awake and on task, but actually develops further the images and perceptions being described - all in keeping with behavior's prime law of reinforcement.

(To the naïve eye, this would seem to be “woo-woo” nonsense.  But it is a way of using the brain, thereby exercising the “muscle”, so to speak, so that it is stronger and more capable.)


(This description of the more extreme applies actually to the whole spectrum of low attention spans.  Note that the actual brain (wiring) is affected.  As adults who are not at the extremes of the spectrum, individuals are able to hide this, and sometimes might even deny it, even though the symptoms (above) are there to indicate their presence on that spectrum.)

The neurotransmitters are specific chemicals that help the brain to regulate the behavior of a person. Researchers have shown that the rate at which the brain uses glucose is lower in individuals who are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder in comparison to people who are not affected by ADD.

Symptoms commonly found among children with ADD are inattentiveness, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder find it difficult to do their homework or any assigned task, and even in holding conversation.

Those with ADHD often take part in risky activities and therefore suffer two to four times the rate of accidental injuries as do children or adults without ADD.

Some of the symptoms of inattentiveness include making careless mistakes in homework or activities, difficulty in focusing on completing activities, difficulty in performing tasks, not listening, and being forgetful in daily activities.

Adults with ADD are prone to risk-taking, careless or impulsive behavior, and difficulty with time management and organization. They often show an inability to structure their lives and to plan complex daily tasks, and also difficulty in self-control and self-motivation.

ADD is very difficult to diagnose and treat in younger people as it is sometimes related with mood disorders, employment issues, substance abuse, relationship problems or other psychological disorders.

I Have ADHD And That Means...- A solvable problem.


The Attention Units Of The Conscious And Unconscious Mind - Utilizing Them Well; Not Wasting Them 

Attentional Training
There Is No Success Without It

Low Attention Span - And The Effects Of Increasing It


ADHD Kids Before And After (3:28) - Effect of doing TM.

Is ADHD A Myth? (8:00) - A psychologist discusses this idea.  We need to correct the childhood behaviors individually.

ADHD And The Brain (3:27) - Common behavior disorder - brain damage theory has been proven wrong.   Use other ways to increase dopamine levels? 

Dr. Edward Hallowell: Treat ADHD, Dyslexia, And CAPD With This Program

ADHD Playlist


Driven To Distraction, Hallowell, M.D.

Answers To Distraction- Hallowell ($4.00 used) -After decades of being unfairly diagnosed, children and adults with attention deficit disorder are now recognized as having a common and treatable neurological condition.