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  • Get access to a complete battery of cognitive tests to evaluate divided attention

  • Identify the presence of alterations of deficits

  • Validated instruments to improve to rehabilitate divided attention and other cognitive functions

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What is divided attention?

Divided attention could be defined as our brain's ability to attend to two different stimuli at the same time, and respond to the multiple demands of your surroundings. Divided attention is a type of simultaneous attention that allows us to process different information sources and successfully carry out multiple tasks at a time. This cognitive skills is very important, as it allows us to be more efficient in our day-to-day lives.

Our ability to attend to multiple stimuli and do various tasks at a time does have its limits. When you divide your attention, the efficiency with which you do these actions is decreased, and you will almost certainly perform poorly. Interference is the term used to describe when a person has a hard time attending to two stimuli at a time. We see interference when the brain is only able to process a certain amount of information. However, cognitive training can help improve divided attention, and as a consequence, the ability to do more than one activity at a time.

Examples of divided attention

  • Divided attention is an important factor in the academic setting. Being able to understand what the teacher is saying while reading the board and taking notes are tasks that are essential to successful learning. This may be one of the reasons why people with attention disorders (like ADHD) perform poorly in school.
  • A truck driver is driving on the highway and starts passing someone. As they are passing, they see a sign for their exit. If the driver isn't able to safely pass the other car and pay attention to traffic signs, they may lose important information, or even cause danger to themselves and others. Divided attention is very important to driving safely and successfully.
  • A waiter must use their divided attention when attending to a table. They have to remember what the man at table 4 wanted, write down table 3's order, and be careful to balance the plates of food that they're holding.
  • If a customer asks about the sales when paying at the cashier, the cashier has to scan and bag the items while thinking about the answer to the question.
  • When you're eating and talking at the same time, or even when you're watching TV and talking on the phone, you are using divided attention.

Disorders or pathologies associated with divided attention

Divided attention may be altered in a number of different disorders, whether it be due to problems with divided attention itself, or problems with other attentional sub-processes. For someone with poor divided attention, any interference may alter the task that they are doing simultaneously. If your divided attention is altered, you'll have a harder time pulling into an intersection and talking at the same time, and thus have a higher risk of having an accident. If Arousal is altered (the level of activation or general alertness), and you are in a comatose state, you will also be unable to talk and drive at the same time.

While divided attention may be affected by psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia or various disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), it most affects general attention. It is also quite common to have attentional problems after suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or stroke. In these cases, the attentional alteration and its sub-components may vary, depending on the affected brain areas.

Divided attention will likely be affected in any disorder that alters attention processes. If a patient suffers from a contralateral heminegligence (inability to attend to the visual field opposite the injury), hypoprosexia (distractability), hyperprosexia (intense concentration on a single stimuli), or aprosexia (inability to concentrate), it will be difficult, or nearly impossible, for the patient to do tasks that require divided attention.

How can you measure divided attention?

Divided attention is a cognitive ability that is very important in our daily lives because it makes it possible to carry out tasks quickly and efficiently. Correctly carrying out tasks implies more than one perceptive, motor, or cognitive activity at the same time depends directly on our divided attention. Assessing divided attention may be helpful in professional areas, where divided attention is key (drivers, athletes, etc.). It can also help in academic fields (if a student needs extra time taking notes or completing certain tasks), or clinical areas (maybe a patient needs more time to collect the proper information). In all of these areas, a cognitive assessment, may directly help the user understand their day-to-day lives in a more in-depth context.

CogniFit has based its divided attention tasks on the classic Stroop Test. The Simultaneity Test doesn't only evaluate divided attention, but also helps assess cognitive flexibility and hand-eye coordination.

  • Simultaneity Test DIAT-SHIF: The user has to follow a ball with your pointer, and be aware of the words that appear in the middle of the screen. When the word in the middle of the screen corresponds with the color in which it's written, the user must give the appropriate response (while attending to both stimuli at the same time). In this activity, the user must change strategies, create new responses, and manage the ability to motor and visual skills at the same time.

How can you improve divided attention?

Divided attention, as with other cognitive skills, can be learned, trained, and improved. CogniFit makes it possible to do this with a professional tool that helps improve how quickly the user can change their attention between tasks, how much of their brain resources they use when attending to multiple stimuli at a time, and improve the ability to process complex information.

The divided attention rehabilitation program is based on the science of neuroplasticity. CogniFit has an entire battery of clinical exercises designed to help in the rehabilitation of divided attention and other cognitive skills, which is made possible by brain plasticity. The brain and its neural connections can be strengthened and improved through practice. By training divided attention, the frequent actions will become automated, which allows the user to be more efficient.

CogniFit's science team of professionals in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis have created s personalized cognitive stimulation program to help each user improve their weakest cognitive skills. The program starts by assessing divided attention and number of other fundamental cognitive skills. The cognitive stimulation program then automatically creates a personalized brain training program based off of the results of the initial assessment. Using the results from the initial assessment ensures that the brain training program is as accurate as possible and will train the user's weakest skills.

Consistent training is essential for improving divided attention. CogniFit has evaluation tools and rehabilitation tools to help optimize this and other cognitive functions. This skill should be practiced for about 15 minutes a day, 2 to 3 times a week.

You can get access to CogniFit's cognitive stimulation program online There are a number brain games and activities that can be played online or on a phone or tablet. After each session, the user will see a detailed graphic with their cognitive progress

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