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Can your brain only focus on one thing at a time? 1, 2, 3  Next  
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Joe90
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:55 am    Post subject: Can your brain only focus on one thing at a time? Reply with quote

I know there might be another thread the same as this sort of thing, but I did browse and check the WP site first, and couldn't come across anything when I typed in ''one thing at a time'' or ''brain''. Then again some people name the subject of their new topic as something completely different to what the topic is actually about, for example, say if the topic is about swimming, they often name it something like ''anyone else love a good splash?'' or something like that, so if you wanted to type in ''swimming'' or ''water'' or ''pool'', that topic would never come up because it's named something completely different.

Anyway - sorry, just had to start off the topic with a moan. This topic is about our brains, and how it processes information. My brain is like an old Windows 98 computer with a lot of updated modern programmes installed into it. I can do anything a NT can do, but I take longer to process information, and things get too much for me, it causes me to dread and panic (which leads to palpitations, since I can't have meltdowns in public without everyone looking round at me).
Say when I'm speaking to someone, I always notice their face changes as they speak, but I realy don't know what my face is like when I speak to someone. I think it stays the same. But I can't focus on speaking and using different expressions in the face too. I've either got to do one or the other. I know how to use different facial expressions, but I just cannot to it at the same time as speaking. Also when I'm walking, I seem to hold a grumpy look on my face. It's because it's so comfortable to look grumpy (when actually it's my relaxed face), and if I start concentrating on using a positive expression on my face as I walk, I will lose focus on where I'm walking, and forget all my intentions of the day.
Also, when I am drawing and listening to music at the same time, my mind trails off into my drawing, and I literally blank out the music, and I only notice that I have music on when the song is over. They I say, ''aww, I wasn't listening to that,'' and I press the repeat button. But then I not listen to it again, and I give up in the end and listen to a different song. My brain can either only stay on the drawing or the music.

Does anyone else's brain only focus on one thing at a time, or is this just me being difficult?
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leejosepho
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:47 am    Post subject: Re: Can your brain only focus on one thing at a time? Reply with quote

I am the same: One thing at a time or my brain crashes -- I cannot multi-task.
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ZakFiend
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear joe,

Most thought is unconscious and unavailable to your conscious awareness, your brain is doing tonnes of stuff you are not even aware of it's multitasking all the time and performing stuff. The brain is constantly communicating with other parts of itself, this is why when you are doing tasks it can be hard to stay on task because new things keep popping into your head.

It takes discipline to stay on task. Human beings aren't machines they have natural rhythms and cycles determined by their underlying biology.
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the_curmudge
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a unitasker also. I don't doubt that, as ZakFiend points out, my brain may be working on several other tasks unconsciously, yet if there are too many of those unconscious tasks, I'm sure they're being done badly.

I do tend to cycle through an assortment of tasks, working hard on Task A, for instance, then abruptly dropping it, only to revive it after Task R as if no time has elapsed. This drives other people nuts.
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JetLag
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I attempt to multi-task, or when a situation forces me to multi-task, my brain pretty much freezes up. I believe that the word used for being able to concentrate or to focus on only one task at a time is "monotropism," which is usually a part of the spectrum.
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Chronos
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Can your brain only focus on one thing at a time? Reply with quote

Yes. Many people with AS have processing deficits, and AS is almost identical to NVL in many instances.

Concerning listening to music, this is a dedicated task for me. I cannot listen to music and enjoy it while doing something else with the exception of walking and other tasks which don't require much in the way of thought. I worked in one office for a thankfully brief time where they would turn the music on while they were working and ask me why I never engage in their conversations. The answer was of course, because, I was working.
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ediself
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the drawing/listening to music part sounds just like me. I can talk to my husband on skype and type on a forum though, it seems. I suppose i can only do that because he doesn't notice when i phase out Razz
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mimsy123
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Can your brain only focus on one thing at a time? Reply with quote

Joe90 wrote:
Also, when I am drawing and listening to music at the same time, my mind trails off into my drawing, and I literally blank out the music, and I only notice that I have music on when the song is over. They I say, ''aww, I wasn't listening to that,'' and I press the repeat button. But then I not listen to it again, and I give up in the end and listen to a different song. My brain can either only stay on the drawing or the music.


I constantly zone out on music, or talk radio. It's usually when I'm in the car and am trying to work out some problem on the way to or from work. Other than that, I'm usually pretty good at doing two things at once. For instance, I find that I'm more capable of deep/complex thought if it's done while I complete a task which is fairly menial. It's like that Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon becomes a bus boy so he can solve the issue he's having with some formula.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a multitasker. Sidetrack me and I may never come back. This is one of the ways my wife and I differ - I am emotion rationing and singleminded, she emotion driven and multitasking. We can frustrate one another, but the complementarity is good.
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Joe90
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZakFiend wrote:
Dear joe,

Most thought is unconscious and unavailable to your conscious awareness, your brain is doing tonnes of stuff you are not even aware of it's multitasking all the time and performing stuff. The brain is constantly communicating with other parts of itself, this is why when you are doing tasks it can be hard to stay on task because new things keep popping into your head.

It takes discipline to stay on task. Human beings aren't machines they have natural rhythms and cycles determined by their underlying biology.


I didn't really mean it like that. There are certain parts of your brain what you have to make function itself. Yes, I know my brain is always doing X amount of things at once, because if it didn't then I would be dead, or in a coma, or very ill. But when it comes to things like communication (especially for Aspies), I can't focus of maintaining a facial expression and maintaining the conversation at the same time.
How do NTs manage to talk and use facial expressions together? And how do they manage to walk the same time as keeping up a positive face the same time as being able to see who's who around them at the same time as.....ohh, and about 5 other things too. How come when I'm walking along I hold a solumn face, whip straight past people who I know, taking about 10 seconds or more to realise that they are calling me (because I didn't see them).....and the list goes on. It's so annoying! Why can't my dumb brain focus on all the important things, instead of focusing on the least important things?
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Foxx
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on what it is... Driving is no proplem for me except in large cities or rush hour when there are lots of cars... even when the radio is on... talking while doing something, also no problem... but working in noisy/smelly environments is impossible for me... I just get distracted by the sounds and smells...

Quote:
Also, when I am drawing and listening to music at the same time, my mind trails off into my drawing, and I literally blank out the music, and I only notice that I have music on when the song is over. They I say, ''aww, I wasn't listening to that,'' and I press the repeat button. But then I not listen to it again, and I give up in the end and listen to a different song. My brain can either only stay on the drawing or the music.


I have the same problem as the case above. I blank out the music. It's pretty bad because music sometimes calls forth images in my mind, which I usually want to draw... I blank out the music and the image disappears like sand blows away in the wind... It annoys me to bits.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm horrible at multitasking. I can burn a hole in single point of focus though (magnifying glass analogy).
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bee33
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've noticed this issue in myself with driving and team sports, both of which are activities that require you to be aware of more than one thing at once in order to be effective at them. I am terrible at both.

For instance, with sports you have to be able to manipulate the ball while at the same time being aware of where your teammates are, so you can pass the ball, and where your opponents are, so you can keep them from stealing the ball from you. I am utterly unable to do it. If I hadn't seen other people playing sports I would guess that it couldn't be done.

With driving it's not as bad as long as traffic is light, but if traffic is heavy you have to be aware of where other cars are as well as be aware of what you're doing driving your car in order to make a move like change lanes or turn left. I am unable to drive in heavy traffic or on freeways, where everything is speeded up.
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pensieve
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, this is pretty much me too. When my brain gets focused on something it's hard to pay attention to anything else. I suppose it's why I hate change so much.
I relate with the whole listening to music thing. I listen to it in the background when I'm on the net or drawing but my mind can only concentrate on one or the other. Sometimes when I just listen to music I'm thinking so much that I don't hear the song, and if it's my favourite song I have to listen to it again - but just like you said I wouldn't hear it again.

The way I see it we cannot choose what sensory information to block out so we have to turn off everything else to concentrate on just one thing. NT's can choose what to pay attention to. We see/hear/experience everything at once. We need to focus our brain on just one thing to block out all the stimuli that usually a person can just block out without being so immersed in a subject or interest. And they can switch between tasks or juggle 2-3 things at a time and not get frustrated...well not as frustrated as some of us do.

I really don't know if that makes sense but I like my little theory.

Not adjusting well to change and only able to focus on one thing at a time has been a real problem for me. But I suppose when I'm stressed out I can lose myself in an interest and forget about what was stressing me out.
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ValaMephista
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never been able to multitask either. I especially realised this during the brief period that I worked for a restaurant--I was NOT made for that sort of thing. Sure, it may be considered a menial job to some, but I seriously envy the people who can seat a million different tables, or coordinate the cooking times of six different entrees, or run around with one person's drink and another table's appetizers, or all of the above at the same time.

I think it was Robin Williams who said he walked in to find his son "texting, playing video games and watching TV all at the same time...Some people say, "That's ADD," I say, "No, that's ****ing multitasking!" Attention deficit as a necessary evolution? Maybe. I can see why people would think so.

The music thing--being unable to do other things while listening to music--I can identify with too, mainly because I tend to see such vivid mental images along with certain songs. There's a few where I have practically entire videos sketched out in my head.
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