Beginning of Class Writing: John Medina’s Brain Rules, “Attention”

During today’s class, we have these goals:

  • Beginning of Class Writing on the “Attention” chapter from John Medina’s Brain Rules. Spend the first ten minutes writing a summary of your reading in your notebook. Also, write about your own experiences with maintaining attention, losing someone’s attention, and dealing with distraction.
  • Presentation on “Attention” and subsequent discussion.
  • Peer Review Team exercise with the brainstorming writing that you began in our last class and brought print outs of your typed up results.
  • End of class reminders for next week.
    • Post your beginning of class writing to OpenLab before our next class on Wednesday, 10/14. Keep up with the reading: “Memory” chapter is next.
    • Begin writing Project Two introduction.
    • Print out the pages from your department’s section of the College Catalog.

Resources for today’s discussion:



15 thoughts on “Beginning of Class Writing: John Medina’s Brain Rules, “Attention”

  1. Darien Laurencin

    As a student in school for almost all my life, I’ve been told to pay attention countless times. What is attention and how do you pay it? In John Medina Brain Rules attention chapter, he explains how attention works and how we can utilize it in our everyday lives. Paying attention in class is being aware and focus at the topic at hand. Brain Rules showed how after 10 minutes a person attention goes down to zero percent, unless restarted. The book said, to capture a person attention is through emotion. Emotions can range from sadness to laughter. In my own real world experience, I believe Brain Rules is absolutely true. To capture my attention in class, or outside the classroom, I need to either be inspired, or have a good laugh. Being inspired is the best way to get my attention because inspiration fills my mind with burst of emotions that helps me play close attention. Brain rules also claimed that the mind cannot multitask. When a person is doing more than one thing, the mind is just constantly switching attention, but not paying attention to two things at once, some faster than others. Usually when I multitask it is a huge fail. While doing homework, or writing an essay, then look at my phone because of a notification, 90% of the time my train of thought on that homework, or essay is broken. After reading Brian Rules attention chapter, I decided to put my cell phone on silent when it is time to do my homework, so that my train of thought is at a constant flow, by keep my attention on one thing at a time. A quote that caught my attention in Brain Rules was, “In everyday life, you use your previous experiences to predict where you should pay attention.” This caught my “attention” because without knowing what happen in the past, a person can’t anticipate what will happen in the future if given the same circumstance. For example if a person try to take out a fire with oil, then the fire will increase. Knowing this that same person will pay close attention if they see someone trying the same thing, and immediately alert them not to do it. I hope that more professors and teachers read this chapter so that they can keep their students up after “10 minutes.”

  2. Aaron Chen

    In the “Attention” chapter of John Medina’s Brain Rules, we are introduced to how our brain pays attention, way it does what it does, and other fun facts. We are told how our attention is profoundly influenced by memory. This means our attention is influenced by experiences and culture. We pay attention to the things our experiences think needs attention on. We also pay attention of things such as emotion, threats and sex. Our brains focuses on these things and asks questions such as: Can i eat it? Will it eat me? Can i mate with it? Will it mate with me? Have i seen it before? John Medina also talks about how our brains cant multitask such as texting and driving. Texting and driving is extremely dangerous because when doing so, your response time is half as slow. This can mean life and death. Multitasking can also increase error rate by 50% and takes you twice as long to complete your task. School and workplaces encourage this type of multitasking and in fact it’ll just result in an inefficient work outcome along with many more errors than if you were to just focus on one thing. In the end, our brains focuses on the things we think we need to pay attention to and our brains cant multitask because our brains wont be as efficient.

  3. Taylor Marie Hernandez

    In the “Attention” chapter. John Medinastarts off by saying how thebrain does not pay attention to boring things (Brain Rules #6). You got seconds to grab someones attention and only 10 minutes to keep it. When you start to loose people’s attention, you must do something to regain it back by choosing something emotional and irrelevant, and therefor restart the clock. When keeping someone interested in a lecture or a business it would have and 80% failure rate. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern that is influenced by culture and gene. Sight is only one stimulus to which the brain is compatible to paying attention. The brain can be divided into two unequally functioned hemispheres, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. Both hemispheres in the brain contain separate spotlights for visual attention. The brains additional “spotlight” is only able to only focus on one thing at a time, not multitasking.The left hemisphere spot light is small, compatible of paying attention only to items on the right side of the visual field.The right hemisphere has a global spot light. Whats going on in our heads when we turn our attention to somethings? Thirty years ago a scientist named Michael Posner derived a theory that still remains popular today. Posner created a hypothesis stating that, “Paying attention to things uses three separable but fully integrated networks of neural circuitry in the brain.” The brains first system, functions much like a two part job in museums security officer: surveillance and alert. He called it the alerting or Arousal Network. Emotional Arousal helps the brain learn. It monitors the sensory environment for any unusual activities. If the system detects something unusual such as a swoosh it can sound an alarm herd brain-wide. This when intrinsic Alertness forms into specific attention called Phase Alertness. After the alarm sound, we orient ourselves to the attending stimulus, acting the second network: the Oriented Network. The third system executive network controls what action we take next. These actions might include setting, priorities, planing on a fly, controlling impulse, weighing the consequences of out actions, or shifting attention. It is said that emotions get out attention. Emotional charged events are better remembered-for longer and with more accuracy-than natural events. They are universal and can capture the attention of all of the US. When your brain detects an emotional charged event, your amygdala (a part of your brain that helps create and maintain emotions) releases the chemical dopamine into your system. Dopamine adds a large amount of memory and information processing. The brain selects information for future processing and leaves the rest alone. If you want people to be able to pay attention, don’t start with details. Start with the keys ideas. The brain cannot multitask. When it comes to paying attention, multitasking is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on tasks sequentially, one at a time. The brain needs a breaks. Always do one thing at a time. The brain is the sequential processor, unable to pay attention to two things at once. Businesses and schools praise multitasking but research shows that it reduces productivity and increases mistakes. If something isn’t done quickly, the students will end up in successively loosing bouts of an effort to stay with the speaker. As a college student there are times where I tend to stop paying attention after a lecture because I am either tired, not interested in the topic, or I don’t understand it. I get very stressed out over the most smallest things and don’t pay attention. When I get stressed I become very tired, don’t think clearly, I don’t listen to other people when being spoken to, etc. Paying attention comes a long way. An example of paying attention would be texting while driving. When you are driving your brain is mainly focusing on the road ahead. But when your phone starts to go off, your brain sends a signal that tells your body to look at the phone instead. By doing this you can get into a very bad accident. Texting is said to be a very big distraction to drivers who are on the road while having a vehicle in motion.

  4. shamach campbell

    In the John Medina’s “Brain Rules” Attention chapter, it talks about the way our brain pays attention and why it does what it does. According to most scientists and researchers attention is greatly influenced though ones own memory. Meaning based on the experiences and culture someone is exposed to, our attention can be swayed. We pay attention to things our brains thinks it needs, such as certain dangers or important lectures for future experiences. Our attention can also influenced by a number of different factors such as emotion and threats. When our brain focuses on these things it’s constantly asks questions such as: is this edible? Is this dangerous? Or, have I seen it before? John Medina also talks about the myth of our brains being able to multitask on things like driving and texting. The brain can only fully focus on one thing at a time, which is why no one can really multitask. Multitasking can also increase error rate by 50% and takes you twice as long to complete your task. School and workplaces encourage this type of multitasking and in fact it’ll just result in an inefficient work outcome along with many more errors than if you were to just focus on one thing. Things we think we need to pay attention to and our brains can’t multitask because our brains won’t be as efficient. For me it can sometimes be very difficult to maintain attention after a long period of time, I would often fight myself to stay awake. So anytime I felt board and was started to lose attention I would often try to visualize what someone was saying in the form of cartoon or random words popping into my head to keep myself entertained.

  5. William Santiago

    In the Attention chapter of John Medina’s “Brain Rules” John Medina explains how the human brain reacts when it comes to attention, and how we can utilize it to its up most efficiency. The chapter explains how maintaining the attention of another is easier said than done. You have only seconds to get someones attention. If one can’t maintain the attention of that person, according to this chapter, the attention held by the audience at the beginning can be completely lost in a matter of just 10 minutes. With that being said, that isn’t much time to hold ones attention before they completely just stray off into their own thoughts. However, according to this chapter, there is a sure fire way to maintain someones attention. This is achieved through any sort of emotion, whether it be sadness or laughter. Ones attention can also vary based on ones personal interest. This is because generally, if someone is interested in something that they like or something that holds value to them, they will tend to pay more attention to that specific thing. The chapter also explains that the brain is unable to multitask when it comes to paying attention to things. According to this chapter, this concept can be confusing since technically speaking, we can walk and talk at the same time, or read while our brain regulates our heart rate. According to this chapter this concept is not considered to be multitasking, however, this is the brain focusing at things one at a time in a sequential manner. However, when it comes to attention, this is not the case. If something is found to be boring, like a lecture given by a professor for instance, an individual who is trying to pay attention to the lecture may find themselves resorting to other things that may catch their attention. An example would be if they would go on there phone or laptop. While doing this, since they are not giving all their undivided attention to what is being said by their professor, they are unable to absorb information as efficiently. According to all this information given by this chapter, I believe that if you are trying to evoke ones attention, you have to catch their attention by either doing something spontaneous in a matter of seconds. Maybe something like a bunch of somersaults. Or you can talk about something that they may be interested in. For instance, if they liked to talk about cars or had a celebrity crush, you can talk to them about things that seek their interest. On the other hand, when it comes to us as individuals trying to maintain attention to something such as a boring lecture by a professor, or trying to read through a boring book since we may have to write a paper on it; probably the best thing we can do is to try and maintained engaged into what is being said by our professor, or in a book. This can be done in a variety of different ways such as annotations, text to self reflections, or being more active in the lecture by asking your professor questions.

  6. Alex Feng

    In John Medina’s Brain Rules attention chapter, it briefly explains how a life threatening event or any event that has some sort of huge impact or shock can trigger the brain to learn and retained the information or details in those events that make it fresh or easy to remember to what made that event so shocking. It is interesting how it takes 10 minutes for the average college student to look a the clock during a college lecture. If a lecture or class I am taking is interesting and engaging, then I would never look at the clock. However, there isn’t a clock in any of my current classes so I don’t even bother checking what time it is. Yet if I do not understand what my professor is saying or the subject at hand, then I deliberately take out my electronic to check what time it is. Perhaps some truth behind that statement is that if an individual does not find what they are temporarily paying attention to interesting or is unable to comprehend the information their brain is receiving, then something in the brain cause them to think about when the lecture will finally be over. Later, in the chapter, it also explains what we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by our memory as well as our cultures.

  7. Arjoon H

    John Medina’s attention chapter states that maintaining attention proves to be a herculean task when performing boring duties. The brain itself has a spot light that can only focus on one thing at a time and it is because of this that it is impossible to multitask. Also, Medina adds that we are better at understanding the gist of something as opposed to remembering everything in detail. To add he states that because of our experience we tend to filter out what ever information we think is necessary. One way to keep our attention is by using emotional stimulation. In other words when either teaching or learning something its best to employ something that keys into our emotion in order to better understand and learn. For example Medina uses the Volkswagen commercial in which the two friends are deeply engaged in a conversation and are not paying attention to the road. As a result they are T-Boned by another car. At the end the audience is presented with the facts of how safe a Volkswagen is. This commercial would not have been as memorable if it were not for the crash, which makes it become imprinted. Medina’s attention chapter proves to be one of the more helpful of all others so far due to the fact that because of it you can learn as a student what you can do to keep yourself interested at school.

  8. Jean Betances

    In John Medina’s “Attention” chapter in Brain rules it talks about the way that we humans pay attention to things around us. He mention that we have seconds to grab someone’s attention or they won’t be interested in what you have to say. After you have it then you have about 10 minutes to do it again or they will also lose interested. They way to keep their attention is by engaging their emotions. Make them feel something or make them laugh and they will be interested in what you have to say. Another thing John Medina mentions is that our brains are not capable of multitasking. As much as some people believe it’s possible all they are doing is switching what they are paying attention to quickly. This is why texting and driving is impossible. Once you focus on a text your reaction time is cut by 50%. That’s why when I study I try to go to a quiet place to keep all distractions to a minimum. Also that’s when we listen to dull presentations we tend to wonder off and think about other things.

  9. Terris Greene

    The “Attention” chapter of John Medina’s Brain Rules talks about how the brain holds and loses attention under certain circumstances, and how the amount of attention we give to something will determine the memory that will have of it. When we are interested in something, we tend to give it a greater amount of attention, therefore increasing our memory of it. Students usually lose the point of attention within 10 minutes of being inside of a classroom, based on the teachings of Medina and educator Wilbert McKeachie. Sensory neurons work in millions to try to hold attention in your brain, though only a few at a time will succeed. For me it’s hard for maintain my attention towards something if it isn’t interesting. My lack of attention usually drives to sleep or grow extremely restless. Certain classes such as My Intro to Programming class loses me even before 10 minutes because the way the professor lectures, it’s almost as if he doesn’t really care if anyone hears him.

  10. Carlos Villalva

    Everybody in the world wants attention, whether we know it or not, but what grabs your attention? It only takes us about 10 minutes to zone out or wander off in a classroom. We don’t really understand why this occur every 10 minute, but we do know that our teachers well need to start grabbing our attention again. They could grab our focus by telling or showing us something interesting, every 10 minutes to keep us in track in the class. Memory influence us, on what to pay attention. We use our experience to predict what where we should pay attention. Changing our environment can change what we focus, really quickly. When we enter a new environment it changes our expectation, because being in the same environment, we are use to seeing every thing everyday. If you have an interest on something or somebody that is important to you, can effect what you see. For example, when you buy something you like, you’ll see it everywhere or see more of it because our brain makes us pay attention on things we like more than other unimportant objects. Interest can create attention, is a method marketing professional have use on to buy their product. In order for us to pay attention we need to be first aware. If we don’t see it front of us, we could care less about compare to it being right at front of us. This idea makes multitasking a myth because we can never give two things the same amount attention. We always give something more attention than the other.According to the trinity model, attention first occur when we are aware to something, in order for us gather information to decide on what action we take next. Having a good night sleep can help us pay better attention on something we are learning or something we like. There so many factor that contribute on what we stay focus on.

  11. Ryan Karran

    In the attention chapter of John Medina’s “Brain Rules,” he starts off the chapter with a personal experience as his house was getting robbed. He states that this was an experience he would never forget even though it lasted for only 45 seconds. In this chapter Medina introduces the 10 minute rule for presentation giving which he gained from asking his students. The 10 minute rule is a rule in which you can keep the audience’s attention for about 10 minutes before you must put an effort into regaining it once again. In order to regain it, you must use what Medina refers to as a “hook.” A hook is an emotional trigger used to grasp the audience’s attention whether it be funny, scary, or sad. This leads to one of Medina’s brain rules stating, “The brain doesn’t like boring things.” One major concept Medina focuses on is that the brain cannot multitask. The brain naturally focuses on one thing at a time and takes about four sequential steps to change to another topic. Many people when multitasking takes 50 percent longer to perform a certain task and may make up to 50 percent more errors.

  12. Edinsson.P

    In John Medina’s “Brain rules”, he introduces brain rule number six “We don’t pay attention to borings”. Medina talks about people’s attention span and stimulation of different encounters in odd events. Medina shares the tragic story of getting rob by young man with firearm and his reactions towards the dangers encounter. If was in Medina’s shoes I would be in state of shock , then would of call the cops and scream like crazy. I lived in New York for nine years already and never been in that scenario before, so my brain would start sending signals to the rest of my body and I would be start panicking without control. However, when I lived in the Dominican Republic I had to be in high alert . This is due to the fact that this country is corrupt in many areas and delinquent roam around heavily during evenings. Nevertheless , I was wrong my gameboy cable link and my cousin’s game boy was snatch from his hands as me played pokemon outside, on the sidewalk. I still remember up this day because everything when done pretty fast, also in my case the robbers jumped very fast on motorcycle and getting way.Furthermore, Medina talks about interest and how we mostly paid attention in presentations or conversions to subjects that we can relate to keep focus.This idea is very clear to me now, this explains why in every english class I tend to get sleepy , since there so much criticism going into papers . My spelling is not or choice of words are not in a college level , so this makes hard for me to have the desire to express myself through writing.

  13. Reynaldo

    In the book “Brain rules” written by John medina, he writes about attention being a rule for the brain and how exercise it. When the brain memorizes something from our previous experiences and expect it on a daily and there are most things the brain won’t notice since its look for the things experienced in a daily. When I lose attention from someone while I’m talking in a group or just an individual, I feel disrespected and that I’m the last thing they want to be listing to. When I can’t maintain attention to someone it would be when I’m really tired and my mind would start spacing out or get distracted by anything that happens near me. But I would apologize to them and ask them to either repeat what they said or ask them to continue what they were saying. Me not being able to hear the person gets mistaken for for not paying attention, and end up looking like a rude person.

  14. alejandra

    In the Previous chapter “attention” states how the human brain paid attention to certain things calls our attention. He stated that we usually dry our attention to things that we’re really interest in, like or feel something for them. Medina mention that feeling is a big part of attention and it helps the memories to remain longer in our brain. Moreover, it’s difficult for every single person to keep focus or full attention after 10 minutes. Medina stated that inside our brains their is thousands of neurons that are trying to get our attention but just few of them reaches the goal, and the rest of the neurons are been partially ignore. Medina mention a process that we usually follow when something calls our attention 1) surveillance and alert 2) orienting network and 3) executive network.
    As personal experience i can tell that the thing that catch my attention for more than 10 minutes because i love to remember my childhood is when my mom starts talking about the pass, the experiences we past through when we were in our native country.

  15. p nardeo

    In this chapter John Median Explain the sixth brain rule, attention. He starts off this chapter with a story of his own. The time he got robed. He did this to prove a point, although the experience only lasted 45 seconds he remember almost all of it. This is due to the fact that the more the brain pays attention to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded. He then went into more detail and started to show the connection between your attention and your memory. The more your pay attention the better you memory will be.
    I learn a lot of important thing after reading this chapter. These are stuff that made me rethink how I live my everyday life. One of which is multitasking. According to Medina the brain could only focus on one thing at a time. This is called spotlight attention. Another thing that help with our attention is our emotional arousal.Finally our brain is set to only be attentive for about 10min and after that the only way to grab attention back is by creating events, rich in emotion

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