concentraiconEn un estudio con 84 estudiantes dividido en cuatro grupos, cada uno asignado a un experimento diferente, unos investigadores de la Universidad de Oregón han encontrado que aquellos con gran capacidad de memoria de trabajo son claramente más capaces de ignorar las distracciones y de permanecer concentrados en las tareas asignadas.

Edward K. Vogel, investigador principal en el estudio y profesor de psicología de la citada universidad, compara la memoria de trabajo con la memoria de acceso aleatorio (RAM) de un ordenador: Cuanto más grande sea la RAM, mejores serán las capacidades de procesamiento. Con más «RAM», los estudiantes eran en los experimentos más capaces de ignorar las distracciones.

En los experimentos se monitorizó la actividad cerebral de los estudiantes utilizando electroencefalografía (EEG) mientras examinaban imágenes presentadas en la pantalla de un ordenador, reconociendo una forma a la que le faltaba un componente, y luego identificando el objeto una vez que se había movido a otro lugar, o afrontando distracciones.
Utilizando un test de tarea irrelevante (un destello de luz de 50 milisegundos de duración), Vogel y Keisuke Fukuda fueron capaces de determinar dónde exactamente se enfocaba la atención de un sujeto.

Todos los individuos fueron capaces de identificar de forma rápida y precisa los objetivos cuando éstos se trasladaban por la pantalla, pero cuando se añadieron componentes de distracción, algunos mantuvieron la precisión mientras que otros desviaron su atención, y su eficacia disminuyó en las tareas asignadas.

Vogel cree que lo descubierto no necesariamente indica problemas para una persona que se distrae fácilmente, a pesar de que las personas que mantienen más intensamente su concentración tienden a tener una inteligencia fluida mayor; obtienen notas más altas en los exámenes, son mejores para las matemáticas y aprenden nuevos idiomas más fácilmente que quienes se distraen.

Vogel está trabajando actualmente con otros investigadores de la Universidad de Oregón para averiguar si el distraerse fácilmente tiene un lado positivo, como por ejemplo poseer más imaginación y creatividad artística.


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