Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What Staying on Task Really Means

What really matters to "staying on task"? Is it increased focus to the task at hand or increased resistance to distraction? The winner is, or seems to be....increased concentration or direction of our minds to the task at hand.

Why is this important? We need to ask ourselves, how often poor task persistence could be due to task ignorance rather than global inattentiveness. If a child doesn't know what the most salient features of the task are, they may not be able to resist distraction.

In the study from Columbia, good task persistence was associated with stronger activation of facial recognition areas, rather than stronger inhibition to distractors (like the wrong label below).

For school and ADD, then, the obvious question is - how much a student's poor task persistence is due to task-ignorance rather than a global impaired attention. Or in the setting of perceptual difficulties like dyslexia, how much is due to perceptual impairment (auditory, visual processing) rather than an attention deficit.

Staying on Task, Cognitive Control, and fMRI

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