Brain Game: How Good is Your Attentional Focus?

By: Dr. Pascale Michelon

How good are you at finding things quickly in a cluttered environment, such as on your desk, or in the fridge? Is it hard for you, sometimes, to focus on the task at hand? Here is a fun brain game to challenge your attentional focus.

Paying attention is an essential brain function. Nevertheless human attention is limited and we often have to choose between focusing it all on the task at hand or dividing it between several tasks.
Focusing attention on the task we are currently performing is the best bet for a successful effort. Dividing attention between different tasks, also known as multitasking, means that each task individually receives less attention than if it was performed on its own. This typically results in a slower performance and a higher risk of errors.

If one has to multitask, the best way to limit the side effects of multitasking (i.e., errors and the like) is to choose tasks that do not overlap too much in terms of the mental functions they require.
Here is an example: Do you think you would memorize the content of a document more efficiently if you were at the same time listening to (a) instrumental music or (b) a song that you know? Although you would of course be most efficient in a silent environment, (b) would be worse than (a). Why? Because a song involves words and your brain would be processing both the words of the song and the words in the document you are trying to memorize, creating a fight for attentional resources.

To boost your attentional focus, try to eliminate distraction. You can also train your brain by regularly challenging it.  Here is your first challenge:

In the figure below, count as accurately as possible, the number of:

  • black triangles (even the ones partly hidden)
  • big white triangles
  • smaller white triangles

When you are done, count again to see if you get the same totals
(scroll down for the correct answers)








Try more brain games.


Correct answers: There 16 big black triangles, 19 big white triangles, and 21 smaller white triangles.

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