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Mental focus and motivation

Mental focus and motivation

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The findings from the HLMs, presented in Additional file 1 : Tables S2, S3, and S4, showed a decline in focus back effort across trials in all three tasks. These findings support the view that focus back effort may reflect the executive control adjustment that fades over time, which is required to suppress mind wandering according to the resource-control theory Thomson et al.

The Pearson correlation coefficients for all measures can be found in Additional file 1 : Table S5. Furthermore, Additional file 1 : Table S6 displays the proportions of participants with different responses regarding focus back effort and motivation in the tasks.

Notably, some participants reported high focus back effort but low motivation and some individuals indicated low focus back effort but high motivation.

This law posits that task difficulty influences the motivation for expending effort and cognitive control Hillgruber, CFA was conducted to determine the data structure for mind wandering MW-SART, MW-0B, MW-1B , focus back effort FBE-SART, FBE-0B, FBE-1B , motivation Motivation-SART, Motivation-0B, Motivation-1B , and interest Interest-SART, Interest-0B, Interest-1B , as depicted in Fig.

Three distinct mind wandering parcels were constructed: MW-SART, MW-0B, and MW-1B, representing the mind wandering scores obtained during the SART, 0-back task, and 1-back task, respectively. These parcels were then used to create a mind wandering factor by loading them onto the same factor.

Similarly, separate factors were created for interest and motivation by loading the corresponding scores from the three tasks onto their respective factors. All factors were allowed to correlate, and each measure exclusively loaded onto the primary factor of interest.

Consistent with our prior research, mind wandering exhibited a significant correlation with focus back effort He et al. Specifically, focus back effort and motivation displayed strong correlations with mind wandering.

Given the robust associations between interest and focus back effort, between interest and motivation, and the moderate relationship between interest and mind wandering, it is plausible that interest may predict mind wandering through the mediating factors of motivation and focus back effort.

Confirmatory factor analysis CFA for mind wandering MW , focus back effort FBE , motivation, and interest.

The correlations between the latent variables circles are represented by double-headed arrows linking these variables. Single-headed arrows from latent variables to observed variables squares represent the loadings of each manifest variable onto the latent variable.

All numbers appearing beside each arrow are standardized. SEM analyses were performed to examine the first research question, which aimed to explore the impact of focus back effort, motivation, and interest on mind wandering. Building upon the results of the CFA and the findings by Unsworth et al.

Model 1, represented in Fig. Conversely, Fig. AIC, a measure considering model complexity relative to the number of parameters Akaike, , favors models with lower values.

Notably, the AIC of Model 2 was lower than that of Model 1, indicating the superiority of Model 2. Notably, path 1 and path 3 remained significant after family-wise SGoF multiple comparison correction.

a The parallel mediation model examining how motivation and focus back effort jointly mediated the relationship between interest and mind wandering. b The structural equation model investigating the sequential mediation of motivation and focus back effort in the association between interest and mind wandering.

The contribution of each latent variable to the other is represented by a single-headed arrow from one latent variable circle to another. To simplify the interpretation, the factor loadings of manifest variables have been excluded from the illustration and can be found in Additional file 1 : Table S7.

Considering that the motivation and interest questions were administered after the focus back effort and mind wandering questions in each task, we constructed an additional model Additional file 2 : Fig. S1 to explore the prediction of motivation and interest by focus back effort and mind wandering.

However, the path linking focus back effort to mind wandering to interest and, finally, to motivation was found to be nonsignificant. The correlation table Additional file 1 : Table S5 indicates a near-zero correlation between interest and error in the 0-back. Consequently, we focused on task error in the SART Model 3 and the 1-back task Model 4 to address the second research question.

Mediation effect paths of motivation, focus back effort FBE , and mind wandering MW between interest and error in the sustained attention to response task Model 3.

The single-headed arrow from one square to another variable represents the effect of that variable on the other variable. Path 3 and path 4 remained significant even after applying the SGoF multiple comparison correction. The significant indirect of path 3 is consistent with the findings of Unsworth et al.

The significant indirect effect of path 4 supports the resource-control hypothesis, indicating that individuals adjust executive control based on motivational factors to allocate resources between mind wandering and the current task, which impacts performance outcomes Thomson et al.

Mediation effect paths of motivation, focus back effort FBE , and mind wandering MW between interest and error in the 1-back task Model 4. Overall, the results of Study 1 are consistent with our hypotheses. In Study 2, a reading comprehension task was employed to validate the findings obtained in Study 1.

Mediation models were employed to analyze the data in Study 2. Participants provided informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki before completing a reading comprehension task. The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee in China.

The sample size was determined based on the standardized coefficients obtained from the 1-back mediation model in Study 1. To calculate the necessary sample size, power analysis for the mediation model was conducted using an R application R Core Team, Schoemann et al.

The target power was set at 0. Participants completed the reading comprehension task in a well-lit computer classroom after providing their consent forms.

The text was displayed using a dark gray serif font on a white background. To simulate natural reading, participants were provided with the flexibility to navigate through the pages using the left and right arrow buttons on a keyboard.

Participants were given a time limit of 6 min to complete the reading of the article. Subsequently, participants were instructed to answer a set of 9-item multiple-choice questions based on their comprehension of the text.

No specific time restriction was imposed for answering the questions, allowing participants as much time as needed. Each correct response was awarded 1 point while each incorrect response was scored 0 points. The test is relatively simple, and in previous studies, the majority of participants were able to achieve above-average scores Kong et al.

Thought probes Six probes were utilized to measure both mind wandering and focus back effort during the reading task. Each thought probe was randomly administered to participants within a time window ranging from 30 s to 1.

Interest and motivation After reading the text and completing the reading comprehension tests, participants were requested to respond to two inquiries regarding their general level of interest in the text and their motivation to perform well on the test.

Participants completed the reading comprehension test and rated the thought probes utilizing the computer mouse. The HLM approach was employed to examine the potential decrease in focus back effort over time, as detailed in the Additional file 1.

The calculation of the mind wandering score and focus back effort score followed the same methodology as outlined in Study 1. The reading comprehension score was derived by summing the individual score for each question.

We employed the same methods as Study 1 for conducting correlational analysis, mediation analysis, and multiple comparison correction. In Additional file 1 : Table S8 presents the descriptive statistics for the variables in the present study. When the participants reported being completely on task, the selection for the second question indicated that they made no attempt to refocus their attention on the task.

The outcomes showed that all variables exhibited a normal distribution. The Pearson correlation coefficients for the measures used in Study 2 are presented in Additional file 1 : Table S9. The HLM analysis revealed a decrease in focus back effort throughout the duration of the reading comprehension task, as shown in Additional file 1 : Table S The findings indicated that some individuals reported high focus back effort but low motivation and some individuals demonstrated low focus back effort but high motivation Additional file 1 : Table S6.

We then aimed to validate the mediation effects obtained in Study 1. Consistent with the findings of Study 1, Path 3 and path 4 remained significant after applying family-wise SGoF multiple comparison correction in this study.

The results of Study 1 and Study 2 indicate consistent cross-task mediating effects. Mediation effect paths of motivation, focus back effort FBE , and mind wandering MW between interest and reading comprehension RC in Study 2 Model 5. As anticipated, the path from focus back effort to mind wandering to interest and then to motivation was found to be statistically non-significant Additional file 3 : Fig.

S2 , aligning with the results obtained in Study 1. The present studies examined the role of focus back effort in the relationships among interest, motivation, and mind wandering.

Two studies were conducted to address our research questions. The findings revealed that focus back effort exhibited a decline over time and was subject to modulation by individuals based on task demands.

In Study 1, CFA results demonstrated significant correlations among interest, motivation, focus back effort, and mind wandering.

Furthermore, we examined whether focus back effort mediates the relationship between individual differences in mind wandering, motivation, and interest.

The mediation model based on the 1-back task revealed that high interest facilitated task performance through increased motivation, focus back effort, and decreased mind wandering.

These findings were consistent with the results obtained in the reading comprehension task of Study 2 where the indirect effect remained significant. One of the fundamental principles of the resource-control theory is the decline of executive control as a task progresses Thomson et al.

The HLMs conducted in both studies of this work consistently demonstrated that focus back effort faded over time, which is consistent with the predictions of the resource-control hypothesis. The resource-control theory suggests that there exists a limited pool of cognitive resources that are shared between task-related thoughts and mind wandering, and the allocation of these resources is context-dependent, such as the task demand Thomson et al.

The findings of Study 1 further support the resource-control theory by revealing higher levels of focus back effort during high-load tasks compared to low-load tasks.

Given that focus back effort has been shown to be correlated with mind wandering in both the current studies and previous research He et al.

The results of the CFA revealed significant associations among focus back effort, motivation, and interest. These results support the demonstration that motivation assumes the role of adjustment of resources Pessoa, and align with the resource-control theory of mind wandering, which suggests that motivation facilitates the adjustment of executive control, as reflected by focus back effort, towards task-relevant stimuli Thomson et al.

Importantly, the positive relationship between concentration and motivation and interest Kane et al. Furthermore, the results suggest that individual differences in motivation and interest play important roles in mind wandering.

Specifically, participants who reported more episodes of mind wandering also reported lower levels of motivation to perform well and less interest in the task compared to those who reported fewer mind wandering episodes. These findings are consistent with previous research Antrobus et al. The key finding of this study is that interest predicts motivation, and focus back effort mediates the relationship between motivation and mind wandering.

The results highlight the significant influence of both motivation and the sequential mediation of motivation and focus back effort on the association between interest and mind wandering.

This indicates that the impact of interest on mind wandering is contingent upon the levels of both motivation and focus back effort.

Noncognitive variables such as motivation and interest are typically investigated to examine the influence of specific psychological states on mind wandering e. Our results expand on the findings of Unsworth et al.

It should be noted that interest indirectly influenced mind wandering through two mediation pathways. Individuals who are more interested in performing a task may be more motivated to do the work, consequently leading to fewer occurrences of mind wandering.

This can be attributed, in part, to their enhanced allocation of executive control, as reflected by focus back effort, to redirect their attention back to the task at hand when their thoughts drift away Thomson et al.

The resource-control theory posits that executive control serves not only to inhibit mind wandering but also to sustain goal maintenance. However, focus back effort in the current study primarily focuses on inhibiting mind wandering and does not directly measure the maintenance of the target task.

In terms of individual differences in task performance, the present studies conducted several mediation analyses to explore the underlying mechanisms. The findings revealed that interest influenced task performance through two distinct pathways.

These pathways suggest that participants with high motivation may exhibit better task performance due to their frequent refocusing when in a mind wandering state, which leads to reduced engagement in mind wandering.

Higher levels of interest, motivation, and focus back effort were associated with improved task performance by reducing mind wandering, which is detrimental to performance when available cognitive resources are insufficient to accommodate mind wandering.

These findings are consistent with the previous study by Greve and Was and Rummel and Boywitt , indicating a demand-sensitive relationship between mind wandering and task performance.

Moreover, these findings align with the resource-control theory Thomson et al. While previous research He et al. It is suggested that this disparity may be attributed to the presence of other distractions in daily life that mask the relationship between mind wandering and focus back effort.

In everyday situations, individuals may attempt to refocus their attention on the task at hand, but these efforts might be impeded by various distractions that make it challenging for this process to successfully draw attention back to the task.

In addition to the resource-control theory, the present study may also have implications for other theories unrelated to executive control.

As noted by Wong et al. Mental set switching or shifting allows us to adjust our thoughts based on changing priorities Diamond, ; Miyake et al. With regard to mind wandering, Wong et al. According to this perspective, participants should allocate more attentional resources to the current task and reduce the resources devoted to task-unrelated thoughts due to the metacontrol setting biased toward persistence.

In this regard, focus back effort may also indicate a metacontrol, and this assumption requires further investigation in future research.

According to the process-occurrence framework, mind wandering can be conceptualized as consisting of separate onset and maintenance processes Smallwood, Executive control plays a role in both directly inhibiting the initiation of mind wandering and indirectly influencing its persistence.

The direct effect is manifested by inhibiting the initiation of mind wandering, while the indirect effect is manifested by maintaining the continuation of mind wandering. As focus back effort has been demonstrated to be a process that occupies cognitive resources He et al.

However, unlike the hypotheses introduced in the Introduction section, this framework specifically addresses the dynamic process of mind wandering, which was not explored in the current study paradigm.

Further research is needed to investigate this issue. Eye-tracking may offer a valuable tool for obtaining more direct evidence pertaining to the process of focus-back effort and mind wandering. However, it is plausible that there are instances where refocusing occurs effortlessly.

There could be a habituation mechanism that automatically ends mind wandering after a specific period, leading us to shift our attention back to the task without any conscious effort. Hence, it would be valuable to investigate the characteristics of effortless focus back in future research.

In addition, although the present studies provide support for the idea that focus back effort may partially reflect the regulation of executive control, which is proposed by the resource-control theory, it is important to acknowledge that this component is likely to be more intricate and necessitates further exploration in future investigations.

Furthermore, future research should continue to seek evidence to establish its distinctiveness from executive control and mind wandering. Although our results provide valuable insights into mind wandering, it is important to acknowledge and address several limitations. First, our study focused exclusively on the variation explained by motivation, interest, and focus back effort in predicting mind wandering.

Future research should aim to explore the contribution of these additional factors in understanding mind wandering. Therefore, caution must be exercised when generalizing our findings to a broader population.

Third, our studies primarily focused on examining the relationships among individual differences in motivation, interest, focus back effort, mind wandering, and task performance. However, it is important to recognize that mind wandering encompasses various types, including mind wandering with and without awareness, as well as intentional and unintentional mind wandering Seli et al.

Moreover, the causal evidence for the involvement of these factors in mind wandering is limited. Future research should aim to investigate the influence of these factors on different types of mind wandering and establish causal relationships. Furthermore, it is recommended to explore and differentiate other potential responses, such as task-related interference and external distraction Stawarczyk et al.

Further investigation into these dimensions is warranted to enhance our understanding of the complex nature of mind wandering.

In this study, we examined the relationships between variables from an individual difference perspective. However, our definition of focus back effort implies that it occurs after mind wandering. Therefore, the process of transitioning from mind wandering to focus back effort deserves further investigation.

Additionally, considering that both mind wandering and focus back effort are sensitive to time on task, it is worth exploring whether the importance of focus back effort changes as individuals spend more time on a task.

This article contributes to our understanding of the factors influencing mind wandering. Adopting an individual difference perspective, these studies demonstrate the predictive role of interest in mind wandering, mediated by motivation and focus back effort.

Given that mind wandering occurs across various activities, including creative thinking Baird et al. Moreover, the present studies offer potential insights for the development of interventions targeting mind wandering, which can significantly impact students' classroom engagement and comprehension performance Franklin et al.

The results of the current work provide support for this perspective, particularly Study 2, which revealed that focus back effort mediated the relationship between motivation and mind wandering in a reading comprehension task although not the only mediating pathway.

Previous research has extensively explored the connection between motivation and mind wandering Klinger, ; Seli et al. Consequently, focus back effort emerges as a potentially important target for interventions aimed at mitigating mind wandering. Thus, in educational contexts, interventions focused on enhancing focus back effort may lead to improved academic performance.

Similarly, in work settings, relevant research may contribute to reducing the detrimental impact of mind wandering on job performance.

By addressing the role of focus back effort, these interventions have the potential to provide practical solutions to minimize the negative consequences of mind wandering in various domains. In summary, this study builds upon previous research examining the interplay between mind wandering, motivation, interest, and task performance by introducing focus back effort as a novel factor.

The study demonstrates that interest indirectly predicts mind wandering through the mediating pathways of motivation and focus back effort.

Furthermore, interest indirectly influences task performance by impacting motivation, focus back effort, and mind wandering in high-load tasks. These results shed light on the underlying mechanism of focus back effort in the relationships among motivation, interest, mind wandering, and task performance, underscoring the pivotal role of executive control adjustments in resource allocation when considering domain-specific factors and mind wandering.

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Even a break of a few seconds may make a positive difference. Spending time in nature may have positive effects on cognitive function. Urban environments may negatively affect attention, whereas green spaces may help improve concentration and working memory. A study of preschool and primary school children found a link between exposure to green spaces in the residential areas they grew up in and better scores on tests measuring attention.

According to a study , physical activity is positively linked to academic performance, and structured physical activity may improve concentration and mental focus. In particular, coordinated bilateral exercises, which use both sides of the body and simultaneous movements, may engage both sides of the brain and improve cognitive function.

The study found that school-aged children who took part in daily coordinated bilateral exercise breaks had significant improvements in concentration and attention after 4 weeks compared with a control group. Getting up and moving around from a desk may also help improve concentration and productivity.

Standing up for periods of work or taking breaks to walk around may help improve blood flow and circulation, which may help increase how active and engaged the brain is. According to a review , diet may influence cognitive function.

Foods high in refined sugars and saturated fats may have a negative impact on concentration. Foods with a low glycemic index may help improve attention and memory. A lack of amino acids may also affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin which may link to learning, reasoning, and memory.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limiting saturated fat and sugar intake, and drinking enough water each day may help support concentration levels. A article suggests the following tips for improving concentration, staying focused, and increasing productivity:.

The following factors and health conditions can cause difficulty concentrating or contribute to a decline in concentration:. If changes in diet or lifestyle do not help improve concentration, people can contact a doctor.

Persistent problems with concentration may be a sign of an underlying condition. People can also speak with a doctor if an inability to concentrate affects their personal or working life. Healthcare professionals can suggest lifestyle changes and monitor people to see if these management strategies make a difference.

People may be able to improve concentration by addressing any potential causes, such as a lack of sleep or poor nutrition. Getting regular exercise, practicing good sleep hygiene, eating healthily, and using productivity tools may all help support concentration. If people have persistent difficulty concentrating, they can see a doctor to check if an underlying health condition may be the cause.

Difficulty focusing is a key ADHD symptom. Some people with the condition may also hyperfocus on tasks they enjoy. Learn more about ADHD's effects on…. In an age of constant stimuli and distractions, it can be almost impossible to concentrate.

We have put together some concentration-enhancing…. Avoidant personality disorder treatment usually involves talk therapy, which can help a person reframe negative self-beliefs.

Learn more. Body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria both involve a person feeling dissatisfied with aspects of their body.

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Medical News Today. Health Conditions Health Products Discover Tools Connect. How can people improve concentration and focus? Medically reviewed by Francis Kuehnle, MSN, RN-BC — By Beth Sissons on August 21, Avoid multitasking Get enough sleep Mindfulness Take breaks Be in nature Exercise Balanced diet Productivity techniques Causes Getting help Summary Diet and lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and practicing mindfulness, may help improve concentration.

Avoid multitasking. Get enough sleep. Practice mindfulness.

Zight May 31, 7 min read Balanced athlete snacks. Table of Contents Accept That Ac levels chart Is No Mohivation Right Way To Do Something Eliminate Decision Mfntal Mental focus and motivation On Something Else Practice Self-Care Meental Intentionally Manage Stress Get Rid Of Digital Distractions Give Yourself A Hard Deadline Enlist Positive Peer Pressure Be Nice To Yourself. The thick fog of confusion of the news cycle and uncertainty for the future is making it extremely hard to be productive. Finding motivation is a tricky thing to muster during stressful and uncertain times. Here are our top tips to strengthen and find focus in times of uncertainty. By the Mind Mental focus and motivation Content Team. How many times have you tried to focus on a task, only to find motivaation your Mental focus and motivation is Mentwl Despite Menatl best intentions, you just can't concentrate. We've Inflammation and mental health been in this familiar, frustrating situation, and it's something that can really undermine our performance. In this article, video and infographic, we'll review strategies that you can use to improve your concentration and to reduce your daily distractions. Your personal work environment plays a large role in your ability to concentrate. The more comfortable and welcoming your environment is, the easier it will likely be for you to stay focused.

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