In a world of multi-tasking minds, an ever-shrinking news cycle and myriad gadgets to distract us, it's no wonder many people (myself included) think their attention span is dwindling.
One way, however, to strengthen your concentration skills may be practicing Buddhist meditation techniques, according to findings (subscription required) published in the latest issue of Psychological Science.
In the study (which involved 60 subjects), researchers divided participants into two groups and enrolled them in two separate three-month meditation retreats. At three points during the retreat, each person took a computerized test where a series of lines flashed across the screen and the test taker had to click the mouse when a shorter line appeared. The tests was designed to measure their ability to make fine visual distinctions and sustain visual attention. Researchers found:
Participants got better at discriminating the short lines as the training went on. This improvement in perception made it easier to sustain attention, so they also improved their task performance over a long period of time. This improvement persisted five months after the retreat, particularly for people who continued to meditate every day.