WHAT’S THE ATTENTION AREA AND WHY IS SO IMPORTANT?
Attention is a concept studied in cognitive psychology that refers to how we actively process specific information in our environment.
Attention is defined as a quality of perception, that works as a filter of external stimuli, selecting the most important and giving priority to the activity. In addition, this mechanism controls and regulates a great range of mental activities from learning to complex reasoning. Attention mechanisms are modified depending on variables that influence either in a positive or negative way (from interest to stress).
According to neuronup.com (2017) there are five different attention processes:
- Sustained attention: the ability to continuously maintain focus on a task or event over a long period of time. This type of attention is also called vigilance.
- Selective attention: the ability to direct attention and focus on a task without interruption or interference from either external or internal factors or stimuli.
- Alternating attention: the ability to rapidly shift focus from one task to another.
- Processing speed: the rate at which the brain performs a task (it will evidently vary according to the task and depending on other cognitive functions involved). It is measured by the elapsed time between the onset of a stimulus and the individual’s response.
- Hemineglect: great difficulty or inability to direct attention to one side (usually the left) of external space or one’s own body.
Why is attention important?
Attention is the key to perform any activity of the daily living (ADL), facilitating perception, memory and learning. Attention allows us to regulate the input of information for the performance of the action, discarding what is irrelevant, focusing on awareness and allowing us to respond to more than one activity.
ALTERATIONS IN THIS DIMENSION IN PATIENTS WITH ALZHEIMER’S DEMENTIA
In Alzheimer’s disease, sustained attention is the least vulnerable, selective and divided attention will be severely affected as the disease progresses.
In the milder stages of Alzheimer’s disease, there are difficulties in recognizing complex or new objects, colours of similar ranges, new faces, complex organizational spaces and internal parts of the body.
In the moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the recognition of familiar objects or smells, the faces of infrequent acquaintances and the brain areas of simple organization are often altered. The appearance of incidences in the recognition of the own body and the aggravation of the problems in discriminating colours are also common; with the exception of red, yellow, blue, green and black.
In the last phase, or advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, patients cannot recognize their own face, neither in photographs, nor in front of the mirror, nor that of the nearest relatives, most objects, colours and places with very simple spatial organization… It is also necessary to take into account other aspects that may affect attention, such as depression and the consumption of certain psychotropic drugs.
SERIOUS GAMES APPROPRIATE FOR THIS DIMENSION:
Games to stimulate attention are related to those in which visual acuity, discrimination, visual association, orientation and / or auditory identification are required. They are games such as puzzles, pairing, finding numbers or looking for certain objects in an environment.
The serious games recommended to train this dimension are the following: