Can we make distractions a little less distracting?

Can we make distractions a little less distracting?

Attention, attention and even more attention. It seems that we can’t get enough of it. Throughout the day, lots of stimuli and tasks seem to crave our attention while others get suppressed. For example, while driving your car several stimuli reach your perception. However, not all are important to attend and certain distractors need to be suppressed. EEG studies have shown that certain brain waves correlate with attention. Four brain waves have been identified, including beta, alpha, theta and gamma which all have different properties.  Alpha brainwaves might have an interesting property in terms of attention, as it has been suggested that alpha waves inhibit distracting stimuli. To find out whether this is indeed the case, an online attention-distraction paradigm has been set up. How do you induce alpha brain waves via an online experiment, you ask? This can be done via sensory entrainment: a rhythmic flickering visual stimulus is presented in a frequency of 12 Hz for 800ms. After entrainment, a target and/or distractor appears. If the target appears in the opposite hemisphere to the one you were entrained (entrainment on the left side and target on the right and vice versa), we expected better performances compared to baseline measurements. If we add a distractor to the participant´s entrained hemisphere, we expect that the effect of the distractor is mitigated. Therefore you should be faster to respond to the target compared to “distractor but no alpha entrainment” trials. – Group 12

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