Attention and brain processing
- English (United States)
Let me share my point of view about relationship between attention and brain information processing. Simply put, if you shift your attention from what you are experiencing right now, then your brain would have trouble fully processing information regarding your experiences, whatever these are, at a moment called now. Then pieces of information which are not processed fully may or many not appear as physical, psychological, as well as emotional experiences later on. If you walk in a very hot summer day while you pay attention to something else not to feel hot, for instance, information on your bodily, neuronal, and hormonal functions, such as muscle movement of your legs/arms, activation of SNS, and secretion of cortisol, might not be taken place as expected.
In Synaptic plasticity, neuronal connections change and neurons are generated in hippocampus to the brain region of your attention. It may be the case, to me having a limited expertise in neuroscience, that brain regions or activation patterns of it of your attention may function fully, but the ones not of your attention may not function fully. So it might be the case that since we have experience what we pay attention to mainly and these experiences do not reflect on everything we experience, then the information processing of objects you do not pay attention in certain experience, such as movement of your legs, may not be completed.
（A video about synaptic plasticity with Japanese subtitles）
For example, you may be familiar with “repression”, pushing unwanted things in your mind down to the unconscious. Someone said something hurt your feeling, then you need bodily, emotional, and cognitive information processing to be completed but if you try not to pay attention to that and successfully repress that, these bodily, emotional, and cognitive processing stop and stay in your brain. These sometimes come back into your mind and then your brain tries to process unprocessed information but you try to shift your attention to something else to avoid your hurt feeling. I, as a therapist, often witness traumatized clients recall vivid and untouched memories of trauma which remain unprocessed for long time.
In sum, I provisionally think that if you pay attention to something, then the information on that something would be processed, but if you do not pay attention to something, then the information of that something would not be processed fully. I think this is a very important idea in therapy to lead clients free from their unprocessed trauma.