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Ex. HM1
The Bell of Attentional Stability

This bell curve depicts a population in which the bulk of the people are able to focus their attentions evenly, engaging and disengaging at will, leaving those who have problems with over or underfocusing on the outer ends of the attention spectrum.

Towards the left, beneath UF, is the underfocusing side of this spectrum, consisting of those who struggle to switch focus on and keep attentions engaged, particularly for cognitive tasks requiring extended  concentration. Towards the right, beneath OF on the opposite side, is the overfocusing end, consisting of people whose primary struggle is turning attention off to switch attention to other tasks. Their challenge is less about concentration pe se than about focusing on the wrong things at the wrong time and a struggle to disengage.

People from either side of this spectrum will have problems attending to anything but the most significant tasks, and, in the presence of strong stimuli, those from either side of the spectrum will exhibit degrees of restlessness, impulsivity and distractibility, the three core symptoms of an attention difficulty.

It is important to note this is a dynamic spectrum in which attentions ebb and flow over time, in response to stimuli. People from the middle find themselves over and underfocused at times, just as those whose primary home is towards one side will find themselves moving towards the middle in times of greater "attentional synchrony." Each of us has a default mode where we reside most of the time, as well as a range of variance where we move along this baseline. It is the degree and duration of that variability (or "brain bounce") which distinguishes those with attention difficulties (previewed in Ex.SSB1).

This spectrum of inattention was created by placing the poles of over- and underattentiveness side by side, omitting the middle of the bell which is where those with primarily "modulating" minds reside. As you move through these exhibits, you will see the colored numbers above, here arranged in a line, depicted in other forms including columns and rows. In all cases, the numbers mean the same. Each of them is a reference to a type and degree of attention difficulty.

Exhibit for the workshop Hyperactive Hearts & Minds: Towards a Unified Model of Attention Differences, presented by Carla Nelson Berg at the annual midwinter Mind-Brain Sciences Colloquium in Palm Springs, February 1997 and 98.

               This exhibit is now archived at:

Related links:

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