EDITORIAL

The Anti-Distraction Drink

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ow long can you concentrate? What’s it worth to you? These two questions are interrelated.

A story is told that when Albert Einstein was a teenager, he developed something called a “Distraction Index.” Supposedly, this was a method he designed to increase deep concentration, which allowed young Albert to focus completely upon whatever he was doing for up to 42 minutes. Most of us have trouble concentrating for more than a few minutes!

However, this is a story without substance because, despite 1,720 hits on the web (as of September 29, 2015), no source for the story can be reliably named.

Did Einstein develop the Einstein Distraction Index, a tool for enhancing concentration? Or did he not?

Realizing that anything “Einstein” makes for a captivating story, let’s assume for a moment that the Einstein Distraction Index information is correct. Let’s suppose that there is some way to enhance concentration abilities. Einstein would call this a thought experiment (or Gedankenexperiment in German).

In our age of constantly living with disruption, when there are so many things competing for our attention, increasing one’s ability to focus could be very important. It could enable us to increase our most meaningful output, and possibly even our happiness.

According to the urban myth, Einstein is said to have been distraction-free for 42 minutes. Wouldn’t it be great if you were distraction-free for a time period greater than 42 minutes, or even half that amount? Allegedly, there are exercises that can help, and there is a jaded audience for this type of focus selfhelp. Sadly, most of these people are skeptical of anything they haven’t read in The New York Times.

When I finally sit down to write, after weeks of preparation and after studying the scientific papers I’ve chosen, I must propel myself into deep concentration. But rather than doing distraction exercises, I drink some choline … and what a difference it makes!

Acetylcholine (the concentration neurotransmitter synthesized from choline and vitamin B5) is strongly associated with focus, attention, and mental clarity (according to Durk Pearson, Clint Eastwood has acknowledged that using choline helped make him a better public speaker). And given its power to make you a little more like Einstein, the price is bargain.

Live long and prosper,

Will Block

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