Your attention span is shorter than a goldfish's

Your attention span is shorter than a goldfish's

You need to pay attention to this. The question is, can you?

New brain research from Microsoft (MSFT) finds the human attention span is now down to a mere eight seconds-- one second less than a goldfish!

The study, which surveyed 2000 Canadians plus looked at electroencephalograms (EEG) of 112 more, points out that 15 years ago, our attention span was 12 seconds…but by 2013 it had fallen by four seconds.

So why the decline? Our electronic gadgets.

Microsoft says:

Overall, digital lifestyles deplete the ability to remain focused on a single task, particularly in non-digital environments.

The findings come as no surprise to Yahoo Finance’s Jen Rogers.

“I do feel smartphones and all technology has changed the way that I concentrate,” she says. “I think it’s interesting that Microsoft wants to use this information for advertisers and commercial purposes, like how to capitalize on the fact we can’t pay attention to anything.”

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli thinks advertisers definitely can use these findings to their advantage.

“It means we’re very alert to stimuli in very short time increments,” he explains. “So you can kind of bombard people with more stuff. They might be more able to turn their attention to it.”

And the researchers confirm that.

Connected consumers are becoming better at doing more with less via shorter burst of high attention and more efficient encoding to memory.

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Yahoo Finance’s Lauren Lyster notes the report has value beyond just advertisers.

“It also has implications for content providers,” she argues. “Maybe we should be condensing this to a Vine (TWTR).”

Santoli finds the data a bit reassuring as well.

“It also means we’re more complex organisms than the goldfish because we can pick up other things that are going on,” he adds.

Rogers remains positive, too.

“It’s good to point out our attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds,” she reminds us. “So I’ve only lost four seconds off it.”

But the always-analytical Santoli doesn’t think she really should be too encouraged by that.

“12 to eight is a pretty big decline,” he laughs. “You’ve lost 30% over 15 years!”