16 Temmuz 2012 Pazartesi

Relaxing After High Concentration- 1

What can be done after a tiring day to relax? Even people working in normal jobs have to spend effort to relax after some heavy loaded days. This article is the first of a series that explains some of the techniques that can be used to relax... After the first article which is about ‘Focal’ and ‘ambient’ vision types and their relation to relaxing, I will write about getting rid of mental energy by using it for nothing and the function of imagination. As the last point of interest, I will propose a technique to get rid of the high concentration and relax by alluding to Sartre’s “Imagination and Consciousness”.

Every engineer, air traffic controller, large systems operator who work with computers have to focus their attention to a small area for long periods of time. These people have difficulty looking at large areas and at distant things when they get out of their working place.

Our mental operations related to vision are of two kinds- focal and ambient. Focal vision is almost always related with fovea which is without rods and related with small details, pattern recognition. For example reading writings and identifying small things. Ambient vision is related with seing things on the periphery not the center. It is related with orientation and ego motion – to feel the speed and direction of our own movement[1].

Our focal and ambient vision abilities and mental resources define each other actively. For example, we can read a book while we walk down the aisle or we can read the street names while we drive. This situation show that there is an effective time sharing between them, they are executed by different brain structures and their information processing characteristics are different.

It is suggested that an effective time sharing between focal and ambient vision exists because the ambient vision is an automatic process[1]. The mental tiredness created by the concious process of the focal vision in the case of long durations, may be elavated by the automatic process of ambient vision. The problem, at this point arises in the case of long duration high concentration. High concentration stops the automatic process triggering. Hence, the relaxing of the vision mechanism of the mind by its natural balancing becomes impossible. The relaxing of the mind in some cases by driving a car may be related to the balanced use of automatic processes and attention.

The mind’s vision processing gives strong hints about its whole processing. The focal and ambient vision mechanisms may abstractly be related to focusing on a subject and feel the peripheral concepts and objects related to this subject automatically. For example, it is mind’s ambient like mechanisms that enables us to trust him.

When you look at the carpet under the table, even though some of the patterns are behind the table’s legs you still percieve the situation as if you see the whole carpet. The mind deducts the continuation of patterns from the way day come and although they are not seen it is felt as if they are[2]. The deduction of patterns may be related with the ambient vision and more general automatic processing of the brain.

When we see an object, our mind deals with its visual attributes primarily. It completes the missing parts with good continuation if they can not be seen. As the time passes, the semantic tree objects begin to get triggered. An object passes to the working memory after staying in the perception memory for a certain amount of time.

Hence it begins to trigger the semantic connections related to itself[3]. When you see a person, even though you do not focus on him, his height, suit colour, physical attributes, gender, etc. And his abstract attributes get triggered and gets prepared to serve your attention. In fact Sartre’s example for visual completion is valid for mental completion also.

Focusing infact is leaving enough time for looking. If we look at a constant object and continue to do so for a long time, our attention concentrates on that object. Blinking period increases, even our breathing decreases. A large systems engineer who works with high concentration for long durations gets physically tired even by simply concentrating. The engineer focuses on a specific subject and related issues, building semantic relations. This process continues iteratively till it converges to a solution. To change a single line of code in an air traffic control system the whole system has to be studied in relation to this change and its functional effects have to be analized. This process requires a high level of concentration to be maintained for upto six months.

Not only people who work at long duration high concentration jobs but also even students who prepare for finals have difficulty in relaxing after a complete working day. Everyone has developed a personal technique to relax intuitively or by experience. My point is, large systems operators have to be trained to learn and apply these techniques systematically...

Let’s return back to the vision metaphor. If we focus on something and look at it sternly, our looking focus gets smaller, concentration increases to maximum, on the other hand ambient vision begins to increase and after a while our vision gets blurred and our eyes begin to contemplate. There is a natural control mechanism.

We adjust our concentration level by looking and seeing. The balancing of each of focal and ambient vision in the flow of the normal life adjusts our mind’s thinking speed[4]. At the beginning of our cognitive evolution lies in the visual ability. Systematic seeing and looking may give us some clues for relaxing after long duration heavy concentration.

After high concentration jobs with focused vision one should give more chance to the automatic processes of the ambient vision. It would be usefull to stay 3-4 hours in an environment with a wide view and far distances. To view the depths not the surface, the view not the objects but the volume created between them would be useful. To view objects in their context and imagine the missing parts that can not be seen.

After non-visual jobs that concentrate on abstract concepts it would be useful to stay in a wide view environment with horizon and a far sea sight too. To look at the things on the surface, to view objects without their relations, to bring everything to the surface would be necessary...


[1] Wickens, C. D., “Multiple Resources and Performance Prediction”, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Institute of Aviation USA

[2] Sartre, J. P., “Basic Writings - Imagination and Emotion, The Psychology of Imagination, Consciousness and Imagination”, Edited By Stephen Priest, Routledge, 2005

[3] Saral, A. R., “Düşünüş Durağanlığı”, http://largesystems-atc.blogspot.com/2008/09/dn-duraanlii.html

[4] Saral, A. R., “Farklılaşan Beyin”, http://largesystems-atc.blogspot.com/2007_09_01_archive.html

Some allusions::

[1] Multiple resources and performance prediction
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Institute of Aviation Willard Airport, Aviation
Human Factors Division, Aviation Research Laboratory, 1 Airport Road, Savoy, IL 61874,
Keywords: Attention; Performance; Time sharing workload.

4.3. Visual channels

In addition to the distinction between auditory and visual modalities of processing, there is good evidence that two aspects of visual processing, referred to as focal and ambient vision, appear to define separate resources in the sense of

(a) supporting efficient time-sharing,
(b) being characterized by qualitatively different brain structures, and
(c) being associated with qualitatively different types of information processing

(Leibowitz et al. 1982, Weinstein and Wickens 1992, Previc 1998).

Focal vision, which is nearly always foveal, is required for fine detail and pattern recognition (e.g. reading text, identifying small objects). In contrast, ambient vision heavily (but not exclusively) involves peripheral vision, and is used for sensing orientation and ego motion (the direction and speed with which one moves through the environment). When we successfully walk down a corridor while reading a book, we are exploiting the parallel processing or multiple resource capabilities of focal and ambient vision, just as we are when keeping the car moving forward in the centre of the lane (ambient vision) while reading a road sign, glancing at the rear view mirror or recognizing a hazardous object in the middle of the road (focal vision).

Aircraft designers have considered several ways of exploiting ambient vision to provide guidance and alerting information to pilots, while their focal vision is heavily loaded by 166 C. D. Wickens perceiving specific channels of displayed instrument information (Stokes et al. 1990, Liggett et al. 1999) It is appropriate to ask whether the successful time sharing of focal and ambient visual tasks results because ambient vision uses separate resources, or because it uses no resources at all; that is, processing from ambient vision may be said to be 'preattentive' or automated. At the present time, insufficient data exist to answer this question, as few researchers have attempted to examine dual task performance of two ambient tasks. One study (Weinstein and Wickens 1992), however, did suggest that the second (pre-attentive/automatic) explanation offered above may in fact be the more correct one.

[2] Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings, Edited By Stephen Priest, Routledge, 2005
Imagination and Emotion, The Psychology of Imagination, Consciousness and Imagination

P 95
For an objects or any element of an object there is a great difference between being grasped as nothing and being-given-as-absent.

For instance, the arabesques of the rug I am viewing are both in part given to my intuition. The legs of the arm chair which stands before the window conceal certain curves, certain designs. But I nevertheless seize these hidden arabesques as existing now, as hidden but not at all as absent. … I grasp what has been given me of their continuation.

It is therefore in the way in which I grasp the data that I posit that which is not given as being real. Real by the same right as the data, as that which gives its meaning and its very nature. Likewise the successive tones of a melody are grasped by appropriate retentions as that which makes of the tone now heard exactly what it is. In this sense, to percieve this or that real datum is to percieve it on the foundation of total reality as a whole.”

“If I want to imagine the hidden arabesques, I direct my attention upon them and isolate them, just as I isolate on the foundation of an undifferentiated universe the thing I actually percieve. I cease to grasp them as empty but constituting the sense of the percieved reality, instead I present them to myself, in themselves. But at the moment that I cease to concieve them as continuous present in order to grasp them in themselves, I grasp them as absent. Of course they really exist over there, under the chair , and it is over there that I think of them, but in thinking of them where they are not given to me, I grasp them as nothing for me. Thus the imaginative act is at once constitutive, isolating and annihilating.