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Cloudy Language – Cloudy Thinking

One of the reasons it has long been difficult to effectively improve our mental abilities, is that it is difficult to properly define what they are. Trying to do so takes us, not only into an immaterial realm where there is nothing that can be pointed to, displayed as an example, or measured with a tape, but even when a faculty of the mind has been precisely defined, and a measurement that corresponds to it can be taken, yet describing what this measurement means can be difficult because it takes us perilously near places where we are predisposed to pitfalls of philosophy; such as, mistaking theory for fact, map for territory, analogy for truth or correlation for causation. Take the following that I found on a website about neurofeedback for ADD and ADHD therapy, and see if you can spot what’s wrong with it:

What ADHD looks like in the brain
An individual living with ADHD typically has a higher than normal ratio of Theta brainwave activity to Beta brainwave activity. This means that the Theta level is high in relation to Beta activity. This clouds the mind and makes it difficult to pay attention and problem solve.

The first two sentences describe one measurement, unlikely to be understood even by non-specialists who are interested in science, redundantly assert that it is correlated with a problem. The third sentence seems to say that this is clearly a mechanistic cause. How can something, “clouding the mind” be understood as anything other than a metaphor? Since when is it grammatically appropriate to speak of people trying to “problem solve” rather than trying to solve problems?

How is attention defined, understood and measured by people researching the mind and brain today?

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