Maximize your brain through Focused and Diffuse Mode of Thinking


One key brain topics that I learned from Barbara Oakley (Author of A Mind for Numbers), is that our brain has two modes of thinking. Focused and diffuse mode. And learning how it works can give us full concentration in any subject, and to have a better general perspective about anything.

It also gives me the confidence to master any subjects I would like to specialize even though its a very new concept I haven’t heard of before. It’s open to a limitless possibility. It gives me a full appreciation of my brain, how it works and what it can accomplish.

Focused mode is a concentrated form of thinking. It is a highly attentive state of mind uses our brains ability to ignore all extraneous information. Distractions don’t exist in this mode as we have a one-track mind to the subject matter at hand. It allows us to zoom directly on the most important information such as solving an integral calculus problem or learning how to play chess.

Diffused mode is a relaxed thinking state. It is a rest state of mind and helps us to look at the bigger picture. Diffuse thinking lets your mind wander freely and helps you to make random connections. It has the ability to connect the dots that you have learned in focused mode. It’s an effective way to think outside the box.

The Flashlight Analogy can help you think how it works. Imagine your brain as a flashlight. Focused mode is a setting where there is a very strong light in smaller area, helping you to see an object clearer. While the diffused mode has a bigger light coverage, but is not very strong. It allows you to see the bigger things, but is not clear.

The Technique

You cannot use both modes of thinking at once, and the technique is to toggle between focused and diffused mode. My own way is I focused on one topic at a time at a specified number of minutes or hours, then take a break using diffused mode when I’m a stock at something to refresh mind, then go back again in focused mode. I repeat this process until I solve the problem or once the information about new subject already sticks in my mind.

Toggling between focused and diffused mode is the best way to solve a difficult problem and to help you master new things. You can share your own stories in the comment sections below about this mode of thinking, and what your great brain accomplished in using it.