Attention and concentration: the differences

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The importance of mental clarity in our daily lives cannot be overstated. Two key concepts, attention and concentration, play a crucial role in our ability to function effectively. But what really distinguishes attention from concentration?

Attention is often seen as the ability to consciously direct one’s cognitive resources towards a particular stimulus. It acts as a mental projector, allowing our mind to focus on a specific element among the multitude of information surrounding us.


The different types of attention and concentration

Attention, as a complex cognitive process, comes in a variety of types, each with distinct implications for how we perceive and process the information around us. There are several types of attention, such as selective attention, sustained attention and divided attention. Each of these aspects plays a unique role in our ability to process information efficiently.


Sustained attention


Sustained attention refers to the ability to maintain prolonged concentration on a specific task without distraction. It is crucial in activities such as reading, solving complex problems or carrying out work that requires prolonged focus.


Factors influencing Sustained Attention

Fatigue, motivation and environment can all influence our ability to maintain sustained attention. Understanding these factors is essential to optimizing our performance in demanding tasks.

Selective attention


Selective attention enables us to focus our mental resources on a specific stimulus while ignoring other stimuli in our environment. It’s what enables us to follow a conversation in a noisy environment, or to concentrate on a task despite distractions.


The Cocktail Party

The “Cocktail Party” phenomenon illustrates selective attention, where one person can focus on a particular conversation even in a crowded place with many ongoing discussions.

Divided attention


Divided attention occurs when we try to concentrate on several tasks simultaneously. Unlike selective attention, which focuses on one element at a time, divided attention requires us to divide our mental resources between several activities.


Multitasking and its limits

Although modern society often encourages multitasking, studies suggest that this can lead to a decrease in the quality of attention paid to each individual task. Understanding the limits of divided attention is crucial to optimizing our efficiency.


Executive attention


Executive attention is involved in the management of higher mental processes such as planning, decision-making and problem-solving. It plays an essential role in regulating our behavior according to the objectives we have set.


The role of executive attention in everyday life

Activities such as project planning, complex problem solving and decision making are all dependent on executive attention. Strengthening this form of attention can improve our ability to deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life.

By understanding these different types of attention, we are better equipped to develop strategies to improve our cognitive abilities and optimize our performance in various situations.


Understanding concentration


On the other hand, concentration involves the ability to maintain a high level of attention on a specific task for an extended period of time. It’s a mental state where the mind immerses itself deeply in an activity, eliminating distractions.


Factors influencing concentration


Factors such as environment, motivation and fatigue can all influence our ability to maintain optimal concentration. Understanding these variables is essential to improving our cognitive performance.



Although distinct, attention and concentration are closely linked. Good attention can pave the way for deep concentration, while sustained concentration often depends on proper attention management.


Techniques to improve attention and concentration

Practices such as meditation, time management and mindful pausing can help strengthen both attention and concentration.


Attention and concentration: concrete examples illustrating the differences between them 

1. Reading a Book (Sustained Attention vs. Concentration)

  • Sustained Attention: When you’re reading an exciting book, your ability to maintain sustained attention allows you to stay immersed in the story without being constantly distracted by outside thoughts.
  • Concentration: However, concentration comes into play when you immerse yourself deeply in reading, forgetting the passage of time. You’re totally absorbed by the content, eliminating distractions for total immersion.


2. Meeting at work (Selective attention vs. concentration)

  • Selective attention: In a noisy meeting, your selective attention enables you to focus on the presenter’s voice despite the ambient hubbub.
  • Concentration: Concentration comes into play when, even in the midst of agitation, you manage to immerse yourself deeply in the discussion, analyzing information and making a significant contribution to the meeting.

3. Multitasking (divided attention vs. concentration)

  • Divided attention: Answering e-mails while taking part in a virtual meeting allows you to juggle tasks, but can lead to a loss of depth in each activity.
  • Concentration: Concentration occurs when you isolate yourself to work on a specific task, eliminating distractions and immersing yourself fully in the work to achieve quality results.


4. Problem solving (executive attention vs. concentration)

  • Executive attention: When you’re planning to solve a complex problem, your executive attention is at work, coordinating the different steps and strategies needed to reach your goal.
  • Concentration: Once the strategy has been established, concentration comes into play when you tackle the problem, eliminating distractions to immerse yourself fully in the search for solutions.

These examples demonstrate how attention and concentration interact in various everyday contexts, highlighting the complementary nature of these essential mental processes.


Testimony of a Neuropsychologist on Attention and Concentration Work

As a neuropsychologist, I see on a daily basis the significant impact that training attention and concentration can have on mental well-being and cognitive performance. Here’s how I guide my patients to improve these crucial aspects of cognitive function.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with many people seeking to optimize their mental abilities, whether to overcome specific challenges or simply improve their quality of life. A key approach I advocate is the balanced development of attention and concentration.”

**1. Understanding the Different Types of Attention :

“My work often begins by educating my patients about the different types of attention. Together we explore sustained, selective, divided and executive attention. Each of these aspects plays a unique role in our daily lives, and understanding these nuances is fundamental to effective training.”

**2. Practicing Mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is a powerful technique for developing attention. I guide my patients through meditation and breathing exercises to help them cultivate mental presence. This serves as a solid foundation for improving the ability to maintain sustained attention in a variety of situations.”

**3. Concentration exercises :

“To strengthen concentration, we work on specific exercises. This can involve complex tasks that require total immersion, distraction-free work sessions, or cognitive games focused on strengthening focus on specific details.”

**4. Integration into everyday life:

“Attention and concentration training should not be seen as a separate task, but rather as an integration into daily life. I encourage my patients to apply these techniques in their usual activities, whether at work, at home or even during leisure time.”

“Ultimately, seeing my patients develop greater mental clarity, increased ability to focus and mental resilience is a constant source of inspiration. By working on attention and focus, we pave the way for significant improvements in quality of life and personal fulfillment.”


Work on attention and concentration in everyday life


1. Practical techniques to improve concentration

Example 1: The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro method, based on intervals of concentrated work interspersed with short breaks, is an effective approach to training concentration. By dedicating 25 minutes to a specific task, followed by a 5-minute break, you keep your mind fresh and focused.

Example 2: Eliminating Distractions

Identifying and eliminating distractions from your working environment is crucial. Whether it’s putting your phone on silent mode, using app-blocking tools for specific periods, or creating a quiet workspace, these adjustments can dramatically improve concentration.


2. Exercises to develop attention


Example 1: Mindfulness in Daily Activities

Integrating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as eating or walking, is a practical way of developing attention. By paying conscious attention to the details, sensations and experiences of the present moment, you strengthen your ability to stay fully engaged.


Example 2: Cognitive Stimulation Games

Cognitive games, such as puzzles, riddles or specially designed applications, can be fun, attention-grabbing exercises. By incorporating them into your routine, you provide your brain with challenges that encourage the development of concentration.

3. Clint, Your brain coach


Clint, your brain coach, is an innovative application designed to optimize your cognitive potential. Combining scientifically validated exercises to strengthen attention and concentration, Clint offers a personalized approach based on individual progress. From quick coffee-break sessions to more in-depth training sessions, Clint adapts to your schedule and specific needs.

With Clint , you can track your performance over time, receive personalized advice and discover a variety of exercises to work specifically on the aspects of attention and concentration that interest you. Turn your daily routine into a constant opportunity for cognitive improvement with the help of Clint, your brain coach.

clint icon_new interface

The Mole Invasion


Tap on the 3 mole types according to the instructions on the screen.

With this game, you stimulate attention above all.

You need to use your visual scanning skills to spot moles quickly. She then has to analyze the image to find out which mole appears on the screen. Finally, it must associate the type of mole with the action to be taken.

This association therefore implies adaptation to the instructions. The person is asked to activate or inhibit his or her gesture according to different stimuli: touching the moles once without a helmet, touching the moles twice with a helmet, or not touching the moles with the glasses on.

Crowded Parking Lot


Move the cars in the parking lot to bring out the yellow car.

With this game, you can stimulate all the cognitive functions that are essential for regaining independence.

The person must use his or her visual perception skills to analyze the position of the cars, their size and orientation, so as to be able to move them. Then she has to create mental images to imagine the possible movements of the cars and their consequences.

What’s more, to solve this puzzle and find the right sequence of movements to get the yellow car out, you’re also stimulating concentration and planning.

Flying balloons


In this game, the player has to count the balloons passing by on the screen, following the instructions given.

There will be several balloons of different colors, and he’ll have to count the balloons of a single color.

He will therefore have to sort between important stimuli (balloons of the right color) and distracting stimuli (balloons of the wrong color).



Your CLINT brain coach offers you more than 30 cognitive games and personalized advice to carry out your post-cancer cognitive rehabilitation from your smartphone, installed on your sofa. You will also have the possibility to make an appointment with a memory coach for an online session in video.



Your CLINT brain coach also provides you with training programs to use the application according to your needs. There are 5 programs to train memory, attention, language, planning and perception. You will find games to play to improve a cognitive function and practical tips and strategies.

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