A visual puzzle could tell how good you are at concentrating on tasks.
First look for the 'o' in the left puzzle, and then in the right one
Researchers from University College London have found that if you are distracted by a cartoon figure with no relation to a puzzle (i.e. the one on the right), you are more likely to have difficulty concentrating and show symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
In a study, published in the journal Psychological Science, participants were asked to find target letters in formations, in images which sometimes included cartoon figures purely included to distract.
Out of 384 trials, 25 per cent included a distracting image of a well-known cartoon character beside the letters.
Picture: Psychological Science
After the tests, participants submitted a validated self-report, measuring ADHD during their childhood.
The study found that those who were easily distracted were also likely to report ADHD symptoms in childhood.
Professor Nilli Lavie of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said in a statement:
We all know from personal experience that some people appear to be more prone to lapses of attention than others. At the same time, we know that inattention and distractibility characterise people with a clinical diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Since the correlation of ADHD scores and our objective computerized measure of distractibility was established with adults who performed the task now but reported about ADHD symptoms experienced in childhood, this suggests that distractibility is a trait that is present already in childhood and predisposes people to attention lapses during adulthood, as well.
The discovery of an attention-distractibility trait is important because attention serves as the gateway to all information processing.
The researchers concluded that the trait could be a "a significant yet underrecognised determinant of general well-being".
We've mocked up some completely scientific examples of similar tests, using another cartoon character.