8/28/2007

Reading Rainbow and My Brain into a Hole

I was determined Friday night. I relaxed, staying in so that I could wake up at 8:00 AM and attack one of the old LSATs I'd picked up. But lo and behold, I didn't go to sleep until 3. Why? It was a sort of crippling fear that once I took the test for real, if I did well, there'd be no turning back. However, if I bombed it, I'd be down about the whole affair.



Nevertheless, I rolled out of bed around 10, and decided to do half an LSAT. I compromised with myself. Well, I did OK on the difficult section and TANKED the reading comprehension part. I thought they put reading comprehension on there to boost your score. Free points. I tried to forget about it, meeting my parents and nephew for a paddleboat ride in the park. I even decided to have some drinks and party it up that night, mainly because I hadn't gone out and partied hard in months. So, by some drinks I mean a barrel full of them.



The next day, after relaxing at a pool party, I dried out and started to think about what might have caused the lapse. Was it my new medicine? Was it the fact that I didn't drink coffee that morning? I decided I would have to take several more tests, under all different circumstances, much like the research done around here.



But then I realized something. It was just a problem of focus. Lately, every time I read words, I'll see something that my mind will use as an excuse to blast off tangentially, like a salvo of missiles. What caused this, I wondered. My first instinct was to blame it on my medicine, an easy target. When I admitted that isn't a side effect of this medicine, I thought, well I should just get some Ritalin, that'll drill me to the page. Then I realized that I probably shouldn't start a law career by purchasing illegal prescription drugs.



I started to think, as anyone close to Neuroscience would, about what could actually be causing my brain to do this. I actually monitor eye movements in tracking exercises and my brother in law, Mike, does in San Diego, as well. Here, a dot appears on a screen and the subject has to find the dot and touch it. I've casually observed the eye movements, and the one striking thing is that the subjects always look at more things than you expect. They are constantly scanning the screen for dots.



Mike's company has shown how people view webpages and radar screens. They view everything, showing the same quick scanning as our subjects. After reflecting on this, I thought, I'm probably just typical of your viewer today. We've been trained by television to look in the backgrounds of TV shows for details, clues. On the internet, our eyes try to catch the headlines and the pictures, all in a series of swoops.

So I resigned myself to the thought that maybe, in order to reverse this, I'd have to make some personal changes. If I stopped watching as much TV, playing as many video games, even reducing internet use, I'd be able to curb my "casino attention span." Last night I tried to read for hours on end, everything well constructed, just like the passages on the test. My brain hurts today, and it's not because of alcohol this time. Instead, I had tried to get the square peg of my brain into the round hole of reading skill. And as everyone knows, the only way to get a square peg into a round hole is by... pushing really really hard.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

silly, you can do well on the lsat and then decide not to go to law school. the worst thing you could do is stress yourself out about it. take it, do your best, and see what happens.