Focus suppression

Focus suppression (also known as distractability) [1] is medically recognized as a decreased ability to selectively concentrate on an aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. [2] [3] It can be best characterized by feelings of intense distractability which can prevent one from focusing on and performing basic tasks that would usually be relatively easy to not get distracted from. [4]

This effect will often synergize with other coinciding effects such as motivation suppression, thought deceleration, and sedation. [5] It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate or heavy dosages of antipsychotics [6] , benzodiazepines, cannabinoids [5] , and hallucinogens. However, it is worth noting that stimulant compounds which primarily induce focus enhancement at light to moderate dosages will also often lead into focus suppression at their heavier dosages. [7]


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.), 820. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. |
  2. Lleras, A., Buetti, S., & Mordkoff, J. T. (2013). When Do the Effects of Distractors Provide a Measure of Distractibility?. In Psychology of Learning and Motivation (Vol. 59, pp. 261-315). Academic Press. |
  3. Ahveninen, Jyrki et al. “Increased distractibility by task-irrelevant sound changes in abstinent alcoholics.” Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research 24 12 (2000): 1850-4. |
  4. McCarthy, D. E., Gloria, R., & Curtin, J. J. (2009). Attention bias in nicotine withdrawal and under stress. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(1), 77. |
  5. [1][2]
    Kowal, M. A., Hazekamp, A., Colzato, L. S., van Steenbergen, H., van der Wee, N. J., Durieux, J., ... & Hommel, B. (2015). Cannabis and creativity: highly potent cannabis impairs divergent thinking in regular cannabis users. Psychopharmacology, 232(6), 1123-1134. |
  6. Vigen, C. L., Mack, W. J., Keefe, R. S., Sano, M., Sultzer, D. L., Stroup, T. S., ... & Tariot, P. N. (2011). Cognitive effects of atypical antipsychotic medications in patients with Alzheimer's disease: outcomes from CATIE-AD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(8), 831-839. |
  7. Salo, R., Nordahl, T. E., Natsuaki, Y., Leamon, M. H., Galloway, G. P., Waters, C., ... & Buonocore, M. H. (2007). Attentional control and brain metabolite levels in methamphetamine abusers. Biological psychiatry, 61(11), 1272-1280. |




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