What does our ability to focus depend upon?
Our ability to focus on a task depends primarily on the workings of the “executive functions,” a series of brain activities carried out by the prefrontal cortex. These functions must work in unison for us to concentrate and achieve concrete results. 
- Core executive functions 
- Cognitive flexibility – It allows us to move from one task or problem to another, to evaluate more than one hypothesis or the possibility of achieving tasks.
- Cognitive inhibition – It is our ability to block behaviours, reactions or other knowledge not required to perform a given task. In other words, it allows us to avoid distractions of all kinds (visual, sound, mental).
- Working memory – It is our ability to retain at least a certain amount of front-line information necessary to perform our work.
- Planning – It is our ability to plan or organize the various steps necessary to carry out a task.
Good mental and physical health, a supportive environment and many other factors also influence our ability to focus on a task. For example, a high level of commitment and motivation makes it easier to perform a task. Conversely, insufficient physical or intellectual ability to perform a complex task, such as reading a difficult text, limits our ability to concentrate. 
The CoReCRE association offers short exercises (in French) that help us understand the specifics of the four essential executive functions. 
An individual who suffers from poor concentration may exhibit a variety of symptoms, including the following: 
- Memory loss
- Difficulty sitting still
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Losing things
- Inability to make decisions
- Inability to perform complex tasks
- Lack of energy
- Careless mistakes
Causes of poor concentration
When should you see a doctor?
Here are some medical conditions that may accompany poor concentration and require urgent medical attention: 
- Loss of consciousness
- Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- Severe chest pain
- Severe headaches
- Sudden, unexplained memory loss
- Disorientation (not knowing where you are)
Other less severe symptoms you should bring to the attention of a health care professional include the following:
- Memory impairment more pronounced than usual
- Diminished performance at work or school
- Trouble sleeping
- Unusual feelings of fatigue
- Decreased quality of life
Diagnosis and treatment
We are here to offer professional support.
- DIAMOND, A. «Executive Functions», Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 64, 2013., p. 135-168.
- CAMARDA, A. «Les fonctions exécutives…C’est quoi?», http://www.association-corecre.com/index.php/2021/02/08/les-fonctions-executives-cest-quoi/, consulté en ligne le 27 juillet 2022.
- MARTINEZ, S. «Problèmes de concentration : Quels sont-ils, comment les traiter?», https://www.sebastien-martinez.com/problemes-de-memoire/probleme-de-concentration-traiter/, consulté en ligne le 27 juillet 2022.
- Comité Psychologue.net, «9 raisons du manque de concentration», https://www.psychologue.net/articles/9-raisons-du-manque-de-concentration, consulté en ligne le 27 juillet 2022.
- NALL, R. «What Makes You Unable to Concentrate», https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate, consulté en ligne le 27 juillet 2022.
- TANNENBAUM, C., et coll. «A systematic review of amnestic and non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment induced by anticholinergic, antihistaminic, GABAergic and opioid drugs», Drugs & Aging, vol. 29, no 8, 2012, p. 639-658.
- RAYPOLE, C. «14 Tips to Improve our Concentration», https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/how-to-improve-concentration#brain-training, consulté en ligne le 27 juillet 2022.