"Cold" Is to "Hot" As "Concentration" Is to ____________

Tyler Cowen quotes this:
Many stimulants, like caffeine, Adderall, and Ritalin, are taken to increase focus -- one recent poll found that nearly twenty percent of scientists and researchers regularly took prescription drugs to "enhance concentration" -- but, accordingly to Jung-Beeman and Kounios, drugs may actually make insights less likely, by sharpening the spotlight of attention and discouraging mental rambles. Concentration, it seems, comes with the hidden cost of diminished creativity.
Indeed, the creative process is a delicate mix of concentration, which helps to answer questions such as do I put a comma there or a semicolon and what does this regression coefficient really mean and the opposite, which helps with things such as coming up with original ideas for a novel or a research project. (For me, the latter works best when taking long walks, lying awake in bed in the morning and, yes, sitting on the loo.)

My question is: Is there a proper word for the opposite in the English language? (I know there's none in German, although we do have Konzentration.) If not, why not? Surely it would be handy not to have to resort to something like mental rambles. Does this maybe have to do with the opposite being seen as the default mode?


pj said...


J Thomas said...

Cold is to hot, as concentration is to dilution.

LemmusLemmus said...


in a way "distraction" is indeed the opposite of concentration (so you get full points on this little IQ test, as does J Thomas), but it doesn't describe the associative thinking described in the article. In fact, "associative thinking" is not that bad, but I WANT A SINGLE WORD!