Amishi Jha studies how we pay attention: the process by which our brain decides what’s important out of the constant stream of information it receives. Both external distractions (like stress) and internal ones (like mind-wandering) diminish our attention’s power, Jha says — but some simple techniques can boost it. “Pay attention to your attention,” Jha says..


  • In what situations do you often get distracted?




utilize – make practical and effective use of
foggy – unable to think clearly; confused
poignant – evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret
preoccupy – dominate or engross the mind of (someone) to the exclusion of other thoughts
hunch – a feeling or guess based on intuition rather than fact
diminish – make or become less
dire – extremely serious or urgent
ruminate – think deeply about something


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

• How much of the brain capacity do humans use?
• What is attention? Why did it evolve?
• What three issues are going to be discussed in the talk?
• What was captain Jeff Davies contemplating on the bridge?
• What was the researchers hypothesis about attention?
• What does boredom make people do?
• What happens 50% of the time when we’re focusing on a task?
• What happens in our brains under stress?
• What are the benefits of mindfulness training?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Attention allows us ________ notice, select and direct the brain’s computational resources to a subset of all that’s available. We can think ________ attention as the leader of _______ brain. Wherever attention goes, ________ rest of the brain follows. In some sense, it’s your brain’s boss. And ________ the last 15 years, I’ve ________ studying the human brain’s attention system. In all of our studies, I’ve been very interested ________ one question. If it is indeed the case that our attention is the brain’s boss, is it a good boss? ________ it actually guide us well? And to dig ________ on this big question, I wanted to know three things. First, how does attention control our perception? Second, why does it fail us, often leaving us feeling foggy and distracted? And third, can we do anything about this fogginess, can we train our brain to ________ better attention? To have more strong and stable attention in the work that we ________ in our lives.


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