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Home » Taming Your Wandering Mind: Amishi Jha at TEDxCoconutGrove (Transcript)

Taming Your Wandering Mind: Amishi Jha at TEDxCoconutGrove (Transcript)

Amishi Jha at TEDxCoconutGrove

Here is the full transcript of researcher and neuroscientist Amishi Jha’s TEDx Talk: Taming Your Wandering Mind at TEDxCoconutGrove conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio: Taming Your Wandering Mind by Amishi Jha at TEDxCoconutGrove


Consider the following statement: Human beings only use ten percent of their brain capacity. Well, as a neuroscientist, I can tell you that while Morgan Freeman delivered this line with the gravitas that makes him a great actor, this statement is entirely false.

The truth is, human beings use 100 percent of their brain capacity. The brain is a highly efficient, energy-demanding organ that gets fully utilized. And, even though it is at full capacity being used, it suffers from a problem of information overload. There’s far too much in the environment than it can fully process. So to solve this problem of overload, evolution devised a solution, which is the brain’s attention system.

Attention allows us to notice, select and direct the brain’s computational resources to a subset of all that’s available. We can think of attention as the leader of the brain. Wherever attention goes, the rest of the brain follows. In some sense, it’s your brain’s boss.

And over the last 15 years, I’ve been studying the human brain’s attention system. In all of our studies, I’ve been very interested in one question: If it is indeed the case that our attention is the brain’s boss, is it a good boss? Does it actually guide us well? And to dig in 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 pay better attention, to have more strong and stable attention in the work that we do in our lives?

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