Consider the following statement: Human beings only use 10 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% 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.
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…