Summary of How to Tame Your Wandering Mind

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How to Tame Your Wandering Mind summary


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Your brain’s attention system continually assesses how and where to direct your focus. Yet, it doesn’t always do a good job, says Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist who conducted mindfulness training studies on active-duty marines. Jha explains that attention is powerful yet also vulnerable to external and internal distractions. Her research confirms a solution to poor attention – that is, a mindfulness practice. Though she doesn’t share any mindfulness exercises or techniques in this talk, getAbstract recommends her strong argument that you should “pay attention to your attention.”

In this summary, you will learn

  • How attention guides brain activity,
  • Why attention is powerful yet vulnerable, and
  • How mindfulness training increases focus.

About the Speaker

Neuroscientist Amishi Jha is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami.



Actor Morgan Freeman famously delivered the line [in the sci-fi movie Lucy] that people use just 10% of their brain capacity. In fact, they use 100%. However, the flood of incoming information overwhelms the human brain. Thus, the brain’s attention system has become selective. Attention is the “brain’s boss,” guiding all brain activity. Yet, it isn’t always an effective leader. Neuroscientist Amishi Jha and her team conduct research on attention to determine how it drives perception, why it fails at times and if training increases focus. Subjects wear electrode-embedded caps that detect the brain’s electrical activity to the millisecond, allowing testers to record the timing of brain waves. For instance, when the researchers flashed a picture of a face on a screen, all the participants’ brains detected the image in about 170 milliseconds. The researchers dubbed this effect the “N170 component” and use it as a baseline for measuring how attention affects perception.

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