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Raising awareness about the distracted mind (PBS special)

DistractedMindI feel it is crit­i­cal that sci­en­tists make an effort to trans­late their research dis­cov­er­ies into a for­mat that is under­stand­able and mean­ing­ful to the gen­eral pub­lic. They should also, at least on occa­sion, step beyond detailed descrip­tions of lab­o­ra­tory results and spec­u­late on how their find­ings inform the big­ger pic­ture and impact people’s lives. This has never been more impor­tant than it is it right now, in this time of dra­mat­i­cally reduced sci­ence fund­ing. In the PBS-sponsored spe­cial, The Dis­tracted Mind, I try to accom­plish this by inte­grat­ing mate­r­ial from dozens of pub­lic lec­tures I have given over the years to tell the story of how inter­fer­ence, both dis­trac­tion and mul­ti­task­ing, impact our minds and our lives.

I begin by shar­ing my per­spec­tive on how fun­da­men­tal lim­i­ta­tions in our brain’s abil­ity to process infor­ma­tion result in a con­stant source of inter­fer­ence in us accom­plish­ing our goals. The major­ity of evi­dence that I describe is based on research per­formed by my lab over the last decade on how inter­fer­ence degrades our mem­ory abilities.

But, I go beyond this and dis­cuss the provoca­tive pos­si­bil­ity that our mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal world is inten­si­fy­ing inter­fer­ence and this has a broad impact on safety, edu­ca­tion, work and rela­tion­ships. To make the pro­gram even more real world, I leave the lec­ture hall and travel to the dis­trac­tion cap­i­tal of the world, Times Square NYC, to take a look around, I talk to school chil­dren about their per­spec­tives and inter­view peo­ple on the street about this topic. In addi­tion, I take time to share my own expe­ri­ences and deci­sions, such as how I use nature for restora­tion, and prac­tices I have imple­mented in my daily life to min­i­mize inter­fer­ence effects. The pro­duc­tion of this show has been a reward­ing jour­ney for me, and it is my hope that it offers view­ers insight into the sci­en­tific process, the broad impact that inter­fer­ence has on us, and how we might make informed deci­sions based on data to guide us in lead­ing health­ier, hap­pier and more effec­tive lives.


– Adam Gaz­za­ley, MD PhD, is the Direc­tor of the Neu­ro­science Imag­ing Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco. He is a also fac­ulty mem­ber in the Neu­rol­ogy, Phys­i­ol­ogy and Psy­chi­a­try depart­ments, and prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor of a cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science lab­o­ra­tory that con­ducts research on the neural mech­a­nisms of atten­tion and memory.

The Dis­tracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley

View in iTunes ($9.99)

Descrip­tion: Hosted by renowned neu­ro­sci­en­tist and M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Adam Gaz­za­ley, THE DISTRACTED MIND delves deeply into atten­tion, dis­trac­tion, the myth of multi-tasking, and how to use the lat­est research to pos­si­bly improve our skills and abil­i­ties at any point dur­ing our lives. While the brain can seem almost bound­less in its poten­tial, it has lim­i­ta­tions, such as pro­cess­ing speed, atten­tional lim­i­ta­tions, work­ing mem­ory lim­i­ta­tions, and sen­si­tiv­ity to inter­fer­ence, which can be both inter­nal and external.

Dr. Gaz­za­ley explores the impact that multi-tasking has on our safety, mem­ory, edu­ca­tion, careers and per­sonal lives. Most impor­tantly, THE DISTRACTED MIND tells us what we can do to improve our atten­tional abil­i­ties and our focus as we age, and as media con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate our land­scape. From chang­ing our behav­iors, to lit­er­ally chang­ing our brains, Dr. Gaz­za­ley shares infor­ma­tion you need to sur­vive and thrive in the infor­ma­tion age.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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