The Brain Rules menu

This interactive tutorial requires Flash

Download Flash or
View tutorial content in non-interactive format.

BRAIN RULE RUNDOWN

Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.

  • What we pay attention to is profoundly influenced by memory. Our previous experience predicts where we should pay attention. Culture matters too. Whether in school or in business, these differences can greatly affect how an audience perceives a given presentation.
  • We pay attention to things like emotions, threats and sex. Regardless of who you are, the brain pays a great deal of attention to these questions: Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me? Have I seen it before?
  • The brain is not capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.
  • Driving while talking on a cell phone is like driving drunk. The brain is a sequential processor and large fractions of a second are consumed every time the brain switches tasks. This is why cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes and get in more wrecks.
  • Workplaces and schools actually encourage this type of multi-tasking. Walk into any office and you’ll see people sending e-mail, answering their phones, Instant Messaging, and on MySpace—all at the same time. Research shows your error rate goes up 50% and it takes you twice as long to do things.
  • When you’re always online you’re always distracted. So the always online organization is the always unproductive organization.