Attention, Please!

The central importance of attention

Attention has been the key to creating left hemisphere dominance and so attention is also the key to undoing it.

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We have five different types of attention, that is, ways of paying attention that trigger distinctly different brain responses. Three of these trigger the right hemisphere (vigilance, sustained attention and alertness) and one triggers the left hemisphere (focused attention). Divided attention, the fifth, may trigger both hemispheres, or one or the other.

Focused attention triggers the left hemisphere and the left hemisphere does what it does. Have I seen this before? What is it like? Do I agree with it? That is, it tries to categorise what it is focused on and fit this into its existing world view. It pulls up memories of the times it has seem something similar before, how it felt last time this occurred, does it fit into its world view?


We are having a conversation about how to fix a problem at work. My colleague, Harry, puts up an idea. My left hemisphere triggers and begins to categorise, pulling up memories of other times when Harry had ideas and the feelings that it had then that the ideas where unrealistic. My left hemisphere then decides that this idea also is going to be unrealistic so dismisses it. A typical sequence for making assumptions.


Using focused attention as a first response is what leads us to judge, blame and make assumptions.

John Corrigan