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Decisions And Attention

April 27, 2010 Silvia Damiano

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about decisions and attention is how little most leaders in organisations know about the impact of technology and its use on our ability to concentrate and maximize what we need to do at work. We have been led to believe that we are very effective by having countless ways to communicate such as emails, sms, mobiles, anywhere, anytime, even during a team meeting.


Being easily accessible has the disadvantage of distracting us from what we are doing, affecting our performance up to 50%. As a consequence of this, the qualities of the decisions we make when we get distracted are unclear and extremely poor.

When we do not pay full attention to the information received, the brain is unable to remember any of that input. It is biologically impossible.

The process of attention and decision making is one of the functions of the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain located within the frontal lobe above the eye balls.

The prefrontal cortex is very small and -in evolutionary terms- quite new in comparison to the reptilian brain. It has a limited capacity, being able to hold only 4 concepts at any one time and it is very susceptible to the neuro-chemical environment.

Although most people will still argue that humans make decisions using logic and objectivity, without any contribution from our emotions; science is proving that this argument is no longer valid. Every time we face decision time, a series of comparisons, value judgments and memories come into place in this region of the brain.

This process demands high levels of energy in the form of glucose and oxygen and a series of chemical reactions take place even before we know it. Experts are now saying that decisions are made within our body –subconscious mind- before they have reached our conscious mind.

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist and filmmaker. Silvia is the Founder & CEO of the About my Brain Institute, creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology, author of ‘Leadership is Upside Down’ and director of the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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