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Amishi Jha

Dr. Amishi Jha is an internationally renowned neuroscience researcher, speaker, and author in the fields of attention, resilience, and mindfulness. She studies how to keep the brain’s attention systems in[…]

The world today feels like it’s a constant VUCA environment: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The shifting landscape, the bombarding of information toward us, and always having to work in sort of a 24/7 environment. 

This is problematic because we feel like we’re all in a collective crisis of attention. So it’s very important that we, as citizens of the world, understand what is true and what is false. 

A question that should be on our minds these days is: ‘What is the role of attention in minimizing truth bias?’

AMISHI JHA: The world today feels like it's a constant VUCA environment: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The shifting landscape, the bombarding of information toward us, and always having to work in sort of a 24/7 environment. This is problematic because we feel like we're all in a collective crisis of attention. So it's very important that we, as citizens of the world, understand what is true and what is false. 

A question on my mind these days is: 'What is the role of attention in minimizing truth bias?' The 'truth bias' is a bias built into the brain, and it's this notion that comprehending something is equivalent to believing it. That may seem strange, but it ends up that comprehension, our ability to understand things, is an outgrowth of perception. And just like seeing is believing, comprehending and believing co-occur. So why am I interested in this topic of the truth bias? Because this truth bias may be driving the proliferation of many false narratives. False narratives abound, not just in the United States where I live, but around the world- and people are believing them. 

So the question is, why? Why is this occurring? The power of attention is that it allows us to prioritize all kinds of information, based on the content of what it is that may be most important, or based on our goals. And that ability really helps us hone in on some information so that the entirety of the brain could be devoted to really understanding what's going on in the moment. And so what I'm very interested in understanding is how our attention may drive this process of believing by default, or how it may actually support our ability to evaluate what we're hearing to then decide if we believe it or not. 

So, if we comprehend and believe at the same time, what can actually allow us to evaluate what we hear better? Some of the initial studies suggest that when people are time pressured and not allowed to fully pay attention, they tend to believe false information. But having attention, strong and robust, may benefit a better evaluation of what's heard. And this may have consequences and ripple effects in the way we function as a society, and in our world.

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