In the book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Dr. Daniel Goleman describes two primary systems regulating focus within our brains.
The top-down mind is effortful, intentional, and the seat of self-control. It exercises focused attention, as in “I’m going to shut out the world and work on this task for a while.”
The bottom-up mind as described by Goleman is automatic, intuitive, and impulsive. Like the automatic decision-making self described by Kahneman, this system helps us navigate complex environments while preserving our energies and sanity. The bottom-up mind operates through mind-wandering, open attention.
Everyone understands the concept of focused attention, because we work to achieve it. Open attention happens when we daydream, or when our minds aren’t focused on any particular task.
Janzer, Anne. The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear (p. 22). Cuesta Park Consulting. Kindle Edition.
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