Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World

Dr. Adam Gazzley
by Flow Research Collective
August 1, 2023
The brain has allowed us to perform extraordinary feats from discovering general relativity to painting the Sistine Chapel, from building airplanes to composing symphonies. And yet, we still forget to pick up milk on the way home. How can this be?
Dr. Adam Gazzley

In today’s episode, we are joined by Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a world-renowned neuroscientist and advisor of the Flow Research Collective. 

In the first few minutes of the episode, Steven explains why he believes Dr. Gazzaley is on the forefront of understanding flow triggers as well as flow blockers.

His book ‘The Distracted Mind’ has shown why our brains aren't built for media multitasking, and how we can learn to live with technology in a more balanced way.

Lets quickly recap some flow 101 knowledge for context before we dive in.

Flow states have triggers, or pre-conditions that lead to more flow. 

Essentially, flow can only arise when all of our attention is focused in the present moment, so that’s what these triggers do—they drive attention into the here and now.

On the podcast, we talk about distraction, notifications, technology - all the things that grab our attention and take us away from the present moment and flow.

We talk about the biggest challenges with having "ancient brains in a high tech world".

You will also love to learn about gamification and Why "gamification" is one of the most powerful high-performance strategies. 

In short: Dr. Gazzaley shares the most cutting-edge, science-backed techniques to fight distraction and recover from brain melt!


In this episode, you will learn about:

  • The issues and the opportunities you see for neurological well being (5:40)
  • What is Attention (9:30)
  • Different types of interference (16:00)
  • Strategies increase focus and reduce distraction (27:00)
  • About the Book “The Distracted Mind” (36:20)
  • Closed loop system and feedback (44:00)
  • Work and deadline with interruptions (51:00)


Dr. Adam Gazzaley obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, completed Neurology residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley. He is now the David Dolby Distinguished Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and the Founder / Executive Director of Neuroscape, a translational neuroscience center engaged in technology creation and scientific research.

He designs and develops novel brain assessment and optimization tools to impact education, wellness, and medicine practices. 

This novel approach involves the development of custom-designed, closed-loop video games integrated with the latest advancements in software (brain computer interfaces, GPU computing, cloud-based analytics) and hardware (virtual/augmented reality, motion capture, mobile physiological recording devices, transcranial electrical brain stimulation).

These technologies are then advanced to rigorous research studies that evaluate their impact on multiple aspects of brain function and physiology. This utilizes a powerful combination of neurophysiological tools, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

His research and perspectives have been consistently profiled in high-impact media, such as The New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Discover, Wired, PBS, NPR, CNN and NBC Nightly News.


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