Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. In my lab at the University of Miami, these four words (shorthanded to “VUCA”) describe the type of high-stress, high-demand scenarios that can rapidly degrade one of our most powerful and influential brain systems: our attention.

My research team and I study people who regularly experience VUCA conditions as part of their jobs—soldiers, firefighters, organizational leaders, and more. We investigate the powers and vulnerabilities of the attention system, pinpoint the forces that degrade and weaken attention, and look for ways to protect and strengthen it.

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