How Your Brain Works at Work: Part 2 The Prefrontal Cortex

Wellbeing, Health and Safety: How Your Brain Works at Work – Part 2, The Prefrontal Cortex


Few of us realise the limitations our brains have or how that affects us daily. In Part 2, Sarah explains how a really little area of our brain plays a major role in our everyday lives.


The Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)


* It’s really tiny!
* The PFC is a very limited region of the brain, meaning that your best quality thinking can’t last a long time
* You use the PFC for conscious thought
* So many inputs enter the brain at once – flip charts, several people talking, coffee on the table, different people around the table etc. A supercomputer would crash under the pressure
* We can’t think of multiple things at once


Actions you can take to get the best out of your brain


* Multitasking is BAD! ‘Dual task interference’ is trying to do 2 cognitive tasks at once. It can take a Harvard grad’s cognitive ability and reduce it to the level of a child very quickly
* If accuracy is important, don’t divide your attention. If you’re given a new or complicated task to do, find somewhere very quiet to do it — an empty office, a meeting room or work from home (if it’s quiet there!)
* Focus on only 1 conscious task at a time
* Multitasking can only be done easily if you’re executing embedded routines – like driving a car. But if you’re then driving in foreign country and you’re on the other side of the road, you have to concentrate again
* Catch yourself trying to do 2 things at once and slow down
* You can’t perform multiple tasks at a time with accuracy and performance levels – vehicle and train accidents whilst driver texting
* The less you hold in mind at once the better
* When your blood glucose goes down, performance on next task decreases and you become ineffective
* Prioritise prioritising – especially for energy intensive activities
* Schedule the most attention rich tasks for when you have a fresh and alert mind – e.g. meetings in the mornings


If you’d like to chat about anything I’ve mentioned here, or to provide psychology or neuroscience training to your people, drop me a line at and I’ll get back to you!

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  1. It’s hard to come by people who are experienced in this field and understand the brain, but you know what you’re talking about! Thanks!