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David McGavock

We dislike being alone with our thoughts : Nature News & Comment - 22 views

  • Which would you prefer: pain or boredom? Given the choice, many people would rather give themselves mild electric shocks than sit idly in a room for 15 minutes, according to a study published today in Science1.
  • “We lack a comfort in just being alone with our thoughts,” says Malia Mason, a psychologist at Columbia University in New York, who was not involved in the study. “We’re constantly looking to the external world for some sort of entertainment.”
  • repeated the experiment, this time allowing participants to perform the exercise at home. Nearly one-third of the study subjects later admitted to cheating.
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  • Wilson and his colleagues began by asking undergraduate students to stash their mobile phones and other distractions, and to sit in a sparsely furnished room for up to 15 minutes. Afterwards, nearly half of the 409 participants said that they did not enjoy the experience.
  • when they were placed in the room to sit alone with their thoughts, 67% of male participants and 25% of female subjects were so eager to find something to do that they shocked themselves voluntarily.
  • Wilson thinks that the discomfort comes from a lack of mental control: that it is difficult to tell our minds to stay on one topic and keep it there for a long time. Subjects who reported a positive experience during the experiment tended to think about future events, often with loved ones. Those who did not enjoy the time for quiet reflection often thought about work.
  • Wilson intends to pursue ways to tame what he calls “the disengaged mind”. “There are lots of times in our daily lives, when we have a little bit of time out, or are stuck in traffic or trying to get to sleep,” says Wilson. “Having this as a tool in our mental toolbox as a way to retreat or reduce stress would be a useful thing to do.”
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    Seems people don't know what to do with their minds when left alone. This is sad and unbelievable to me.
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    Whatever happened to meditation and reflection?
Clay Leben

Welcome | BrainU - 17 views

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    Lesson plans and student activities to study neuroscience.
Gerald Carey

The ultimate guide to memory - New Scientist - 15 views

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    In these articles we answer these questions and many more, starting with a revolutionary new understanding of memory's purpose.
Gerald Carey

JST Virtual Science Center | Mind Lab - 6 views

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    Great series of tutorials on the brain. Visually stunning and high production values.
nick gibson

Jonah Lehrer on Memory, Witnesses and Crime | Head Case - WSJ.com - 8 views

nick gibson

Milgram experiment recreated again, and again... - 6 views

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    Stanley Milgram created an experiment in 1961 which became known as the Milgram experiment. It tests human obedience to authority. Test subjects were asked to give a person behind a screen electric shocks when he answered questions wrong. The person behind the screen was an actor, pretending to get shocked and screaming in pain.
David McGavock

Mindfulness-the unconventional research of psychologist Ellen Langer | Harvard Magazine... - 13 views

  • Langer had already shown that memory loss—a problem often blamed on aging—could be reversed by giving elderly people more reasons to remember facts; when success was rewarded with small gifts, or when researchers made efforts to create personal relationships with their subjects, elderly memory performance improved.
  • she and Yale colleague Judith Rodin found that simply giving nursing-home residents plants to take care of, as well as control over certain decisions—where they would meet guests, what activities to do—not only improved their subjects’ psychological and physical health, but also their longevity: a year and a half later, fewer of those residents had died.
  • What she found, however, surprised even her own team of researchers.
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  • Both groups were stronger and more flexible. Height, weight, gait, posture, hearing, vision—even their performance on intelligence tests had improved. Their joints were more flexible, their shoulders wider, their fingers not only more agile, but longer and less gnarled by arthritis. But the men who had acted as if they were actually back in 1959 showed significantly more improvement. Those who had impersonated younger men seemed to have bodies that actually were younger.
  • The physiological results provided evidence for a simple but invaluable fact: the aging process is indeed less fixed than most people think.
  • “Wherever you put the mind, the body will follow,”
  • Most often, she’s asked to lecture on that eponymous subject, an idea she has been refining since the late 1970s. “Mindfulness” might evoke the teachings of Buddhism, or meditative states, and indeed, the name and some of these concepts do overlap. But Langer’s version is strictly nonmeditative (“The people I know won’t sit still for five minutes, let alone 40,” she quips). Hers is a simple prescription to keep your mind open to possibility.
  • Mindfulness, she tells the medical school audience, is the process of actively noticing new things, relinquishing preconceived mindsets, and then acting on the new observations.
  • Mindlessness blinds us to new possibilities, says Langer, and that is what drove her to study its flip side. Often, researchers in psychology describe what is, she explains. “But knowing what is and what can be are not the same things.”
  • “If I can make one dog yodel, then we can say that yodeling is possible in dogs,” she is fond of saying, and she applies that reasoning to what she now calls her “counterclockwise” study.
  • “[The results at the monastery] do not show us that everyone who talks about the past will show the same results,” she writes in her latest book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility (2009). “[They do] tell us, however, that it is possible to achieve these kinds of improvements, but only if we try.”
  • Her dissertation on perceived control examined the factors that make people believe they will succeed in games of chance. She set up a lottery and found that people who chose their own numbers considered them more valuable (in one measure, she says, if someone else took “their” numbers, people tried to buy them back).
  • “People don’t always realize her influence, but her lottery-ticket study made its way into thinking on many important economic concepts,” says Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke.
  • “People in the field were concerned with the different ways people think,” says Langer, “and I questioned whether, and on which occasions, we might not be thinking at all.” Langer’s dissertation and her subsequent work, says Salovey, turned that concept on its head: instead of cognition determining behavior, Langer showed that thinking—and sometimes the absence of it—often emerges from behavior.
  • the field of social psychology generally views Langer as a pioneer who helped usher in a new paradigm. “[Langer] pointed out that social inference is not always a conscious and deliberate act; rather it is often the province of mindless automata,”
  • Langer’s work has also earned its share of skeptics.
  • Langer and her colleagues were not able to bring other “vacationing” comparison groups to the monastery. “We cannot be sure just to what to attribute these changes,” she wrote.
  • Today, she attributes the results to mindfulness, and the “why” she says, is not the central question. “What matters here is what actually happened,” she explains. “Men who changed their perspective changed their bodies.” Context, she says, is everything.
  • Langer believes that the more we adhere to labels and categories, the less open we are to possibility. “What if we called alcoholism an allergy instead of a disease?” she asks in Counterclockwise.
  • Doctors don’t know when a patient will die, they know only what studies of other people have told them statistically. A “terminal” diagnosis, she says, may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. No records tell how often doctors’ prognoses are wrong.
  • Langer often includes a PowerPoint slide with a quotation from Arthur Schopenhauer: “All research passes through three phases. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
  • “Virtually all the world’s ills boil down to mindlessness,” she says. If you can understand someone else’s perspective, then there’s no reason to be angry at them, envy them, steal from them. Mindfulness, she believes, is a tool for the masses that can prop open our minds.
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    "As a young professor of psychology, Langer hoped to document through these men what she had long suspected: that our fixed ideas, internalized in childhood, can affect the way we age."
Justin S

» The Psychology Of Yogurt - 6 views

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    My latest WSJ column uses a new study on probiotics as a launching pad to explore the mind-body problem, perhaps the most perplexing mystery in modern science: One of the deepest mysteries of the human mind is that it doesn't feel like part of the body.
thinkahol *

YouTube - Dr. Antonio Damasio on Self Comes to Mind - 14 views

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    "What Inspired You to Write Self Comes to Mind?"
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