Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Working with uncertainty


Chaos or uncertainty and my agnostic views towards research have found a place here, here and here. Paul McEnany's presentation above is brilliant and well thought-out. More importantly, he makes some very good recommendations. Happy viewing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mind Wandering


Boredom, is often times seen as one big downer. Being bored is considered to be a form of 'psychological sahara'. Not anymore.  

This interesting piece on psychology of boredom lays to rest many preconceived notions on boredom. Here are some of the excerpts.

Boredom and its synonyms can also become a crucial tool of creativity. “Boredom is your window,” Once this window opens, don’t try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.”

The secret isn’t boredom per se: It’s how boredom makes us think. When people are immersed in monotony, they automatically lapse into a very special form of brain activity: mind-wandering. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, mind-wandering is often derided as a lazy habit, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. (Freud regarded mind-wandering as an example of “infantile” thinking.) It’s a sign of procrastination, not productivity.

In recent years, however, neuroscience has dramatically revised our views of mind-wandering. For one thing, it turns out that the mind wanders a ridiculous amount.

The last bit of mind wandering research worth highlighting also comes from the Schooler lab. Not all daydreams are equally effective at inspiring new ideas. In his experiments, Schooler distinguishes between two types of daydreaming. The first type occurs when people notice they are daydreaming only when prodded by the researcher. Although they’ve been told to press a button as soon as they realize their mind has started to wander, these people fail to press the button. The second type of daydreaming occurs when people catch themselves during the experiment – they notice they’re mind-wandering on their own. According to Schooler’s data, individuals who are unaware of their mind-wandering don’t exhibit increased creativity.

What are you waiting for?