• Excessive Thinking Worsens Performance

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    How many times has your spouse told you to stop thinking too much? Do your parents nag you for worrying too much? Do you perform poorly in an exam because you get “psyched out”?

    Well, here’s News for you: Conscious efforts to improve performance can actually make the result worse!

    A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a group of collaborators in University of California in Santa Barbara have found that there is evidence that parts of the brain involved in attention interfere with those parts of the brain required for forming a kind of memory called IMPLICIT MEMORY.

    Read on to know more about this study….
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    Types of Memory

    Memory can be EXPLICIT – which is about knowing facts and events, stored and retrieved in a different manner. Explicit memory is helped by conscious awareness and effort; this is also called DECLARATIVE MEMORY.

    IMPLICIT MEMORY is the unconscious memory of skills and how to do things, particularly the use of objects or movements of the body, such as playing a guitar or riding a bike; this is more properly called PROCEDURAL MEMORY, and is referred to as implicit because conscious effort is not required.

    If you are working on your bowling action to improve performance at cricket or baseball, then thinking hard about it is not going to help – in fact it may make it worse!

     

    Repetitive Transcranial Magentic Stimulation

    A noninvasive method to cause depolarization or hyperpolarization in the neurons of the brain; TMC uses electromagnetic induction to induce weak electric currents using a rapidly changing magnetic field; this can cause activity in specific or general parts of the brain with minimal discomfort.

    The researchers used Transcranial magnetic stimulation to disrupt the functioning of specific parts of the brain involved in attention while participants  were shown a series of kaleidoscopic images for about a minute, then had a one-minute break before being given memory tests containing two different kaleidoscopic images.They were then asked to distinguish images they had seen previously from the new ones.

     

    The methods and the instrument used in the study:

    Kaleidoscopic image used in the study

    This is one of the Kaleidoscopic image used in the study

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The performance was poor in the baseline situation when there was no TMS, but when TMS was used (to disrupt the functioning of specific parts of the frontal lobe, the performance improved!

    The study’s lead author, Taraz Lee, a postdoctoral scholar working in UCSB’s Action Lab, was always fascinated by the way professional golfers who were doing very well till a certain point, then under-performed and failed easy shots during crunch time, because of excessive thinking, attention, and trying too hard to enhance their performance.

    The study's lead author, Taraz Lee, a postdoctoral scholar working in UCSB's Action Lab

    The study’s lead author, Taraz Lee, a postdoctoral scholar working in UCSB’s Action Lab

    The results of this study tell us that during critical moments in a game, a sportsman or woman can only do well by relaxing and letting the intrinsic (learned) skill to take control rather than trying harder to concentrate and focus more!

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