|Could 'virtual reality' treat alcoholism?
||A form of 'virtual-reality' therapy may help people with alcohol dependence reduce their craving for alcohol, a new study suggests. The findings come from a small study of just 10 patients. But researchers said they are optimistic about the potential for virtual reality as a therapy for alcohol use disorders.
|How to Speak So You’re Taken Seriously
||Yolanda was disappointed. Once again, she had summoned up the courage to put forth an idea at a board meeting, yet nobody picked up on it. She wondered why her ideas were frequently pushed aside, both at home and at work. This happens much too … ...
|Stack The ADHD Deck
||Things happen in this ADHD life that make me glad I’m aware of what goes on in my head. But even still, there are disappointments aplenty. In fact, there are … ...
|Please Stop Interrupting Me!
||Several years ago, I devised a system for quickly getting into the “zone” while I wrote. Free from distractions and interruptions, I wrote quickly, joyfully, and with surprisingly little effort.
But then we moved, and now my husband and I both work mostly from home. And although we work in separate rooms, at opposite ends of the house, he is forever interrupting me, jarring me out of that coveted state of flow. He’ll saunter into my office to use my recycling bin, and even if my attention is clearly fixed on my work, he’ll put his face right in front of my computer screen and lean in for a smooch.
I recognize how sweet this is. And I am super grateful to have such a loving and affectionate husband. And I appreciate being able to work from home, because it allows me more time with both my husband and my children (who also interrupt me constantly once they are home from school).
But by 4:00 pm, each interruption causes me so much irritation that it sometimes borders on rage. Even when the person interrupting me is a considerate and whispering middle-schooler needing homework help, or a loving husband who wants to shower me with affection, I feel frustrated and snappish.
Am I overreacting? Perhaps I could try harder to keep my irritation in check, but research gives me some grounds for it. In fact, studies have found that getting interrupted isn’t just a nuisance; it’s costly and problematic. Here are three sometimes hidden costs to interruptions.
For starters, they cost us a lot of time. On average, interruptions take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from—even if the distraction is only a minute!
For example, say I’m uber-focused, but then my hubby (or perhaps your co-worker) comes in for a minute or two to chit-chat about dinner plans (or for an upcoming meeting). Before I turn my attention back to my work, I might decide to take a quick peek at my email, and while I’m doing that, notice that I’ve missed a call and three texts. If I answer just a few of these incoming communications, it may well be longer than 23 minutes before I get back to work.
I suppose, if I tried really hard, I could get back on track faster. But that effort takes focus and energy that I could be putting toward my writing or other work.
Second, interruptions lower the quality of our work. A mountain of research has demonstrated time and again that interruptions increase our error rate. For example, when college students that are concentrating on a task are interrupted for 2.8 seconds, they make twice as many errors as those who are not interrupted. When they are interrupted for 4.4 seconds, their error rate triples.
According Glenn Wilson at the University of London, just being in a work situation where you can be interrupted by text and email can decrease your IQ by 10 points. For writers like me, the news here is even more depressing: Interruptions measurably lower both the quantity and the quality of writing we can do in even a very short period of time (20 minutes).
Finally, interruptions contribute to stress and overwhelm, making us feel conflicted and time-pressured. As we shift our focus between tasks—as when we steal a glance at our email while we are working on a presentation—it increases our perception that we have too much to do in the time that we have to do it.
According to Gloria Mark, who studies interruption at UC Irvine, when we are diverted from one task to another, we can pick up our work pace to make up for lost time, but this increased speed comes at a cost: People who’ve been interrupted report having a greater workload, more stress and frustration, feeling more time pressure, and exerting more effort.
And guess what? This makes a lot of people feel annoyed, anxious, and irritable, as I do. Behavioral scientist Alan Keen believes the stress and overload that comes from constantly being expected to multitask is causing an “epidemic of rage.” Interruption and task switching raises stress hormones and adrenaline, which tends to make us more aggressive and impulsive.
The takeaway: Interruption drains our energy and dampens our performance. The stress, inefficiency, inaccuracy, and time pressure that interruptions create are the very opposite of being in the sweet spot.
Many working parents face high interruption threat this summer, when kids are out of school and hanging around while we try to do our work. Not only that, summer can also bring a shortened work day, as we shuttle our kids to camps that start later and end earlier than school. This only increases time pressure, making it all the more important to be able to focus and work efficiently—WITHOUT INTERRUPTION.
Whether or not you are a working parent, let’s help each other out: How do you maintain your focus at this time of year? How do you minimize interruptions?
|Ways to Push Past Creative Burnout
||How to reignite passion when the flame has burned out? Talking to life/career coaches about burnout.
|VIDEO: Brain chemistry explains why we love music
||Whether it's rock, hip-hop, classical or deep house, everyone has a favorite kind of music. But why do we love to throw on the headphones and get lost in the beat?
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|Stanford research sheds light on how neurons control muscle movement
||Stanford University researchers studying how the brain controls movement in people with paralysis, related to their diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, have found that groups of neurons work together, firing in complex rhythms to signal muscles about when and where to move. “We hope to apply these findings to create prosthetic devices, such as robotic [...]
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|Mixed findings regarding quality of evidence supporting benefit of medical marijuana
||In an analysis of the findings of nearly 80 randomized trials that included about 6,500 participants, there was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids (chemical compounds that are the active principles in cannabis or marijuana) for the treatment of chronic pain and lower-quality evidence suggesting that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea [...]
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|Single gene controls fish brain size and intelligence
||A single gene called Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) drives brain size and intelligence in fish according to a new study by researchers at UCL, Stockholm University and University of Helsinki. Fish with larger brains and higher intelligence had higher expression of Ang-1, and when expression levels of Ang-1 were experimentally reduced, brains shrunk. These trends were seen [...]
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|7 Ways to Avoid Re-Traumatizing A Trauma Victim
||Trauma is a complex phenomenon. Many of us have probably experienced an event that we struggle to not only forget, but emotionally cope with. If I were to ask you … ...
|Brain scans of passengers who experienced nightmare flight
||A group of passengers who thought they were going to die when their plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean in August, 2001 have had their brains scanned while recalling the terrifying moments to help science better understand trauma memories and how they are processed in the brain. The neuroimaging study — believed [...]
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|Men think they are math experts, therefore they are
||Just because more men pursue careers in science and engineering does not mean they are actually better at math than women are. The difference is that men think they are much better at math than they really are. Women, on the other hand, tend to accurately estimate their arithmetic prowess, says Shane Bench of Washington [...]
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|Nice Guys Really Do Finish Last
||A new study shows that being over-confident may not make you more desirable, but can still help you get the girl.
|Is Math Acceleration A Good Idea?
||Way back when I was in school, Algebra I was considered a ninth grade course, and it was only a handful of “honors” kids who took it as eighth graders. … ...
|Single gene controls fish brain size, intelligence
||A single gene called Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) drives brain size and intelligence in fish according to a new study. Fish with larger brains and higher intelligence had higher expression of Ang-1, and when expression levels of Ang-1 were experimentally reduced, brains shrunk. These trends were seen in two unrelated species of fish -- guppies (Poecilia reticulata) and zebra fish (Danio rerio) -- indicating expression of Ang-1 is important for brain growth and development in fish generally.
|Photo selection study reveals we don’t look like we think we look
||Be careful when choosing your next passport photo or profile image as a new study suggests we are so poor a picking good likenesses of our face that strangers make better selections. This is one of the findings of a study by Dr. David White and colleagues from the UNSW, Australia published today, Wednesday 24 [...]
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|Holding on to the blues: Depressed individuals may fail to decrease sadness
||Given that depression is characterized by intense and frequent negative feelings, like sadness, it might seem logical to develop interventions that target those negative feelings. But new research suggests that even when depressed people have the opportunity to decrease their sadness, they don’t necessarily try to do so. The findings are published in Psychological Science, [...]
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|Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory
||Consciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher. Associate Professor of Psychology Ezequiel Morsella’s “Passive Frame Theory” suggests [...]
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|Inability to address emotion is holding back the field of psychology, argues sociologist
||Thomas Scheff would like psychologists to talk about emotion — not simply to share feelings, but to advance science. According to the emeritus professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara, intuition could be the catalyst that enables psychology to progress in areas in which it has stagnated. His research, “Three Scandals in Psychology: The Need [...]
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|Getting Intentionally Lost Later in Life
||As we age, taking a Time Out can be crucial to vital involvement in our life. How to create a space where we can renew and rediscover ourselves?