Body and Mind Research
Note: This was originally a post on the Brainpower
News Blog, which is no longer available online.
I have reported on body and mind connections many times here,
on the website, and in the Brainpower Newsletter. In fact, I
even suggested that if you sit up straight and breath deeply
you might do better on a mental task. That last tip is based
on my own experiences and those of others. But the science is
catching up with our human experiences of what works. Consider
the following excerpt from an article about the body and how
it affects our minds, from Science Daily;
Decision making, like other cognitive processes, is an
integration of multiple sources of information -- memory, visual
imagery, and bodily information, like posture," says Anita
Eerland, a psychologist at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the
Netherlands. In a new study, Eerland and colleagues Tulio Guadalupe
and Rolf Zwaan found that surreptitiously manipulating the tilt
of the body influences people's estimates of quantities, such
as sizes, numbers, or percentages. The findings will appear in
an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published
by the Association for Psychological Science."
Participants in the study were told to estimate certain
things, like the height of a building or the percentage of alcohol
in a given type of beverage. In another test they were asked
to estimate things like the number of grandchildren a famous
person had. In both cases they were standing on a Wii Balance
Board that imperceptibly manipulated their posture while watching
the questions as they appeared on a screen. There was a representation
of the person's posture on the screen as well, which always showed
them as standing straight up, even when the device "imperceptibly
manipulated their posture to tilt left or right or stay upright.
The article noted that;
When we think about numbers, we mentally represent smaller
numbers to the left and larger numbers to the right. The researchers
surmised that leaning one way or the other--even imperceptibly--might
therefore nudge people to estimate lower or higher.
That is just what the results showed--almost. Subjects made
smaller estimations when leaning left, compared to the other
two positions. But there was no difference between leaning right
and standing upright.
Not noted in the article, though, was whether the estimates
were more accurate when leaning right or standing straight. Thus,
it isn't clear how we can use this in everyday life.
Related pages include one on
personal mind control experiments, and the effects
of stress on brainpower.