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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.


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