We don’t do meditation here in America. Meditation is some kind of commie vegetarian plot to lull us into a national stupor so the United Nations can take over and make everyone read Mao and eat tofu. But we do mindfulness, so this is probably OK, Mindfulness Improves Reading Ability, Working Memory, and Task-Focus, say UC Santa Barbara Researchers
If you think your inability to concentrate is a hopeless condition, think again –– and breathe, and focus. According to a study by researchers at the UC Santa Barbara, as little as two weeks of mindfulness training can significantly improve one’s reading comprehension, working memory capacity, and ability to focus.
Their findings were recently published online in the empirical psychology journal Psychological Science.
“What surprised me the most was actually the clarity of the results,” said Michael Mrazek, graduate student researcher in psychology and the lead and corresponding author of the paper, “Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering.” “Even with a rigorous design and effective training program, it wouldn’t be unusual to find mixed results. But we found reduced mind-wandering in every way we measured it.”
Many psychologists define mindfulness as a state of non-distraction characterized by full engagement with our current task or situation. For much of our waking hours, however, we are anything but mindful. We tend to replay past events –– like the fight we just had or the person who just cut us off on the freeway –– or we think ahead to future circumstances, such as our plans for the weekend.
Mind-wandering may not be a serious issue in many circumstances, but in tasks requiring attention, the ability to stay focused is crucial.
…Within a week after the classes ended, the students were tested again. Their scores indicated that the mindfulness group significantly improved on both the verbal GRE test and the working memory capacity test. They also mind-wandered less during testing. None of these changes were true of the nutrition group.
“This is the most complete and rigorous demonstration that mindfulness can reduce mind-wandering, one of the clearest demonstrations that mindfulness can improve working memory and reading, and the first study to tie all this together to show that mind-wandering mediates the improvements in performance,” said Mrazek. He added that the research establishes with greater certainty that some cognitive abilities often seen as immutable, such as working memory capacity, can be improved through mindfulness training.
We’ve probably all heard athletes or saw a documentary where fighter pilots describe being “in the zone”. That is the same thing as mindfulness. Practicing tuning out distractions and concentrating on the task at hand.
Some nice old photos: 20 Vintage Railway Scenes from the Glory Days of Train Travel
It seems like every year there is some miracle cancer treatment announced and then never heard of again. I hope this is not one of those times, Breakthrough Cancer-Killing Treatment Has No Side-Effects, Says MU Researcher
Cancer cells grow faster than normal cells and in the process absorb more materials than normal cells. Hawthorne’s team took advantage of that fact by getting cancer cells to take in and store a boron chemical designed by Hawthorne. When those boron-infused cancer cells were exposed to neutrons, a subatomic particle, the boron atom shattered and selectively tore apart the cancer cells, sparing neighboring healthy cells.