Talking to yourself is a sign of imminent genius, not madness

running commentary of the huntExperts often suggest that if you are chit chatting to yourself, you’re in some serious trouble. Talking to yourself is severely frowned upon and is interpreted as one of the first signs of madness.

Well, if you’re in the habit of muttering under your breath, it is not all bad news. This week’s Neurotechnology Tip actually encourages you to talk to yourself.

The peanut butter dialogues

Where is the peanut butter jar. I know I bought a jar, just the other day – we can’t have eaten the WHOLE bottle, it must be here. Where’d I put it. Mmmmmm. Peanut butter jar ? Peanut butter jar ? When did we last use it ? The other day I made peanut butter sandwiches. Wonder if it is with the …..

Talking to/at the peanut butter jar, may actually not be such an irrational behaviour.

The peanut butter jar is not be able to hear you, but….

Someone is listening

Researchers have confirmed, although other humans may not be listening and inanimate objects can’t, your brain most definitely is. And the idle banter, makes your brain feel a whole lot smarter and connected.

A brain that is feeling a whole lot more connected to a topic, is more likely to deliver the goods.

Brains that were gently reminded about what they were supposed to be searching for, were quicker at locating the desired item.

Finding the teapot experiments

The researchers gathered a collection of photos of different objects and then asked study participants to sort through the photos, to locate a specific item.

The search took place under different scenarios…

  • In one scenario, the instruction was simple – find the teapot etc.
  • In the second scenario, the instruction was to find the teapot, but during the search, the participant should actually say the name of the item they were searching for.

Teapots were found a lot faster, when the participant, “teapotted” during the hunt.

Grocery shopping with an audible list

The researchers found the same thing happened, when the participants went grocery shopping on a computer.

They were able to retrieve the item from the shelf, a lot quicker, when they wheeled their allegorical trolley down the aisles, mumbling the shopping list under their breath.

It is important to note, that saying the name of something not on the list, ended up putting a spanner in the works. So shopping on an empty stomach, with thoughts of decadent munchies, might actually slow you down.  And probably explains why the item inevitably ends up on your hips.

When in doubt, call out

So the take home message,

  • if you want to get things done – talk yourself through it
  • if you want to find something quick quick – call out to it

Ignore the strange looks, you’re helping out your brain.

Self-directed speech affects visual search performance. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2012) 65(6): 1068-1085. Gary Lupyan, Daniel Swingley. 

To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

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Further reading

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Passing through a door can scramble your brain The semantics of dieting can easily lead to dieting faux pas This is your car talking –this traffic jam is killing you

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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  2. By » Blog Archive » Round up 9 July – 13 July on July 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

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