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41

I've also observed this behaviour in friends, and was curious to see what research has been done on the topic. Here's what I found (summary at the end). Sechrest and Flores (1971) study of leg-jiggling Sechrest and Flores (1971) performed an observational study of the prevalence of leg-jiggling leg jiggling was defined as a vertical, rhythmic movement ...


28

Scientists studying the matter generally believe multitasking, and women's superiority at it, to be a myth. Men come out slightly better multitaskers than women but there's not really any meaningful difference. The way it's defined is critical though; it's being able to do two things that typically require focal attention at the exact same time. For ...


22

The answer to this question will depend on how you construe 'cognitive abilities.' For instance, for certain formulations the answer is trivially yes: an economist who learns psychology may come away with psychological knowledge that could help his economics, like how to space out his studying to maximally improve retention; or how to deal with the ...


20

This is a part-answer to your question and it doesn't come from occupational psychology, but from expertise research. Findings from Expertise Research In their seminal paper on the role of deliberate practice for the acquisition of expert performance, Ericsson et al. (1993) report a number of constraints that play a role in the acquisition of expert ...


19

It basically depends on how the particular musical performance is perceived by the listener. Cognitive process of listening seems to be comprise several layers, which follows a bottom-up direction. First step is to decode relevant signal(s), among a complex package of sound. This is where the irrelevant noise is eliminated. Can music be eliminated in this ...


19

I think you have to be careful with the proposition that "rewards do not increase performance on non-rudimentary tasks". The experiments that Dan Pink cites involve experiments where participants are in a room and are supervised by an experimenter while they complete a task. This social pressure by the experimenter may well be enough for participants to be ...


18

It appears extended working days, such as, 16 hours are counterproductive. (1) Safe working hours - doctors in training a best practice issue examines the effects of extended working hours on performance for doctors. It is recommended that a 7-8 hour working day is more productive than extended days. One issue being the sleep deprivation that accompanies ...


15

The widely quoted figure of "10% at a time" is actually overestimating simultaneous brain activity by up to an order of magnitude. As demonstrated by Lennie 2003 (Current Biology), the number of neurons that can be substantially active concurrently is possibly as small as 1% of the brain's neurons, due to the high metabolic cost of spiking. Generally, ...


14

There is a fundamental concept in motivation illustrating this effect- a bunch of studies have been done which I don't have the time of digging up citations for now, but the central findings are as follows: If the incentive (external reward) for a non-trivial task becomes too salient, the individual is driven to complete the task for that reward and will ...


14

As part of my PhD within the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), one of the things I am trying to support the user in is multitasking. This might be relevant for you since interruptions and multitasking are highly interlinked. I'll refer you to some of the key papers I encountered during my background research, including some on the effects of ...


12

There are two types of learning - knowledge and skills. Knowledge can be used in many different contexts, but skills are extremely narrow and precise. For example, subjects trained in memorizing numbers do not have any better ability at memorizing lists of words than untrained individuals. We tend to think that practicing mental tasks must also have some ...


12

A theory which I believe explains this is the ground-breaking work that Carol Dweck has done on mindsets and how they relate to performance. To recap, People can have either a fixed mindset where they view abilities as fixed, are more driven by performance goals and use helpless strategies when confronted with tasks beyond their capabilities. If given a ...


12

It would appear that a 6 hour workday would obtain better results of productivity than a >=8 hour day. In discussing the optimum length of a working day, I have taken a neurobiological approach and an occupational approach. As the individual is not an isolated organism; social and environmental demands, mean that in determining what is a most productive ...


11

Probably the most striking evidence of "happiness homeostasis" is a now classic study by Brickman, Coates and Bulman (1978) which compared the self-reported happiness of lottery winners and accident victims with a control group. The following quote describes the part of the outcome you'd be interested in succinctly: Lottery winners and controls were not ...


10

I don't know of a study that tries to answer your specific question but you might want to have a look at illusory superiority, "a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others" (wikipedia). I can especially recommend the paper by Dunning and Kruger (...


10

That was an interesting TED Talk, I enjoyed it. Motivation is a very complex, but fascinating thing to think of. You're asking if those three things he listed are the most important aspects to motivation, but I'm not sure the answer can be straightforward. So let's talk about what motivation is first, before talking about how those three things relate to ...


9

In general, I'd hypothesise that "memory-training" programs will not lead to domain-general increases in fluid intelligence nor working memory. As general background, you might want to check out the literature on expert memory. Practice is very effective at improving performance on the practised task. Transfer is real and does exist, but it is often small ...


9

There's one condition that is linked to negative cognitive effects after masturbation in a small subset of population, it is called Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome (POIS): The sufferer experiences mental symptoms, physical symptoms, or both. Common mental symptoms include cognitive dysfunction, intense discomfort, irritability, anxiety, craving for ...


8

Disclaimer: As you have noted yourself, there aren't very many scientific researches on the topic. The only main points that I can derive are generally of blogs or sketchy speculations. As such, you are supposed to take this answer with a grain of salt. Interesting Thing of the Day notes that polyphasic sleep may make the person awake and alert but have ...


8

One thing to think about is what's meant by "performance." In basic cognitive tasks (e.g., memory experiments), changing the payoff matrix (and thus motivational factors) often influences bias but not discrimination -- in other words, upping the ante, so to speak, makes individuals more conservative (or careful) but doesn't much change their overall ...


8

Yes, brain power is eroded via a lack of practice. This occurs through the processes called synaptic pruning and brain plasticity. I will leave you with a very basic answer as I am unsure of your level of understanding of cognitive processes. First, you must understand neurons. Then, you can begin to understand synaptic pruning and brain plasticity. Finally,...


8

Not using your brain might well be deleterious, but it's impossible not to use your brain unless you're in a coma or something. There are some cool studies on plasticity (see Shayna's answer above) in amputees, where the parts of the brain that control the amputated limb go unused but are taken up by other functions instead. However, "perpetual brain ...


8

Increasing Concentration A method that is geared espeacially towards reading scientific texts is SQ3R. SQ3R is short for survey, question, read, recite and review. So instead of "just reading" a text, one is supposed to survey it first to grasp the basic outline by reading the abstract, introduction or table of contents formulate questions as to what it ...


7

High incentives (especially related to time needed to finish a task) makes one very concentrated but at the same time leaves little opportunity to look outsid the box (i.e. to develop a creative approach, sometimes needed to complete a non-rudimentary task). For a popular science/economics talk, see also: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation....


7

General thoughts on factors influencing test-retest correlations From a theoretical perspective, it makes sense that groups that experience temporary states that lower state intelligence or lead to a poorer test taking orientation would have lower test-retest cognitive test correlations. By lower state intelligence, I'm referring to states of being such as ...


7

I like to think of multitasking as rapid task switching. See Pashler's (2000) article for the implications of "multitasking." References Pashler, H. (2000). Task switching and multitask performance. To appear in Monsell, S., and Driver, J. (editors). Attention and Performance XVIII: Control of mental processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press


7

You might find Self Determination Theory interesting, which takes a detailed look the concept of motivation. Even if you don't explicitely mention it in your question, you seem to be refering to the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which is a distinction that is traditionally made with respect to motivation. In SDT this is taken a ...


7

A caveat: "productivity" is not a term used much by cognitive science, so I'll talk about cognition instead. It's not necessarily the same thing, but it's more of an answered question. And as a general issue: any time a question has "more" in it, the real question is "more than what?" More productive early in the morning than later in the morning? More ...


7

How much sleep is needed for peak cognitive performance. If some were for >example wake up one morning at 12:30 pm would a sleeping pill help obtain >better sleep required for that performance the next morning at 08:00 am ? It depends on what pharmacotherapies - per the clinical judgement of their treating physician - one may have consumed. Conceptually, we ...


6

The results are mixed. It's well known that in general people will consider themselves above average in most areas, and driving is no exception Do expert drivers have a reduced illusion of superiority? Expert police drivers rated themselves as superior to equally qualified drivers, to the same degree as novices, Cohen’s d = .03 ns. Despite their ...


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