Meetings: Brainstorm or Brain Drain?

Meetings are a regular part of working life, an opportunity to collaborate, solve a problem, or accomplish a goal. Many of us assume that meetings, while sometimes tedious or dull, are still the best way to bring good ideas to the table. New research led by scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, however, suggests quite the opposite—meetings may, in fact, make us dumber.

The study’s authors assert that the social dynamic that occurs in meetings can have a detrimental effect on our ability to think clearly. “You may joke about how committee meetings make you feel brain dead, but our findings suggest that they may make you act brain dead as well,” said co-author Read Montague, in a recent interview with msnbc.com author Linda Carroll.

In the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the brains of college-student volunteers as they took an IQ test. Next, the students were divided into groups with similar IQs and given a second test. Each time they answered a question during the second round of testing, they were given feedback about their performance compared to others in the group. Although the volunteers were well matched in terms of initial IQ scores, scores dropped dramatically when students were receiving constant feedback about their performance relative to others in their group.

According to lead author Kenneth Kishida, constant reminders of status were stimulating parts of the brain involving fear, anxiety, and emotional response—and this was causing the students to perform poorly on the test. In the context of a meeting, such negative feelings can be triggered by a sense that others in the group are smarter or better prepared—even when they aren’t. According to Kishida, the perception alone can stifle our best thinking.

What do you think? Do meetings help or hinder intelligence and creativity? Leave a comment and join the conversation!

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Introversion – Why it May Be Better to Not Be the Life of the Party

Though society rewards extroverts for their outgoing, social behaviors, a new book by psychologist Elaine Aron, Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person, brings to light the often-overlooked benefits to being an introvert.

Many people confuse being introverted with being shy, but Aron finds that this actually overlooks many of the important characteristics that distinguish these temperaments – shy people fear judgment, introverts simply prefer environments with less stimulation. Introversion can be seen in children as young as four months of age, as they tend to be more sensitive to their environments and more careful around unique stimuli.

Though extroverts can win people over with their gregarious and friendly behaviors, studies show that introverts tend to get better grades than extroverts, win more academic awards, and show a greater depth of knowledge of academic subjects. Yet, introverts do not have higher IQ scores than their more social counterparts.

Furthermore, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania management professor Adam Grant makes a case that those hiring should look again at introverts. His study found that introverted leaders tend to be better managers than extroverts are because they encourage others instead of trying to advance their own agendas. When employees are proactive, an introverted leader can aid the team in earning higher profits. Extroverted leaders, however, can be more threatened by employee proactivity as they prefer to be the center of attention. Once an extroverted leader responds in a less receptive way, employees become discouraged, less willing to share ideas, and less willing to work hard.

In financial matters, extroverts are more likely to take risks and underestimate the size of the risk they are taking. Furthermore, extroverts respond better to praise than punishment, but do not learn new tasks well, while introverts, if punished, learn from their mistakes.

Though introverts may have many unnoticed traits, they still need their extrovert counterparts to truly thrive. Aron notes that successful partnerships arise when introverts and extroverts work together – like the charismatic Steve Jobs and introvert co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions concerning introverts? Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? How do you think those traits help or harm you?

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Concussion Recognition & Response™ Nominated for Appy Award

The Concussion Recognition & Response™: Coach and Parent Version (CRR) from PAR has been nominated for the prestigious Appy Award!  One of three finalists in the medical category, the CRR is an app for mobile phones and tablets that allows parents and coaches to quickly check for the signs and symptoms of a concussion when a young athlete is injured on the playing field.

The Appy Awards will be held on March 19, 2012, in San Francisco.  Finalists this year include well-known apps and brands including Mint, HBO, MLB At Bat, Home Depot, The Daily, Flipboard, Telenav and Ask.com, and growing upstarts like Westfield Malls, Viggle, Wine Road, iCookBook and SlideShark.  Along with PAR’s CRR, the other nominees in the medical category are drchrono, an electronic health record (EHR) platform for physicians, and WebMD, a mobile version of the popular health information Web site.

Since its inception, the Appy Awards have been designed to include all devices and platforms, and finalists are carefully chosen by the Executive Jury from hundreds of thousands of eligible apps. This year’s Jury includes fifteen veterans from three industries: software development, advertising and marketing, and technology publishing.  To learn more about the Appy Awards, and to view the full lineup of categories and finalists, visit http://AppyAwards.net.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

You don’t have to be Hamlet to wax poetic on the wonders of sleep, but several new studies are giving us more insight into your nightly snooze. Although you may think sleep is just a way for your body to rest and recharge, the following researchers are showing that there is so much more to it.

Sleep deprivation may increase hunger

According to a presentation given at the American Heart Association’s annual conference, people tend to consume more calories on the day after they’ve had less sleep. Researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, found that women consumed, on average, 329 more calories when sleep deprived; men consumed 263 more. In addition to eating more calories, individuals also tended to consume foods with a higher fat and protein content than they did when they had adequate amounts of sleep. Though it may seem that participants were looking for quick sources of energy, if could also be that sleep impairs one’s ability to make healthy food choices.

Dreaming about a task may be beneficial to learning

Scientists are finding more evidence that dreaming about a particular task may be associated with better performance in that particular activity. Researchers are finding that dreaming is an essential part of understanding, organizing, and retaining the information we learn during the day. Harvard researchers found that college students who dreamt about a computer maze task they encountered during the day showed a tenfold improvement in their ability to navigate the maze than did those who did not dream about the maze.

Your social life may have an impact on your sleep schedule

Information collected at the University of Chicago found that people who report higher levels of loneliness also tend to report more sleep fragmentation. Those who feel more connected to others tend to get a better night’s sleep.

 

Sleep seems to have a positive impact on so many aspects of life. In what other settings have you noticed sleep’s influence on an individual’s functioning?

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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), and partners from all across the healthcare spectrum are working together this month to spread the word about traumatic brain injury prevention, recognition, and response. PAR is proud to join these advocates in recognizing March as National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Concussion is one of the most common forms of brain injury.

The CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI, including concussions, each year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department.

“Since anyone can sustain a brain injury at any time, it is important for everyone to have access to comprehensive rehabilitation and ongoing disease management,” says Dr. Brent Masel, national medical director for BIAA. “Doing so eases medical complications, permanent disability, family dysfunction, job loss, homelessness, impoverishment, medical indigence, suicide and involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice system.”

Good sources of information about TBI signs and symptoms include the CDC’s Traumatic Brain Injury Web site, as well as their “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” program.  The BIAA “Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone” awareness campaign site is another excellent resource for understanding and disseminating information about brain injury.

PAR recognizes the importance of brain injury awareness.  To help address this problem, we have partnered with concussion experts from the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC and the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC Chapel Hill to produce two new apps designed to help parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and medical professionals recognize and respond to potential concussions.  The Concussion Recognition & Response™: Parent and Coach Version and the Concussion Assessment & Response™: Sport Version are easy-to-use, inexpensive downloads for Apple® or Android™ smartphones, tablets, and other devices.  Click on the links to learn more—and help spread the word about National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

 

 

 

 

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