Late at night, when you've been trying and failing for hours to fall asleep, perhaps the thing to do is to try not trying. According to a 2003 study recently highlighted by University of Hertfortshire psychologist Richard Wiseman in his "59 Seconds" video series, when insomniacs tried to force themselves to stay awake, they were able to fall asleep.
And so the question a team of psychologists at the University of Waterloo recently asked will likely be of interest: What does it say about our thinking skills when we habitually outsource problem-solving to our phones?
Their results, published online this week in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggest that people who admit to relying more heavily on their smartphones for information — for instance, Googling something they could’ve figured out by with a few minutes of thinking about it — are also less likely to be analytical thinkers, judging from their answers to problems designed to assess cognitive style and ability. The smartphone-dependent were likelier to be intuitive thinkers, which means that they relied on their gut instincts rather than careful analysis.
Hunger seems like a simple phenomenon: the stomach rumbles until it’s fed, then it’s quiet until it rumbles again. Why, then, does it shape so much behavior that, at least on the surface, has so little to do with food? Part of the answer can be gathered from observations of other animals. For some of them, a little starvation seems to confer a survival advantage. In rodents, hunger appears to heighten sensory perception and speed up mental processing. Last year, researchers in Bordeaux, France, showed that the brains of food-deprived lab mice released endocannabinoids, which act on the same receptors as the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, stimulating the animals’ olfactory cortexes and sharpening their sense of smell. Yale University mice showed similarly enhanced environmental awareness: when injected with ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone, the mice navigated mazes more quickly than their satiated peers. (The hungry rats of Harvard University, meanwhile, ran further on their in-cage treadmills.) At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, ghrelin was found to reduce depression and anxiety in mice, inuring them to tests for both “social defeat” (bullying by larger mice) and “behavioral despair” (swimming in an inescapable acrylic cylinder).
Internet trolls are the commenters begging for a fight, the anonymous critics eager to tear you down, the hateful packs of roving evil dwarves, out for amusement.
But the one in your head, that voice of insecurity and self-criticism, that's the one you need to be the most vigilant about.
Do not feed the troll.