Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Think Outside the Box, or Better Yet – Restore Outside the Room

May 9th, 2016 No comments

By Maggie, Meg, Tara, and Raymond

After studying for a long time, do you feel brain-dead, or unable to focus anymore? This fatigue occurs when your attention, or more specifically, directed attention, is depleted. Directed attention is controlled, effortful attention that helps one inhibit irrelevant information in the environment and select important information. Thus, prolonged use of directed attention usually results in mental fatigue, which in turn decreases performance on affective and cognitive measures (Bratman, Hamilton, & Daily, 2012). Exposure to nature can help one recover from this fatigue. Attention Restoration Theory (ART; Kaplan, 1995) states that natural settings are restorative because they are often extensive, allow us to be detached from our everyday thoughts and worries, fit our needs for relaxation, and, most importantly, capture our attention automatically and effortlessly. These properties are collectively referred to as soft fascination, in contrast to the hard fascination produced by urban environments. That is, unlike urban environments, nature has very few stimuli that may require our directed attention. For instance, in a forest there is no traffic for us to worry about, nor there is any car honk by our ears.

Previous studies (e.g., Atchley, Strayer, & Atchley, 2012; Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008) have found that after exposure to nature, people tend to perform better on cognitive tasks. For example, in one study, participants completed the Remote Associates Task (RAT; Mednick, 1962) either before going on a hike into the wilderness or on the fourth day of the hike (Atchley et al., 2012). The RAT is a creativity task in which participants have to come up with a word that connects three words that are presented on each trial and that appear to be unrelated (Mednick, 1962). For example, if the three presented words are “swiss,” “cottage,” and “cake,” the correct answer will be “cheese.” The RAT is thought to tax attention and higher-order cognition. The results revealed a 50% boost in performance for participants who completed the task while on the hike (Atchley et al., 2012). Thus, it seems that nature starts to show its positive impact on cognition after three days of exposure. Read more…

The Secret Behind Steve Jobs’ “Walking Meetings”

November 18th, 2014 3 comments

Have you ever taken part in a “walking meeting”? People who work closely with Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, arguably two of the most successful and innovative people of our time, have probably experienced these on a regular basis. Both of these influential people are known for frequently having important business meetings while walking outside. They certainly have enough building space to hold a meeting inside, so why do they do this? Have they noticed something about walking that helps them think differently than if they were sitting in a meeting room? Walking is known to be beneficial for our physical health, but what about its effect on our cognitive functioning?

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