Recent quotes:

Adderall Concentration Benefits in Doubt: New Study

The last question they asked their subjects was: "How and how much did the pill influence your performance on today's tests?" Those subjects who had been given Adderall were significantly more likely to report that the pill had caused them to do a better job on the tasks they'd been given, even though their performance did not show an improvement over that of those who had taken the placebo.

The narrative drive = human instinct

If a person goes from being a political martyr to a mental patient in just a few days—the sign of a successful hospital stay, by most standards—her life may begin to feel banal and useless. Insight is correlated with fewer hospital readmissions, better performance at work, and more social contacts, but it is also linked with lower self-esteem and depression. People recovering from psychotic episodes rarely receive extensive talk therapy, because insurance companies place strict limits on the number of sessions allowed and because for years psychiatrists have assumed that psychotic patients are unable to reflect meaningfully on their lives. (Eugen Bleuler, the psychiatrist who coined the term “schizophrenia,” said that after years of talking to his patients he found them stranger than the birds in his garden.)

Denying a Diagnosis

Today, insight is assessed every time a patient enters a psychiatric hospital, through the Mental Status Examination, but this form of awareness is still poorly understood. Patients are considered insightful when they can reinterpret unusual occurrences—growing angel’s wings, feeling as if their organs have been removed, decoding political messages in street signs—as psychiatric symptoms. In the absence of any clear neurological marker of psychosis, the field revolves around a paradox: an early sign of sanity is the ability to recognize that you’ve been insane. (A “correct attitude,” for most Western psychiatrists, would exclude interpretations featuring spirits, demons, or karmic disharmony.)

Whatever you think, you don’t necessarily know your own mind

Carruthers makes a powerful case for an interpretive view of self-knowledge, set out in his book The Opacity of Mind (2011). The case starts with the claim that humans (and other primates) have a dedicated mental subsystem for understanding other people’s minds, which swiftly and unconsciously generates beliefs about what others think and feel, based on observations of their behaviour. (Evidence for such a ‘mindreading’ system comes from a variety of sources, including the rapidity with which infants develop an understanding of people around them.) Carruthers argues that this same system is responsible for our knowledge of our own minds. Humans did not develop a second, inward-looking mindreading system (an inner sense); rather, they gained self-knowledge by directing the outward-looking system upon themselves. And because the system is outward-looking, it has access only to sensory inputs and must draw its conclusions from them alone. (Since it has direct access to sensory states, our knowledge of what we are experiencing is not interpretative.)

I predict me

Instead of ‘I think therefore I am’ we can say: ‘I predict (myself) therefore I am.’ The specific experience of being you (or me) is nothing more than the brain’s best guess of the causes of self-related sensory signals.

Runner self-talk

The British author Alan Sillitoe got it right in his 1958 short story “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”: “They can spy on us all day to see if we’re … doing our ‘athletics,’ but they can’t make an X-ray of our guts to find out what we’re telling ourselves.”

Self-affirmation as the key to argumentation

Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would. On all issues, attitudes became more accurate with self-affirmation, and remained just as inaccurate without. That effect held even when no additional information was presented—that is, when people were simply asked the same questions twice, before and after the self-affirmation.

How People Learn to Become Resilient - The New Yorker

Seligman found that training people to change their explanatory styles from internal to external (“Bad events aren’t my fault”), from global to specific (“This is one narrow thing rather than a massive indication that something is wrong with my life”), and from permanent to impermanent (“I can change the situation, rather than assuming it’s fixed”) made them more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. The same goes for locus of control: not only is a more internal locus tied to perceiving less stress and performing better but changing your locus from external to internal leads to positive changes in both psychological well-being and objective work performance. The cognitive skills that underpin resilience, then, seem like they can indeed be learned over time, creating resilience where there was none.

How People Learn to Become Resilient - The New Yorker

She found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.

Virtual reality helped improve nerve function in paralysed people

"In virtually every one of these patients, the brain had erased the notion of having legs. You're paralysed, you're not moving, the legs are not providing feedback signals." said Professor Nicolelis, he went on to say: "By using a brain-machine interface in a virtual environment, we were able to see this concept gradually re-emerging into the brain."

Facebook as mirror

They found that people who perceive Facebook as helpful in gaining a better understanding of themselves go to the site to meet new people and to get attention from others. Also, people who use Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of themselves tend to have agreeable personalities, but lower self-esteem than others. "They might post that they went to the gym. Maybe they'll share a post expressing a certain political stance or personal challenge they're facing. They rely on feedback from Facebook friends to better understand themselves," Ferris says. Ferris explains that some users observe how others cope with problems and situations similar to their own "and get ideas on how to approach others in important and difficult situations."

The many pieces of self

Our sense of self feels to us as being one solid entity, but upon close examination, it's clear it has many facets. For instance, there is the sense we have of being anchored in a body, of occupying a volume of space that's the body, of having a sense of ownership of our own body, and a feeling of perceiving the world from within our heads, where every perception has a sense of ' mineness' to it. All these comprise the bodily self. We also have a sense of being a narrative, a story that spans time, from our earliest memories to some imagined future. This is the narrative or autobiographical self. The more finely you examine the sense of self, the more facets you find.

Self image -- how winners keep winning

Rosenqvist & Skans use European Tour data from the past decade to measure the impact of confidence on performance. Because of the existence of the cut in most tournaments and the natural division of the field into successes and failures by the cut, it’s possible to look at how making or missing the cut affects performance in the subsequent tournament. Players who make or miss the cut are separated by very small differences in performance (as little as a single stroke for those directly on either side of the cut line) and are also nearly identical in terms of long-term talent. That means we should expect their performances to be similar in subsequent weeks – assuming that there isn’t any impact from prior weeks. What Rosenqvist & Skans find is that there is a difference in performance between those who barely made the cut and those who barely missed the cut (they create these groups using players within six strokes of the cut in either direction, though they also compared smaller ranges). Players who just made the cut in the treatment tournament are ~3% more likely to make it in the outcome tournament. Players who make the cut also play ~0.125 strokes better per round in the first two rounds of the following tournament. The authors explain this outcome as a product of enhanced or diminished confidence effecting the players’s performance.