For A Quick Working Memory Boost, Get A Dishonest Opinion

While brain fatigue isn’t all in the mind, so to speak, some of it might be. Scientists at the University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Administration, designed a novel experiment to see whether people’s perception of their level of mental burnout would affect their performance on a working memory test. The answer: Yes.

Lead by Joshua Clarkson the University of Florida team asked participants to undergo one of two mental tasks. For some the task assigned was truly arduous, designed to tax his or her mental resources, whereas for others the task assigned was not strenuous enough to induce mental fatigue.  The team provided the participants with false feedback about how much the task had depleted their mental resources. All participants then completed a working memory test. Those participants who’d been told that they were not mentally fatigued scored relatively higher on the test of working memory capacity. The performance benefit was independent of the individuals’ actual state of depletion.

(Now if they could only bottle it.)

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