Saturday, 23 March 2013
Sleep on it
Ever had a decision to make and decided to ‘sleep on it’? Or perhaps you go off and distract yourself at something else for a while before making that all important call. New research attempts to shed some light on the science behind the ‘sleeping on it’ strategy.
Brain imaging research from Carnegie Mellon University, published in the journal “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” finds that the brain regions responsible for making decisions continue to be active even when the conscious brain is distracted with a different task. The research provides some of the first evidence showing how the brain unconsciously processes decision information in ways that lead to improved decision-making.
“This research begins to chip away at the mystery of our unconscious brains and decision-making,” said J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory. “It shows that brain regions important for decision-making remain active even while our brains may be simultaneously engaged in unrelated tasks, such as thinking about a math problem. What’s most intriguing about this finding is that participants did not have any awareness that their brains were still working on the decision problem while they were engaged in an unrelated task.”
So for those big decisions, a nights sleep, the distraction of a good book, DVD or nice walk could help in allowing more time to process the decision and hopefully come up with a better outcome. If you are unsure about how useful this really is, sleep on it.