Lucid Dreamers Demonstrate Better Awareness When Awake

People who can lucid dream are able to transfer skills acquired for lucid dreaming into the waking world. In fact, this skill makes lucid dreamers more aware and cognizant than non-lucid dreamers.

Lucid dreaming is essentially the ability to be aware of and in some cases manipulate dreams as they happen. Like the movie Inception.

The study examined 68 participants aged between 18 and 25 who had experienced different levels of lucid dreaming, from never to several times a month. They were asked to solve 30 problems designed to test insight. Each problem consisted of three words and a solution word.

Each of the three words could be combined with the solution word to create a new compound word.

For example with the words ‘sand’, ‘mile’ and ‘age’, the linking word would be ‘stone’.

Results showed that frequent lucid dreamers solved 25 per cent more of the insight problems than the non-lucid dreamers.

Miss Shaw, who conducted the research as part of her undergraduate dissertation, said the ability to experience lucid dreams is something that can be learned. “We aren’t entirely sure why some people are naturally better at lucid dreaming than others, although it is a skill which can be taught,” said Hannah.

Read more.

Read More

A Hippocratic Oath for Bankers

Bankers destroyed the economy and in too many countries those responsible walk free despite the damage they wrought. Iceland jailed bankers at fault in their country, but what can we do to ensure that bankers behave in the future?

Doctors take the hippocratic oath in order to practice medicine, now it’s being suggested bankers need something similar. We don’t want bankers to be like people with MBAs.

In contrast to a rigid moral regime that most ethical systems call for, the theory of virtue recognises that people’s needs are all different and as a result, argues for the fulfillment of those needs in all of their distinctness. Applying this theory to banking reform means that our banks should, to the best of their abilities, attempt to meet people’s diverse financial needs, and should not simply focus on self-enrichment or basic transactional services.

This bankers’ oath would symbolise a turning point for the profession and make a much-needed encouraging signal to the public. Lawyers, doctors and architects all hold a professional motive to not only do the best for their client but also adhere to the well established principles of that profession. In medicine, the Hippocratic oath provides a centre-piece for personal responsibility in the profession and their overarching principles. Banking is no different and in the post-crash era, should strive towards professionalism.

Read more.

Read More

Walk It Off, Structured Downtime for Productivity

Working all day is hard – so don’t do it. In many desk jobs one doesn’t need to be there from 9-5, indeed we can be more productive by not being there. More evidence keeps cropping up that we are animals that need exercise and a diversity of daily experiences.

Going for a walk mid-afternoon might be just what you need. It’s easy, just get up and do it.

And structured downtime doesn’t just help the world’s greatest writers and thinkers do their best work; it helps all of us while we’re learning and striving to achieve tasks. Or at least it would, if someone told us how important it actually is. “We spend from 12 to 16 years of our lives in formal education institutions. And yet, we’re never given any kind of real formal instruction on how to learn effectively,” says Oakley. “It’s mindboggling, isn’t it?”

In fact, suggests Oakley, there are some very simple techniques and insights that can make you way better at learning—insights based on modern cognitive neuroscience. The most central is indeed this idea that while you obviously have to focus your cognitive energies in order to learn something (or write something, or read something, or to memorize something), that’s only part of what counts. In addition to this “focused mode”—which relies on your brain’s prefrontal cortex—we also learn through a “diffuse mode,” rooted in the operations of a variety of different brain regions. In fact, the brain switches back and forth between these modes regularly. (For those familiar with Daniel Kahneman’s famous book Thinking, Fast and Slow, the diffuse mode would be analogous to Kahneman’s “System 1,” and the focused mode to “System 2.”)

Read More

A Good City is an Environmentally Friendly One

The urban environment can benefit from more, well, environment. More research is coming out that proves something that many urbanites already know: where there is green there is more peace. Cities with good access to nature and have more trees spread throughout the urban space are better places to live.

Urban neighbourhoods with more green space have lower crime levels and interpersonal violence, according to research from the University of Washington. The study shows that public housing residents with trees and natural landscapes nearby reported 25 per cent fewer acts of domestic violence and aggression, as well as roughly 50 per cent fewer total crimes than other buildings with sparse green space.

Green space doesn’t just help people shake the blues: According to a major British study, people who live near forests or the ocean live longer than those in urban centres, even adjusting for other factors.

Prof. Ellard, who is working on a book on place and psychology, recently conducted a set of experiments in New York, Berlin and Mumbai. People were asked to walk a specific route while giving self-assessments of their moods and feelings, while their heart rate and sweat levels were measured for signs of stress.

Read more.

Read More

Hard Choices Are Easy

Ruch Chang shares her philosophy on making hard choices – the key is to change the approach.

Here’s a talk that could literally change your life. Which career should I pursue? Should I break up — or get married?! Where should I live? Big decisions like these can be agonizingly difficult. But that’s because we think about them the wrong way, says philosopher Ruth Chang. She offers a powerful new framework for shaping who we truly are.

Read More