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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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How Mindfulness Can Impair Your Mind

November 13, 2013, 3:01 PM
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We spend a lot of time in this space talking about mindfulness and its benefits. When you are mindful, you are paying active and open attention to the present. This allows you to see your thoughts, as well as your behaviors, from a distance. This can help you break bad habits and improve your behavior and hence improve your wellbeing.

But according to a new study, mindfulness can also inhibit implicit learning. "Our theory is that one learns habits — good or bad — implicitly, without thinking about them," says the study's lead author, Chelsea Stillman. In other words, you learn better when you are less aware of what you are doing, which seems counterintuitive. 

In the study, two samples of adult participants took a test which "gauged their mindfulness character trait." The participants were then tested on their ability to learn "complex, probabilistic patterns, although test takers would not be aware of that." It turns out that the people who scored low on the mindfulness scale had higher reaction times and learned more. 

Stillman says that suggests "mindfulness may help prevent formation of automatic habits — which is done through implicit learning — because a mindful person is aware of what they are doing."

Their findings are being presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Read more here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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