Monday, March 19, 2012

Can't concentrate? That might be a good thing.

The UK Telegraph reports:
Daniel Levinson, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, said that those with higher working memory capacity reported “more mind wandering during these simple tasks”, but their performance did not suffer.

The results, published online in the journal Psychological Science, appear to confirm previous research that found working memory allows humans to juggle multiple thoughts simultaneously.

Dr Jonathan Smallwood, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Leipzig, Germany, said: “What this study seems to suggest is that, when circumstances for the task aren’t very difficult, people who have additional working memory resources deploy them to think about things other than what they’re doing.”

Working memory capacity is also associated with general measures of intelligence, such as reading comprehension and IQ scores, and also offers a window into the widespread, but not well understood, realm of internally driven thoughts.

Conversely, for the many important and often dangerous activities which require concentration, a high working memory capacity would, after a while, likely be a liability.  People should use their natural gifts to do what they are good at.

Diversity of identity groups is an overrated virtue.  Diversity of the skills of individuals, by contrast, makes advanced civilization possible.

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