Can’t remember what you just read? Take a nap.

Going night after night without sleep makes us absent minded, and now we may know why

Going night after night without sleep makes us absent-minded, and now we may know why. In rats, sleep deprivation causes stress hormones to accumulate in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which in turn stunts the growth of cells that lay down new memories.

“This decrease in neuron production coincided with an increase in the major rodent stress hormone, corticosterone,” says Elizabeth Gould, head of the team at Princeton University that made the discovery. When Gould stopped production of the hormone in rats by removing their adrenal glands, the animals carried on producing new neurons as normal despite being deprived of sleep (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0608644103).

“We concluded that sleep deprivation decreases neurogenesis by elevating stress hormones,” says Gould. The results tally with earlier studies showing that sleep-deprived people are worse at remembering how to do newly learned tasks than they are normally. “We know that sleep deprivation is stressful, and that it impairs certain types of learning and memory,” she says.

Derk-Jan Dijk of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK, says the results are the first to provide a plausible mechanism explaining how a lack of sleep damages memory. “It points to the importance of sleep in the right hormonal conditions,” says Dijk. “These are altered if you sleep at the wrong time of day, or if you are stressed generally,” he says. The results explain how shift work might damage memory by producing “a different hormonal milieu”.
“The results are the first to provide a plausible mechanism explaining how a lack of sleep damages memory”

However, Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen of the University of Helsinki in Finland says that may be going too far, as the 72 hours of sleep deprivation experienced by the rats is exceptionally long, equivalent to several days in humans. Sleep deprivation can damage memory, but only “in extreme cases”, she believes.
Source: NewScientist

Book of the week: The Decisive Moment by Jonah Lehrer

 

 

 

 

 

Do we make decisions rationally or emotionally? Both.

The Decisive Moment – the new book by Jonah Lehrer – is about how we make decisions – except it’s not ‘us’, it’s our brains. It turns out that decision making, far from being the rational process we all like to pride ourselves on, is actually led by our emotions, which are largely beyond our conscious control.

‘Even when we think we know nothing, our brains know something,’ Lehrer says – ie we know much more non-consciously than comes to conscious awareness, and our brains use this information to make decisions, sometimes in the face of what we know logically.

This is what we teach on our speed-reading/photoreading courses – that the non-conscious mind is our learning brain taking in huge amounts of information that we are not aware of. And we use this fact to encourage people to read more quickly, using speed reading eye patterns to look for ‘hot spots’ of key information, or to trust when using the downloading/photoreading technique that the information really is going into your non-conscious mind!

One message: if you are already an expert on a subject, then trust your gut reaction when making a decision. If you know little about the subject, then find out more and make a logical decision.

By the way, one decision we can help you make. If you want to get a copy of the book, make sure you get ‘The Decisive Moment’ and not ‘How we decide’ by the same author. Turns out it’s the same book with a different title and a higher price! How rational is that???

If you haven’t got time to read the book, then check out reviews in the New Scientist (21 Feb 2009) and The Sunday Times (1 March 2009) or listen to it on BBC.

 

Happy people read more

A 30-year study found that happy people read more books, newspapers and socialise more, while unhappy people watch more television.

“TV doesn”t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading does,” said University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author and a pioneer in time-use studies (that appeared in the December 2008 issue of the journal Social Indicators Research /ANI). “It’s more passive and may provide escape – especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise,” he added. During the study, the researchers analyzed two sets of data spanning nearly 30 years (1975-2006) gathered from nearly 30,000 adults. It showed that unhappy people watch an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people. The unhappy people were also more likely to feel they have unwanted extra time on their hands (51 percent) compared to very happy people (19 percent) and to feel rushed for time (35 percent vs. 23 percent). Read more about this study

Reading faster helps you to be happier, more creative and energetic.

Do you want to feel better or change your mood? Do you want to feel more energetic? Read faster!

Speed reading and photoreading is the answer. Research done in Princeton University (Emily Pronin – read the ABSTRACT below) suggests that people who speed up their thinking with timed activities such as reading fast a piece of text that scrolled quickly – felt happier and more powerful, creative and energetic. Read more on this research (Psychology Today)

Manic Thinking Independent Effects of Thought Speed and Thought Content on Mood by Emily Pronin ( Princeton University) and Daniel M. Wegner (Harvard University)
ABSTRACT—This experiment found that the speed of thought affects mood. Thought speed was manipulated via participants’ paced reading of statements designed to induce either an elated or a depressed mood. Participants not only experienced more positive mood in response to elation than in response to depression statements, but also experienced an independent increase in positive mood when they had been thinking fast rather than slow—for both elation and depression statements. This effect of thought speed extended beyond mood to other experiences often associated with mania (i.e., feelings of power, feelings of creativity, a heightened sense of energy, and inflated self-esteem or grandiosity).”
Download the paper

Strategic Reading

Perfectly logical way to read

The quest for the perfect method of reading that does everything and works for everybody is silly, since different readers have different requirement. In similar way, that some people own more than one car, since no single vehicle meets their needs. Speed reading and strategic reading offer diverse ways to design your own reading styles that can be adopted to changing needs. Dynamic, intelligent, adaptable, strategic reading is the logical next step.

‘Thin slicing’ of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers: The Story of Success

The secret of how to master anything: 10 000 hours of training

A fair slice of his latest book might be summed up in the old saw about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. His own favourite figure is that to be genuinely good at anything, from writing a book to being a Beatle, takes a magic total of 10 000 hours of intensive training – that’s about 3 hours/day for 10 years (like in this joke: “Excuse me, how do I get to Carnegie Hall? “Practise.”). Plus you have to be born at the right moment, at the right place, to the right family and then still you have to work really hard. That’s about it. I just saved you £17.

The mobile phone novel – a novel way to spd up yr rdng

5 of the top 10 books sold in Japan in 2007 began life as cellphone novels – books typed in text-speak and then posted online.

In Japan, a new literary genre has taken off. It’s called keitai shosetsu, or the mobile-phone novel.

These short books are written by text message and posted on the web. The stories have taken a particular form; most are written by and for young women and are about difficult subjects such as pregnancy and abortion.

These novels are hugely popular. Maho i-Land, Japan’s largest mobile-phone novel site, contains more than one million titles. The site is visited 3.5 billion times a month.

Publishers have caught on, and text-created books top many Japanese bestseller lists. Love Sky by Mika, and its sequel, have together sold 2.6 million copies. Many titles are filmed or made into manga cartoons.

Critics argue that predictive text makes the books repetitive, but the cellular age has turned Japan into a land of quietly tapping thumbs and wild imaginations.

Download free ebooks for your mobile phone

Txtng – gd 4 ur kids!

In case you were worried that the abbreviations commonly used in text messages might be hurting the nation’s (or your child’s) literacy – you can relax. Apparently it’s doing the opposite.

The more children send texts using abbrvtns, the better their reading ability! Apparently with all the texting, children are reading much more these days, and playing with the language is an important part of learning how it works.
We teach both that reading more (of anything) will improve your reading – and that it’s important to get the message from what you read rather than concentrating on the individual letters (or even the individual words). And it’s no coincidence that we called our book ‘Spd Rdng’!

By the way, have you already seen the following on the internet?

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. And you touhhgt taht sepllnig was iprmoetnt!

Further info in the New Scientist 22 Feb 2009 reporting on research ‘Exploring the relationship between children’s knowledge of text message abbreviations and school literacy outcomes’ by Plester, Beverly1; Wood, Clare1; Joshi, Puja1, published by the British Psychological Society in British Journal of Developmental Psychology, Volume 27, Number 1,March 2009

Move your hands when you’re learning

Remembering what you read is as important as taking in the information.

On our speedreading/photoreading courses we have been teaching that linking specific ideas/words to gestures can help you remember them – something that can be particularly useful for actors.

Now, Dr Susan Goldin-Meadow of the University of Chicago, has done some research into hand movements which seems to prove that if you make appropriate hand movements, it can help you think.

And since the beginning of good memory is how you ‘lay down’ the information in the first place, it obviously makes sense to gesture as you speak the information you want to remember (see technique number 22 in our forthcoming book ‘Spd Rdng – get up to speed with your reading’).

Does that mean that Italians – famous for their extravagant gesturing – think and remember better than the rest of us?
Check out the report in The Economist, 19 Feb 2009 for more information.

Guinness Book of Records – The Longest Subtitle for A Book

Look out for us in the Guinness Book of RecordsSpd Rdng: The Speed Reading Bible
We’re sending our book Spd Rdng Bible to the Guinness Book of Records to be included for having the longest subtitle! Which is: “Learn speed reading techniques and habits with proven results for you to apply immediately to any reading material (books, reports, journals, manuals, textbooks, online texts, ebooks, etc) so you can read more, more quickly, more effectively, whether you are a professional, an entrepreneur, a student or teacher, a home educator, or simply interested in your own learning and personal development, in any subject (including business, medicine, law, IT, acting and languages), by showing you, among other things, how to use your eyes more efficiently, remember more, access your learning intelligence, focus on your purpose, take meaning from the minimum of input, find the hot spots of information you need, and put it into practice, with the result that you free up time and save money as you become more successful in business and life.”