Our cognitive and physical abilities are in general limited, but our conceptions of the nature and extent of those limits may need revising.
In many cases, thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often
capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits.
A recent study conducted by psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan reveals that our thoughts can release abilities beyond normal limits.
Our thoughts could actually improve our vision.
"Contrary to the assumption that vision worsens with age because of physiological limitations, the experiments we report here
tested whether vision can be improved through psychological means," the scientists write in their
Weger and Loughnan "There seems to be a simple way to instantly increase a person's level of general knowledge.
Psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan recently asked two groups of people to answer questions.
People in one group were told that before each question, the answer would be briefly flashed on their screens - too quickly to consciously perceive,
but slow enough for their unconscious to take it in.
The other group was told that the flashes simply signaled the next question. In fact, for both groups, a random string of letters, not the answers, was flashed.
But, remarkably, the people who thought the answers were flashed did better on the test.
Expecting to know the answers made people more likely to get the answers right," the Scientific American
According to Weger and Loughnan vision may be improved by changes in one's consciousness.
We believe that mind-sets regarding vision limit visual performance. Mind-sets are often referred to as cognitive processes that support solving various ,
such as visual tasks.
Our thoughts can improve our vision.
They incorporate implicit task-related expectations people hold about actions, behaviors, activities, and people and are often the result of mindless processing
of potentially relevant information. Mindlessness is characterized by an absence of active, conscious information processing and reliance on cues that have
been built over time or have been appropriated from another source without new interpretations.
Research has shown that participants who form such mind-sets perform in accordance with their mindless beliefs, often worsening their outcomes,
"Weger and Loughnan state in their paper.
"Recent research by Ellen Langer and colleagues suggests otherwise. It is a common belief that fighter pilots have very good vision. The researchers put
people in the mindset of an Air Force pilot by bringing them into a flight simulator.
The simulator consisted of an actual cockpit including flight
instruments. The cockpit was mounted on hydraulic lifts that mimic aircraft movement and performance.
People were given green army fatigues; they sat in
the pilot's seat, and performed simple flight maneuvers. They took a vision test while "flying" the simulator. A control group took the same vision test
in the cockpit while the simulator was inactive.
People's vision improved only if they were in the working simulator.
To rule out the possible effect of motivation, the researchers brought another group of people into the cockpit and asked them to read a brief essay
on motivation. After people finished reading, they were strongly urged to be as motivated as possible and try hard to perform well in the vision test.
The test was conducted while the simulator was inactive. They did not show a significant improvement"'
"These studies suggest that vision is limited, at least in part, by mindlessness. Although our studies made positive use of mindlessness,
far greater and sustained improvement is likely to follow from mindfulness. Mindfulness does not rely on a second person's intervention; it is
self-generating and self-sustaining. To take full advantage of mindfulness, however, one first has to question one's mindless beliefs about
what is and is not possible", Weger and Loughnan conclude.
Inside Mechanical Brains:
What Do Robots Dream Of?
Have you ever wonder what robots dream of? The idea that robots can dream might sound implausible to some. Robots are machines.
They do not have feelings emotions and they certainly cannot dream, many people would undoubtedly argue.