These little everyday pleasures could improve your cognitive performance

These little everyday pleasures could improve your cognitive performance

Contrary to popular belief, taking a coffee break or listening to music at work does not harm productivity or concentration, quite the contrary. A new study even reveals that these little pleasures could stimulate brain activity and improve cognitive performance. An observation made thanks to new brain monitoring technology which could ultimately make it possible to self-assess one’s own level of cognitive awareness in real time… and thus act accordingly.

The famous coffee break is a real ritual for some workers, who take advantage of this moment of relaxation and conviviality to refocus, (re)motivate themselves, chat with their colleagues, take a breath, or more simply take a few minutes to (re)do things. full of energy. A time of rest which is far from trivial, as evidenced by the numerous debates which followed its temporary disappearance during successive confinements, and which would contribute not only to well-being at work, but also to productivity. Contrary to popular belief, this break is anything but a waste of time, as revealed by a recent study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), the results of which were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Music and coffee, two stimulants

For the purposes of this study, the scientists relied on a new algorithm developed by Rose Faghih, associate professor of biomedical engineering at NYU Tandon. Called ‘Mindwatch’, it was developed to monitor and analyze the brain activity of anyone wearing an Electrodermal Activity (AED) sensor. Equipped with skin-monitoring bracelets and brain-monitoring headbands, study participants were subjected to cognitive testing – a specific task designed to assess their working memory and cognitive functions – by engaging in or no to certain daily pleasures (listening to music, drinking coffee, or smelling perfumes).

At the end of their work, the researchers suggested that music and coffee are capable of influencing the brain activity of the participants, even affirming that these pleasures were associated with “maximum cognitive performance“. The results were also positive, although less conclusive, for perfumes. Note that listening to music appeared to be the most convincing stimulant for improving cognitive performance, particularly in tasks requiring concentration and concentration. memory, just ahead of coffee consumption which induced “notable performance gains”.

Analyze your performance in real time

The pandemic has impacted the mental well-being of many people around the world and, now more than ever, there is a need to continuously monitor the negative impact of daily stressors on cognitive functions“, explained Professor Rose Faghih, who led this work, in a press release. With this study, the researchers are not only highlighting two of the stimulants capable of boosting the cognitive performance of individuals. It is also about to show that the algorithm developed by the researchers could ultimately help men and women to accomplish their professional tasks optimally.

At the moment, Mindwatch is still under development, but our long-term goal is to contribute to the development of a technology that would allow anyone to monitor their own level of cognitive awareness in real time, in real time. detecting moments of acute stress or cognitive disengagement, for example. At these times, (the algorithm) could ‘steer’ a person towards simple and safe interventions – for example listening to music – so that they put themselves in a brain state that allows them to feel better and accomplish work or school tasks more successfully“, concludes the main author of this work.

However, it remains to be determined whether these stimulants, which could be the subject of potential strategies to improve cognitive performance, actually work on a large scale, and for all individuals. What the study does not currently say, and which should lead to more in-depth research.