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A straight posture makes difficult mental tasks easier

A straight posture makes difficult mental tasks easier
Are you bad at maths, and do you have a mathematics exam? Or do you have to write an important letter, but are your literary skill not that good? Researchers at San Francisco State University have discovered that people in these situations function better when their body posture is good and straight, then when it is slouch and slumped over.

The researchers published an experiment in NeuroRegulation in which 125 students participated. The students had to subtract 7 from a large number, and then indicate how difficult they found it. On one occasion, the students had to sit up straight, on another occasion they were asked to sit slumped over.

About 60 percent of the students reported that they found the sums easier if they were sitting upright.

A straight posture makes difficult mental tasks easier

In the figure below, the researchers split out their data. The blue bars represent the students who knew they were were good at maths, the red bars respresent the students who thought of them as, ehm, mathematically challenged.

The latter group was anxious about performance and tended to blank out at math tests. The figure shows that in the latter group the effect of the posture was stronger than in the group with good arithmetic skills.

A straight posture makes difficult mental tasks easier

"For people who are anxious about math, posture makes a giant difference", says first author Erik Peper in a press release. [ August 3, 2018] "The slumped-over position shuts them down and their brains do not work as well. They cannot think as clearly."

"Slumping over is a defensive posture that can trigger old negative memories in the body and brain", the press release explains.

Jordan Peterson knew it all along...

NeuroRegulation 2018;5(2):67-74.

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