HM works from his iPAD. This is the print title of an article by Caroline Williams in the October 1 issue of the New Scientist. The healthy memory blog has stressed the importance of the unconscious mind and provided suggestions as to how to make use of your unconscious mind. This and the following blog posts taken from this issue of the New Scientist elaborate on these ideas.
Ap Dijksyrthuis of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands proposed this counter-intuitive idea 12 years ago. He had found that volunteers asked to make a complex decision—such as choosing between different apartments based on a baffling array of specifications—made better choices after being distracted from the problem before deciding. He reasoned that this is because unconscious thought can move beyond the limited capacity of working memory, so it can process more information at once.
Although his reasoning as to why unconscious thought might be superior is correct, the conclusion that important decisions should be based on unconscious thought is not only wrong, but dangerous. Important decisions need to be reviewed by conscious thought before they are implemented. In fact, there have been many healthy memory posts recommending to say “let me sleep on it,” before any important decisions are made. This provides ample time for both conscious and unconscious processing.
Many think that unconscious processing is important for creativity, including HM. As Dijksyrthius suggested, unconscious processing circumvents the constraints of working memory, primarily as there are no time constraints on unconscious processing, which can also occur while we’re sleeping. Just taking a break from work can be quite helpful.
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