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Description: Think about a typical weekday in your recent experience. When are your mental highs and lows (of drive, motivation and distractibility)? Do you know your highs and lows well enough that you build your course or work schedule with them in mind? Oh and it is not just BS (no not THAT, blood sugar, based on what you had for lunch, that drives afternoon mental downswings). So if it is not what you ate for lunch (well not entirely at least, though a 2 martini lunch WILL eat into your mental efficiency and focus!) think about what else might be involved. In particular think about what might be involved in terms of how your brain functions. Once you have a hypothesis or two have a look at the article linked below to see what new research has to say on this matter.

Source: Why Your Brain Want to Take a Break in the Afternoon, David DiSalvo, Psychology Today.

Date: September 10, 2017

Photo Credit:  Pexels Public domain images

Links:  Article Link —   

So have you been organizing your schedule of day to day activities correctly? If the research discussed in the article linked above is correct then mid-afternoon cognitive “slumps” may not be things that you can make go away. Understanding how your brain works and the implications that functioning has for your efficacy and for the fluctuations in your cognitive efficacy over the course of a typical day are well worth understanding and planning or adjusting for. While you do not have complete control you can certainly keep them in mind when selecting class times, meeting times and when scheduling different sorts of work tasks in order to optimize your functioning day over day.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. When are your cognitive “highs” and “lows” over a typical work or school day??
  2. In what ways do you typically take your answers to the precious question into account when planning your daily and weekly activities?
  3. How is the cognitive neuroscience concept of “reward” involved in consideration of these questions cognitive focus and efficacy? In this context what do we mean by the term “reward” and how does this map onto our experiences in the world?

References (Read Further):

Byrne, J. E., Hughes, M. E., Rossell, S. L., Johnson, S. L., & Murray, G. (2017). Time of day differences in neural reward functioning in healthy young men. Journal of Neuroscience, 0918-17.

Richards, J. S., Vásquez, A. A., von Rhein, D., van der Meer, D., Franke, B., Hoekstra, P. J., … & Hartman, C. A. (2016). Adolescent behavioral and neural reward sensitivity: a test of the differential susceptibility theory. Translational psychiatry, 6(4), e771.

Manelis, A., Ladouceur, C. D., Graur, S., Monk, K., Bonar, L. K., Hickey, M. B., … & Bebko, G. (2016). Altered functioning of reward circuitry in youth offspring of parents with bipolar disorder. Psychological medicine, 46(1), 197-208.

Gilbert, K. E., Luking, K. R., Pagliaccio, D., Luby, J. L., & Barch, D. M. (2016). Dampening Positive Affect and Neural Reward Responding in Healthy Children: Implications for Affective Inflexibility. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 1-11.
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