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Conversation and Brain Power

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What’s the tone of your conversations? Surprisingly it makes a difference in whether or not they will provide you with mental benefits. A study finds friendly discussions with other people can help you solve common life challenges, but conversations that are competitive in tone aren’t helpful.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found engaging in a short, 10-minute conversation in which participants got to know another person helped boost the their performance on a variety of cognitive tasks involving memory, self-monitoring, and the ability to suppress distractions. But when the conversations had a competitive tone, the participants showed no improvement on those tasks.

They believe that performance boosts come about because these social interactions induce people to try to read others’ minds and take their perspectives on things. Bottom line: the findings suggest that having a friendly talk with a colleague before a big test or presentation may prove beneficial.

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