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Contents:


  1. Want To Know What Your Brain Does When It Hears A Question?
  2. Read More From TIME
  3. The Four Keys to Overcoming Negative Thinking…for Good

Mulling over how awkward you were at that party is likely your brain is assessing the "threat" of not being accepted.

More from ABC

This rather pessimistic way of thinking is referred to as the brain's negativity bias, which American neuroscientist Rick Hanson describes as "like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for positive ones". This basically means our brains are really good at focusing on negative stuff, regardless of our positive experiences.

Ms Vertessy says this kind of thinking doesn't just occur before bed. It can also be conditioned when we internalise voices such as those of critical parents, teachers and peers, as well as advertising that leaves us feeling like we're not up to standard. Laura Jobson is a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at Monash University, researching cognitive substrates, including autobiographical memory and self-appraisal.

Want To Know What Your Brain Does When It Hears A Question?

She says involuntary memories occur just as much as voluntary ones. We are just more likely to notice them when our brain is idle. While some people may simply recognise negative thinking and move on, Dr Jobson says these thoughts can be perceived differently when someone is particularly concerned about something, or by people with clinical disorders such as insomnia, anxiety, depression or PTSD. In these cases, people may perceive the thoughts as more distressing, ruminate or even suppress them and the latter can potentially have the opposite effect and increase the frequency of these thoughts.


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It would also be linked to the level of emotion … that can accompany these thoughts," Dr Jobson says. He says for many people, such as young parents or those who work long hours, the time before bed may be the only chance they have to reflect on the day. Not only can this thinking prevent you from sleeping, the negativity of those thoughts can be made worse if you are consistently not getting enough sleep.

He says it also decreases the strength of the connection between our brain's emotional centres and the part of the brain that is supposed to put the brakes on our emotions. Try it the next time you have to give a presentation.

Read More From TIME

Too often, presenters fall into the trap of talking at people, instead of engaging them. One easy way to fix that habit is to add more questions into your talk. You can also use questions to gain an edge on a job interview. Research out of Harvard University suggests that you should ask the types of questions that get an interviewer to offer an opinion, not just supply information.

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When scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging MRI , they found that questions that asked participants to disclose their opinions increased neural activity in the areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. Which is pretty useful. It is reprinted with permission. By David Hoffeld 4 minute Read. Inquiring Your Way To Influence So why do questions have such influence on the decision-making process? Research in neuroscience has found that the human brain can only think about one idea at a time.


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So when you ask somebody a question, you force their minds to consider only your question. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.

The Four Keys to Overcoming Negative Thinking…for Good

The more demanding the task, the more we are single-minded. The same effect has been found in studies involving computer sales, exercise frequency , and disease prevention —in each case, all these behaviors can be increased just by asking about them. So why do questions have such influence on the decision-making process? First and foremost, they prompt the brain to contemplate a behavior, which increases the probability that it will be acted upon.

In fact, decades of research has found that the more the brain contemplates a behavior, the more likely it is that we will engage in it. Just thinking about doing something can shift your perception and even alter your body chemistry. For instance, imagine sipping some lemon juice.


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