How to Avoid the Cognitive Middle Gear

Aug. 24, 2017

James Hewitt is Head of Science & Innovation at Hintsa Performance. His work includes consulting with Formula 1 drivers and teams, work in elite sport and with global corporations, a wide-range of written articles, presentations, keynotes and workshops in Europe, the United States and Asia.

In this interview with Dr Tommy Wood, James discusses a polarised approach to cognitive performance, arguing that time spent in the middle gear is time wasted. James also explains why smartphones are so compelling yet interfering with our ability to concentrate.

Here’s the outline of this interview with James Hewitt:

[00:01:15] Book: Exponential by James Hewitt and Aki Hintsa.

[00:03:31] Website: Hintsa Performance.

[00:04:20] Newsletter: Nourish Balance Thrive Highlights.

[00:04:50] Article: A day in the life of Scott, hopelessly distracted office worker by James Hewitt.

[00:05:38] Polarised training.

[00:06:18] Cognitive task load model.

[00:08:01] World Economic Forum Report: The Future of Jobs and Skills in the Middle East and North Africa: Preparing the Region for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

[00:09:18] Podcast: Pedro Domingos on Machine Learning and the Master Algorithm, TED Talk: The Wonderful and Terrifying Implications of Computers that Can Learn with Jeremy Howard.

[00:11:00] Study: Frey, Carl Benedikt, and Michael A. Osborne. "The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation?." Technological Forecasting and Social Change 114 (2017): 254-280.

[00:11:10] Report: A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity by McKinsey Global Institute.

[00:12:29] Default mode network.

[00:13:31] Smartphones.

[00:14:59] Novelty seeking.

[00:16:26] Study: Kushlev, Kostadin & Dunn, Elizabeth. (2015). Checking Email Less Frequently Reduces Stress.

[00:17:11] Lecture: Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure by Robert Sapolsky.

[00:19:25] Productivity without purpose.

[00:19:45] Study: Levitas, Danielle. "Always connected: How smartphones and social keep us engaged." International Data Corporation (IDC). Retrieved from (2013).

[00:21:05] Three questions: priority, opportunity, elimination.

[00:22:30] Attention restoration.

[00:24:40] Mornings.

[00:25:21] Book: The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More by Michael Breus.

[00:25:43] Study: Akacem LD, Wright KP, LeBourgeois MK. Bedtime and evening light exposure influence circadian timing in preschool-age children: A field study. Neurobiology of sleep and circadian rhythms. 2016.

[00:28:59] Study: Williamson AM, Feyer A Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2000;57:649-655.

[00:30:06] Study: Van Dongen, Hans Pa, et al. "The Cumulative Cost of Additional Wakefulness: Dose-response Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and Sleep Physiology From Chronic Sleep Restriction and Total Sleep Deprivation." Sleep 26.2 (2003): 117-126.

[00:32:21] Galvanic skin response.

[00:34:43] Sex differences in rapid switching.

[00:37:46] Changing behaviour.

[00:38:01] Derek Sivers.

[00:39:25] Implementation intention.

[00:42:15] Positive vision.

[00:45:45] Apps: Depak Chopra Meditation Apps.

[00:50:16] Device: The PIP stress tracker.

[00:52:44] Device: Muse headband.

[00:53:49] Ways to connect:,, James Hewitt on Twitter.

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