How to Sustain High Cognitive Performance

Nov. 27, 2018

Speaker, author, and scientist James Hewitt is back on the podcast today to discuss his latest research involving cognitive endurance. As the Chief Innovation Officer for Hintsa Performance, James has studied the sleep, stress, and cognitive performance of knowledge workers. In doing so, he has identified behaviors and habits that can derail mental stamina, as well as the ones that lead to sustainable high performance and wellness.

On this podcast with Dr. Tommy Wood, James shares his observations on cognitive load and inhibitory control, factors that impact our ability to remain committed to goals and excel in areas requiring attention and self-control. He offers specific strategies for enhancing cognitive endurance by optimising the rhythms of work, rest, and peak performance. They also discuss the effect of cognitive load on sports performance, and the evolving role of augmented intelligence in the workplace.

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

[00:00:06] Previous podcast: How to Avoid the Cognitive Middle Gear, with James Hewitt.

[00:00:18] Hintsa Performance.

[00:03:16] Actigraph.

[00:04:07] Placebo sleep; Study: Draganich, Christina, and Kristi Erdal. "Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 40.3 (2014): 857.

[00:04:35] Oura ring - Study: de Zambotti, Massimiliano, et al. "The sleep of the ring: comparison of the ŌURA sleep tracker against polysomnography." Behavioral sleep medicine (2017): 1-15.

[00:05:18] Cognitive gears.

[00:06:18] Knowledge work.

[00:06:57] Intensity zones.

[00:08:35] Middle gear: pseudo work.

[00:10:50] Inhibitory control.

[00:14:35] Accountability in groups.

[00:16:07] Book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck.

[00:17:22] Simon Marshall, PhD. on growth mindset. Podcast: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes - But Some Do.

[00:20:14] Cognitive task load: time pressure, complexity, switching.

[00:21:39] Switching; study: Mark, Gloria, Daniela Gudith, and Ulrich Klocke. "The cost of interrupted work: more speed and stress." Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2008.

[00:22:35] Study: Hines, Carolyn B. "Time-of-day effects on human performance." Journal of Catholic Education 7.3 (2013): 7.

[00:23:15] Study: Adan, Ana, et al. "Circadian typology: a comprehensive review." Chronobiology international 29.9 (2012): 1153-1175.

[00:24:17] Synchronizing cognitive load with time of day.

[00:25:07] Book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport.

[00:27:33] Pomodoro technique.

[00:28:44] We check in with our communication tools once every 6 minutes.

[00:32:33] Book: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker.

[00:33:33] Circadian entrainment to natural light-dark cycles; Study: Stothard, Ellen R., et al. "Circadian entrainment to the natural light-dark cycle across seasons and the weekend." Current Biology 27.4 (2017): 508-513.

[00:38:30] Cognitive load and decision making in the era of augmented intelligence.

[00:38:56] McKinsey Global Institute (2017): A Future That Works.

[00:39:19] Humans and machines working together.

[00:44:29] Video: Augmented Intelligence.

[00:45:02] Roy Baumeister, ego depletion; Study: Baumeister, Roy F., Ellen Bratslavsky, and Mark Muraven. "Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource?." Self-Regulation and Self-Control. Routledge, 2018. 24-52.

[00:48:06] Self-control as a value-based choice; Study: Berkman, Elliot T., et al. "Self-control as value-based choice." Current Directions in Psychological Science 26.5 (2017): 422-428.

[00:49:14] Book: Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.

[00:50:10] Linking behaviors to goals.

[00:51:54] Flow; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - 8 elements of flow.

[00:56:38] Screen Time on iOS.

[00:58:15] Effect of cognitive load on sports performance.

[00:58:27] Brain endurance training; Study: Marcora, Samuele M., Walter Staiano, and Victoria Manning. "Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans." Journal of applied physiology 106.3 (2009): 857-864.

[01:00:10] Superior inhibitory control in road cyclists; Study: Martin, Kristy, et al. "Superior inhibitory control and resistance to mental fatigue in professional road cyclists." PloS one 11.7 (2016): e0159907.

[01:02:29] Measuring inhibitory control. Go-No Go Task.

[01:03:13] Stroop task.

[01:03:40] Improving inhibitory control.

[01:06:57] The value of switching off.

[01:08:14] Hintsa;; Twitter.

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