To be more efficient at work, take inspiration from the “flow” of jazz musicians!

To be more efficient at work take inspiration from the

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    Many employees say they have difficulty concentrating on their work. Some people try different methods to immerse themselves in a state of absolute concentration and productivity. A study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, advises them to take inspiration from jazz musicians to maximize their cognitive abilities.

    This research work carries what we call “flow”. This term designates a state of absolute concentration during which the body and mind are entirely absorbed in a single task. The American-Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi was the first to become interested in this subject in the 1970s, during research on the creative process.

    Improvisations by jazzmen put through the scanner

    ​​Since then, psychological research has demonstrated that the experience of flow can increase physical and mental performance. Anyone can experience moments of flow in their free time or at work. But athletes, musicians and artists are more likely to be immersed in this psychological state frequently.

    This is why researchers affiliated with Drexel University (United States) recruited around thirty jazz guitarists to understand the key brain processes associated with flow. They were more or less experienced, depending on the number of public performances they had given.

    The scientists placed electrodes on their heads to record their brain waves as they improvised over chord sequences and rhythms that had been provided to them. Additionally, guitarists were asked to rate the degree of flow they felt while playing the guitar. Experts also listened to the pieces the participants created to determine how creative they had been.

    Take on challenges within your reach

    It turns out that the performances judged to be the most creative were those during which the guitarists said they were in a state of flow. More experienced musicians were more likely to experience moments of flow while playing their instruments than novices, suggesting that experience is a prerequisite for entering a flow state.

    From a brain perspective, researchers found that experienced musicians who experienced moments of flow while playing guitar showed reduced activity in parts of their frontal lobe known to be involved in executive functions. Conversely, the brain areas involved in hearing and vision were used more, which is logical given that the guitarists improvised while reading chord sequences and listening to musical rhythms.

    Finding the right balance between challenging goals and stress

    These findings show how the brain is in a different mental state from ordinary wakefulness when experiencing flow. That proves that “creative flow corresponds to optimized processing of a specific domain, made possible by intensive practice combined with reduced cognitive control“, as the researchers write in their study, that the media The Conversation relayed.

    This research deepens our understanding of brain mechanisms specific to flow. It shows that this state requires a certain technical mastery. When one is immersed in flow, things seem to flow with ease. We feel like we are in complete control of what we are doing. This feeling of control is what makes moments of flow so pleasant.

    To experience it regularly, you have to strive to become better at what you do by setting yourself, for example, stimulating challenges to take on. But be careful that they are not unrealistic. Otherwise, stress will replace flow.

    Improve your concentration

    Slide: Improving your concentration