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Who's slowing you down?
Date:2/20/2008

You may not be aware of it - they might not be aware of it, but the people in your work environment might be slowing you down.

New research by University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology researcher Dr. Tim Welsh says that regardless of their intentions, having an individual working on a different task - within your field of vision - could be enough to slow down your performance.

Imagine a situation like a complex assembly line, said Welsh If you are doing a particular task and the person across from you is doing a different task, youll be slowed down regardless of their performance.

The reason for this is a built-in response-interpretation mechanism that is hard-wired into our central nervous systems. If we see someone performing a task we automatically imagine ourselves performing that task. This behaviour is part of our mirror neuron system.

The findings from Welshs latest work on the topic are founding a paper titled Seeing vs. believing: Is believing sufficient to activate the processes of response co-representation? published in the December, 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Movement Science.

His set-up involved an individual performing a simple computer task alone, then with a partner performing a different but related task, and alone again after being told that the partner was going to continue to perform the task in another room.

When an individual could see their partner actually performing the task, the partners performance interfered with their own performance, causing them to perform more slowly, Welsh explained. When the partner left the room and the individual could only see the results of the partners action - not the action itself - the interference effect was no longer observed and performance improved. We believe its because the individual no longer represented - or modeled their partners actions, even though they could see the results of these actions.

Welsh says his research
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Contact: Don McSwiney
don.mcswiney@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7652
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

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