June 18, 2024

Enhancing Cognitive Arousal and Performance through Everyday Pleasures

2 min read
Enhancing Cognitive Arousal and Performance through Everyday Pleasures

New research conducted by NYU Tandon School of Engineering has revealed that listening to music and drinking coffee can enhance cognitive performance. The study, led by Professor Rose Faghih, utilized MINDWATCH, a brain-monitoring technology developed by NYU Tandon’s Biomedical Engineering department, to analyze brain activity.

Participants in the study wore skin-monitoring wristbands and brain monitoring headbands while completing cognitive tests. They were exposed to music, coffee, and perfumes that reflected their personal preferences. The MINDWATCH algorithm detected increased brain arousal in the “beta band” brain wave activity when participants listened to music and drank coffee, indicating enhanced cognitive performance.

The findings suggest that real-time monitoring of cognitive arousal and interventions such as listening to music can improve cognitive function, particularly during stressful situations or periods of cognitive disengagement.

The study employed the n-back test, a working memory task that presented stimuli sequentially and required participants to determine whether the current stimulus matched a previous one. Results showed improved performance on the 3-back test, indicating that interventions may be more effective when cognitive load is higher.

The research also found that familiar energetic music resulted in the greatest performance gains, followed by AI-generated music, while coffee and perfume had more modest effects. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.

The MINDWATCH team plans to continue experimenting with the technology to consistently monitor brain activity and evaluate the effectiveness of different interventions. The dataset from the study is available for further research on the use of safe interventions to modulate brain cognitive states.

The study was conducted as part of the MINDWATCH project, with Hamid Fekri Azgomi, a postdoctoral scholar of neurological surgery at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, serving as the study’s first author.

This research contributes to our understanding of how external factors, such as music and coffee, can impact cognitive performance. By utilizing wearable technology like MINDWATCH, scientists can gain insights into brain activity and develop strategies to enhance cognitive function. This information could be valuable for individuals looking for ways to improve their productivity and focus, especially during challenging circumstances.

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