Photos of winter landscapes boost cognitive control: study

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Photos of winter landscapes boost cognitive control: study

Jerusalem, Apr 10 (PTI) Imagining cold temperatures or even looking at pictures of winter landscapes can help you exercise better cognitive control, a new study claims.

Cognitive control is the ability to deliberately inhibit responses or make choices that maximise the long-term best interests of the individual, researchers said.

For example, when a person is very hungry and sees a sandwich but does not eat it, he is exhibiting cognitive control.

“Metaphorical phrases like ‘coldly calculating,’ ‘heated response,’ and ‘cool-headed’ actually have some scientific validity, which we demonstrate in our study,” said Idit Shalev of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.

“Previous research focused on the actual effect of temperature on the psychological phenomenon known as ‘cognitive control,'” said Shalev.

“But this is the first time we were able to measure the effects of perceived temperature,” he said.

The researchers conducted two experiments for the study.

In the first, 87 students performed an “anti-saccade task,” which requires looking in the opposite direction an object is moving and measures cognitive control.

In the second experiment, 28 students were shown images of winter scenery, a temperature-neutral concrete street and a sunny landscape, and told to picture themselves in those settings.

“The result indicated that those viewing the cold landscape did better and that even without a physical trigger, cognitive control can be activated through conceptual processes alone,” said Shalev.

The researchers state there is a possible explanation for the relation of temperature and cognitive control with social proximity.

“While signals of warmth induce a relaxed attitude, cool signals trigger alertness and a possible need for greater cognitive control,” said Shalev.

The study was published in the journal Psychological Research.

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