Jpvicente: What are the primary effects of “workaholism” on our brains? Does it actually make you less intelligent? Is there a optimal point where we can dedicate ourselfs to work without having a negative impact on our cognition? Great theme btw, very interesting stuff

andrewthesmart:Thank you! Thanks for AingMA. My book talks about what is called the brain’s default mode network. This was discovered about 15 years ago by accident. When subjects were laying in the brain scanner just daydreaming, researchers noticed a spike in activity in a brain network that actually deactivated during demanding cognitive tasks. Since then hundreds of papers have published about the default mode network. It turns out that our brains need to be allowed to space out to process memories, and maintain emotional health. Working all the time suppresses activity in the default mode network, and over time this leads to all kinds of negative effects – poor concentration, memory loss, forgetfulness, and less creativity.

There was a study that showed checking your email 30-40 times an hour leads to a 10 point loss in IQ. There are now many studies that show multitasking and long working hours severely reduce cognitive performance on all kinds of tasks.

I don’t know about an optimal point where we do not have negative cognitive and emotional effects from work. But one thing is clear – we work far too much. And in fact I would argue it makes us much less productive!

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