Study: Repetitive Behavior Reduces Anxiety

September 26, 2011 -

New research from Tel Aviv University suggests that playing video games can reduce stress across a spectrum of the population. A study conducted by Professor David Eilam and graduate student Hila Keren of TAU's Department of Zoology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences found that repetitive behavior (like video games - which, for the record the study does not focus on or mention) and ritualistic behavior in particular in both humans and animals induces calm and helps manage stress caused by unpredictability and uncontrollability. Eliam and Keren also worked closely with Professor Pascal Boyer of Washington University and Dr. Joel Mort of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The research is published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Eilam says that human and animal behavior can be divided into three categories: "preparatory," "functional," and "confirmatory." "Functional" is described as specific actions that must occur in order to complete a task. "Preparatory" and "confirmatory" actions, called "head" and "tail" actions by the researchers, are not required in order to get a job done. The latter two categories are completed before and after a central task, but they are not necessarily related to it. Individuals complete different head and tail activities for every task, say researchers.

During the course of the study, Eilam analyzed videotapes of people completing common tasks, such as getting dressed, locking a car, or making coffee, as well as basketball players completing free-throws. In the case of basketball players, explains Eilam, all they needed to do to complete their action is throw the ball. So why the ritualistic behavior, such as bouncing the ball precisely six times?

"The routine they perform in the moments before shooting the ball is a method to focus their full concentration and control their actions." Prof. Eilam says. It's also an essential part of sports psychology. If players feel that completing their repetitive actions will enhance their performance, they tend to be more successful. This could include anything from locker room antics to LeBron James' infamous pre-game chalk toss.

Head and tail activities can be different, but some people, like OCD sufferers, show exaggerated behavior, because they don't often understand whether the main task has been completed. These idiosyncrasies are individual to each person, says Prof. Eilam, who says that our rituals are like our fingerprints - unique to everyone. While everyone exhibits repetitive behavior, not all repetitive behavior is obsessive, researchers say. OCD patients present a pathological tendency towards repetitive behavior or thought patterns.

OCD patients engaged in more "tail" activity than basketball players who displayed more "head" activity, says Prof. Eilam. Researchers say that OCD sufferers often feel a sense of incompleteness when performing tasks because they are unsure whether or not their task has been completed, and compulsive behavior is driven by a need to verify action.

Because those who suffer from OCD can set themselves to complicated routines, they often cannot trust that they have fully completed an action, which extends the confirmatory tail phase of an action. This is the key difference between normal and pathological rituals, Prof. Eilam says.

Ultimately the study found evidence that repetitive behavior can be a good thing because it can serve as a way to relieve stress. Playing videogames likely has the same relaxing and calming effect as fishing or your grandmother knitting a sweater, if the research is to be believed.

Source: Medical News Today


 
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Andrew EisenThat doesn't mean there has to be a movie though. Having said that, I've no doubt that we will eventually get a Black Panther movie. But Stan Lee will probably learn about it around the same time you and I do.09/02/2014 - 2:34pm
MaskedPixelanteWell they have to get to him eventually. Captain America's shield didn't grow on a tree, the minerals to make it had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is Wakanda.09/02/2014 - 2:31pm
E. Zachary KnightYes, but it has never been confirmed as in development, or even pre-production.09/02/2014 - 2:21pm
MaskedPixelanteBlack Panther's been on the short list for a while.09/02/2014 - 2:18pm
E. Zachary KnightIt is possible that Stan Lee mispoke. I don't think he knows everything Marvel movies. But it is a sweet idea if true.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
Andrew EisenSo says Stan Lee who almost certainly wouldn't know.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.cinemablend.com/new/Marvel-Black-Panther-Movie-Confirmed-By-Stan-Lee-66993.html Black Panther is apparently getting a movie. And maybe one for Black Widow, even though I think it's too late for her.09/02/2014 - 1:53pm
Cheater87Look what FINALLY came to Australia uncut! http://www.gamespot.com/articles/left-4-dead-2-gets-reclassified-in-australia/1100-6422038/09/02/2014 - 6:49am
Andrew EisenHence the "Uh, yeah. Obviously."09/02/2014 - 12:53am
SleakerI think Nintendo has proven over the last 2 years that it doesn't.09/02/2014 - 12:31am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Uh, yeah. Obviously.09/01/2014 - 8:20pm
Sleaker@AE - exclusives do not a console business make.09/01/2014 - 8:03pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that, despite the presence of a snopes article and multiple articles countering it, people are still spreading a fake news story about a "SWATter" being sentenced to X (because the number seems to keep changing) years in prison.09/01/2014 - 5:08pm
Papa MidnightAnd resulting in PC gaming continuing to be held back by developer habits09/01/2014 - 5:07pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that the current gen of consoles is representative of 2009-2010 in PC gaming, and will be the bar by which games are released over the next 8 years - resulting in more years of poor PC ports (if they're ever ported)09/01/2014 - 5:06pm
Andrew EisenMeanwhile, 6 of Wii U's top 12 are exclusive: Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, Wonderful 101, and ZombiU. (Wind Waker HD is on the list too but I didn't count it.)09/01/2014 - 4:36pm
Andrew EisenLikewise, only two of Xbox One's top 12 are exclusive: Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome (if you ignore a PC release later this year).09/01/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenNot to disrespect the current gen of consoles but I find it telling that of the "12 Best Games For The PS4" (per Kotaku), only two are exclusive to the system: Infamous: Second Son and Resogun.09/01/2014 - 4:30pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/09/01/beyond-two-souls-ps4-trophies-emerge-directors-cut-reported/ MMM MMM, nothing quire like reheated last gen games to make you appreciate the 400 bucks you spent on a new console.09/01/2014 - 4:24pm
Andrew EisenThat's actually a super depressing thought, that a bunch of retweeters are taking that pic as an illustration of the actual issue instead of an example of a complete misunderstanding of it.09/01/2014 - 4:20pm
 

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