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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james_fudgeyes.05/05/2015 - 6:30am
MattsworknameOn some days conster, i've wanted to rip into subjects like theres no tomarow, but some times, it's just not the time for it.05/05/2015 - 6:00am
MattsworknameConster, thats fine, and I understand what your saying, Im just saying that right now, baltimoore it not a subject to get into right now.05/05/2015 - 5:59am
ConsterMy comment was meant as "maybe people have done less hateful things 'in the name of GG' lately because they've moved on to other hateful activities", not a dig at GG itself.05/05/2015 - 4:29am
ConsterSecond, I based my remark on an actual article about trolls pretending to be Baltimore looters on Twitter using old photos, and their accounts having references to (among others) GG.05/05/2015 - 4:24am
ConsterIanC, EZK: there is nothing 'sick' or 'uncalled for' about what I said. First of all, I specifically said "*The trolls hiding behind* GG", which seperates the people making death and rape threats from GG, which is precisely what GG'ers want.05/05/2015 - 4:22am
MattsworknameHey, just a question, but did GP report on the UK teachers union threatening to report parents for letting kids play 18 plus games?05/05/2015 - 3:30am
Mattsworknamehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVLIgsf6qcs Jason comes to MKX, And you know what, yeah, he is right at home!05/04/2015 - 11:35pm
Mattsworknameequally importat reaons . I find it strange that worf says something i agree with so much, yet i know people who woudl fight bloodily about it. Kinda silly05/04/2015 - 10:56pm
MattsworknameI mysef love both of them, Im a huge fan of wars and trek, and It was a big part of my childhood for different, but e05/04/2015 - 10:55pm
MechaTama31I really liked the first reboot Trek. Of course, I have generally liked other Abrams movies. The newer Trek movie had its moments, but wasn't as good, imho.05/04/2015 - 10:43pm
Craig R.Wife is a huge Wars fan, doesn't think much of Abrams either. So, we've found some common ground...05/04/2015 - 10:39pm
Craig R.I'm more of a Trek than Wars fan, but haven't watched either reboot film, don't care for Abrams05/04/2015 - 10:38pm
MechaTama31RE: Trek vs. Wars, I've always liked both, and although I often hear it said that the fanbases are at odds, I have never seen a shred of that in real life. Online, sure, but the internet amplifies that kind of thing, we all know that.05/04/2015 - 10:23pm
MechaTama31Because GG "tainted" those other opinions, and you couldn't express them without also implying support for all the other crap the jerk faces did.05/04/2015 - 10:19pm
MechaTama31Any GG-related discussion I got involved in, if someone expressed anything even tangentially supportive of anything GG supported, that person was guilty by association of everything GG did (whether they mentioned GG or not).05/04/2015 - 10:18pm
MechaTama31"There's no need for anyone who's not a jerk face to admit to vile actions they didn't commit." That's a nice thought, AE, but that's certainly not how it goes down, even here.05/04/2015 - 10:17pm
Goth_SkunkI for one do agree with him. I always have, as a fan of both franchises. Hopefully with J.J. Abrams doing both the Star Wars AND the Star Trek films, that'll help mend this silly rift between fanbases.05/04/2015 - 9:50pm
MattsworknameWell said MR worf, well said, but I doubt the treks and the star wars fans agree05/04/2015 - 9:44pm
PHX CorpMichael Dorn tells Star Trek and Star Wars fans that both fanbases are all part of the same Scifi family https://twitter.com/akaWorf/status/59528225364038860805/04/2015 - 9:29pm
 

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