Contemplative Science
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Contemplative Science
the science of meditation and other contemplative practices
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Rescooped by Eileen Cardillo from Genius!

10,000 Hours May Not Make a Master After All |

10,000 Hours May Not Make a Master After All | | Contemplative Science |

"There are many roads to greatness, but logging 10,000 hours of practice to help you perfect a skill may not be sufficient.


Based on research suggesting that practice is the essence of genius, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of appropriately guided practice was “the magic number of greatness,” regardless of a person’s natural aptitude. With enough practice, he claimed in his book Outliers, anyone could achieve a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional. It was just a matter of putting in the time.


But in the years since Gladwell first pushed the “10,000-hours rule,” researchers have engaged in a spirited debate over what that rule entails. It’s clear that not just any practice, but only dedicated and intensive honing of skills that counts. And is there magic in that 10,000th hour?


In an attempt to answer some of these questions, and to delve further into how practice leads to mastery, Zach Hambrick, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, and his colleagues decided to study musicians and chess players. It helps that both skills are amenable to such analysis because players can be ranked almost objectively. So in their research, which was published in the journal Intelligence, they reanalyzed data from 14 studies of top chess players and musicians. They found that for musicians, only 30% of the variance in their rankings as performers could be accounted for by how much time they spent practicing. For chess players, practice only accounted for 34% of what determined the rank of a master player.


“We looked at the two most widely studied domains of expertise research: chess and music,” says Hambrick. “It’s clear from this data that deliberate practice doesn’t account for all, nearly all or even most of the variance in performance in chess and music.” Two-thirds of the difference, in fact, was unrelated to practice...."

Via Sandeep Gautam
Eileen Cardillo's insight:

I am surprised that people apparently commonly believe that practice alone might be sufficient to achieve mastery. Such self-flattery! I can only imagine the logic of such individuals: "Oh, if I only put in the hours, I could be just as good as Tiger Woods/Bobby Fischer/Mathieu Riccard/[Insert whoever is way better than you at something here]." Implication: I could achieve greatness, I just am too busy doing other things.


Let's be realistic. We are not [ahem] born blank slates. Our genetics predispose us to different cognitive, physical, and emotional aptitudes and weaknesses. Great teachers matter. So does having a supportive environment (whatever that may be, as it's likely to vary between individuals and the particular skill in question). 10,000 hours of practice is certainly going to have a significant impact on performance, but it's only one of the key ingredients. 


Evidence that practice is necessary, but not sufficient, is not reason for discouragement though. I agree with the author: "So whether you view the data as suggesting that practice is less important because it only accounts for one-third of the variability in proficiency, or more important because it explains more than any other factor discovered so far, is a matter of perspective."



Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, May 20, 2013 2:49 PM

10,000 hours are important; so is identifying a domain that motivates you and where you have some basic talent!

Scooped by Eileen Cardillo!

Insular Cortex Mediates Increased Pain Tolerance in Yoga Practitioners | Cerebral Cortex

Insular Cortex Mediates Increased Pain Tolerance in Yoga Practitioners | Cerebral Cortex | Contemplative Science |

ABSTRACT: Yoga, an increasingly popular discipline among Westerners, is frequently used to improve painful conditions. We investigated possible neuroanatomical underpinnings of the beneficial effects of yoga using sensory testing and magnetic resonance imaging techniques. North American yogis tolerated pain more than twice as long as individually matched controls and had more gray matter (GM) in multiple brain regions. Across subjects, insular GM uniquely correlated with pain tolerance. Insular GM volume in yogis positively correlated with yoga experience, suggesting a causal relationship between yoga and insular size. Yogis also had increased left intrainsular white matter integrity, consistent with a strengthened insular integration of nociceptive input and parasympathetic autonomic regulation. Yogis, as opposed to controls, used cognitive strategies involving parasympathetic activation and interoceptive awareness to tolerate pain, which could have led to use-dependent hypertrophy of insular cortex. Together, these findings suggest that regular and long-term yoga practice improves pain tolerance in typical North Americans by teaching different ways to deal with sensory inputs and the potential emotional reactions attached to those inputs leading to a change in insular brain anatomy and connectivity.


Villemure, C. et al (in press). Insular cortex mediates increased pain tolerance in yoga practitioners. Cerebral Cortex. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht124