Mind over matter

Discussion & reading activity


  • Read the explanation of the phrase“ Mind over matter”. What do you think? Is it true? How?
Mind over matter  means that willpower can overcome physical obstacles.

  • How do you take decisions with your mind or your intution? Justify.
  • Would you say the modern hyper-connected world is addictive to the mind or benefitial? Why? 
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery  said “I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” What does it mean?
  • Are things true because we believe in them? Why (not)?
 2.Reading: Article: American Physiological Society (APS)

Can you think your way to strength?

Anyone who has worn a cast knows that rebuilding muscle strength once the cast is removed can be difficult. Now researchers at Ohio University have found that the mind is critical in maintaining muscle strength following a prolonged period of immobilization and that mental imagery may be key in reducing muscle loss.
Strength is controlled by a number of factors -- the most studied by far is skeletal muscle. However, the nervous system is also an important determinant of strength and weakness. Brian C. Clark and colleagues set out to test how the brain's cortex plays into strength development. They designed an experiment to measure changes in wrist strength. Twenty-nine subjects wore a rigid cast immobilizing the hand and wrist, for four weeks. Fifteen subjects who did not wear casts served as the control group.

Of the group with wrist-hand immobilization, half were asked to regularly perform an imagery exercise, imagining they were intensely contracting their wrist for five seconds and then resting for five seconds. They were verbally guided through with the following instructions: "Begin imagining that you are pushing in as hard as you can with your left wrist, push, push, push…and stop. (Five-second rest.)" This was repeated four times in a row followed by a one-minute break for a total of 13 rounds per session and five sessions per week. The second group performed no imagery exercises.

At the end of the four-week experiment, both groups who wore casts had lost strength. But the group that performed mental imagery exercises lost 50% less strength than the non-imaginative group.

According to the research team findings show that imagery attenuated the loss of muscle strength provide proof-of-concept for it as a therapeutic intervention for muscle weakness and voluntary neural activation.

Source: adapted from American Physiological Society (APS). "Mind over matter: Can you think your way to strength?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141231154012.htm>.

a)Researchers have found that regular mental imagery exercises help preserve arm strength during months of immobilization.

b)Strength is controlled just by muscle.

c)The nervous system cannot determine strength and weakness.

d)The imagery exercise was performed everyday, several times a day.

e)The group that performed no imagery exercises didn’t know they would have muscle loss.

f)In this study, researchers tested how the brain's cortex plays into strength development.

What’s your opinion on the research findings? For which purposes would you use this information? Suggest any idea that you would like to experiment with.

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