It’s never too late to learn the ukulele

Plus, a quick tip for being more persuasive

“I think anyone can learn to perform better at what makes them most nervous when the pressure is on.” —Sian Beilock, cognitive scientist and President of Barnard College. 

BRAIN WAVES

  • Music to our ears. It’s been a longstanding belief that there’s a critical period in early childhood in which it’s easier to learn to play a musical instrument. “According to this view, if you wait until your teens or even early adulthood to begin your training, you will have missed a critical window,” writes psychologist Cindi May in Scientific American. A new study challenges this view. “It explores the possibility that environmental and familial factors are the driving forces behind the success of ‘early starters,’” May explains. The study found that it wasn’t necessarily age that made kids quick musical learners. Musical aptitude also had to do with inherited talent, access to instruction, and more time to practice. Good news for your budding career as a rock star.

  • Less is more. In a talk at TEDxLondonBusinessSchool, organizational psychologist Niro Sivanathan discusses the "dilution effect," a judgment bias that explains how too much information can manipulate our thought processes. Sometimes the more information is shared, the more the message gets diluted. For example, Sivanathan conducted a study on how people rate the risk of pharmaceutical drugs. He found that when people read both the major and minor side effects of the drug, they thought of the drug as less risky than when they were only exposed to the major side effects. It can be useful to remember the dilution effect when it comes to decision-making, but it also comes in handy when you’re trying to be persuasive. “So when you introduce irrelevant, or even weak arguments, those weak arguments reduce the weight of your overall argument,” Sivanathan said.

  • Have a laugh. The average four-year-old child laughs 300 times a day. By contrast, it takes more than two months for the average 40-year-old adult to laugh that many times. In this episode, why so many of us fall off a “humor cliff” as we become adults. Listen to learn more.

ON THE PODCAST

June 19: We all know what it's like to feel hundreds of eyes on us: the pressure, the expectations, the anxiety. In this week’s episode, why so many of us crumble under pressure — and what we can do about it.

June 26: From rising temperatures to mass flooding, the evidence of climate change seems to be all around us. Yet the consequences still seem unfathomable. This week, an encore of one of our favorite episodes about why it’s so hard for us to wrap our heads around climate change.

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MIND GAMES

I was born on August 1, 25 B.C. I died on August 1, 25 A.D. How old was I when I died?

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

What common mathematical symbol can you place between the numerals 4 and 5 which results in a number greater than four but less than six?

The Answer: A decimal point.

FROM THE TWITTERATI…

A MOMENT OF JOY

A kind email from Ted Lasso.

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