Balanced diet, physical workout, and being socially active are some aspects that can assist increase self confidence. For some individuals, however, the way to confidence is much more complicated. Now, investigators suggest it may be feasible to train the brain to improve confidence.
In a recent study, investigators have recognized brain activity patterns that can forecast an individual’s confidence state. What is more, they have identified that this brain activity can be altered to boost self confidence.
Study head Dr. Aurelio Cortese, and colleagues recently presented their results in the journal, Nature Communications.
Self confidence is usually described as the belief in one’s own capabilities. As the University of Queensland in Australia put it, self confidence represents “an internal state made up of what we think and feel about ourselves.”
Low in self confidence can result in shyness, social anxiety, a lack of assertiveness, and communication issues. These can have negative effects for many aspects of life, which includes relationships and career development.
Studies have found that low self confidence can also raise the risk of mental health issues, like as depression and bipolar disorder.
There is no one size fits all strategy to boost self confidence. Some individuals find making personal modifications – like as adopting a healthy diet or joining a social club – can enhance self confidence, while others may profit from mindfulness or counseling.
In the new research, Dr. Cortese and colleagues recommend it may be achievable to alter brain activity as a means of increasing self confidence.
Identifying and manipulating brain patterns to enhance confidence
The investigators came to their results through the use of a novel imaging approach well-known as “decoded neurofeedback.” This involves brain scans to observe complex brain activity patterns.
The research team examined this imaging method on 17 study individuals as they carried out a simple perceptual exercise. As an outcome, the investigators recognized specific brain activity that was connected with low and high confidence.
“How is confidence represented in the brain? Even though this is a really complex question, we used strategies drawn from artificial intelligence to discover particular patterns in the brain that could effectively tell us when an individual was in a high or low confidence state,” describes study co-author Dr. Mitsuo Kawato.
Next, the investigators desired to see whether they could use this information to generate high confidence states among the study subjects.
All study participants took part in training sessions, in which they obtained a small monetary reward whenever high confidence states were recognized through decoded neurofeedback.
Through these training sessions, the investigators identified that they were capable to unconsciously enhance participants’ self confidence. In simple terms, the participants were not aware that their brains were being manipulated to make them more confident.
Commenting on their study, Dr. Aurelio Cortese said
“The key challenge was to use this information in real time, to make the occurrence of a confident state more probably to occur in the future.
Interestingly, by continuously pairing the incident of the highly confident state with a reward – a small quantity of money – in real-time, we were capable to do just that: when individuals had to rate their confidence in the perceptual task at the end of the training, they were constantly more confident.”
Significantly, the investigators note that they used “rigorous psychophysics” to quantitatively evaluate confidence among individuals, as a way of ensuring that the outcomes of the training session did not simply indicate modifications in mood or self-reporting.
Along with shedding light on the brain processes accountable for self-confidence, the authors consider that their results may bring us one step closer to discovering new ways to enhance self-confidence and other essential mental states.