*Scientific American* has placed an article on its web site: “Rapid
Thinking Makes People Happy; Accelerated thoughts may trigger the
brain’s novelty-loving reward system” by Siri Carpenter.

Here’s an excerpt:

[begin excerpt]

Lousy day? Don’t try to think happy thoughts–just think fast. A new
study shows that accelerated thinking can improve your mood. In six
experiments, researchers at Princeton and Harvard universities made
research participants think quickly by having them generate as many
problem-solving ideas (even bad ones) as possible in 10 minutes, read a
series of ideas on a computer screen at a brisk pace or watch an I Love
Lucy video clip on fast-forward. Other participants performed similar
tasks at a relaxed speed.

Results suggested that thinking fast made participants feel more elated,
creative and, to a lesser degree, energetic and powerful. Activities
that promote fast thinking, then, such as whip-ping through an easy
crossword puzzle or brain-storming quickly about an idea, can boost
energy and mood, says psychologist Emily Pronin, the study’s lead author.

Pronin notes that rapid-fire thinking can sometimes have negative
consequences. For people with bipolar disorder, thoughts can race so
quickly that the manic feeling becomes aversive. And based on their own
and others’ research, Pronin and a colleague propose in another recent
article that although fast and varied thinking causes elation, fast but
repetitive thoughts can instead trigger anxiety. (They further suggest
that slow, varied thinking leads to the kind of calm, peaceful happiness
associated with mindfulness meditation, whereas slow, repetitive
thinking tends to sap energy and spur depressive thoughts.)

[end excerpt]

The article is online at: