All those mirrors in gyms; proof that regular gym goers are narcissistic?
Or could there be a more practical reason?
Using a mirror to watch yourself during strength training helps with visual feedback so you can correct your form in real time, improving and maintaining good technique.
Now researchers at the University of British Columbia (1) have used functional MRI to do much the same thing in getting people to observe their own brain patterns while learning to be more introspective.
Why do we need this? Don't we know when we're being introspective?
The results of the research are hoped to be put into practical use by helping people who may struggle with depression, anxiety, or trauma who may have negative thoughts they are not completely cognizant of.
It's true; we can have automated emotional and thought responses to things and just accept these feelings and thoughts as normal and respond to them as such.
For instance, the notion, "today is a really crappy day, just like every day", may be taken literally, but in reality to overcome the negativity associated with this negative thinking a person who improves their introspective skills would be able realize, "that's just a thought, and isn't necessarily true."
In the study, subjects were able to see a computer screen image that showed brain activity in the part of the brain used for self reflective thoughts, the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex. The real time feedback allowed them to see whether their thoughts were the correct thoughts to achieve the goal of being self reflective, or if their thoughts were non-related to the task.
The tasks were completed in a similar fashion to interval training commonly used in physical exercise. For this brain exercise the intervals were 30 seconds of raised or lowered mental introspection spread over four six minute sessions.
(1) ScienceDirect - NeuroImage : Improved modulation of rostrolateral prefrontal cortex using real-time fMRI training and meta-cognitive awareness
People control thoughts better when they see their brain activity | PsyPost