Watching Your Trade Doesn’t Affect It…Or Does It

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Watching Your Trade Doesn’t Affect It…Or Does It?

You have a plan – you are going to enter a trade at a specific price. But as you watch the price approach your entry level you suddenly decide that maybe another price is better. Even though your analysis told you that was the right price to enter, now that the price is at that level you think you might be able to do a bit better.

This is a very interesting phenomenon. If trading traditional markets this type of thinking will extend to where you take profit and how you exit losing positions. With European binary options you are looked into a yes/no proposition, but the phenomenon still affects where you take entries.

When you plan out a trade you take into account what the risks and rewards are. Your analysis should also dictate the best price to get in, that still has the a good chance of being reached. For example, say I think the EURUSD is going to fall. The recent high was 1.3605 and it just touched a low of 1.3550 and is now pulling back higher. I could try to get short, at 1.3605, but chances are if the price is trending lower the price won’t reach that level again. So the ideal price isn’t a feasible one. Therefore, I need to enter a position below 1.3605 and I realize that the price may put out of the money for a few minutes, but if I am right in my assessment that the price is going lower, I should end up in the money eventually.

Now imagine you set an order to execute at a certain price, and you walk away from your computer and go watch TV. That order is out there, and the trade will play out in the same way it would if you were watching it. Except that if you are watching it, you are more likely to alter that trade and potentially end up missing the trade all together or even ending up with a worse price because you wait too long to pull the trigger (waiting for an even better price).

Traders in traditional markets face a huge problem once in trades. They watch the trade intently and have set a stop and target set for the trade. The levels chosen were based on logical analysis conducted before the trade took place, but now in the trade the trader begins to question that analysis. The position may create a loss initially which creates fear, so when the price moves back into the money they take a quick profit, well before the profit target they originally planned for.

What to Do About It

If new to trading, simply focus on following a plan. Don’t get caught up in watching your trades too much; instead do your analysis before and after the trade completes. Watching it doesn’t affect how the price moves, all it does is affect you.

Discipline is one of the undisputed qualities that traders need to have — discipline to create a trading plan and the discipline to stick it. Therefore, every time you deviate from that plan–because you are watching the price and think you can outwit your trading plan by getting a little better entry price than you originally planned for–you compromise your discipline. Each such occurrence compounds, eroding your discipline and your trading plan becomes worthless, because you don’t follow it anyway.

One you have established your entry point let the trade play out as planned. Watching it and fretting about it isn’t going to change the result….and if you try to change the result mid-trade you stand a good chance of becoming a consistent losing trader because you have abandoned your trading plan and your logical analysis in favor or emotional decision making.

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Inside The Human Brain: How Watching TV Changes Neural Pathways Versus Reading A Book

For thousands of years, stories have been told through the pages of a book. But with the advent of new technologies, the ways humans communicate their memories, discoveries, recipes, and life lessons have increasingly been captured and retold through a variety of mediums, one of the most revolutionary being the television. In the years since 1927, when the first TV set flickered to life before viewers’ eyes, what have we learned about its effects on the human brain? Are we better or worse off with visual storytelling?

Researchers have devoted innumerable hours to studying how TV affects our brains differently than reading. The prevalence of smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and computers has added new meaning to the term “screen time,” and scientists are still working to compile a growing body of research to untangle the copious ways in which storytelling affects our brain’s neural pathways, both in the short run and permanently.

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Watching television can change the way the human brain makes connections, while books enhance neural pathways. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

Television

The average American home has 2.86 TV sets, which is 43 percent more than each home had in 1990. Nearly one out of every five children in the U.S. has a television in their bedroom, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that the average child under 8 years old spends more than 90 minutes a day watching TV or DVDs.

In 2020, a team of researchers from Ohio State University interviewed and tested 107 preschoolers and their parents to see how television impacted a child’s theory of mind. The more a child watched television or was exposed to television, even if it was playing in the background, the weaker their understanding of their parents’ mental state. Ultimately, if the television was on in the vicinity of the child, it impaired their theory of mind, which is defined as the ability to recognize their own and another person’s beliefs, intents, desires, and knowledge.

“Children with more developed theories of mind are better able to participate in social relationships,” said the study’s lead researcher Amy Nathanson, a communications professor at Ohio State University, in a statement. “These children can engage in more sensitive, cooperative interactions with other children and are less likely to resort to aggression as a means of achieving goals.”

A more recent study from 2020, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, revealed watching too much TV could actually alter the composition of the human brain. When researchers studied 276 children between the ages of 5 and 18, they discovered the more time spent in front of the TV, the thicker the frontal lobe region of their brains developed. It’s the same area that is known to lower language processing and communication, which researchers suspect is also why they had a lower verbal IQ. But that wasn’t all; the hypothalamus, septum, sensory motor region, and visual cortex were all enlarged — these are where emotional responses, arousal, aggression, and vision are processed.

It may be why increased TV exposure for children under the age of three is linked to delayed language acquisition, which sets them up for years of playing catch up in school. When it comes to school, children who sit in front of the TV for two or more hours a day are more likely to have greater psychological difficulties, which include hyperactivity, emotional and behavioral problems, and social conflicts with peers in the classroom.

Books

For some, opening up the pages of a book is like entering into another world and leaving the old one behind. In fact, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found 15 percent of readers do so to escape and explore their inner imaginations. Meanwhile 26 percent of those who read a book said they enjoyed learning, gaining knowledge, and discovering information.

But aside from pleasure and practicality, reading strengthens the neural pathways like any muscle in your body. Even at a young age, children who are read to by their parents develop five enhanced reading skills, which include an advanced vocabulary, word recognition in spoken words, ability to connect written letters to spoken sounds, reading comprehension, and the fluency to read text accurately and quickly.

Books can transport readers into the plot, offering them some respite and consolation when facing depression and anxiety. Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

Despite the benefits, it’s estimated that 42 percent of college graduates will never pick up another book after they earn their degrees. But just because their brains are technically finished developing doesn’t mean they don’t need to read any more. A study, conducted by a team of researchers from Emory University, revealed that books can stimulate changes in how the brain is connected, which causes the reader to have lingering feelings from the story, such as a heightened sense of excitement from reading a page-turner.

“Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” said the study’s lead author neuroscientist Gregory Berns, director of Emory’s Center for Neuropolicy, in a statement. “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

For the study, researchers recruited a group of participants and scanned their brains using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to track the activity inside different regions of their brain. For five consecutive days, participants’ brains were scanned to measure their resting state. Each participant was asked to read the book “Pompeii” in the evenings for nine straight days and their brains were scanned the following morning. In the story, the protagonist (lead character) sees a volcano erupt while outside of the city and tries to get back in order to save the woman he loves, but then confronts the devastation left in the volcano’s wake. Researchers chose the book because of its strong plot and engaging perspective from the narrative.

Afterwards, participants were scanned again for five days following the conclusion of their reading period. Even though the study’s participants were not reading the book while they were being scanned, their brains still retained the same level of connectivity.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist, ” Berns explained. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory.”

Researchers believe this prolonged and measurable brain boost, which was found in the region associated with language and sensory motor skills, could improve brain connectivity over time. It brings using books as an escape to a whole new level.

Berns concluded: “At a minimum, we can say that reading stories reconfigures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains.”

Sources: Kawashima R, Takeuchi H, and Taki Y, et al. The Impact of Television Viewing on Brain Structures: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses. Cerebral Cortex. 2020.

Berns GS, Blaine K, Preitula MJ, and Pye BE. Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Brain Connectivity . 2020.

Christy K, Nathanson AI, Sharp ML, Alad é F, and Rasmussen EE. The Relation Between Television Exposure and Theory of Mind Among Preschoolers. Journal of Communication . 2020.

Is It Really True That Watching Porn Will Shrink Your Brain?

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Is It Really True That Watching Porn Will Shrink Your Brain?

A hundred years ago they said that masturbating would make you go blind. We’ve progressed. Today, we’re told that watching moderate amounts of pornography will shrink your brain. The claim arrives courtesy of a brain imaging paper published last month in JAMA Psychiatry, a respected medical journal.

Among the global hyperbolic headlines that followed, my favourite was from a German site: “Pea brain: watching porn online will wear out your brain and make it shrivel.” Others included “Viewing porn shrinks the brain” (from the reliably untrustworthy Daily Mail) and Watching Porn Linked To Less Gray Matter In The Brain (from Huffington Post).

The study that triggered all this concern was published by a German pair: Simone Kühn, a psychologist, and Jürgen Gallinat, a psychiatrist. They scanned the brains of 64 healthy men (average age 29) in three ways. Note the word healthy. In fact, all the men who participated were free from any psychiatric or neurological disorders. So if they had shrunken brains (we’ll come onto that later), it wasn’t causing them any major problems.

The first scan was a simple structural brain scan. The second looked at patterns of brain activation when the men viewed sexual or neutral images. The third scan looked at brain activity while the men relaxed in the scanner for five minutes (a so-called resting-state scan). The men also answered questions about how much porn they watch. They averaged four hours per week, and none of them met the criteria for Internet sex addiction according to the “Internet Sex Screening Test”.

Here’s what’s caused all the fuss. The researchers found that hours spent watching porn was negatively correlated with the amount of grey matter in a subcortical region near the front of the brain – the right striatum – that’s known to be involved in the processing of reward (as well as lots of other things). In other words, men who said they spent more time watching porn tended to have a smaller amount of grey matter in this part of their brain. Also, the more avid porn viewers showed less activation in their left striatum when they looked at racy images, and they appeared to have reduced connectivity between their right striatum and their left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

So, does watching porn shrink your brain? The researchers think it probably does. “One may be tempted,” they wrote “to assume that the frequent brain activation caused by pornography exposure might lead to wearing and down regulation of the underlying brain structure, as well as function . “.

One may be tempted, but one should really know better. The most glaringly obvious problem with this study is of course its cross-sectional methodology. It’s just as likely that men with less grey matter in their striatum are more attracted to porn, as opposed to porn causing that brain profile. The researchers know this. “It’s not clear . whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn,” Kühn told The Daily Telegraph (and yet that paper still ran the headline: “Watching pornography damages men’s brains”).

A further problem with correlational studies is not just that the causal direction can run either way, but that an unknown or uncontrolled third factor (and others) could be causally involved. In the case of this study, the elephant in the room is personality. Unsurprisingly, personality is linked with media use (including porn consumption) and with brain characteristics. Asking men how much porn they watch is a crude indicator of their extraversion, (lower) conscientiousness and desire for sensation seeking. For instance, men who watch porn in work hours tend to be less conscientious and more impulsive. Last year, a study reported: “Neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and obsessional checking all significantly correlated with a latent measure of compulsive behavior upon which use of Internet pornography use also loaded.”

Amazingly, although Kühn and Gallinat checked their participants were free from depression and addiction, they otherwise failed to measure their participants’ personality traits. Had they done so, they would likely have found strong associations between personality and brain structure and function. Past research has already shown that high sensation seekers have reduced sensitivity to high arousal pictures (including nudity and gore). Other research has documented differences in resting-state brain activity according to personality. Still further research has shown how extraverts, and those more open to experience, are more persuaded by advertising that uses sexual imagery.

By failing to measure or control for personality, the results of this study are virtually meaningless. The men’s self-reported time spent watching porn is little more than a rough proxy for their personality profile, including their willingness to diverge details about their private habits. And we already know that key personality traits such as extraversion and sensation seeking are linked with distinct patterns of brain structure and response. By failing to follow up participants over time, the research also provides no evidence that watching porn has any effects whatsoever. Moreover, by also neglecting to measure any other media consumption, then even if before/after evidence were available, we wouldn’t know if it were due to porn consumption or to other media activities correlated with that porn use, such as watching violent movies and online gambling (to be fair, the findings did still hold after the researchers controlled for overall levels of internet use).

The researchers have witnessed newspapers spread headlines of brain shrinkage and brain harm, and yet they know that they specifically recruited psychologically and neurologically healthy men. In fact, therein lies the only really meaningful insight from this study. Look at it this way. In a survey of 64 men who answered recruitment adverts for a brain scanning study, it was found that they viewed an average of four hours porn a week. They do so with no apparent ill consequence – screening confirmed no psychiatric, medical or neurological problems. Of course there is a debate to be had about the merits and harms of porn for individuals and society. This study does not make a helpful contribution. Suggested new headline: “Watching moderate amounts of porn won’t hurt your brain”.

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