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I've been hearing since grade school that standing straight improves brain activity, that you will be able to think clearer, faster, better, etc. Mostly, it's teachers who say that, but I have yet to find any scientific proof that it's how it all works.

Pupils are expected to stand up when answering teacher's question. Also, talking to teacher while sitting is considered bad tone or outright rude. In school students are supposed to speak to teachers while standing unless the teacher specifically allows the student to sit while answering.

I suspect this "standing up makes you think better" thing was originally supposed to encourage etiquette, so as not to come off as rude when talking to teachers and seniors while sitting.

Also this may have started as a way to teach children that sitting too much can be harmful. This I can agree with, as it's scientifically proven that people who don't move around enough may suffer from various illnesses.

I've talked to my classmates when I was still in school and they mostly disagreed with that statement. They thought that if they were to stand for too long, eventually they would become too tired of standing to focus on the task at hand, which would be the exact opposite of the expected result. Besides, being the only one (or one of the few) students standing would look like an attempt to show off, so then we decided it would harm our reputation and didn't do it, even though some teachers said they encourage standing up during their classes.

Does standing up instead of sitting allow you to think better, or is it a school myth?

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Related questions: Standing Desk Health and Standing Desk Calories. The answer to the former touches on productivity. –  Oddthinking Apr 22 at 3:00

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There are studies that might suggest that there's an increase of physiological conditions that are favorable to creative brain activity, as well as persistence of neuronal function itself while maintaining an standing position. General blood circulation increases, preventing the risk of high blood pressure and the possibility of blood clots as a direct benefit.

Some users of standing position desks refer a subjective increase of equilibrioception, motivation morale and general mood and outlook. However, those benefits are mostly anecdotical in nature. The increase in brain activity is a direct consequence of the activation of the propioceptive receptors in the ankle, and might not be related with the thinking process itself, beyond the awareness that standing up practically implies.

Reference:

Yasuomi Ouchi, et al. Brain Activation During Maintenance Of Standing Postures In Humans. Brain. Volume 122, Issue 2Pp. 329-338. Available at: http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/122/2/329.full

Daniel J. Goble, et al. Brain Activity during Ankle Proprioceptive Stimulation Predicts Balance Performance in Young and Older Adults. The Journal of Neuroscience, November 9, 2011 • 31(45):16344 –16352. Available at: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/45/16344.full.pdf

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Can you cite the relevant portions of the papers for our readers that don't have access? –  Ebenezer Sklivvze Apr 22 at 7:43
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Both medical papers are available in full in the links provided, without the need of account or payment. Both of them allow the user to download the full PDF document of the paper for free. –  Carlos Teran Apr 22 at 23:13

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