The mental ‘wealth of nations’

Countries must learn how to make better use of their citizens’ cognitive resources if they are to prosper economically and socially, according to a major new study.


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VOL.455 NO.7216 DATED 23 OCTOBER 2008

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Feature: The mental ‘wealth of nations’ (pp 1057-1060)

Countries must learn how to make better use of their citizens’ cognitive resources if they are to prosper economically and socially, according to a major new study. Early intervention will be key to improving what a Feature in Nature this week refers to as “mental capital” and mental wellbeing. Cognitive neuroscience, for example, can help to reveal learning difficulties as early as infancy.

“Positive emotional states or a generally positive approach to life are associated with greater curiosity, more flexible thinking and a greater openness to learning,” the authors say, in the Feature “The Mental Wealth of Nations”. “How a nation develops and uses its mental capital not only has a significant effect on its economic competitiveness and prosperity, but is also important for mental health and well-being and social cohesion and inclusion.”

“The Mental Wealth of Nations” was produced by a team of researchers led by John Beddington, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser. It summarizes the findings of ‘The Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing’. This peer-reviewed study took two years to complete and involved more than 450 experts and stakeholders from 16 countries.

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Published: 22 Oct 2008

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