I've noticed the following phenomenon and am trying to find out if it is indeed true and if there is a scientific term for it:
When I think about ideas, I notice that I can rarely jump straight into "heavy" stuff, like thinking about a cognitive neuroscience article I read. Instead, doing another activity that "primes" my brain first tends to make me more conductive to heavy thinking. This can be watching a talk on TED.com or reading some lighter article.
In conversation, I find that it's fairly hard to have a "heart to heart" talk with a person right off the bat, but a casual conversation can evolve in that direction.
When thinking about the phenomenon, the following supporting evidence comes to mind:
I've read that in some asian cultures, it is traditional to start a business deal with small talk, or over a friendly dinner. The motivation for this tradition was weird to me, until I thought about it light of the phenomenon described above.
Most of my successful job interviews started with small talk, unrelated to skills or position at hand.
When thinking about other human "priming" behaviors, the one I can think of most clearly is foreplay before sexual encounters, which serves the following role
Foreplay is important from at least two considerations, one of which is purely physiological. On the other hand, foreplay implies a certain level of confidence and trust between the partners and creates intimacy. Psychologically, foreplay lowers inhibitions and increases emotional intimacy between partners. Physically, it stimulates the process that produces sexual arousal.
I'm interested if there is indeed some "priming" activity that can put the human brain in a state of mind, where thinking or conversation is easier? If so, what is the term for such activity? Has any neurotransmitter been implicated in the phenomenon described above?