In Neuroplasticity: Your Brain and Your Trading, we will explore how Neuroplasticity can help traders create a more accurate trading system. Neuroplastic is the ability of your brain to adapt to its surroundings and change through experience. Neuroplasticity is an exciting new area of research in which scientists are studying the ways that our brains change over time with various types of input.
Mental training has been shown to be a powerful tool in improving performance on tasks from memory recall, math calculations, motor skills, creativity, decision-making, and many others. Neuroscientists have found that mental training increases gray matter volume in specific areas of the brain responsible for those skills.
##What is neuroplasticity and how does it affect trading?:
In the world of neuroscience, babies are like sponges. They process data twice as fast and their brain is still developing due to new neural connections that form in response to stimuli. The thing about brains—they can adapt! Imagine what it would be like if your left speech center was damaged after an accident or stroke; you could learn how to use your right side instead because they’re always adapting with time (talk about a tough feat).
Your brain is more awesome than we even thought: not only does it have all this processing power but also some cells called “mirror neurons” which help us understand other people’s actions by simulating them ourselves–in short, mirror neurons make imitation easy for our children while giving adults empathy skill.
The conventional wisdom once said that we could never recover from the loss of brain cells, but now research has shown that you can grow new ones. For instance, if a senior is injured or ill they will experience significant changes to their neural pathways in response and this makes up for lost neurons by creating more connections between healthy neurons so everything can be sorted out again! (more…)
Eric Barker has a new article (link here) on how to win every argument. The article had a point which made me think whether the same situation happens in trading.
So it quoted an experiment by psychologist Drew Westen, which showed to supporters, footage of their favorite candidates completely contradicting himself. The experiment found that as soon as the people realized that the information contradicted their world view, the parts of the brain that handle reason and logic went dormant, while the parts of the brain that handle hostile attacks – the fight-or-flight response – lit up. Essentially logic gets thrown out the window, and it just becomes a fight where you do anything to win.
A similar situation occurs in trading, when you have a certain expectation of how the market should behave. E.g. you might for various reasons, think that the market will go up. So when the market does not follow what you expect, you might initially make up excuses for it. However when the market continues to go completely in the opposite direction of what you expect, your logic and reasoning centers would shut down, your fight-or-flight response kicks in, you treat it like a hostile attack on you, and you would do anything to win (or not lose), e.g. keep averaging down. I’m sure this sequence of events led to many traders blowing up their accounts. It is pretty interesting that the experiment showed this as a ‘natural expected’ behavior.
As always, trade what you see, not what you think.
Here’s how it works.
If I make an outrageous prediction or label a prediction outrageous and I am wrong, I respond to criticism like this:
“Well, I said it was an outrageous prediction.”
This discounts my responsibility for being wrong to some degree. But if I am right, I will say,
“look how brilliant I am. I made an outrageous prediction and it was dead on.”
Outrageous predictions are used to manage impressions. One defers responsibility if wrong and gloats incessantly if right.
It is a manipulative gambit.
People, who make outrageous predictions know exactly what they are doing. Their potential reward is much bigger than the risk they are taking of being publicly laughed at. Many people have made a career by being right once about a major event that nobody expected (usually a big market correction).
Predicting and speculating have a lot in common, but they are also very different. By definition, predictions are about dealing with factors, you have no control over. When you speculate in the stock market, you also don’t have control over which one of your trades will be profitable and for the most part how profitable it will be. You could improve the odds, but you can’t impact the outcome of each individual trade. When you speculate, you put your own money at risk. You could be right for the wrong reasons and make money (lucky). You could also be wrong despite having an edge and still lose money (no approach has 100% success rate). Since you have very little control on some of the variables that impact your results, it doesn’t really make sense to speculate about only one outcome, because in this case you are getting prepared for only one outcome. The solution – You develop several different scenarios and you prepare for each of them.
A) You could be wrong
- where is your stop loss?
- How much of your capital are you going to risk?
B) You could be right (more…)
A lesson I learned from Einstein is the benefit of being able and willing to changes one’s mind. At times a pacifist, he changed after witnessing the rearmament in Europe. In physics and science in general when presented with new evidence it is quite normal to revise theories and mathematical proofs, or even to reverse a position entirely. Putting ego aside, he did this many times, most famously dropping his famous Constant variable regarding a static universe when through experiment it was proved no longer necessary. This is skill which comes more naturally at a younger age, but is quite possible for the post 40 crowd as he demonstrated in his long career.
Trading forces us to interact with the market, where price is objective – everyone can see the same thing. But human nature makes us subjective, that’s just part of being human, seeing the world (and the market) through our own filter of beliefs, hopes, and fears.
The way to maximize performance in a situation where the objectivity of the market interacts with human subjectivity is to understand how your own subjective filter operates.
We have to do this for a number of reasons, with the big one being that the market will trigger our psychological vulnerabilities – sometimes I refer to them as our unmet developmental needs….the need for approval, etc. As traders we must understand how our personal filter operates and how it shapes our view of the market. (more…)
I have seen too many traders that randomly add condition after condition to their trading strategy, hoping that it will increase their hitrate. What they are trying to do is to add assumption after assumption to their hypothesis, until their hypothesis (“price will move in to this or that direction for this or that amount”) is hopefully correct more often than not.
Going this way usually ends in paralysis through analysis or in total chaos because there are so many conditions when entering a trade that it is impossible for a human brain to follow the system, thus inducing mistakes.
Enter: Occam’s Razor
Occam was one of those scholastic philosophers, living around 1300 A.D. He developed a principle called Occam’s Razor which states that “among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove to provide better predictions, but—in the absence of differences in predictive ability—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.” But Occam was not the first, even Aristotle, who was living a mere 2000 years ago, theorized about this concept.
Now the thing is that of course when you add or remove certain conditions to your trading strategy, the predictive ability of your strategy will vary thus rendering Occam’s Razor seemingly invalid. Seemingly. Because trading is a game of incomplete information, we can never exactly know the predictive ability of a model.
Even after testing thoroughly, we will always only get an estimate (our winrate). Because of this fact you should base your trading strategy on as few assumptions as possible. (more…)
1. Focus on how robust a finding is, meaning that different ways of looking at the evidence point to the same conclusion. Do the same patterns repeat in many data sets, in different countries, industries or eras?
2. Results that are Statistically Significant means it’s unlikely findings simply reflect chance. Don’t confuse this with something actually mattering.
3. Be wary of scholars using high-powered statistical techniques as a bludgeon to silence critics who are not specialists.
4. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about an empirical finding as “right” or “wrong.”
5. Don’t mistake correlation for causation.
6. Always ask “so what?” The “so what” question is about moving beyond the internal validity of a finding to asking about its external usefulness.