“Empathy, or the ability to identify with others' feelings, often is considered an important relational skill. Previously, researchers had hypothesized that in order for individuals to be empathetic, they needed to be selfless.”
However, University of Missouri researchers found just the opposite: individuals who were more self-aware had higher levels of empathy.
Using MRI scans of individuals' brains, the researchers found empathetic individuals had increased functioning in the part of their brains associated with their sense of self. Creating interventions that help individuals develop their sense of self may help them become more empathetic, the researchers said.
Peer review is ubiquitous in modern science: from the evaluation of publications to the distribution of funding. While there is a long tradition of, and many arguments for, peer review as a beneficial and necessary component of scientific processes, the exponential growth of the research community, the 'publish or perish' pressures and increasing insecurity and competition for research grants have led to an increasing number of voices describing the weaknesses of the system. One of the most frequent accusations against the peer review system is that it inhibits true innovation. The availability of better data mining tools allows interested stakeholders, in principle, to monitor many aspects of the process and to promote a better understanding of the interplay of various factors. 'In principle' – because a lot of information is hidden behind the screens of anonymity and confidentiality. Our work presents an attempt at a theoretical understanding of some aspects of the process via an idealized agent-based model, which describes the effects of the peer review done by 'imperfect' agents, in particular with respect to promotion of mediocrity and to formation of self-serving cliques. The results of the model suggest that both phenomena can be quite robust and require careful monitoring of the system to combat their negative effects. Some mitigating measures are simulated and discussed.
“Women rate emotional images as more emotionally stimulating than men do and are more likely to remember them. However, there are no gender-related differences in emotional appraisal as far as neutral images are concerned.”
Via Jocelyn Stoller
Bears, hedgehogs and mice destroy brain connections as they enter hibernation, and repair them as they wake up. A team of scientists now discovered "cold-shock chemicals" that trigger the process. They used theses to prevent brain cells dying in animals, and say that restoring lost memories may eventually be possible.Experts have described the findings as "promising" and "exciting". In the early stages of Alzheimer's, and other neurodegenerative disorders, synapses are lost. This inevitably progresses to whole brain cells dying. But during hibernation, 20-30% of the connections in the brain - synapses - are culled as the body preserves precious resources over winter. And remarkably those connections are reformed in the spring, with no loss of memory.In experiments, non-hibernating mice with Alzheimer's disease and prion disease were cooled so their body temperature dropped from 37˚C to 16-18˚C. Young diseased mice lost synapses during the chill and regained them as they warmed up. Old mice also lost brain connections, but were unable to re-establish them. The study, published in the journal Nature, found levels of a "cold-shock" chemical called RBM3 soared when young mice were chilled, but not in old mice. It suggested RBM3 was key to the formation of new connections.In a further set of tests, the team showed the brain cell deaths from prion disease and Alzheimer's could be prevented by artificially boosting RBM3 levels. The discovery comes from the laboratory that was the first to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease.Dr Doug Brown, the director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society said: "We know that cooling body temperate can protect the brain from some forms of damage and it's interesting to see this protective mechanism now also being studied in neurodegenerative disease. "Connections between brain cells - called synapses - are lost early on in several neurodegenerative conditions, and this exciting study has shown for the first time that switching on a cold-shock protein called RBM3 can prevent these losses.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Jocelyn Stoller
Highlights- Potassium (K+) channels are crucial determinants of neuronal excitability.- Nerve injury or inflammation alters K+ channel activity in neurons of the pain pathway.- These changes can render neurons hyperexcitable and cause chronic pain.- Therapies targeting K+ channels may provide improved pain relief in these states. (...) - By Tsantoulas C & McMahon SB, Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 37, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 146–158
Via Julien Hering, PhD
Study identifies potential blood test for cognitive decline. A simple blood test has the potential to predict whether a healthy person will develop symptoms of dementia within two or three years. If larger studies uphold the results, the test could fill a major gap in strategies to combat brain degeneration, which is thought to show symptoms only at a stage when it too late to treat effectively. (...) - by Alison Abbott, Nature, 09 March 2014
Via Julien Hering, PhD
Daniel Goleman’s new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, takes the idea even further. Understanding his “Empathy Triad” may help you become not only a better persuader but maybe even a better person as well.Goleman’s empathy triad comprises three forms of attention: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and empathetic caring. Cognitive empathy is the closest to what I call outside-in thinking. Essentially, it’s paying attention to the other person’s thought processes and emotions, of knowing what they’re thinking and feeling, and being able to incorporate that into your persuasive approach. Another term for it is perspective taking, which is the ability to see the situation from the point of view of another person. It’s a skill that may be unique to humans, and begins to develop around the time we are three years old and ends only when we attain positions of power.
Via Edwin Rutsch, Jocelyn Stoller
“ In Canada, math is often a dreaded subject in school — something that UBC education professor Marina Milner-Bolotin hopes to change.”
Manousos Klados's insight:
Math anxiety has a key role in the young'a choice about their future career. They choose something away from technology and science, where we need tons of manpower, because they afraid of maths... We should definitely solve this problem and raise kids with free will...
“ George Rebok, PhD, conducted one of the largest studies to date looking at how cognitive training affects older adults. Rebok, a professor at the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, talks about the study findings, commercially available brain training, and what he recommends for brain health”
For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have identified which emotion a person is experiencing based on brain activity. The study, published in the June 19 issue of PLOS ONE, combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and machine learning to measure brain signals to accurately read emotions in individuals. Led by researchers in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the findings illustrate how the brain categorizes feelings, giving researchers the first reliable process to analyze emotions. Until now, research on emotions has been long stymied by the lack of reliable methods to evaluate them, mostly because people are often reluctant to honestly report their feelings. Further complicating matters is that many emotional responses may not be consciously experienced. Identifying emotions based on neural activity builds on previous discoveries by CMU’s Marcel Just and Tom M. Mitchell, which used similar techniques to create a computational model that identifies individuals’ thoughts of concrete objects,often dubbed “mind reading.” “This research introduces a new method with potential to identify emotions without relying on people’s ability to self-report,” said Karim Kassam, assistant professor ofsocial and decision sciences and lead author of the study. “It could be used to assess an individual’s emotional response to almost any kind of stimulus, for example, a flag, a brand name or a political candidate.” One challenge for the research team was find a way to repeatedly and reliably evoke different emotional states from the participants. Traditional approaches, such as showing subjects emotion-inducing film clips, would likely have been unsuccessful because the impact of film clips diminishes with repeated display. The researchers solved the problem by recruiting actors from CMU’s School of Drama. “Our big breakthrough was my colleague Karim Kassam’s idea of testing actors, who are experienced at cycling through emotional states. We were fortunate, in that respect, that CMU has a superb drama school,” saidGeorge Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology. For the study, 10 actors were scanned at CMU’s Scientific Imaging & Brain Research Center while viewing the words of nine emotions: anger, disgust, envy, fear, happiness, lust, pride, sadness and shame. While inside the fMRI scanner, the actors were instructed to enter each of these emotional states multiple times, in random order.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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