I decide to conduct an experiment, a simple experiment in empathy. I ask myself, is it possible, in spite of how insane and dead-wrong this storeowner is, that I could -- in some way -- begin to empathize with him? Just before bed, I write a list of how I imagine he might be seeing the issue -- and at first, it's physically painful to write:
1. Though I totally disagree with his policy and his intransigent stance, I must also admit that I don't know a damn thing about running a store.
============================ After the phone call I feel like a tiny tear in the fabric of my own humanity has been restored. All through this simple experiment in empathy....
Older people are nearly twice as likely as young adults to have their memory affected by distractions like irrelevant speech or written words. (After the age of 25, we're more forgetful when...where was I ?
Empathy has been difficult for neuroscientists to analyze because it’s the product of many parts of the brain acting with one another in mysterious ways.
Simon Baron-Cohen, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Oxford, has identified ten separate regions of the brain, each with its own special function, that comprise the “empathy circuit.” One critical part of this circuit is called the medial prefrontal cortex, or MPFC, which plays a role in comparing one’s own perspective to that of others. Other parts of the empathy circuit correlate with social judgments (the orbitofrontal cortex), awareness of the intentions and goals of others (the frontal operculum), recognizing emotion (the inferior frontal gyrus), and processing sensory stimuli (the somatosensory cortex).
But knowing which brain areas are associated with which individual functions still doesn’t present a clear picture of how these areas work, much less interact with one another.
Humans are some of the most social creatures on this planet, but step into an elevator, train or public bus and something strange happens: we fall silent, stare at the wall and ignore the strangers surrounding us.
Empathy is a curious, human capacity that pervades the worlds of both art and design. In this article, the first of a three-part series, author Seung Chan Lim (Slim) explores the direct relationship between making art and realizing empathy.
Researchers from UCSD have for the first time directly created and destroyed neural connections that connect high level sensory input and high level behavioral responses.
Donald Hebb in 1949 was one of the first to seize upon this observation. He proposed that on the biological level, neurons were rewired so that coordinated inputs and outputs get wired together. As such, were there a nausea neuron and a boat neuron, through the effects of association, the two would get wired together so that the “boat” itself fires up pathways in the “nausea” part of the brain.
In the field of neural networks, this has a name: Hebbian learning. Pavlov of course also described this phenomenon, and tested it in animals, bequeathing its name the “conditioned response”.
Until now the wiring of neural inputs and outputs was a theory with good but indirect evidence. At UCSD, neuroscientists teamed up with molecular biologists to engineer a mouse whose neurons can be directly controlled for forming and losing connections.
They did this by injecting an engineered virus into the auditory nerve cells. The viruses, largely harmless, carry a light responsive molecular switch (a membrane protein “channel” actually) which gets inserted into cells of the auditory region. Using laser light of certain frequencies it is possible to both “potentiate” or “depress” the auditory nerve cells.
The upshot is that the researchers could directly make the auditory nerve cells increase or decrease their signal strength to other nerve cells, without needing a real, external noise. In effect, they’ve short-circuited the noise input. In experiments, they used a light electrical pulse to shock mice while simultaneously stimulating the auditory input with the laser-activated switch.
Basically they flashed the laser light at the ear of the mouse. Over time, the mouse began to associate the laser pulse induced nerve signal with the electrical shock. The mice were conditioned to exhibit fear even when there was no shock.
The crux of the experiment is what happened when the scientists flashed the laser in a way to weaken the auditory nerve. Now the mouse stopped responding in fear to the laser auditory stimulus.
The experiments showed for the first time that associative learning was indeed the wiring together of sensory and response neurons. The study was published in Nature.
Soul singer Betty Everett once proclaimed, “If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss.” But a new study by University of Chicago researchers suggests the difference between love and lust might be in the eyes after all. Specifically, where your date looks at you could indicate whether love or…
Reading other people’s eyes is a valuable skill during interpersonal interaction. Although a number of studies have investigated visual patterns in relation to the perceiver’s interest, intentions, and goals, little is known about eye gaze when it comes to differentiating intentions to love from intentions to lust (sexual desire). To address this question, we conducted two experiments: one testing whether the visual pattern related to the perception of love differs from that related to lust and one testing whether the visual pattern related to the expression of love differs from that related to lust. Our results show that a person’s eye gaze shifts as a function of his or her goal (love vs. lust) when looking at a visual stimulus. Such identification of distinct visual patterns for love and lust could have theoretical and clinical importance in couples therapy when these two phenomena are difficult to disentangle from one another on the basis of patients’ self-reports.
The laughter spills out of her like a jar of coins enriching the nearby surroundings. How does this burst of vocalized joy, unique in this form only to our species, define our personalities and impact our social relationships? A recent study of humor in children explains where the funny bone is: your brain.
Scientists have discovered that the human nose possesses receptors for chemical scents called pheromones, which are bodily chemicals that regulate mating and other social behaviors in insects and (nonhuman) mammalian species.
Two leading neuroscientists introduce the concepts of "cerebral plasticity" and the "regenerating brain," describing what we know now about the processes through which the brain constantly reconstructs itself and the potential benefits this knowledge could have in addressing concerns for neurological, cognitive, and emotional health.
The authors begin with a survey of the fundamental scientific developments that led to our current understanding of the regenerative mind, elucidating the breakthrough neurobiological studies that paved the way for our present understanding of the brain's plasticity and regenerative capabilities. They then discuss the application of these findings to such issues as depression, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and cognitive therapy, incorporating the latest technologies in neuroimaging, optogenetics, and nanotechnology. Their work shows the brain is anything but a static organ, ceasing to grow as human beings become adults. Rather, the brain is dynamic, evolving organically in relation to physical, cultural, historical, and affective stimuli, a plasticity that provides early hope to survivors of trauma and degenerative disorders.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have moved one step closer to a gene therapy that could silence the faulty SOD1 gene responsible for triggering a form of Motor Neurone Disease also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Higher levels of stress, hostility and depressive symptoms are associated with significantly increased risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in middle-age and older adults, according to new research in the American Heart Association...
Scientists at the Salk Institute have created a new model of memory that explains how neurons retain select memories a few hours after an event. This new framework provides a more complete picture of how memory works, which can inform research into disorders liked Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, post-traumatic stress and learning disabilities. “Previous models of memoryRead More