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Happiness: The Contagion Theory

Happiness: The Contagion Theory | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

"Have you ever noticed how being around nutsy/negative people can make you feel nutsy/negative?

Psychologists call this “emotional contagion” – and there’s even evolutionary reasons for why someone else’s curmudgeonly ways can infect you.

“The original form is the contagion of fear and alarm,” said Frans de Waal, a psychologist and primate expert at Atlanta’s Emory University. “You’re in a flock of birds. One bird suddenly takes off. You have no time to wait and see what’s going on. You take off, too. Otherwise, you’re lunch.”

Translation: Getting caught up in another’s negativity is a hard-wired survival mechanism.

“I have often noticed how primate groups in their entirety enter a similar mood,” de Waal said. “All of a sudden, all of them are playful, hopping around. Or all of them are grumpy. Or all of them are sleepy and settle down. In such cases, the mood contagion serves the function of synchronizing activities. The individual who doesn’t stay in tune with what everyone is doing will lose out, like the traveler who didn’t go the restroom when the bus stopped.”

Translation: Contagion theory of happiness also explains the powerful energy of “mob mentality” and why there’s a tendency for groups of people in a movie theater or concert to share a similar feeling for the move or concert.

Plus psychologists believe that “the contagion theory of happiness” is yet another form of our hard-wired mimicry we humans do – our instinctive human tendency to unconsciously imitate other people’s facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and body movements.

For example, if someone scratches their nose, you might suddenly feel your nostrils twitch. Or if someone yawns and stretches and gets sleepy, you might yawn and feel more tired too.

Indeed, mimicry is such a strong foundation of our human emotional development that even at a mere 1-hour old, a newborn infant will be hard-wired to mimic a person’s facial gestures.

Hence why you can smile at 1-hour old baby, and this 1-hour old baby will smile back!

Translation: Our built-in human system for mimicry, explains why we humans can transfer our good and bad moods to each other.

The Journal of Applied Psychology offered up a study which showed the downer effects of a downer leader on a group. They took 189 volunteer undergraduates, divided them into 63 groups of 3, and told them they were taking part in a team-building exercise to put up a tent. Then a “leader” was chosen for each team, and shown either of video clip of a “Saturday Night Live” skits or a vignette on torture — to create either a positive/up beat mood or a negative/downer mood.

The result: If a leader was up, the team members’ moods rose. But if the leader was down, everyone became down.

Numerous other studies have also shown how when one person in a romantic coupling gets depressed, the other also becomes more depressed.

Psychologists believe this transfer of emotions is yet another form of empathy.

In London’s University College, psychologist Tonia Singer and colleagues used brain scans to explore empathy in 19 romantic couples. She hooked both individuals to brain scans. One partner in the couple was given a slight electric shock while the other partner watched. Each of their scans showed identical brain reactions. Although only one partner was shocked, both of the partner’s pain center lighted up – as if both had been jolted.

On a more happy note… Howard Friedman, a psychologist at University of California at Irvine thinks “emotional contagion” is also why some people can move and inspire others to positive action – like a good coach or a powerful preacher – or a joyous/exuberant partner in a romantic coupling.

Friedman believes it’s because the happy person’s happy facial expression, happy voice, happy gestures and happy body movements all together conspire to transmit happy emotions to all those around the happy person!"


Via HBEsbin
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Angie Mc's curator insight, December 16, 2013 11:56 PM

Today decide to be a HAPPINESS TRANSMITTER! <- Like that :)

Miguel Garcia's curator insight, December 19, 2013 5:48 AM

tal vez no sea la felicidad lo q se contagia pero si el estado de ánimo.

Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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Walking in Your Shoes

Walking in Your Shoes | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

To walk in the other person's shoes is perhaps the most important first step we can do to develop our emotional intelligence. This is called "empathy," and it is defined as the capacity to experience another person's point of view.


British philosopher Roman Krznaric who studied the topic in depth, observes that empathy includes also understanding the other's feelings, and using that understanding to guide our actions.


Via Edwin Rutsch
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Good neighbors and friendly local community may curb heart attack risk

Good neighbors and friendly local community may curb heart attack risk | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Having good neighbors and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb an individual's heart attack risk, concludes research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
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Targeted Brain Stimulation Aids Stroke Recovery in Mice

Targeted Brain Stimulation Aids Stroke Recovery in Mice | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Using optogenetics to stimulate mice brains five days after a stroke helped improve motor control and brain chemistry, researchers report.
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The role of lactate in boosting memory

The role of lactate in boosting memory | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
(Medical Xpress)—EPFL researchers have decoded the mechanism by which a glucose derivative activates receptors involved in memorization.
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Epigenetic Breakthrough Bolsters Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease

Epigenetic Breakthrough Bolsters Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new study reports people with more Alzheimer's related neuropathology in their brains had higher levels of DNA modifications within the ANK1 gene.
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High-fidelity optical reporting of neuronal electrical activity with an ultrafast fluorescent voltage sensor

High-fidelity optical reporting of neuronal electrical activity with an ultrafast fluorescent voltage sensor | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

In this technical report, St-Pierre and colleagues introduce a new genetically encoded voltage sensor called Accelerated Sensor of Action Potentials 1 (ASAP1), which consists of a circularly permuted GFP inserted in the extracellular voltage-sensing domain of a phosphatase. ASAP1 surpasses existing sensors in reliably detecting single action potentials and tracking subthreshold potentials and high-frequency spike trains. (...) -  by St-Pierre F. et al., Nature Neuroscience 17, 884–889 (2014)


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Bypass Commands From the Brain to Legs Through a Computer

Bypass Commands From the Brain to Legs Through a Computer | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers have successfully made an artificial connection from the brain to the locomotion center in the spinal cord by bypassing with a computer interface.
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Biology of love at first sight: Study explains the mechanism of "Cupid's arrow"

Biology of love at first sight: Study explains the mechanism of "Cupid's arrow" | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Waseda university researchers have identified certain chemicals in the brain which regulate downstream reproductive hormones of males.
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Promising New Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

Promising New Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers report common anti-psychotic drugs could be effective in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.
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Dopamine Replacement Therapy Associated with Increase in Impulse Control Disorders Among Early Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Dopamine Replacement Therapy Associated with Increase in Impulse Control Disorders Among Early Parkinson’s Disease Patients | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Anxiety and depression are more common in newly diagnosed Parkinson's patients than in the general population, a new study reports.
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The origin of laughter, smiles and tears – Michael Graziano – Aeon

The origin of laughter, smiles and tears – Michael Graziano – Aeon | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Why do laughter, smiles and tears look so similar? Perhaps because they all evolved from a single root
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How Successful People Stay Calm

How Successful People Stay Calm | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.
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Brain 'switchboard' found, important in attention, sleep

Brain 'switchboard' found, important in attention, sleep | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Using a mouse model, researchers have recorded the activity of individual nerve cells in a small part of the brain that works as a “switchboard,” directing signals coming from the outside world or internal memories.
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Stuck in neutral: Brain defect traps schizophrenics in twilight zone

Stuck in neutral: Brain defect traps schizophrenics in twilight zone | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
People with schizophrenia struggle to turn goals into actions because brain structures governing desire and emotion are less active and fail to pass goal-directed messages to cortical regions affecting human decision-making, new research reveals.
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Researchers Obtain Key Insights into How the Internal Body Clock is Tuned

Researchers Obtain Key Insights into How the Internal Body Clock is Tuned | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers discover a new way that circadian rhythm is regulated by long non-coding RNA.
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An MRI-guided brain surgery technology goes global

An MRI-guided brain surgery technology goes global | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

An MRI-guided laser system that allows surgeons to perform brain surgery on tumors and epileptic lesions in the brain is expected to become widely available to patients in need now that the technology has been acquired from Visualase Inc. by the global medical device company Medtronic, Inc., says a biomedical engineering professor from Texas A&M University who co-founded the company responsible for the technology.


The technology, says Gerard Coté, professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Center for Remote Healthcare Technology, enables surgeons to pinpoint and destroy brain tumors and lesions with extreme precision and is a much less-invasive alternative to conventional surgery.


The advantage of this approach over other approaches for brain surgery, Coté explains, is that it can be performed while the patient is awake, requires no radiation and no skull flap (the large opening in traditional craniotomies), and is often performed in otherwise inoperable areas of the brain.


Traditional brain surgery, he explains, is usually a daylong operation that involves removing part of the skull, cutting through healthy brain matter and physically removing the problematic tissue. That procedure, he adds, can be followed by a weeklong hospital stay and prolonged recovery period. 


The technology developed by former Texas A&M students Ashok Gowda and the late Roger McNichols, conversely, can be completed in about four hours, and most patients can return home the following day, Coté says. 


Known as “Visualase,” the technology is already used in more than 45 hospitals, nationwide, including 15 pediatric hospitals. Before the surgical procedure, computer software first helps identify the targeted tissue so that it may be treated and the surrounding healthy tissue can be avoided, Coté explains. During the procedure, a small entry is made in the skull that allows a laser applicator (about the size of a pencil lead) to be inserted into the tissue. The patient is placed in the MRI, and a physician receives and reviews images to verify proper positioning of the laser applicator in the skull. The clinician then uses a laser to heat and destroy the problematic tissue while imaging the tissue being damaged in real time to ensure destruction of the problematic tissue and to avoid damaging healthy tissue. The laser applicator is then removed, and the scalp is closed with one stitch, Coté notes.



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How Practicing Makes Your Brain Better

How Practicing Makes Your Brain Better | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A lot of contemporary neuroscience has focused on the importance of practice when it comes to honing your talents. In general, we all understand that practice improves our ability to play the viola, hit a golf ball, prepare tasty meals, etc.
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David Hain's curator insight, August 18, 4:48 AM

"The more I practise, the luckier I get!" ~ Gary Player

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DNA methylation involved in Alzheimer's disease

DNA methylation involved in Alzheimer's disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Rush University Medical Center, reveals how early changes in brain DNA methylation are involved in Alzheimer's disease.
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Scientists Use Lasers to Control Mouse Brain Switchboard

Scientists Use Lasers to Control Mouse Brain Switchboard | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new optogenetics study could be a breakthrough in understanding how the TRN influences consciousness.
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Researchers identify a brain 'switchboard' important in attention and sleep

Researchers identify a brain 'switchboard' important in attention and sleep | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere, using a mouse model, have recorded the activity of individual nerve cells in a small part of the brain that works as a "switchboard," directing signals coming from the outside world or...
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Stroke researchers link ability to self-administer medication with memory loss

Stroke researchers link ability to self-administer medication with memory loss | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Kessler stroke researchers and colleagues have identified an association between over-optimistic estimation of one's own ability to take medications accurately, and memory loss among stroke survivors.
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Depression Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Depression Linked to Parkinson’s Disease | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
A new study reports that depression is under-treated in Parkinson's patients.
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Naughty or nice? The Moral Molecule

Naughty or nice? The Moral Molecule | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
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Image of the Week: Wiring of the human brain

Image of the Week: Wiring of the human brain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Spark the imagination… submit your images for the 2015 Wellcome Image Awards now! If you are a research scientist, photographer or illustrator, your images could reach a global audience. The winnin...
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Study: Empathy for Pain Involves the Affective but not Sensory Components of Pain

Study: Empathy for Pain Involves the Affective but not Sensory Components of Pain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Tania Singer,
Ben Seymour,
John O\'Doherty,
Holger Kaube,
Raymond J. Dolan,
Chris D.


Our ability to have an experience of another's pain is characteristic of empathy. Using functional imaging, we assessed brain activity while volunteers experienced a painful stimulus and compared it to that elicited when they observed a signal indicating that their loved one—present in the same room—was receiving a similar pain stimulus.


Bilateral anterior insula (AI), rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), brainstem, and cerebellum were activated when subjects received pain and also by a signal that a loved one experienced pain. AIand ACC activation correlated with individual empathy scores.


Activity in the posterior insula/secondary somatosensory cortex, the sensorimotor cortex (SI/MI), and the caudal ACC was specific to receiving pain. Thus, a neural response in AIand rostral ACC, activated in common for “self” and “other” conditions, suggests that the neural substrate for empathic experience does not involve the entire “pain matrix.”


We conclude that only that part of the pain network associated with its affective qualities, but not its sensory qualities, mediates empathy.


Via Edwin Rutsch
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