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Social Neuroscience Advances
Understanding ourselves and how we interact
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Optogenetics and Translational Medicine

Optogenetic tools enable light-mediated control of cellular excitability and signaling in vivo. By manipulating biological processes, scientists can determine the roles played by these processes in intact biological systems, such as the brain. Such cellular-level control has greatly affected basic science. Here, we discuss how optogenetic tools might be translated into clinical impact through identification of new molecular and circuit-level targets and provide temporally precise interventions for defined biochemical or cellular events.

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Optogenetics as a neuromodulation tool in cognitive neuroscience

Optogenetics may be the answer to a search for temporal and spatial specificity in neuroscience. The well-known trade-off between temporal and spatial specificity might be resolved with this “combination of genetic and optical methods to achieve gain or loss of function of well-defined events in specific cells of living tissue” (Deisseroth, 2011). It is a technology that enables researchers to stimulate cells with light, thereby allowing for the direct control of behavior. Until now, this technique has been applied in animal research only but, as we argue, it holds promise for research in humans as well.

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The Importance of Empathy in Decreasing Social Anxiety

The Importance of Empathy in Decreasing Social Anxiety | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
This article illustrates why empathy is an important skill in decreasing social anxiety.

 

One of the most important lines of defense against social anxiety is learning to build empathy.  If you suffer with social anxiety and difficulty connecting with others, consider this:  anxiety and self consciousness turn an individual inward, and cause a person to always be on the defensive (against rejection, humiliation, threats from others).  When you are on the defensive and turned inward, very little psychic energy is available for much else.  You are closed up, and unavailable to absorb the world outside you in an adaptive/positive or even accurate way.  Everything is seen in terms of threatening or nonthreatening and not much else. In seeing others only as unflattering mirrors of yourself, you overlook the person that they are.  This does not mean you are a selfish person, it just means that too much of your mind's space is devoted to keeping yourself safe, and unavailable for other things such as connecting. 


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Carma Lisa Arrendell's curator insight, December 1, 2013 2:51 PM

The holidays can be stressful especially for those with social anxiety. The crowds at the stores. The many invitations and large gatherings. I hope you can glean the significance of empathy.

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Social neuroscience: challenges and opportunities in the study of complex behavior.

Social neuroscience: challenges and opportunities in the study of complex behavior. | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Apr;1224:162-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05858.x. Epub 2011 Jan 4.
Source

Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago, 5848 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. cacioppo@uchicago.edu

Abstract

Social species are so characterized because they form organizations that extend beyond the individual. The goal of social neuroscience is to investigate the biological mechanisms that underlie these social structures, processes, and behavior and the influences between social and neural structures and processes. Such an endeavor is challenging because it necessitates the integration of multiple levels. Mapping across systems and levels (from genome to social groups and cultures) requires interdisciplinary expertise, comparative studies, innovative methods, and integrative conceptual analysis. Examples of how social neuroscience is contributing to our understanding of the functions of the brain and nervous system are described, and societal implications of social neuroscience are considered.

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Neural mechanisms of attentional control in mindfulness meditation

The scientific interest in meditation and mindfulness practice has recently seen an unprecedented surge. After an initial phase of presenting beneficial effects of mindfulness practice in various domains, research is now seeking to unravel the underlying psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms. Advances in understanding these processes are required for improving and fine-tuning mindfulness-based interventions that target specific conditions such as eating disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. This review presents a theoretical framework that emphasizes the central role of attentional control mechanisms in the development of mindfulness skills. It discusses the phenomenological level of experience during meditation, the different attentional functions that are involved, and relates these to the brain networks that subserve these functions. On the basis of currently available empirical evidence specific processes as to how attention exerts its positive influence are considered and it is concluded that meditation practice appears to positively impact attentional functions by improving resource allocation processes. As a result, attentional resources are allocated more fully during early processing phases which subsequently enhance further processing. Neural changes resulting from a pure form of mindfulness practice that is central to most mindfulness programs are considered from the perspective that they constitute a useful reference point for future research. Furthermore, possible interrelations between the improvement of attentional control and emotion regulation skills are discussed.
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How Does Meditation Change the Brain?: Scientific American Video

How Does Meditation Change the Brain?: Scientific American Video | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
News videos covering science, health and technology at Sciam.com

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Heitor Fox's curator insight, February 19, 7:13 AM

A importancia de conhecer melhor o funcionamento do nosso organismo.

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The Psychology of Giving Thanks - Scientific American (blog)

The Psychology of Giving Thanks - Scientific American (blog) | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The Psychology of Giving Thanks
Scientific American (blog)
About the Author: Melanie Tannenbaum is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received an M.A.
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Newlyweds know on subconscious level whether marriage will be unhappy, new study says

Newlyweds know on subconscious level whether marriage will be unhappy, new study says | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Although newlyweds may not be completely aware of it, they may know whether their march down the aisle will result in wedded bliss or an unhappy marriage, according to new study led by a Florida State University researcher.
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The Power of Good Intentions

Perceived Benevolence Soothes Pain, Increases Pleasure, and Improves Taste

The experience of physical stimuli would seem to depend primarily on their physical characteristics—chocolate tastes good, getting slapped hurts, and snuggling is pleasurable. This research examined, however, whether physical experience is influenced by the interpersonal context in which stimuli occur. Specifically, three studies examined whether perceiving benevolent intentions behind stimuli can improve their experience. Experiment 1 tested whether benevolently intended shocks hurt less, Experiment 2 tested whether benevolently intended massages were more pleasurable, and Experiment 3 tested whether benevolently intended candy tastes sweeter. The results confirm that good intentions—even misguided ones—can sooth pain, increase pleasure, and make things taste better. More broadly, these studies suggest that basic physical experience depends upon how we perceive the minds of others.

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Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language

Researchers map brain areas vital to understanding language | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
In a new study, researchers uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie discourse comprehension, or the ability to understand written or spoken language through the construction of rich mental models.
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Lust: Sexual Desire Forges Lasting Relationships: Scientific American

Lust: Sexual Desire Forges Lasting Relationships: Scientific American | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Love and lust have distinct but interlocking brain signatures
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The Science of Gratitude Says Older Women Are Most Grateful

The Science of Gratitude Says Older Women Are Most Grateful | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
For most of us, thinking about gratitude is a once-a-year kind of thing. For Dr. Robert Emmons, it’s a career.
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Immunology: The pursuit of happiness

Immunology: The pursuit of happiness | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers have struggled to identify how certain states of mind influence physical health. One biologist thinks he has an answer.
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Checklist for a Healthy Relationship.

Checklist for a Healthy Relationship. | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Ask yourself and your partner these questions as a means of laying a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.
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Recording the Brain with MEG | Futurescape

Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), scientists are starting to decode brain waves and decipher human thoughts. | For more Futurescape, visit http://science.d...


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The challenge of translation in social neuroscience: a review of oxytocin, vasopressin, and affiliative behavior.

The challenge of translation in social neuroscience: a review of oxytocin, vasopressin, and affiliative behavior. | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Neuron. 2010 Mar 25;65(6):768-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.03.005.

National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. tinsel@mail.nih.gov

Social neuroscience is rapidly exploring the complex territory between perception and action where recognition, value, and meaning are instantiated. This review follows the trail of research on oxytocin and vasopressin as an exemplar of one path for exploring the "dark matter" of social neuroscience. Studies across vertebrate species suggest that these neuropeptides are important for social cognition, with gender- and steroid-dependent effects. Comparative research in voles yields a model based on interspecies and intraspecies variation of the geography of oxytocin receptors and vasopressin V1a receptors in the forebrain. Highly affiliative species have receptors in brain circuits related to reward or reinforcement. The neuroanatomical distribution of these receptors may be guided by variations in the regulatory regions of their respective genes. This review describes the promises and problems of extrapolating these findings to human social cognition, with specific reference to the social deficits of autism.

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The social life of the brain: Neuroscience in so... [Curr Sociol. 2013]

Neuroscience is viewed by a range of actors and institutions as a powerful means of creating new knowledge about our selves and societies. This article documents the shifts in expertise and identities potentially being propelled by neuroscientific research. It details the framing and effects of neuroscience within several social domains, including education and mental health, discussing some of the intellectual and professional projects it has animated therein (such as neuroethics). The analysis attends to the cultural logics by which the brain is sometimes made salient in society; simultaneously, it points towards some of parameters of the territory within which the social life of the brain plays out. Instances of societal resistance and agnosticism are discussed, which may render problematic sociological research on neuroscience in society that assumes the universal import of neuroscientific knowledge (as either an object of celebration or critique). This article concludes with reflections on how sociotechnical novelty is produced and ascribed, and the implications of this.
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Concerns about cultural neurosciences: A critical analysis

Ten years ago, neuroscientists began to study cultural phenomena by using functional MRI. Since then the number of publications in this field, termed cultural neuroscience (CN), has tremendously increased. In these studies, particular concepts of culture are implied, but rarely explicitly discussed. We argue that it is necessary to make these concepts a topic of debate in order to unravel the foundations of CN. From 40 fMRI studies we extracted two strands of reasoning: models investigating universal mechanisms for the formation of cultural groups and habits and, models assessing differences in characteristics among cultural groups. Both strands simplify culture as an inflexible set of traits and specificities. We question this rigid understanding of culture and highlight its hidden evaluative nature.

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Turning Big Data into Fast Data to Speed Brain Research

Turning Big Data into Fast Data to Speed Brain Research | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Researchers are beginning to turn to "fast data" – real-time streaming data for which an analysis is only useful if the results can be had quickly.
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Memories are 'geotagged' with spatial information, study finds

Memories are 'geotagged' with spatial information, study finds | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Using a video game in which people navigate through a virtual town delivering objects to specific locations, a team of neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Freiburg University has discovered how brain cells that encode spatial...
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These 10 Stories Prove That There's So Much Good In The World.. And That's What We're Thankful For This Year

These 10 Stories Prove That There's So Much Good In The World.. And That's What We're Thankful For This Year | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
On Thanksgiving, in between thoughts of food and travel, we'd like to take a moment to show our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. We at HuffPost Good News are thankful for our families, our friends, our health and happiness.
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Don't Underestimate Good Intentions

New research shows that good intentions can increase pleasure, decrease pain, and even make candy taste sweeter. How else may good intentions improve our everyday lives?
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Scientists identify key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells | PsyPost

Scientists identify key protein responsible for controlling communication between brain cells | PsyPost | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Scientists are a step closer to understanding how some of the brain's 100 billion nerve cells co-ordinate their communication. The study is published today [27 Nov] in the journal Cell Reports.
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Love Hormone May Help Men Stay Monogamous: How Oxytocin Renews Attraction To A Partner And Not A Stranger

Love Hormone May Help Men Stay Monogamous: How Oxytocin Renews Attraction To A Partner And Not A Stranger | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Oxytocin, the love hormone, may encourage men to stay monogamous by renewing attraction to their partner.
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