Helen Weng is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Her long-term goals include studying how interventions that increase love and compassion impact both psychological and physical health in patients, and how training these qualities in health care providers can prevent burnout and improve patient outcomes.
Helen conducted a study titled, Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering. "Compassion is a key motivator of altruistic behavior, but little is known about individuals’ capacity to cultivate compassion through training. We examined whether compassion may be systematically trained by testing whether (a) short-term compassion training increases altruistic behavior and (b) individual differences in altruism are associated with training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering. "
Can you cultivate compassion? Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison seem to think so—and with good reason.
Their study, published in Psychological Science, hypothesized that compassion can be taught and boost a person’s well-being, as well as their altruistic behavior, or selflessness.
To test this theory, researchers randomly assigned 41 participants to undergo one of two trainings: compassion or reappraisal. Both can promote well-being, but compassion training increases empathy and reappraisal training decreases a person’s distress level.
That doesn't sound like a theory of the brain. That sounds like what is desired is a theory of consciousness. This does not surprise me; it's the big hairy audacious goal for many neuroscientists. I have a message for my fellow ...
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An injured rat helps us understand the struggle between empathy and disgust
Evolutionary theorists believe that many of our behaviors are adaptive in some way. "Empathy probably started out as a mechanism to improve maternal care," saysFrans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University and author of The Age of Empathy. "Mammalian mothers who were attentive to their young’s needs were more likely to rear successful offspring."
These offspring were, in turn, more likely to reproduce, so being able to sense another’s feelings was beneficial because it helped mammals to pass on their genes—the ultimate prize in the game of life. Mammalian males also show empathy, de Waal says, because “the mechanism spread from mother-offspring to other relations, including friends."
(HealthDay)—For the first time, researchers have shown that implanting electrodes in the brain's "feeding center" can be safely done—in a bid to develop a new treatment option for severely obese people who fail to shed pounds even after weight-loss...