The NYT symposium is here, including Robert Reich, Dan Ariely, and myself, among others. Here is my piece, excerpt: One plausible estimate suggests this additional pollution has been killing 5 to 27 Americans each year, with that number worldwide...
The author describes the main subject of his book as "thin-slicing": our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, this is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music to reinforce his ideas. Gladwell also uses many examples of regular people's experiences with "thin-slicing."
The book argues that intuitive judgment is developed by experience, training, and knowledge. For example, Gladwell claims that prejudice can operate at an intuitive unconscious level, even in individuals whose conscious attitudes are not prejudiced. An example is in the halo effect, where a person having a salient positive quality is thought to be superior in other, unrelated respects. Gladwell uses the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo, where four New York policemen shot an innocent man on his doorstep 41 times, as another example of how rapid, intuitive judgment can have disastrous effects.
Guitarists perform a kind of mind-meld when they play together, syncing their brainwaves to the extent that they can anticipate each other’s moves. They also switch off the outside world while playing, leaving them in a tiny universe of them and their music.
A study by researchers Johanna Sänger, Viktor Müller, and Ulman Lindenberger used guitarists to investigate joint action, or "tasks that require the close alignment (coordination) of one's own and the other's action in real time." Tasks like playing in a band or in a duet.
By measuring the brain activity of the players while they performed together, the studyfound that their brainwaves locked in sync. To preclude the possibility that just playing the same music would induce the same brain patterns in both players, the study used songs with two parts. Further, a leader and follower were assigned, one setting time and the other following.
This is therefore consistent with the theory that empathy for pain occurs as a result of simulating another person’s feelings within one’s own brain. It also provides further evidence that the feelings of pain and pain empathy occur as a result of similar processes within the brain.
Further, patients who have damage and/or disease in the parts of the brain that fall within this network of pain-processing areas, often experience a reduction in ability to feel empathy for pain. This suggests that the ability to feel pain is necessary in order to experience empathy for pain.
Gratitude is an important aspect of human sociality, and is valued by religions and moral philosophies. It has been established that gratitude leads to benefits for both mental health and interpersonal relationships. It is thus important to elucidate the neurobiological correlates of gratitude, which are only now beginning to be investigated. To this end, we conducted an experiment during which we induced gratitude in participants while they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. We hypothesized that gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind. The stimuli used to elicit gratitude were drawn from stories of survivors of the Holocaust, as many survivors report being sheltered by strangers or receiving lifesaving food and clothing, and having strong feelings of gratitude for such gifts. The participants were asked to place themselves in the context of the Holocaust and imagine what their own experience would feel like if they received such gifts. For each gift, they rated how grateful they felt. The results revealed that ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.
“Irrational mate choice” sounds like an accusation my mother might level at me in a terse email subject line, but in this case, it’s the title of a paper on sexual selection in the Panamanian túngara frog (Physalaemus pustulosus) published Thursday...
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