Study shows people give up part of themselves when acting

Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-22 um 09.39.07“In this new effort, the researchers noticed that when actors become their characters, they take on characteristics similar to those seen in indigenous people in Brazil during possession ceremonies. […]

They saw a drop in in the , for example, when volunteers were pretending to answer questions as if they were a friend of theirs. They found an even more pronounced reduction in brain activity when the volunteers were acting out their roles. The researchers suggest that this indicates that the actors were actually losing some of their sense of self as they acted out their parts. Interestingly, they also found an increase in brain activity in areas related to paying attention.”

via Study shows people give up part of themselves when acting

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Depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s, psychologists find

via Depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s, psychologists find

“They found that one episode of depression or anxiety had little effect on the memory function of adults in midlife, regardless of which decade it was experienced, but that once the episodes increased to two or three over the course of the three decades, that this predicted a steady decrease in the participant’s memory function by the time they reached fifty. […]

As well as memory, the psychologists also assessed verbal fluency, information processing speed and accuracy scores of the participants once they turned fifty. Encouragingly, episodes of depression and anxiety had little impact on the latter four areas of cognitive function but the associated loss of memory suggests that depressive symptoms experienced in  could predict dementia in older adulthood.”


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Mysterious new brain cell found in people

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“To precisely classify these cells, the scientists then analyzed their gene expression. That’s when they realized that the set of genes expressed in these inhibitory rosehip neurons doesn’t closely match any previously identified cell in the mouse, suggesting they have no analog in the rodent often used as a model for humans, the authors report today in Nature Neuroscience. The discovery also raises the question of whether these neurons are key to certain brain functions that separate us from mice.

But the exact function of these new neurons is still something of a mystery. Rosehip neurons appear to make up just 10% to 15% of inhibitory neurons in the first layer of cortex and are likely even more scarce elsewhere. ”


via Mysterious new brain cell found in people | Science | AAAS
image and study: E. BOLDOG ET AL.NATURE NEUROSCIENCE 10.1038 (2018)

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Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not | WIRED

“We have a strong negative emotional response when someone kicks or abuses a robot—in one of the many gripping examples Darling cites in her paper, a US military officer called off a test using a leggy robot to detonate and clear minefields because he thought it was inhumane. This is a kind of anthropomorphization, and, conversely, we should think about what effect abusing a robot has on the abusing human.”

“The Western concept of “humanity” is limited, and I think it’s time to seriously question whether we have the right to exploit the environment, animals, tools, or robots simply because we’re human and they are not.

SOMETIME IN THE late 1980s, I participated in a meeting organized by the Honda Foundation in which a Japanese professor—I can’t remember his name—made the case that the Japanese had more success integrating robots into society because of their country’s indigenous Shinto religion, which remains the official national religion of Japan.

Followers of Shinto, unlike Judeo-Christian monotheists and the Greeks before them, do not believe that humans are particularly “special.” Instead, there are spirits in everything, rather like the Force in Star Wars. Nature doesn’t belong to us, we belong to Nature, and spirits live in everything, including rocks, tools, homes, and even empty spaces.”

via Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not | WIRED
image via and thanks Pixabay, TheDigitalArtist

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Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Your Personality By Simply Tracking Your Eyes – Neuroscience News

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“It’s often been said that the eyes are the window to the soul, revealing what we think and how we feel. Now, new research reveals that your eyes may also be an indicator of your personality type, simply by the way they move.

Developed by the University of South Australia in partnership with the University of Stuttgart, Flinders University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany, the research uses state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithms to demonstrate a link between personality and eye movements.

Findings show that people’s eye movements reveal whether they are sociable, conscientious or curious, with the algorithm software reliably recognising four of the Big Five personality traits: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Researchers tracked the eye movements of 42 participants as they undertook everyday tasks around a university campus, and subsequently assessed their personality traits using well-established questionnaires.”


via Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Your Personality By Simply Tracking Your Eyes – Neuroscience News
original research paper
pic: adjusted and taken from the original article (“ image is in the public domain.”)

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New evidence for the “propinquity effect” – mere physical closeness increases our liking of desirable people and things – Research Digest

original von philipBarrington Pixabay.jpg

“In one, a group of male participants read lines from a modern musical version of Romeo and Juliet with an unfamiliar woman (actually a confederate helping the researchers) who was sitting either 80 centimetres or 150 centimetres away. Overall, those in the close condition reported afterwards that they liked the woman more. A deeper analysis of the data showed that this held only for men who were single, not for those in romantic relationships. 

In another study, images of just the faces of eight women, who were matched for physical attractiveness, were presented in pairs, separately to each eye, of another group of male and female participants, with one face appearing to be slightly closer than the other. Both men and women reported liking the faces that appeared closer, and this effect was stronger for men who reported being less satisfied with their current social relationships. 

In a separate study, single men watched a video clip of a woman (rated earlier by others as being “mildly attractive”) who stood either 60 cm or 150 cm away from the camera, and who gazed directly into the lens. Again, the participants reported liking the woman more when she was closer, and they estimated that they’d have greater success in asking her out on a date – in other words, she seemed more accessible. This effect was greater for men who’d scored higher on a questionnaire measuring their feelings of loneliness. (The researchers don’t mention the sexual orientation of these volunteers; it seems to be assumed that they were heterosexual.)”

via New evidence for the “propinquity effect” – mere physical closeness increases our liking of desirable people and things – Research Digest
image via Pixabay, personally adapted (original picture source is Philip Barrington at Pixabay)

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It’s Official - Trigger Warnings Might Actually Be Harmful

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“The results of the sutdy were fascinating.”

After controlling for various factors, such as sex, race, age, psychiatric history, and political orientation, the researchers found that those participants who received trigger warnings were significantly more likely (compared to those in the control condition) to suggest that they and others would be more vulnerable to emotional distress after experiencing trauma.

Although there was no significant effect of which condition participants were in on their general anxiety level change (in response to mildly distressing texts), or their immediate anxiety responses to markedly distressing texts, those who believed that words can cause harm demonstrated a significantly higher level of immediate anxiety to markedly distressing passages (compared to those not holding this belief) in the trigger warning condition, but not in the control.

This finding could have significant implications in the context of ongoing cultural debates about the power of language in reinforcing perceived oppression. That is, if we are telling students that words are akin to violence and can cause harm, and then giving them trigger warnings to compound that message, we risk increasing immediate anxiety responses rather than decreasing them.”

via It’s Official - Trigger Warnings Might Actually Be Harmful
Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash

Posted in Social

An Alternative View of Human Nature | Psychology Today

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“The !Kung of Africa swap arrows before going hunting, and when an animal is killed, the credit does not go to the person who fired the arrow, but to the person whom the arrow belongs to. If a person becomes too domineering or too arrogant, the other members of their group gang up against them, or ostracize them.”


So there is no reason to think that selfishness and cruelty are natural to human beings. There is no reason why traits such as racism, warfare, male domination and should have been selected by evolution, since they would have had no benefit to us. In fact, as we have seen, individuals who behaved selfishness and ruthlessly would be less likely to survive, since they would have been ostracized from their groups. On the contrary, it makes more sense to see traits such as cooperation, egalitarianism, altruism and peacefulness as natural to human beings. These were the traits that were prevalent in human life for tens of thousands of years, during the so-called era of evolutionary adaptedness, and so presumably these are the strongest traits in us now.”

via An Alternative View of Human Nature | Psychology Today
picture/artist: Leunig

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Meditation affects brain networks differently in long-term meditators and novices

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“Both long-term practitioners and new meditators – when compared to non-meditators – showed reduced activity in the amygdala when they viewed emotionally-positive images. The amygdala is an area of the brain critical for emotion and detecting important information from the environment.

The researchers also found that more experience with meditation practice on retreat among long-term meditators was associated with reduced activity in their amygdalae when viewing negative images. While reductions in reactivity to positive images were seen with across all levels of training, this indicates that modulating reactivity to negative emotional challenges requires more training.


She adds that lower activity in the amygdala in response to  was a general trend across meditators, but was strongest and most significant in long-term meditators with more intense retreat experience.

In addition, the team discovered that, following eight weeks of training, people new to meditation showed an increase in connectivity between the amygdala and an area of the brain that supports executive function (which includes self-regulation and goal tracking) and emotion, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

This was not seen in long-term meditators, perhaps because emotion regulation becomes more automatic with increased , the researchers surmise.”

via Meditation affects brain networks differently in long-term meditators and novices
picture credit: Jeff Miller (from the article mentioned above)

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Childhood stress leaves lasting mark on genes

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“What we’re finding is that after 10 years or so there are still markers, like fossils in our genome, telling us there was a trauma here. And that trauma may make this individual more susceptible to a second trauma or, even worse, a behavioral change, later in life.”

“We know that early life stress and the development of psychiatric disorders are related. We want to know how one leads to the other,” says Leslie Seltzer, a researcher at UW–Madison’s Waisman Center and a lead author on the study with neuroepigenetics researcher Ligia Papale. “We were surprised to see so many differences between our two groups, but now we can start looking at those differences more carefully, with the end goal of designing interventions, therapies, or medications that could resolve or even prevent those problems.”

Seltzer, Papale and collaborators collected saliva from 22 girls from 9 to 12 years old, and analyzed the samples to see which genes were actually at work managing biological processes. They were looking for a molecular modification called methylation. In methylation, environmental changes spur the attachment of a particular molecule, called a  group, to susceptible sites on genes.

“What you eat, your life experiences, how much you exercise, all of these things can modify your DNA methylation levels,” says UW–Madison neurosurgery professor Reid Alisch, who studies the regulation of gene expression in disease, especially mental illness. “DNA methylation doesn’t change your DNA, but the presence or absence of DNA methylation can change the way your DNA is used and whether or how much genes are expressed.”

The researchers found 122 genes where methylation of the high-stressed kids’ DNA differed from their low-stress peers. The team also looked at how genes were expressed. In all, more than 1,400 genes showed a difference in expression connected to the amount of stress the girls had experienced, including a dozen of the differently methylated genes.”

via Childhood stress leaves lasting mark on genes
image: CC0 public domain

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„Psychedelics take people to the very center of their personal problems”

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What these psychedelics do above all, is give access to other states of consciousness that are dormant within our own minds. It’s the exploration of human consciousness. It isn’t really the drug effect as such. Why are we so afraid of our own unconscious deeper self is worth serious thought. The beneficial promise of the wise and responsible use of psychedelics far exceeds their potential for harm either individually as well as at a societal level. […]

And I would suggest there is nothing within us that we need to fear or censor. There are great opportunities for personal growth, medical healing and also for finding artistic value, religious meaning, and understanding perhaps even the origins of some religions. There is nothing to fear when the drugs are wisely used. And wise use of course is more then trowing a substance in your moth like a pill. It involves preparation, being grounded in a healthy, inter-personal relationship for most people, being able to trust your own mind, being willing to endure some struggle and suffering in the process of personal and spiritual growth. So, if there is a conflict that emerges in your mind, you approach it as an opportunity for growth, rather then running away from it and calling it a bad trip. They are very serious substances, but for most people they are not dangerous, when they are used with knowledge.

via Dr William Richards „Psychedelics take people to the very center of their personal problems” – Poznaj P

picture: Creative Commons, Natesh Ramasamy 

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We actually ‘become’ happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book


“Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective Assimilation Hypothesis,” published in the current issue journal Psychological Science, presents research supporting the authors’ hypothesis that by absorbing narratives, we can psychologically become a member of the group of characters described therein, a process that makes us feel connected to those characters and their social world.

via We actually ‘become’ happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book — ScienceDaily
image via pixabay, free OpenClipart-Vectors, witch

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People recall information better through virtual reality
The researchers found that people remember information better if it is presented to them in a virtual environment. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Virtual Reality. […]

The key, say the researchers, was for participants to identify each face by its physical location and its relation to surrounding structures and faces — and also the location of the image relative to the user’s own body.[…]

Many of the participants said the immersive “presence” while using VR allowed them to focus better. This was reflected in the research results: 40 percent of the participants scored at least 10 percent higher in recall ability using VR over the desktop display. […]

“This leads to the possibility that a spatial virtual memory palace — experienced in an immersive virtual environment — could enhance learning and recall by leveraging a person’s overall sense of body position, movement and acceleration,” Plaisant says.

via People recall information better through virtual reality — ScienceDaily
image via pexels, by Burst (

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Psychology’s favourite moral thought experiment doesn’t predict real-world behaviour

mouse-1708379_640_Alexas_Fotos pixabay

The participants saw two cages – one housing one mouse, the other housing five – each wired to an electroshock machine. They were told that in 20 seconds, if they did nothing, the machine would deliver a very painful but nonlethal shock to the cage containing five mice. However, if the participants pressed a button in front of them, they could divert the electric shock to the cage containing one mouse, thus saving the other five from pain (in actuality this was an illusion and all participants were later informed that in fact no mice were shocked or harmed in the study).
The participants who performed the real-life mouse task behaved differently than those who made a purely hypothetical decision – they were less than half as likely to let the five mice get shocked (16 per cent of them left the button unpressed compared with 34 per cent of the hypothetical group). In other words, faced with a real-life dilemma, the volunteers were more consequentialist / utilitarian; that is, more willing to inflict harm for the greater good.

But the most important finding – at least for the validity of moral psychology which so often relies on thought experiments – is that the participants’ preference for deontological vs. utilitarian responding in their answers to the earlier battery of 10 hypothetical moral dilemmas bore no relation to their decision in the real-life mouse task (in contrast, the decisions of participants in the hypothetical mouse group were related to their answers to the earlier moral dilemmas). What is more, none of the psychological factors, such as psychopathy or need for cognition, were related to decision-making in the real-life moral dilemma.

via Psychology’s favourite moral thought experiment doesn’t predict real-world behaviour – Research Digest

image via pixabay: Alexas_Fotos

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The khipu code: the knotty mystery of the Inkas’ 3D records

Bildschirmfoto 2018-06-17 um 19.19.47“The Inka Empire (1400-1532 CE) is one of few ancient civilisations that speaks to us in multiple dimensions. Instead of words or pictograms, the Inkas used khipus – knotted string devices – to communicate extraordinarily complex mathematical and narrative information. But, after more than a century of study, we remain unable to fully crack the code of the khipus. The challenge rests not in a lack of artifacts – over 1,000 khipus are known to us today – but in their variety and complexity. We confront tens of thousands of knots tied by different people, for different purposes and in different regions of the empire. Cracking the code amounts to finding a pattern in history’s knotted haystack.”

via The khipu code: the knotty mystery of the Inkas’ 3D records

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Increased well-being: Another reason to try yoga – Harvard Health












“[…] a regular yoga practice appears to correlate with increased wellbeing, including better sleep, better body awareness, weight loss, and greater happiness. By improving mindfulness, it simultaneously helps to boost compassion, gratitude, and “flow” states, all of which contribute to greater happiness. Early evidence suggests that yoga may even slow aging on the cellular level, perhaps through its stress-busting effects. […]

Over time, sleep deprivation increases the risks for a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But emerging research shows that yoga may help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and sleep more soundly—without the negative side effects of medication.

Yoga facilitates sleep by reducing stress, anxiety, and arousal—all known causes of poor sleep. One small study looked at a Kundalini meditation and breathing practice. Twenty people who had trouble sleeping did the 30-minute practice every night before going to bed. After eight weeks, researchers found that the participants were sleeping 36 minutes longer on average and waking up less during the night. Over all, the quality of their sleep improved by 11%.

Yoga even helps with full-fledged insomnia. While following common advice on how to get a good night’s sleep can reduce sleep problems, people in one study fell asleep 37% faster after eight weeks of yoga compared with 28% for those who received only the advice.

via Increased well-being: Another reason to try yoga – Harvard Health

photo: via Pixabay, user Pexels

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Social Rejection Can Lead to Violence But, Mindfulness May Be the Solution

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Image Source: image is credited to theresearchers.

People who have greater levels of mindfulness — or the tendency to maintain attention on and awareness of the present moment — are better able to cope with the pain of being rejected by others, according to a new study led by a team of Virginia Commonwealth University researchers.

For the last third of the game, the participants stopped receiving any ball tosses from the other players, mimicking the conditions of social rejection.

After the scanning session, the participants were interviewed about how distressed they were during the game. Participants with higher levels of mindfulness reported less distress from being excluded.

“Our findings suggest that mindful people are not as distressed or pained by social rejection,” the researchers wrote. “The neural results imply that a reason for mindful individuals’ adaptive responses to rejection is that they do not excessively recruit (and therefore tax) ‘top-down’, inhibitory brain regions to inhibit social distress. Instead, mindful individuals may use more ‘bottom-up’ emotion-regulation strategies that prevent rejection from being distressing in the first place. Interventions that seek to help socially-isolated and rejected individuals may benefit from this mechanistic and biologically-informed information.”

via Neuroscience News

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People who deeply grasp pain or happiness of others, process music differently in brain

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“The researchers found that compared to low empathy people, those with higher empathy process familiar music with greater involvement of the reward system of the brain, as well as in areas responsible for processing social information. […]


Highly empathic people process familiar music with greater involvement of the brain’s social circuitry, such as the areas activated when feeling empathy for others. They also seem to experience a greater degree of pleasure in listening, as indicated by increased activation of the reward system.

“This may indicate that music is being perceived weakly as a kind of social entity, as an imagined or virtual human presence,” Wallmark said.

Researchers in 2014 reported that about 20 percent of the population is highly empathic. These are people who are especially sensitive and respond strongly to social and emotional stimuli.

The SMU-UCLA study is the first to find evidence supporting a neural account of the music-empathy connection. Also, it is among the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore how empathy affects the way we perceive music.

The new study indicates that among higher-empathy people, at least, music is not solely a form of artistic expression.

“If music was not related to how we process the social world, then we likely would have seen no significant difference in the brain activation between high-empathy and low-empathy people,” said Wallmark, who is director of the MuSci Lab at SMU, an interdisciplinary research collective that studies — among other things — how music affects the brain.

“This tells us that over and above appreciating music as high art, music is about humans interacting with other humans and trying to understand and communicate with each other,” he said.

This may seem obvious.

“But in our culture we have a whole elaborate system of music education and music thinking that treats music as a sort of disembodied object of aesthetic contemplation,” Wallmark said. “In contrast, the results of our study help explain how music connects us to others. This could have implications for how we understand the function of music in our world, and possibly in our evolutionary past.”

The researchers reported their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, in the article “Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening.”

The co-authors are Choi Deblieck, with the University of Leuven, Belgium, and Marco Iacoboni, UCLA. The research was carried out at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA.

“The study shows on one hand the power of empathy in modulating music perception, a phenomenon that reminds us of the original roots of the concept of empathy — ‘feeling into’ a piece of art,” said senior author Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.”

via and read more at Science Daily
picture credit: SMU/ UCLA

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Lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels


“Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a new study. Researchers found that swapping out half of a portion of these starchy side dishes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates. Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 per cent. Replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35-per-cent drop.”

via Lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels — ScienceDaily

photo: Aitoff, via pixabay

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The only emotions I can feel are anger and fear

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“I just thought that I wasn’t good at talking about how I feel and emotions and stuff like that. But after a year of therapy, it became apparent that when I talk about emotions I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.” […]

The ability to detect changes inside the body – everything from a racing heart to a diversion of blood flow, from a full bladder to a distension of the lungs – is known as interoception. It’s your perception of your own internal state. […]

What Bird, Brewer and others have found in people with alexithymia is a reduced ability, sometimes a complete inability, to produce, detect or interpret these internal bodily changes. […]

But either their brains aren’t triggering the physical changes that it seems are needed for the experience of an emotion, or other regions of their brains aren’t reading these signals properly. […]

Bird has led work showing that people who are more aware of their own heartbeat are better able to recognise others’ emotions, a crucial first step in being empathetic. He’s planning studies to investigate whether heartbeat training might therefore increase empathy.”

via The only emotions I can feel are anger and fear | Mosaic
picture: source/artist unknown to me

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