Dancing Could Counteract Age-Related Decline


“A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience investigated the effects of an 18-month dancing intervention and traditional health fitness training on volumes of hippocampal subfields and balance abilities.

The research finds that dancing seems a promising intervention for both improving balance and brain structure in the elderly. It combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills and cognitive demands while at the same time the risk of injuries is low.”

the original study

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Google’s new AI algorithm predicts heart disease by looking at your eyes

anatomy-biology-eye-8588 by tookapic.jpg

“• The rear interior wall of the eye (the fundus) is chock-full of blood vessels that reflect the body’s overall health.

• By studying their appearance with camera and microscope, doctors can infer things like an individual’s blood pressure, age, and whether or not they smoke, which are all important predictors of cardiovascular health. […]

• When presented with retinal images of two patients, one of whom suffered a cardiovascular event in the following five years, and one of whom did not, Google’s algorithm was able to tell which was which 70 percent of the time.


pic by tookapic (at pexels)

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How Hidden Social Contexts Influence Your Genetics

Bildschirmfoto 2018-05-31 um 09.38.50.png

“A 2017 study explored this question, albeit with mice. Researchers paired mice together, punching holes in their ears, and tracked the rate of recovery. They found that the genome of a cagemate affected how fast their ears healed.

Benjamin Domingue, an assistant professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education who studies sociogenomics, was fascinated by what the researchers called an “indirect” or “social” genetic effect. He wanted to see if similar things were going on in humans.

Through the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a sample of 15,000 Americans who were between 7th and 12th grade in 1994-95, and which is now on its fifth wave of data collection, Domingue and his colleagues were able to test for the influence of social genetic effects on educational attainment and relationships like friendship.
Previous studies, for instance, have demonstrated that friends are more similar genetically than randomly paired individuals.

Photograph by Joey Yee / Flickr

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Conscious perception offset-triggered

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Rubber hand illusion: An illusory embodied fake hand induced spontaneous imitative movements

“In the rubber hand illusion (RHI), individuals perceive a fake hand as their own when the hidden real hand and visible fake hand are synchronously stroked. Several RHI studies have reported that visual manipulation of the embodied fake hand inversely affects the perceptual processing of the observer’s own hand (e.g., thermal or pain sensitivity).
In this study, we examined whether motor manipulation of the fake hand similarly affects the observer’s motor system. Our study employed a novel RHI paradigm wherein stroking was interrupted by unexpected movement of the fake hand (i.e., finger spreading) while measuring electroencephalography (EEG).
We found that participants often spontaneously moved their hands in accordance with the movement of the fake hand only in the RHI (synchronous) sessions. EEG analyses revealed enhanced neural activation (mu-rhythm desynchronization) of the motor system during observation of the fake hand movement. Moreover, motor activation was greater in the synchronous than in the asynchronous condition and significantly correlated with the feeling of body ownership over the fake hand.
These findings provide strong behavioral and neurophysiological evidence of ‘motor back projection’, in which the movement of an illusory embodied body part is inversely transferred to the sensorimotor system of the observer.”

Neuropsychologia, Volume 111, March 2018, Pages 77–84

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“This paper reviews research on a specific form of shared reality, called I-sharing.

• I-sharing refers to those moments when people believe they have the same in-the-moment experience as another person.

• I-sharing is especially potent and has interpersonal and intergroup outcomes.

• Humans’ existential isolation accounts for the potency of I-sharing.

• The work on I-sharing and existential isolation may have important clinical implications.”

see original study here (“Existential isolation and I-sharing: Interpersonal and intergroup implications”, 
Elizabeth CPinel)



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“Knowledgeable individuals protect the wisdom of crowds” (Ed Young)

Andrew King from the Royal Veterinary College found that it falls apart, but only in certain circumstances. At his university open day, he asked 82 people to guess the number of sweets in a jar. If they made their guesses without any extra information, the wisdom of the crowd prevailed. The crowd’s median guess was 751.* The actual number of sweets was… 752.

This collective accuracy collapsed if King told different groups of volunteers about what their peers had guessed. If they knew about the previous guess, a random earlier guess or the average of all the earlier guesses, they overestimated the number of sweets. Their median guesses ranged from 882 to 1109. King likens this effect to real-world situations where people collectively drive the prices of items above their value and create economic bubbles. It’s what happened to create the recent US/British housing market crash or, more historically, the tulip mania of 17th century Holland.

Jan Lorenz recently found the same thing. Swiss college students can form a wise crowd when answering questions independently, but once they could find out what their peers had guessed, their answers became more inaccurate. In his summary of the study, Jonah Lehrer wrote, “The range of guesses dramatically narrowed; people were mindlessly imitating each other. Instead of canceling out their errors, they ended up magnifying their biases, which is why each round led to worse guesses.”

Is the crowd doomed to groupthink? Not quite. King found that he could steer them back towards a wiser guess by giving them the current best guess. When this happened, the median returned to a respectable 795. So the crowd loses its wisdom when it gets random pieces of information about what its members think, but it regains its wisdom if it finds out what the most successful individual said.”


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Study: Word sounds contain clues for language learners

“This summer, Christiansen organized a symposium at a conference in Montreal where evidence showed that some systematic sound-to-meaning correspondences do exist. For instance, toddlers consistently matched rounded vowels, such as “koko,” to rounded shapes and non-rounded vowels, such as “kiki,” to jagged shapes.

“Such systematic relationships between sound and meaning make it easier to figure out what the rough meaning of a word is,” said Christiansen. “So, from a learning perspective, it’s paradoxical that most words have an arbitrary sound-to-meaning relationship.”

A study published by Christiansen and two colleagues in the August : General provides new insight into this paradox. They uncovered a trade-off between arbitrariness and “systematicity” within the sound of words.”


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The Power of Negative Thinking

“Can our expectations for the future change how we remember the past? According to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, they can—we remember unpleasant experiences more negatively if we expect to endure them again.

Researchers at New York University and Carnegie Mellon University conducted seven experiments to determine how people’s expectations shape their memories. In one test, they exposed 30 students to the noise of a vacuum cleaner for 40 seconds. Afterward, half were told they would have to hear the noise again, whereas the rest were told the study was over. Everyone was then asked to rate how irritated they were by the noise. Students who expected to hear it again consistently found it more irritating. Other tests involving stimuli that bored and annoyed subjects all yielded the same results.

Jeff Galak, a Carnegie Mellon behavioral sci­entist who worked on the study, suggests that we remember hardships as worse than they actually were so that when we face those experiences again, they will be less painful than we expect. Galak thinks that by understanding this “bracing” strategy individuals can learn to overcome it and stop fearing exaggerated pain. He acknowledges that doing so may backfire, however—it is possible, he says, that by bracing for the worst, we actually suffer less.”


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Smoking experience modulates the cortical integration of vision and haptics (Study)

“Abstract. Human neuroplasticity of multisensory integration has been studied mainly in the context of natural or artificial training situations in healthy subjects. However, regular smokers also offer the opportunity to assess the impact of intensive daily multisensory interactions with smoking-related objects on the neural correlates of crossmodal object processing.
The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study revealed that smokers show a comparable visuo-haptic integration pattern for both smoking paraphernalia and control objects in the left lateral occipital complex, a region playing a crucial role in crossmodal object recognition. Moreover, the degree of nicotine dependence correlated positively with the magnitude of visuo-haptic integration in the left lateral occipital complex (LOC) for smoking-associated but not for control objects. In contrast, in the left LOC non-smokers displayed a visuo-haptic integration pattern for control objects, but not for smoking paraphernalia.

This suggests that prolonged smoking-related multisensory experiences in smokers facilitate the merging of visual and haptic inputs in the lateral occipital complex for the respective stimuli. Studying clinical populations who engage in compulsive activities may represent an ecologically valid approach to investigating the neuroplasticity of multisensory integration.”



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Chinese-English bilinguals are ‘automatic’ translators (Study)

Interesting experiment set up:
English word pairs were shown to the participants.
“The first word flashed on the computer screen so quickly (for just 59 milliseconds) that the person didn’t realise they had seen it. The second word appeared for longer; the person was supposed to hit a key indicating whether it was a real English word as quickly as possible. This was simply a test to see how quickly they were processing the word.
Although everything in the test was in English, in some cases, the two words actually had a connection – but only if you know how they’re written in Chinese. So, for example, the first word might be ‘thing’ which is written 东西 in Chinese, and the second might be ‘west’ which is written 西 in Chinese. The character for ‘west’ appears in the word ‘thing’ but these two words are totally unrelated in English.

Zhang found that, when two words shared characters in Chinese, participants processed the second word faster – even though they had no conscious knowledge of having seen the first word in the pair. Even though these students are fluent in English, their brains still automatically translate what they see into Chinese. This suggests that knowledge of a first language automatically influences the processing of a second language, even when they are very different, unrelated languages.”


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Conformity does not equal cooperation (Study)

“The study, published in the August issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, shows that people who do not conform are most likely to work together for the greater good, while conforming to social norms can actually make people less likely to co-operate – a finding which surprised the researchers and could have implication.”


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Neuropsychoanalysis in the Scanner, Part 2 – Siegel and discussion

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Vittorio Gallese, Part 1:From Mirror Neurons to Embodied Simulation-Neuropsychoanalysis Lecture Series

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For my eyes only: Gaze control, enmeshment, and relationship quality (Study)

“Perceived closeness that preserves the distinctness of each partner enhances intimate relationship quality, whereas pseudocloseness or enmeshment—reflecting an inability to distinguish one’s own thoughts and emotions from a partner’s—may have more negative outcomes (R. J. Green & P. D. Werner, 1996).
Two studies investigated whether a dispositional inability to differentiate self from other is manifested at the attentional level as reduced capacity to inhibit following the gaze of another (A. Frischen, A. P. Bayliss, & S. P. Tipper, 2007).

Among healthy elderly spouses in Study 1, superior gaze control predicted superior sociocognitive functioning, and those with poorer gaze control abilities were perceived by the partner as constricting the perceiving partner’s autonomy, which in turn predicted lower relationship satisfaction among the latter. Moreover, these links were mediated by enmeshment, as indicated by the percentage of “we”-focused versus “I”- or partner-focused thoughts and emotions in the partners’ independent accounts of the same relationship events.

Extending these findings in a sample of Parkinson’s disease patients and their spouses, Study 2 revealed a biphasic effect of self–other differentiation on relationship dynamics: In the early stages of the disease, increased couple focus promoted superior relationship quality, whereas lack of self–other differentiation predicted poorer relationship quality later. Thus, dispositional variations in fundamental social-perceptual processes predict both close relationship dynamics and long-term relationship quality.”


Petrican, Raluca; Burris, Christopher T.; Bielak, Tania; Schimmack, Ulrich; Moscovitch, Morris.
For my eyes only: Gaze control, enmeshment, and relationship quality.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011  Volume 100, Issue 6 (Jun).
Pages 1111-1123
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Spurious? Name similarity effects (implicit egotism) in marriage, job, and moving decisions (Study)

“Three articles published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology have shown that a disproportionate share of people choose spouses, places to live, and occupations with names similar to their own. These findings, interpreted as evidence of implicit egotism, are included in most modern social psychology textbooks and many university courses.

The current article successfully replicates the original findings but shows that they are most likely caused by a combination of cohort, geographic, and ethnic confounds as well as reverse causality. ”


Simonsohn, Uri.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
2011  Volume 101, Issue 1 (Jul).

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(Embodiment) Grounding cultural syndromes: Body comportment and values in honor and dignity cultures (Study)

“The body is a carrier of relatively complex cultural values. Three experiments examined links between body comportment and honor (a cultural syndrome prizing female chastity, familial loyalty, and reputation).
We put participants from nonhonor (Anglo-Americans; Experiment 1) and honor (Latinos; Experiment 2) cultures in upright versus slouched postures and primed them with honor versus control words.
In our third experiment, we surveyed participants from nonhonor (native Dutch) and honor (Arab and Turkish Dutch) cultures about their attitudes toward honor-related violence and then measured posture change.

Concerns with honor were embodied by men from honor cultures bi-directionally.

For persons from nonhonor cultures, body posture can be connected to honor concerns, if participants are appropriately primed.

However, with all else equal, the rejection of honor in such cultures is embodied in much the same way that men from honor cultures embody honor. Links between body comportment and values are not arbitrary but not simple either. The ways embodiments are conditioned by culture and gender are discussed.”


Grounding cultural syndromes: Body comportment and values in honor and dignity cultures. Hans IJzerman,Dov Cohen.
European Journal of Social Psychology,
Special Issue: The Centrality of Social Image in Social Psychology.
Volume 41, Issue 4, pages 468–478, June 2011
Article first published online: 15 JUN 2011.
DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.806
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Effects of face experience on emotions and self-esteem in Japanese culture (Study)

“Face plays an important role in social life. However, little is known about the psychological consequences of an individual’s face experiences. This study examined the effects of face experiences on emotions and self-esteem in a diary study conducted in Japanese culture, in which face functions as a mechanism to maintain interpersonal harmony. Participants reported the occurrence of face-related events, maintenance/loss of face, emotions and self-esteem twice a week for 10 weeks.

We predicted and found that
(1) the occurrence of one’s own face events increased participants’ depressiveness,
(2) the maintenance of one’s own face heightened joyfulness and decreased depressiveness, (3) the maintenance of one’s own face heightened participants’ self-esteem, and
(4) the maintenance of other people’s face increased joyfulness and calmness but did not affect self-esteem.
These findings provided empirical supports for fundamental assumptions that have never been subjected to empirical scrutiny in face research.”


Chun-Chi Lin, Susumu Yamaguchi.
European Journal of Social Psychology,
Special Issue: The Centrality of Social Image in Social Psychology,
Volume 41, Issue 4, pages 446–455, June 2011.
Article first published online: 15 JUN 2011.
DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.817

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Ritualized Interaction for the Advancement of Children’s National Identification in Hong Kong (Study)

“Both ongoing practice and the theory of interaction ritual chains imply the significance of the contribution that ritual makes to group solidarity, such as national identification. This contribution is in need of empirical examination as in this study, which surveyed 1,788 schoolchildren in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. The results show that, controlling for earlier national identification behavior (within the previous year) and other predictors, ritualized interaction in an activity for national cause (within the previous 6 months) manifested both linear and quadratic positive effects on current national identification sentiment. The effect was stronger for children who previously displayed lower national identification behavior. These results favor the use of ritual to promote national identification.”


Ritualized Interaction for the Advancement of Children’s National Identification in Hong Kong. CHAU-KIU CHEUNG,JESSICA CHI-MEI LI.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 41, Issue 6, pages 1486–1513, June 2011.
Article first published online: 21 JUN 2011.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00760.x
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Seeing love, or seeing lust: How people interpret ambiguous romantic situations (Study)

“Interpreting ambiguous situations is a task individuals face on a daily basis. In romantic contexts the accurate interpretation of these situations is of particular importance. In the present set of studies we investigated how level of construal guides individual perception in these cases.

When a high level of construal was induced participants likely interpreted a given interpersonal situation as the start or the continuation of a long lasting relationship.

When a low level of construal was induced the same situations were more likely interpreted as leading to a one-night stand (in a dating situation) or involving little chance of a common future for both actors (in a break-up situation).

In sum, the present studies demonstrate construal level to be a crucial determinant of the interpretation of ambiguous romantic situations. We discuss these findings in relation to the functional independence of love and sex, level of construal, and social perception.”

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume 47, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 1017-1020
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