Links for Keyword: Emotions

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By Virginia Morell When an adult striped dolphin emerged from the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 pushing, nudging, and circling the carcass of its dead female companion for more than an hour, a nearby boat of scientists fell silent. Afterward, the students aboard said they were certain the dolphin was grieving. But was this grief or some other response? In a new study, researchers are attempting to get to the bottom of a mystery that has plagued behavioral biologists for 50 years. Grief, in humans at least, is a reaction to the permanent severing of a strong social or family bond. Although chimpanzees, baboons, and elephants are thought to experience the complex emotion, scientists don’t yet know enough about it in other animals. There are dozens of photos and YouTube videos of grieflike behavior in dolphins: Some mothers have been seen carrying their dead infants in their mouths or on their backs for a week or longer, even as the body decomposes; a couple adult males have also been seen holding dead calves in their mouths. In the new study, cetacean biologist Giovanni Bearzi of Dolphin Biology and Conservation in Pordenone, Italy, and his colleagues at other institutions analyzed 78 scientific reports from 1970 to 2016 of these kinds of displays—which they labeled “postmortem-attentive behavior.” They found that just 20 of 88 cetacean (dolphin and whale) species engage in them. Of those, most were dolphins from the Sousa and Tursiops genera. Just one was a baleen whale—a humpback. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25110 - Posted: 06.20.2018

By Elizabeth Bauer Ask a roomful of neuroscientists to define the term “emotion” and you will trigger a lively discussion. Some will argue that emotions involve conscious experiences that can be studied only in humans. Others might counter that insects and other invertebrates exhibit some of the emotion building blocks seen in mammals. Some will contend that different emotions correspond to anatomically distinct areas of the brain, whereas others argue that emotions are produced in a highly distributed manner. Still others will bring up the 19th-century psychologist William James’s argument that emotions are a consequence, not a cause, of behavior. In The Neuroscience of Emotion, Ralph Adolphs and David J. Anderson argue that before we can study it, we must first define what we mean by “emotion.” Only then, they maintain, can we form appropriate and testable hypotheses. Colleagues at Caltech, the authors bring different experimental backgrounds to the topic of emotion. Adolphs studies the neural basis of human social behavior. Anderson uses rodents and fruitflies as model organisms to investigate how internal states elicit emotional behaviors. Their book is less a catalog of recent neuroscientific discoveries and more a conceptual framework for investigating emotional behaviors both in humans and in other animals. Adolphs and Anderson begin by contending that emotions are biological phenomena that cause behavioral and physiological changes in the brain and body and—in some species—subjective feelings. If emotions are a class of internal brain states expressed in measurable ways, they argue, we can study the neurobiological implementation of these states separately from subjective conscious feelings, meaning both humans and other animals are potential subjects. They go on to define, in detail, the basic properties of an emotion, including valence, scalability, persistence, automaticity, and generalization. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25109 - Posted: 06.20.2018

Ed Yong Peter, aged 3, was scared of rabbits. So Mary Cover Jones kept bringing him rabbits. At first, she’d take a caged rabbit up to Peter, while he ate some candy and played with other children. At first, Peter was terrified by the mere presence of a rabbit in the same room. But soon, he allowed the animal to get closer—12 feet, then four, then three. Eventually, Peter was happy for rabbits to nibble his fingers. “The case of Peter illustrates how a fear may be removed under laboratory conditions,” Cover Jones wrote in 1924. Cover Jones is now recognized as the "mother of behavioral therapy." Her observations laid the groundwork for what would become known as exposure therapy—the practice of getting people to overcome their fears by facing them in controlled settings. A century later, neuroscientists can watch how the act of facing one’s fears actually plays out inside the brain. Using gene-engineering tools, they can label the exact neurons in a mouse’s brain that store a specific fearful memory. Then, they can watch what happens when the rodent recalls those experiences. By doing this, Ossama Khalaf from the EPFL in Lausanne showed that the extinction of fear depends on reactivating the neurons that encode it. A mouse has to re-experience a deep-rooted fear if it is to lose it. When someone encounters a new experience—say, a terrifying rabbit—groups of neurons in their brain fire together, the connections between them become stronger, and molecules accumulate at the places where neurons meet. Many scientists believe that these preserved patterns of strengthened connections are the literal stuff of memories—the physical representations of the things we remember. These connected neuron groups are called engrams.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25101 - Posted: 06.18.2018

Angus Chen Hunger can trigger cruel words from kind people. A starved dog lover might fantasize about punting the neighbor's Chihuahua that just will not shut up. A puckish but otherwise nice person might snap at a friend, "Bring me the freaking cheesesteak before I flip this TABLE!" They are, in a word, "hangry" or irrationally irritable, upset or angry because of hunger. But how hunger turns into hangriness is a mystery, says Jennifer MacCormack, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in psychology and neuroscience, who wanted to understand the phenomenon. "The mechanism isn't clear on how [hunger] affects your emotions or the exact emotional processes," she says. To find out, she designed some provocative experiments to rile up hungry people. In one of them, MacCormack had 118 undergraduates fast for five hours or more and 118 others eat a meal before coming to her lab. "Psych 101 students, bless their heart," she says. "They didn't know this was a study about feeling hangry." Unfortunately for them, MacCormack concocted an experiment to annoy them and to see how they responded. First, she had half the people in both groups write an essay about emotions to direct their attention to how they're feeling. The other half wrote an essay about a neutral, unemotional day. "We wanted to see if [self-awareness] halts creating this hangry emotions and behaviors," MacCormack says. Next, she had all of them go through a long, arduous computer exercise. "I designed this fake task with colored circles. The colors are really glaring and bright and hard to look at, and it's a hard task with a hundred trials," she says. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25076 - Posted: 06.11.2018

Emine Saner One of the fun parts of being a disgustologist – as researchers who study the emotion of disgust sometimes call themselves – must be coming up with revolting scenarios. Repulsive enough to test a theory, but not quite so stomach-turning as to repel the people who have volunteered to take the test. In a recent study led by Prof Val Curtis, director of the environmental health group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the vignettes were admirably imaginative. People were asked to rate their levels of disgust at more than 70 scenarios. These included imagining a hairless old cat rubbing up against one’s leg, stepping on a slug in bare feet, shaking hands with someone with “scabby fingers”, finding out a friend eats roadkill, finding out another attempted to have sex with a piece of fruit, and seeing “pus come from a genital sore”. And, my personal favourite, for warped imagination alone: learning your neighbour defecates in his back garden. The findings, published this week in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions B journal, reveal six categories of disgust: poor hygiene, animals that are vectors of disease (such as rats or cockroaches), sexual behaviours, atypical appearance, lesions and visible signs of infection, and food that shows signs of decay. “The fact we’ve found there is an architecture of disgust that has six components to it tells us something about the way in which emotions work,” says Curtis. “It tells us that emotions are for doing particular behaviours. The emotion of disgust is about doing certain things that avoid disease – they’re about not eating spoiled food, not sticking your fingers in somebody’s weeping sore, not having sex with somebody you know is having sex with lots of other people, not picking up cockroaches and kissing them. It confirms the hypothesis that disgust really is about avoiding infection.” © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25060 - Posted: 06.06.2018

By Abdul-Kareem Ahmed “Dad, hold still.” As we entered the hospital room that morning, our patient’s daughter was attempting to give him a shave. He was bed-bound after his operation and had grown a salt-and-pepper stubble. A week earlier, his wife had brought him to the emergency room . He was behaving oddly, mumbling nonsensical sentences and stumbling through the house. Sixty-two years old, male, Caucasian, new and profound neurological symptoms. An M.R.I. of his brain seemed redundant but confirmed the diagnosis: A four-centimeter malignant tumor was invading his right frontal cortex, the seat of his personality, where “Dad” lived. I’m drawn to the human brain, its unforgiving and protean nature. Just five minutes without oxygen, and the brain loses function. The occipital cortex processes visual information and allows us to see faces, trees, the stars. However, in a young child who becomes blind, as with Helen Keller, this same cortex can be repurposed for entirely distinct functions, like language processing. Early astronomers looked to the heavens for answers. But in the human brain, a three-pound ball of fat, there resides enough mystery and potential to have satisfied Galileo, Kepler and Brahe. And so I found myself, on what had now been a four-year foray toward a career in neurosurgery, helping care for this patient. I was the sub-intern at a hospital away from home for the month. It was my first week on the job. The resident and I stood around his bed in our cerulean scrubs and white coats and watched him smiling. His daughter looked toward me, the only other male in the room, and paused, razor in hand. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24985 - Posted: 05.17.2018

/ By David Dobbs If you think of beauty as something absolute — if you think Beyoncé or George Clooney is just beautiful, simple as that — Michael J. Ryan is here to tell you you’re wrong. Beauty, he asserts in this lovely and learned new book, exists only as a value-laden, capricious, and sometimes fleeting perception generated by the brain. Sexual selection is a counterintuitive theory that tries to explain bizarre forms and behavior. Even Darwin couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it. Beauty is literally in the eye of the beholder: It reveals itself only where and when the beholder thinks it does. In effect, then, to perceive beauty is to create it. And virtually all sexual species have evolved both the neural systems to perceive beauty and the traits that are or become so perceived. If you’re thinking this sounds circular and suspiciously chicken-and-egg, I’m here to tell you you’re right. Sexual selection is a complex, counterintuitive, three-pronged theory that seeks to explain both everyday sexual attraction and some of nature’s most bizarre forms, phenomena, and behavior. Even Darwin, who conceived the theory a century and a half ago, couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it, and the mature version that Ryan explores here is much and savagely disputed. The difficulty of explaining how sexual selection creates beauty is only Ryan’s first challenge. His second is that at least two notable books have already explained it memorably. The first, of course, was “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” (Darwin’s “second most famous book,” notes Ryan), which explained it memorably but incompletely. Copyright 2018 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24966 - Posted: 05.12.2018

In a study of mice, National Institutes of Health-funded researchers describe a new circuit involved in fine-tuning the brain’s decision either to hide or confront threats. The study, published in Nature, was partially funded by the NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. “Being able to manipulate specific circuits can uncover surprising relationships between brain areas and provide great insight into how the sensory, emotional, and behavioral centers work together to drive reactions,” said Jim Gnadt, Ph.D., program director at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and a team lead for the BRAIN Initiative. “The tools and technologies developed through the BRAIN Initiative have made studies such as this one possible.” A team of researchers led by Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and of ophthalmology at Stanford University in California, investigated the role of the ventral midline thalamus (vMT) in determining how animals respond to visual threats. The thalamus is a brain region that acts as a relay station, taking in sensory information, such as what is seen and heard, and sorting out where in the brain to send that information. Dr. Huberman and his colleagues showed that the vMT was activated when mice were confronted with a threat, specifically a black circle that grew larger on top of their cage, mimicking the experience of something looming over them. When faced with the looming threat, the mice spent most of the time freezing or hiding and very little time rattling their tails, which is typically an aggressive response.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24962 - Posted: 05.11.2018

Why do you look so angry? This article hasn’t even begun and already you disapprove. Why can’t I ever win with you? I see it in your face. If this sounds unfamiliar, good for you. You don’t need this. For the rest of us, it may be helpful to know that some people seem to have outsized difficulty with reading neutral faces as neutral, even if they are exceptionally accurate at interpreting other facial expressions. Over the past decade psychologists have been piecing together why this occurs.. .. A study published in March in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests that some people who grew up with parents who fought a lot never learned to properly read those in-between faces, perhaps because they spent so much time watching out for signs of conflict. “Angry interactions could be a cue for them to retreat to their room,” said Alice Schermerhorn, a developmental psychologist at the University of Vermont and the author of the study. “By comparison, neutral interactions might not offer much information, so children may not value them and therefore may not learn to recognize them.” These findings build on previous research indicating that depression, anxiety and irritability can affect how a person perceives other people’s faces. It has also been shown that adults who were exposed to violence, neglect or physical abuse in childhood are more likely to see hostility where there is none. This can create a self-reinforcing cycle. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24895 - Posted: 04.24.2018

By NATALIE ANGIER A friend will help you move, goes an old saying, while a good friend will help you move a body. And why not? Moral qualms aside, that good friend would likely agree the victim was an intolerable jerk who had it coming and, jeez, you shouldn’t have done this but where do you keep the shovel? Researchers have long known that people choose friends who are much like themselves in a wide array of characteristics: of a similar age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, educational level, political leaning, pulchritude rating, even handgrip strength. The impulse toward homophily, toward bonding with others who are the least other possible, is found among traditional hunter-gatherer groups and advanced capitalist societies alike. New research suggests the roots of friendship roots extend even deeper than previously suspected. Scientists have found that the brains of close friends respond in remarkably similar ways as they view a series of short videos: the same ebbs and swells of attention and distraction, the same peaking of reward processing here, boredom alerts there. The neural response patterns evoked by the videos — on subjects as diverse as the dangers of college football, the behavior of water in outer space, and Liam Neeson trying his hand at improv comedy — proved so congruent among friends, compared to patterns seen among people who were not friends, that the researchers could predict the strength of two people’s social bond based on their brain scans alone. “I was struck by the exceptional magnitude of similarity among friends,” said Carolyn Parkinson, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. The results “were more persuasive than I would have thought.” Dr. Parkinson and her colleagues, Thalia Wheatley and Adam M. Kleinbaum of Dartmouth College, reported their results in Nature Communications. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24871 - Posted: 04.16.2018

Ian Sample Science editor Modern humans might never have raised a quizzical eyebrow had Homo sapiens not lost the thick, bony brows of its ancient ancestors in favour of smoother facial features, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of York believe early humans bore prominent brow ridges as a mark of physical dominance, and as the human face evolved to become smaller and flatter, it became a canvas on which the eyebrows could portray a much richer range of emotions. “We traded dominance or aggression for a wider palette of expression,” said Paul O’Higgins, a professor of anatomy and lead author on the study. “As the face became smaller and the forehead flattened, the muscles in the face could move the eyebrows up and down and we could express all these subtler feelings.” The York team stress their conclusions are speculative, but if they are right, the evolution of smaller, flatter faces may have unleashed the social power of the eyebrow, allowing humans to communicate at a distance in more complex and nuanced ways. “We moved from a position where we wanted to compete, where looking more intimidating was an advantage, to one where it was better to get on with people, to recognise each other from afar with an eyebrow flash, and to sympathise and so on,” said Penny Spikins, a palaeolithic archaeologist at York and co-author on the study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24845 - Posted: 04.10.2018

By Virginia Morell As every dog lover—and scientist—knows, man’s best friend is good at reading faces. Dogs can tell the difference between happy and not-so-happy expressions, such as anger and sadness. Like us, they watch the left sides of peoples’ faces—where emotional cues first appear. And they even seem to be able to interpret our emotions and modulate their behavior accordingly. But what are the neural mechanisms that control how dogs process human faces? To find out, scientists trained eight dogs—mostly border collies—to lie still in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner while viewing photos of strangers with either happy or neutral expressions. The faces matched the gender of the dogs’ chief caretakers, because dogs have been shown to score lower on tasks involving faces of the opposite sex. The results: A happy human face produces a distinctive signature in a dog’s temporal lobe and other neural regions, the scientists report online this week on the preprint server bioRxiv. In a follow-up experiment, the pooches’ brains were scanned as they looked at faces expressing happiness, anger, fear, or sadness. The happiness pattern was so distinctive that a machine learning program could pick it out from brain activity linked to all the other emotions. (A similar “happiness” signature is found in humans.) That means, the researchers say, that our human emotions are represented in our pooches’ brains—which suggests that our canine pals really do know what we’re feeling. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24790 - Posted: 03.28.2018

/ By Dinsa Sachan When reporting a rape to police or testifying during a trial, it’s not uncommon for women to face a barrage of intrusive questions: What were you wearing at the time of the assault? Were you intoxicated? Why were you walking home alone at night? For decades, social psychologists have documented links between the ways society perceives women and their bodies — ones that often lead to this line of questioning — and attitudes towards gender violence. But only recently have neuroscientists begun to investigate what sexual objectification actually looks like in the brain. In a study published in the journal Cortex in December, European researchers explored the relationship between empathy — the ability to feel others’ emotions — and sexual objectification. Their findings, based on measuring brain activity in response to viewing a woman being left out of a social activity, suggest that people feel less empathy for women dressed in revealing clothing compared to those dressed more conservatively. To conduct the research, Giorgia Silani, a neuroscientist at the University of Vienna, Austria, along with her colleagues, asked 36 participants — both men and women — to participate in and watch videos of others playing a digital ball-tossing game. The videos featured a model who either wore long pants, a plain top, and light makeup, or a short dress, high heels, and heavy makeup. At different points in the videos, the model was included or excluded from the game. Copyright 2018 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 24661 - Posted: 02.15.2018

Jon Hamilton Scientists have found specialized brain cells in mice that appear to control anxiety levels. The finding, reported Wednesday in the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to better treatments for anxiety disorders, which affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. "The therapies we have now have significant drawbacks," says Mazen Kheirbek, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco and an author of the study. "This is another target that we can try to move the field forward for finding new therapies." But the research is at an early stage and lab findings in animals don't always pan out in humans. The discovery of anxiety cells is just the latest example of the "tremendous progress" scientists have made toward understanding how anxiety works in the brain, says Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the research. "If we can learn enough, we can develop the tools to turn on and off the key players that regulate anxiety in people," Gordon says. Anxiety disorders involve excessive worry that doesn't go away. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Kheirbek and a team including several researchers from Columbia University discovered the cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain known to be involved in anxiety as well as navigation and memory. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24601 - Posted: 02.01.2018

By Catherine Offord When Floris Klumpers zapped people with electricity while working toward his PhD in the late 2000s, he expected his volunteers’ amygdalae—key emotion centers in the brain—to light up in anticipation of a shock. “There was this idea that the amygdala is the most important structure in emotion processing—especially in fear processing,” says Klumpers, then at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “We were quite surprised, using fMRI studies, to not find amygdala activity when people were anticipating an adverse event.” Klumpers assumed he’d made a mistake, but after replicating the finding in further experimental work, he began thinking about the different stages of animals’ fear responses. First, there’s anticipation, during which an individual becomes alert and plans reactions to possible danger. Then there’s confrontation, when it has to act to avoid imminent danger. Perhaps, Klumpers reasoned, the brain’s fear-processing regions treat these two phases differently. To investigate, Klumpers, now a neuroscientist at Radboud University Medical Center, and colleagues recently collected data from more than 150 volunteers, who received mild electrical shocks to their fingers as they viewed a computer. “We have a simple cue on the screen that can predict the occurrence of an electrical stimulation,” Klumpers says. In one set of experiments, for example, a yellow square meant a shock was likely, while a blue square signaled no shock for the time being. Meanwhile, the researchers monitored participants’ heart rates and imaged their brains using fMRI. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24532 - Posted: 01.16.2018

By Julie Hecht Dog lovers may find it obvious that dogs pick up on our emotions. Attending to our emotional expression—in our faces, behavior, or even smell—would help them live intimately by our side. "Dogs get us," we say. End of story. But what about their side of the story? If dogs attend to our emotions—particularly those we wear on our faces—how might dogs feel when they see our different emotions? An answer to this question arose almost by accident. In 2015, Corsin Müller and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna published a study that sought to determine whether dogs can discriminate happy and angry expression in human faces, as opposed to relying on other cues (their finding: yes, dogs can get this information from our faces alone). But because of the study design, the researchers could also peer into how dogs might feel about our emotions. In the study, pet dogs saw images of happy or angry human faces on a computer screen. To get a treat, the dogs had to approach and nose-touch a particular image on the screen. These are dogs. They can do this. Nose-touch for a treat? Yes please. A fabulous dog named Michel will now demonstrate: But when viewing the angry faces, the researchers noticed something odd. Dog performance was affected by whether they saw happy or angry expressions. During the initial training, dogs seeing the angry expression took longer to learn to approach and nose-touch the image for a treat than dogs who saw the happy expression. In other words, dogs were less inclined to approach and nose-touch angry faces, even though doing so would yield a treat. "Why would I approach an angry person? That makes no sense," a dog might think. Through past experiences with people, dogs could come to view the angry expression as aversive. The researchers suggest that dogs "had to overcome their natural tendency to move away from aversive (or threatening) stimuli…" © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24388 - Posted: 12.04.2017

Bethany Brookshire WASHINGTON, D.C. — Helper cells in the brain just got tagged with a new job — forming traumatic memories. When rats experience trauma, cells in the hippocampus — an area important for learning — produce signals for inflammation, helping to create a potent memory. But most of those signals aren’t coming from the nerve cells, researchers reported November 15 at the Society for Neuroscience meeting. Instead, more than 90 percent of a key inflammation protein comes from astrocytes. This role in memory formation adds to the repertoire of these starburst-shaped cells, once believed to be responsible for only providing food and support to more important brain cells (SN Online: 8/4/15). The work could provide new insight into how the brain creates negative memories that contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, said Meghan Jones, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jones and her colleagues gave rats a short series of foot shocks painful enough to “make you curse,” she said. A week after that harrowing experience, rats confronted with a milder shock remained jumpy. In some rats, Jones and her colleagues inhibited astrocyte activity during the original trauma, which prevented the cells from releasing the inflammation protein. Those rats kept their cool in the face of the milder shock. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 201

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 24331 - Posted: 11.16.2017

A new study published in Nature's Scientific Reports rejects a widely held theory that the human brain has a built-in neural capacity for religious beliefs. In other words, humans are not born believers. "What we're suggesting is whether you believe in a god is like learning a language. You have to be exposed to it, and learn it," lead author Miguel Farias told us. He studies the psychology of religion and behaviour at Coventry University in the U.K. Farias set out to test the "intuitive belief hypothesis" — a theory that has emerged in cognitive science suggesting that humans are born with the capacity for religious belief, that but their actual religious nature depends on the way they think; whether they're more intuitive or more analytical. The theory is based on the concept of two systems of thinking — "intuitive thinking" which is immediate, rapid processing of information, and "analytical thinking" which is slower and requires more cognitive effort to evaluate events and circumstances. So intuitive thinkers should be more religious, and analytical thinkers should have weaker religious beliefs. At least that's the theory. But Farias could find no evidence that it's true, even after looking at the problem in three ways. That included measuring religious beliefs and analytical thinking in people who were in the middle of the famous 30-day Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. "Our studies here suggest that it is probably about time psychologists reconsider their understanding of belief as 'natural' or 'intuitive' and instead focus on cultural and social learning factors that give rise to supernatural ideas," he said. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24323 - Posted: 11.13.2017

By STEPHEN HEYMAN “For years, science has relegated our love to this basic instinct, almost like an addiction that has no redeeming value.” These are not the words of some New Age evangelist preaching from the mount at a couples retreat in Arizona but of Stephanie Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago who has spent much of her career mapping the dynamics of love in the brain. Her research and some of the theories she has developed put her at odds with other scientists who have described romantic love as an emotion, a primitive drive, even a drug. Using neuroimaging, Dr. Cacioppo has collected data that could suggest that this kind of love activates not only the emotional brain, but also regions that are involved in higher-level intellectual activities and cognition. “This means that it’s possible that love has a real function — not only to connect with people emotionally but also to improve our behavior,” she said. Dr. Cacioppo attributes all kinds of mental and physical benefits to being in love. She says it can help you think faster, to better anticipate other people’s thoughts and behavior, or to bounce back more quickly from an illness. “The empirical tests I’ve done in my lab suggest that, in many ways, when you’re in love, you can be a better person,” she said. Talk to Dr. Cacioppo for long enough and you will be struck by how optimistic her views on traditional romance seem, especially in a world where divorce is commonplace, marriage rates are down, and polyamory and other forms of unconventional relationships are in the news. While she acknowledges that many types of relationships can be healthy, she believes that we are all searching for a “true love” to complete us, that humans are hard-wired for monogamy and that there is indirect biological evidence for fairy-tale tropes like love at first sight. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24308 - Posted: 11.09.2017

By James T. Costa One day in May of 1840, a young scientist in London did something that will sound strange to any new parent: He deliberately startled his 4-month-old son, provoking piercing squalls from the baby and probably a baleful glare from his wife. Then he did it again. Darwin remains best known for his world-shaking theories on plant and animal evolution. But people were never far from his mind. The scientist was Charles Darwin, and the experiment on his son Willy turned out to be an often-overlooked landmark in the history of science. Darwin, then just 31 years old, had become a convert to the field of “transmutation,” as evolution was called then, and had experienced an epiphany when he discovered its driver, which he dubbed natural selection. The former theology student immediately grasped the implications of this theory, declaring that the theological interpretation of the natural world had been undone by scientific evidence — “The fabric falls!” as he put it in a notebook. And while Darwin remains best known for his world-shaking theories on plant and animal evolution, as put forward in the 1859 book “On the Origin of Species,” people and society were never far from his mind. Convinced of the evolutionary unity of life, Darwin naturally saw humans as part of the tapestry: They were animals too, after all. (Carl Linnaeus may have been deliberately provocative when, in 1758, he derived the taxonomic name “primates” from the Latin for “prime” or “first rank,” to refer not only to humans but to monkeys and apes; it also happened to be the term applied to bishops.) The standard view of the time was that, despite superficial similarities, there was no true relationship between humans and other primates, let alone other animals. Weren’t we humans clearly endowed with a soul and mental qualities that set us apart from and above the animal kingdom? But Darwin saw deeper significance in the family relationship, one of continuity, common descent. To him, there was no real gap between people and primates — differences, yes, but of degree and not kind. “Origin of man now proved,” he declared in 1838. “He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.” Copyright 2017 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24291 - Posted: 11.04.2017