Chapter 15. Emotions, Aggression, and Stress

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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

Keyword: Emotions; Stress
Link ID: 24532 - Posted: 01.16.2018

By PATRICK SHARKEY Over the past few years, the discussion of crime and violence in the United States has focused on police brutality, mass incarceration and the sharp rise in violence in cities like Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago. This is entirely appropriate: Any spike in violence should garner attention, and redressing the injustices of our criminal justice system is a matter of moral urgency. But it is also worth reflecting on how much the level of violence has fallen in this country over the past 25 years and how widespread the benefits of that decline have been. From the 1970s through the early part of the 1990s, the murder rate in some cities in the United States rose to levels seen only in the most violent, war-torn nations of the developing world. In the years since, violent crime has decreased in almost every city, in many cases by more than 75 percent. For well-off urbanites, the decline of crime is most visible in sanitized, closely guarded city spaces where tourists and others can now comfortably wander about. But far more consequential have been the changes in low-income, highly segregated urban communities. Indeed, my research has shown that the most disadvantaged people have gained the most from the reduction in violent crime. Start with the lives saved. Though homicide is not a common cause of death for most of the United States population, for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34 it is the leading cause, which means that any change in the homicide rate has a disproportionate impact on them. The sociologist Michael Friedson and I calculated what the life expectancy would be today for blacks and whites had the homicide rate never shifted from its level in 1991. We found that the national decline in the homicide rate since then has increased the life expectancy of black men by roughly nine months. That figure may not seem like much, but it is exceedingly rare for any change in society to generate such a degree of change in life expectancy. For example, researchers have estimated that if the obesity epidemic in the United States was eliminated, life expectancy would increase by a similar amount. The drop in homicides is probably the most important development in the health of black men in the past several decades. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Aggression; Attention
Link ID: 24528 - Posted: 01.15.2018

Nancy Shute It's just a cold. But even though I know I'm not horribly ill, I feel this overwhelming need to skip work, ignore my family and retreat to the far corner of the sofa. I'm not being a wimp, it turns out. Those feelings are a real thing called sickness behavior, which is sparked by the body's response to infection. The same chemicals that tell the immune system to rush in and fend off invading viruses also tell us to slow down, skip the eating, drinking and sex, shun social interactions and rest. "Those messages are so powerful they can't be ignored," says Philip Chen, a rhinologist at the University of Texas, San Antonio. But that doesn't mean we don't try. Symptoms like a stuffy nose are obvious, Chen notes, but we're less aware that changes in mood and behavior are also part of our bodies' natural response to infection. It might behoove us to pay attention. There's plenty of evidence that having a cold impairs mood, alertness and working memory, and that brain performance falls off with even minor symptoms. But for most people, having a cold does not equal "take the week off." And that means many people work sick, even when it can put others in danger. A 2015 survey of food workers found that half "always" or "frequently' went to work while sick. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Neuroimmunology; Stress
Link ID: 24494 - Posted: 01.06.2018

Amy Maxmen Name a remedy, and chances are that Elizabeth Allen has tried it: acupuncture, antibiotics, antivirals, Chinese herbs, cognitive behavioural therapy and at least two dozen more. She hates dabbling in so many treatments, but does so because she longs for the healthy days of her past. The 34-year-old lawyer was a competitive swimmer at an Ivy-league university when she first fell ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, 14 years ago. Her meticulous records demonstrate that this elusive malady is much worse than ordinary exhaustion. “Last year, I went to 117 doctor appointments and I paid $18,000 in out-of-pocket expenses,” she says. Dumbfounded that physicians knew so little about chronic fatigue syndrome — also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS — Allen resolved several years ago to take part in any study that would have her. In 2017, she got her chance: she entered a study assessing how women with ME/CFS respond to synthetic hormones. After decades of pleading, people with the condition have finally caught the attention of mainstream science — and dozens of exploratory studies are now under way. Scientists entering the field are using the powerful tools of modern molecular biology to search for any genes, proteins, cells and possible infectious agents involved. They hope the work will yield a laboratory test to diagnose ME/CFS — which might have several different causes and manifestations — and they want to identify molecular pathways to target with drugs. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Keyword: Depression; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24487 - Posted: 01.04.2018

by Ben Guarino The next time a friend tells you that you look sick, hear the person out. We are better than chance at detecting illness in others simply by looking at their faces, according to new research led by a Swedish psychologist. “We can detect subtle cues related to the skin, eyes and mouth,” said John Axelsson of the Karolinska Institute, who co-wrote the study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “And we judge people as sick by those cues.” Other species have more finely tuned disease radars, relying primarily on the sense of smell. And previous research, Axelsson noted, has shown that animals can sniff sickness in other animals. (A Canadian hospital enlisted the help of an English springer spaniel trained to smell bacterial spores that infect patients.) Yet while there is some evidence that an unhealthy person gives off odors that another individual can identify as sickness, the face is our primary source of “social information for communication,” Axelsson said. He and his colleagues, a team that included neuroscientists and psychologists in Germany and Sweden, injected eight men and eight women with a molecule found in bacterial membranes. Like animals — from insects to mammals — people react very strongly to this substance, lipopolysaccharide. “People did not really become sick from the bacteria,” Axelsson said, but their bodies did not know the bacteria weren't actually attacking. Their immune systems kicked into action, complete with feelings of sickness. The subjects, all white, received about $430 for their trouble. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Attention; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24483 - Posted: 01.03.2018

Samantha Raphelson Jennifer Brea was a PhD candidate at Harvard University when flu-like symptoms and a high fever brought her down for more than five years. After her condition stumped several doctors, the 28-year-old filmed herself on her iPhone, including an episode when she was unable to move or speak. She showed the footage to her doctor, and in 2012 – a year and a half after her initial fever – she was diagnosed with a condition called myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Even though an estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS, the disease is largely misunderstood and many sufferers have not been diagnosed. The annual federal research budget for the disease is $4 million to $6 million, which is slim compared to, for example, the nearly $109 million allocated annually to multiple sclerosis research. That's part of the problem, Brea says. "It's a disease that is twice as common as multiple sclerosis and on average can be even more debilitating, and yet we get almost no research funding and no access to medical care," she says. Brea tells Here & Now's Robin Young that her new documentary, Unrest, seeks to lift the veil on this invisible illness. The Sundance-award-winning film, which began with that initial iPhone footage, premieres on PBS next Monday. ME/CFS follows an infection that leaves 75 percent of those affected unable to work and 25 percent homebound or bedridden. The disease is characterized by severe physical and mental fatigue, sleep problems and cognitive dysfunction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Depression; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24481 - Posted: 01.03.2018

By Jessica Hamzelou Did you pile on the pounds this Christmas? At least you can take some comfort in the fact that not all fat is bad. Evidence in mice and monkeys suggests it is important for storing important immune cells and may even make them more effective at fighting infection. Yasmine Belkaid at the US National Institutes of Health and her team have found that a type of immune cell – called a memory T-cell – seems to be stored in the body fat of mice. These cells learn to fight infection. Once exposed to a pathogen, they mount a stronger response the next time they encounter it. When the researchers infected mice with parasites or bacteria, they found that memory T-cells clustered densely in the animals’ body fat. Tests showed that these cells seemed to be more effective than those stored in other organs, being better at replicating and at releasing infection-fighting chemicals, for example. After exposing the mice to the same pathogens again, the memory T-cells stored in their fat were the fastest to respond. Belkaid’s team found that monkeys also have plenty of memory T-cells in their body fat, and that these cells worked better than those from other organs. “It means that fat tissue is not only a reservoir for memory cells, but those memory cells have enhanced function,” says Belkaid. “The tissue is like a magic potion that can optimally activate the T-cells.” © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Obesity; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24473 - Posted: 12.30.2017

By Judith Graham, Ask Edith Smith, a proud 103-year-old, about her friends, and she’ll give you an earful. There’s Johnetta, 101, whom she’s known for 70 years and who has Alzheimer’s disease. “I call her every day and just say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ She never knows, but she says hi back, and I tease her,” Smith said. There’s Katie, 93, whom Smith met during a long teaching career with the Chicago Public Schools. “Every day we have a good conversation. She’s still driving and lives in her own house, and she tells me what’s going on.” Then there’s Rhea, 90, whom Smith visits regularly at a retirement facility. And Mary, 95, who doesn’t leave her house anymore, “so I fix her a basket about once a month of jelly and little things I make and send it over by cab.” And fellow residents at Smith’s Chicago senior community, whom she recognizes with a card and a treat on their birthdays. “I’m a very friendly person,” Smith said, when asked to describe herself. That may be one reason why this lively centenarian has an extraordinary memory for someone her age, suggests a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University highlighting a notable link between brain health and positive relationships. For nine years, these experts have been examining “SuperAgers”—men and women over age 80 whose memories are as good—or better—than people 20 to 30 years younger. Every couple of years, the group fills out surveys about their lives and gets a battery of neuropsychological tests, brain scans and a neurological examination, among other evaluations. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 24455 - Posted: 12.26.2017

Eating is prompted, in part, by brain regions that help to maintain the body’s energy levels. But hunger pangs are not the only motivation for a trip to the snack bar. In an effort to understand how the brain’s emotional and cognitive machinery influences appetite, Yunlei Yang and his colleagues at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse examined the medial septal complex, a group of brain cells that has a role in emotion. Some of the complex’s cells produce a signalling chemical called glutamate. When the scientists turned on these glutamate-producing cells in mice, the animals ate less than half as much as control mice. That makes the region a good starting point for studies of emotionally triggered eating, the team says. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2017)

Keyword: Obesity; Emotions
Link ID: 24420 - Posted: 12.14.2017

Mariah Quintanilla When escaping from humans, narwhals don’t just freeze or flee. They do both. These deep-diving marine mammals have similar physiological responses to those of an animal frozen in fear: Their heart rate, breathing and metabolism slow, mimicking a “deer in the headlights” reaction. But narwhals (Monodon monoceros) take this freeze response to extremes. The animals decrease their heart rate to as slow as three beats per minute for more than 10 minutes, while pumping their tails as much as 25 strokes per minute during an escape dive, an international team of researchers reports in the Dec. 8 Science. “That was astounding to us because there are other marine mammals that can have heart rates that low but not typically for that long a period of time, and especially not while they’re swimming as hard as they can,” says Terrie Williams, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. So far, this costly escape has been observed only after a prolonged interaction with humans. Usually, narwhals will escape natural predators such as killer whales by stealthily slipping under ice sheets or huddling in spots too shallow for their pursuers, Williams says. But interactions with humans — something that will happen increasingly as melting sea ice opens up the Arctic — may be changing that calculus. Monitoring a female narwhal showed that her heart rate dropped precipitously low at times as she performed a series of dives after escaping a net (top graph). The red box shows periods of “cardiac freeze,” when her heart only beat a few times per minute. About two days later, the same narwhal was back to performing regular deep dives (bottom graph), in which her heart rate dropped to 10 to 20 beats per minute, an adaption that allows the sea mammals to conserve energy during stretches underwater. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 24405 - Posted: 12.08.2017

By Wendy Jones In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Elinor Dashwood is talking to a new acquaintance, Lucy Steele. Based on their previous encounters, Elinor doesn’t think much of Lucy’s character. But Lucy seems determined to befriend Elinor and to make her a confidante. Elinor discovers Lucy’s true motives when the latter reveals that she is secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, the man Elinor loves. Elinor is speechless: “Her astonishment at what she heard was at first too great for words.” Elinor isn’t the only one to experience this kind of shutdown and its accompanying frustration. When we’re angry, or upset, or fearful—in the grip of any strong emotion—most of us find it difficult to think clearly. This has to do with the inverse relationship between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which manage (respectively) the degree to which we’re excited or calm. Neuroscientist Stephen Porges has suggested that the thermostat for adjusting sympathetic and parasympathetic input can be found within these systems themselves. He has highlighted the operations involved from a “polyvagal perspective,” which considers our neurophysiological functioning in the context of safety, whether our environments are threatening or benign. I explore these and other neurosocial phenomena through the lens of the immensely popular novels of Jane Austen in my new book, Jane on the Brain: Exploring the Science of Social Intelligence. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Attention; Emotions
Link ID: 24402 - Posted: 12.08.2017

By KAREN WEINTRAUB In one more sign that North Atlantic right whales are struggling, a new study finds sky-high levels of stress in animals that have been caught in fishing nets. Researchers determined the stress hormone levels of more than 100 North Atlantic right whales over a 15-year period by examining their feces. Sometimes guided by sniffing dogs, researchers followed the animals, collecting waste samples that they then analyzed in their lab at the New England Aquarium. Results from the feces of 113 seemingly healthy whales helped establish a baseline of stress hormone levels, which had never before been known for the species. “We have a good idea of what normal is now,” said Rosalind Rolland, who developed the research technique and is the lead author of the study published in the journal Endangered Species Research. She then compared these baselines to hormone levels in the feces of six whales that had become entangled in fishing lines, and one that had been stranded for several days, finding that those animals were off-the-charts anxious. One whale, a young female named Bayla, showed stress levels eight times higher after she was found entangled in synthetic fishing ropes in January 2011. Several biologists trained in disentanglement couldn’t get all the gear off her, so they sedated the emaciated animal and gave her antibiotics. Two weeks later, an aerial survey team found her corpse floating at sea, possibly after being attacked by sharks, which typically leave healthy animals alone. A necropsy conducted a few days later found rope embedded in the back of Bayla’s throat, that possibly prevented her from eating. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 24393 - Posted: 12.05.2017

Allison Aubrey Nobody likes the feeling of being left out, and when it happens, we tend to describe these experiences with the same words we use to talk about the physical pain of, say, a toothache. "People say, 'Oh, that hurts,' " says Nathan DeWall, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky. DeWall and his colleagues were curious about the crossover between physical pain and emotional pain, so they began a series of experiments several years back. In one study, they found that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) seemed to reduce the sting of rejection that people experienced after they were excluded from a virtual ball-tossing game. The pain pills seemed to dim activity in regions of the brain involved in processing social pain, according to brain imaging. "People knew they were getting left out [of the game], it just didn't bother them as much," DeWall explains. As part of the study, participants were given either acetaminophen or a placebo for three weeks. None of the participants knew which one they were given. Each evening, participants completed a Hurt Feelings Scale, designed as a standardized measure of emotional pain. They were asked to rank themselves on statements such as: "Today, being teased hurt my feelings." It turned out that the pain medicine reduced reports of social pain. The emotional dampening documented in these experiments is not huge, but it appears significant enough to nudge people into a less-sensitive emotional state. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Emotions
Link ID: 24391 - Posted: 12.05.2017

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

Keyword: Emotions; Evolution
Link ID: 24388 - Posted: 12.04.2017

By BENEDICT CAREY The recent surge in accusations of sexual harassment and assault has prompted some admitted offenders to seek professional help for the emotional or personality distortions that underlie their behavior. “My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons,” the producer Harvey Weinstein said in a statement in October. The actor Kevin Spacey announced that he would be “taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment.” Whatever mix of damage control and contrition they represent, pledges like these suggest that there are standard treatments for perpetrators of sexual offenses. In fact, no such standard treatments exist, experts say. Even the notion of “sexual addiction” as a stand-alone diagnosis is in dispute. “There are no evidence-based programs I know of for the sort of men who have been in the news recently,” said Vaile Wright, director of research and special projects at the American Psychological Association. That doesn’t mean that these men cannot change their ways with professional help. The evidence that talk therapy and medication can curb sexual misconduct is modest at best, and virtually all of it comes from treating severe disorders, like pedophilia and exhibitionism, experts said — powerful urges that cannot be turned off. Still, there is reason to think that these therapeutic approaches can be adapted to treatment of the men accused of offenses ranging from unwanted attention to rape. “You’re really looking at two categories of people,” said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has a clinical practice focusing on sexual problems. “One is what I call sexually compulsive behavior. The other is reserved for people committing non-consensual acts — sex offenders.” The first group includes the college student failing out because he spends all his time surfing porn sites, or the man who is visiting prostitutes so often it’s threatening his livelihood and health. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Aggression
Link ID: 24371 - Posted: 11.28.2017

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

Keyword: Emotions; Glia
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

Keyword: Emotions
Link ID: 24323 - Posted: 11.13.2017

Paula Span Medical researchers and government health policymakers, a cautious lot, normally take pains to keep expectations modest when they’re discussing some new finding or treatment. They warn about studies’ limitations. They point out what isn’t known. They emphasize that correlation doesn’t mean causation. So it’s startling to hear prominent experts sound positively excited about a new shingles vaccine that an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved last month. “This really is a sea change,” said Dr. Rafael Harpaz, a veteran shingles researcher at the C.D.C. Dr. William Schaffner, preventive disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said, “This vaccine has spectacular initial protection rates in every age group. The immune system of a 70- or 80-year-old responds as if the person were only 25 or 30.” “This really looks to be a breakthrough in vaccinating older adults,” agreed Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, a physician and researcher at the National Institutes of Health. What’s causing the enthusiasm: Shingrix, which the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline intends to begin shipping this month. Large international trials have shown that the vaccine prevents more than 90 percent of shingles cases, even at older ages. The currently available shingles vaccine, called Zostavax, only prevents about half of shingles cases in those over age 60 and has demonstrated far less effectiveness among elderly patients. Yet those are the people most at risk for this blistering disease, with its often intense pain, its threat to vision and the associated nerve pain that sometimes last months, even years, after the initial rash fades. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Pain & Touch
Link ID: 24316 - Posted: 11.11.2017

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

Keyword: Emotions; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24308 - Posted: 11.09.2017

James Gorman Dogs have evolved to be friendly and tolerant of humans and one another, which might suggest they would be good at cooperative tasks. Wolves are known to cooperate in hunting and even in raising one another’s pups, but they can seem pretty intolerant of one another when they are snapping and growling around a kill. So researchers at the Wolf Science Center at the University of Vienna decided to compare the performance of wolves and dogs on a classic behavioral test. To get a food treat, two animals have to pull ropes attached to different ends of a tray. The trick is that they have to pull both ropes at the same time. Chimps, parrots, rooks and elephants have all succeeded at the task. When Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Friederike Range and colleagues put wolves and dogs to the test, wolves did very well and dogs very poorly. In recordings of the experiments, the pairs of wolves look like experts, while the dogs seem, well, adorable and confused. The researchers reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With no training, five of seven wolf pairs succeeded in mastering the task at least once. Only one of eight dog pairs did. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Attention; Evolution
Link ID: 24304 - Posted: 11.08.2017