Links for Keyword: Emotions

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 1 - 20 of 947

By Timothy Revell Feeling sad? Soon your dolls will be able to tell. To demonstrate the power of a new chip that can run artificially intelligent algorithms, researchers have put it in a doll and programmed it to recognise emotions in facial images captured by a small camera. The doll can recognise eight emotions in total, including surprise and happiness, all while running on a small battery and without doing any processing in the cloud. The total cost of putting the new chip together is just €115 – an indicator of how easy it is becoming to give devices basic AI abilities. “In the near future, we will see a myriad of eyes everywhere that will not just be watching us, but trying to help us,” says project leader Oscar Deniz at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain. Recent advances in AI mean we already have algorithms that can recognise objects, lip-read, make basic decisions and more. It’s only a matter of time before these abilities make their way on to little cheap chips like this one, and then put into consumer devices. “We will have wearable devices, toys, drones, small robots, and things we can’t even imagine yet that will all have basic artificial intelligence,” says Deniz. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23752 - Posted: 06.20.2017

By EMILIE LE BEAU LUCCHESI Benjamin Stepp, an Iraq war veteran, sat in his graduate school course trying to focus on the lecture. Neither his classmates nor his professor knew he was silently seething. But his service dog, Arleigh, did. She sensed his agitation and “put herself in my lap,” said Mr. Stepp, 37, of Holly Springs, Miss. “I realized I needed to get out of class. We went outside, I calmed down. We breathed.” During his two deployments to Iraq, Mr. Stepp endured a traumatic brain injury and multiple surgeries on his ankle, and most days he suffers excruciating pain in his legs and lower back. He says he also returned from the war with a lot of anger, which wells up at unexpected times. “Anger kept us alive overseas,” Mr. Stepp said. “You learn that anger keeps you alive.” Now that he is back, though, that anger no longer serves a useful purpose. And Arleigh, a lab and retriever mix who came to Mr. Stepp from K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs, has been helping him to manage it. The dog senses when his agitation and anxiety begin rising, and sends him signals to begin the controlled breathing and other exercises that help to calm him down. Pet owners and trainers have long been aware of a dog’s ability to sense a human’s emotions. In the last 10 years, researchers, too, have begun to explore more deeply the web of emotions, both positive and negative, that can spread between people and animals, said Natalia Albuquerque, an ethologist who studies animal cognition at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and the University of Lincoln in England. The spread of emotions between animals and people, or between animals — what researchers refer to as emotional contagion — is an emerging field of science. But “there are still many unanswered questions we need to address,” Ms. Albuquerque said. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23708 - Posted: 06.05.2017

Rebecca Hersher Emotions, the classic thinking goes, are innate, basic parts of our humanity. We are born with them, and when things happen to us, our emotions wash over us. "They happen to us, almost," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. She's also the author of a book called How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. In it, she argues for a new theory of emotions which is featured in the latest episode of NPR's program and podcast Invisibilia. The "classical view" of emotions as innate and limited in variety, she says, "matches the way that many of us experience emotion, as if something's happening outside of our control," she tells Shots. "But the problem with this set of ideas is that the data don't support them. There's a lot of evidence which challenges this view from every domain of science that's ever studied it." Lisa Feldman Barrett spoke to Shots about her alternative theory of emotions. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. On the "classical" theory of emotions The classical view of emotion is the idea that somewhere lurking deep inside you are the animalistic engine parts of your brain. There are circuits — one each for anger, sadness, fear, disgust and so on. And that when something happens in the world to trigger one of those circuits — say, for fear — you will have a very specific facial expression, a very specific bodily response, and that these expressions and responses have universal meaning. Everyone in the world makes them and recognizes them without learning or any experience at all. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23703 - Posted: 06.03.2017

Nicola Davis Being in a state of anxiety makes it harder to read the emotions of others, researchers have claimed. Difficulties in interpreting the facial expressions of others have previously been linked to a number of psychiatric disorders, while people with a greater tendency to be anxious have been found to have a greater sensitivity to faces showing fear. However, it was not clear whether such effects existed among people who experience a situation that triggers anxiety. “We were specifically trying to answer the question: how does our current level of anxiety influence how we see the world, and in particular emotions in faces?” said Marcus Munafò, professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol and a co-author of the new study. To tackle the conundrum, Munafò and colleagues from the University of Bristol looked at the impact of an anxiety-inducing situation on the ability of 21 healthy participants to interpret emotion in facial expressions. The participants’ general tendencies to worry about situations varied, but none had anxiety disorders. The participants were each fitted with a face mask delivering either normal air, or air enriched with carbon dioxide – an approach known to induce worry and tension, as well as a raised heart rate and blood pressure. After completing each part of the study, the participants repeated the experiment breathing the alternative type of air.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23684 - Posted: 05.31.2017

By Jack Turban We all know that person. Her Instagram is covered with more pictures of feline friends than human companions. Not an insignificant number of these pictures feature mini cat-sized lattes with the caption “Fluffy simply adores her morning coffee.” And let us not forget that the archetype of crazy cat man may be just as prevalent. When you look at these pictures, you probably wonder: is he like this because of the cat? Or does he have the cat because he is like this? It turns out that cats have a mischievous and somewhat dark reputation in neuroscience. There is research to suggest that a cat’s proximity to other mammals can cause them to behave strangely. This feline power has been attributed to a protozoan that lives in their stool, called Toxoplasma gondii (or Toxo for short). In one classic story, researchers showed that Toxo can travel into a rat’s brain and cause the rat to no longer avoid areas where cats live. The rats, in fact, become attracted to the smell of cat urine. Previously repulsed by the smell, these brain-infected rodents run joyously through urine-laden environments. They walk right through the cat’s trap, until their young rodent lives come to an end under a forceful paw. These same protozoans can affect the brains of humans. Immuno-compromised patients, like those with AIDS, can contract the infection from a litter box and develop dangerous brain abscesses. We treat these patients with powerful antibiotics and frequently recommend that they give away their cats. Pregnant women are also advised not to handle cat litter, as a fetus does not yet have the immune system needed to fight Toxo. Fetuses exposed to the protozoan can suffer from seizures, cognitive problems, and blindness. But what about your immunocompetent and decidedly non-pregnant Instagram friend; is she under the influence of this cat’s protozoan minion? . © 2017 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23651 - Posted: 05.24.2017

Michelle Trudeau Bears do it; bats do it. So do guinea pigs, dogs and humans. They all yawn. It's a common animal behavior, but one that is something of a mystery. There's still no consensus on the purpose of a yawn, says Robert Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Provine has studied what he calls "yawn science" since the early 1980s, and he's published dozens of research articles on it. He says the simple yawn is not so simple. "Yawning may have the dubious distinction of being the least understood common human behavior," Provine says. There are many causes for yawning. Boredom, sleepiness, hunger, anxiety and stress — all cause changes in brain chemistry, which can trigger a spontaneous yawn. But it's not clear what the yawn accomplishes. One possibility is the yawn perks you up by increasing heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory function. "[Yawning] stirs up our physiology and it plays an important role in shifting from one state to another," Provine says. When violinists get ready to go on stage to play a concerto, they often yawn, says Provine. So do Olympians right before a competition, or paratroopers getting ready to do their first jump. One study found that yawning has a similar impact on the brain as a dose of caffeine. But not all yawn researchers agree with this theory. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23613 - Posted: 05.15.2017

By Daniel Shalev Maddie* couldn't stop crying. The first few days after her stroke, it had made sense. She had led a charmed retirement, with annual trips across the country, time with family and an active life. Now everything was in flux. A week before, Maddie, who was in her late 70s, had woken up unable to use half of her body. Her husband called an ambulance, and a diagnosis was reached within hours. Maddie had suffered a blockage in the blood vessels supplying her brain stem, affecting the pons, a region that conducts messages from higher centers of control and consciousness down to her body. At the hospital, she began to undergo a rush of frightening tests to evaluate the cause of her stroke and the risk of having another. She figured it made sense to cry. A few days later, when Maddie was transferred from the stroke unit to the rehabilitation service, she was feeling more hopeful. Her risk of further strokes had been minimized with drugs to regulate her blood pressure, cholesterol and clotting. She could hear that her speech, initially slurred, returning to clarity. On the stroke unit, the emphasis had been on stabilization, but in rehabilitation, the goal was improvement. Maddie felt ready to work on her recovery. Even with the hope of rehabilitation, though, the tears continued. Maddie cried when her husband came in and when he left. She cried during therapy meetings and medical updates. She cried through eating and bathing. The only time she did not weep was while she slept. Most oddly, Maddie cried even when she did not feel sad. On the stroke unit, the crying had been annoying. In rehabilitation, it was downright disruptive. Maddie's therapy sessions were impeded by bouts of sobbing that invariably led the befuddled therapists to cut short their work with her. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23595 - Posted: 05.09.2017

By Elizabeth Preston A common parasite that lives in fish eyeballs seems to be a driver behind the fish’s behaviour, pulling the strings from inside its eyes. When the parasite is young, it helps its host stay safe from predators. But once the parasite matures, it does everything it can to get that fish eaten by a bird and so continue its life cycle. The eye fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum has a life cycle that takes place in three different types of animal. First, parasites mate in a bird’s digestive tract, shedding their eggs in its faeces. The eggs hatch in the water into larvae that seek out freshwater snails to infect. They grow and multiply inside the snails before being released into the water, ready to track down their next host, fish. The parasites then penetrate the skin of fish, and travel to the lens of the eye to hide out and grow. The fish then get eaten by a bird – and the cycle starts again. Many parasites can change an animal’s behaviour to fit their own needs. Mice infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, for example, lose their fear of cats – the animal the parasite needs to reproduce inside. In a 2015 study, Mikhail Gopko at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow and his colleagues showed that fish infected with immature fluke larvae swam less actively than usual – making themselves less visible to predators – and were harder to catch with a net than uninfected controls. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23587 - Posted: 05.08.2017

Hannah Devlin An “emotional chatting machine” has been developed by scientists, signalling the approach of an era in which human-robot interactions are seamless and go beyond the purely functional. The chatbot, developed by a Chinese team, is seen as a significant step towards the goal of developing emotionally sophisticated robots. The ECM, as it is known for short, was able to produce factually coherent answers whilst also imbuing its conversation with emotions such as happiness, sadness or disgust. Prof Björn Schuller, a computer scientist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the latest advance, described the work as “an important step” towards personal assistants that could read the emotional undercurrent of a conversation and respond with something akin to empathy. “This will be the next generation of intelligence to be met in daily experience, sooner rather than later,” he said. The paper found that 61% of humans who tested the machine favoured the emotional versions to the neutral chatbot. Similar results have been found in so-called “Wizard of Oz” studies in which a human typing responses masquerades as advanced AI. “It is not a question whether they are desirable – they clearly are – but in which applications they make sense and where they don’t,” said Schuller. Minlie Huang, a computer scientist at Tsinghua University, Beijing and co-author, said: “We’re still far away from a machine that can fully understand the user’s emotion. This is just the first attempt at this problem.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23584 - Posted: 05.06.2017

Kevin Davis When his criminal trial begins next week, attorneys for Andres “Andy” Avalos, a Florida man charged with murdering his wife, a neighbor and a local pastor, will mount an insanity defense on behalf of their client because, as they announced last summer, a PET scan revealed that Avalos has a severely abnormal brain. In March, shortly after an Israeli American teenager was arrested on suspicion that he made bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the U.S. and abroad, his lawyer declared that the teenager had a brain tumor that might have affected his behavior. Both cases are part of a growing movement in which attorneys use brain damage in service of a legal defense. To support such claims in court, lawyers are turning to neuroscience. The defense brings in hired guns to testify that brain scans can identify areas of dysfunction linked to antisocial behavior, poor decision-making and lack of impulse control. The prosecution calls their own expert witnesses to argue that what a scientist might observe in brain scans shows nothing about that person’s state of mind or past actions. The truth is that even the most sophisticated brain scans cannot show direct correlations between brain dysfunction and specific criminal behavior, nor can they prove whether someone is legally insane. What neuroscience can show is that a person’s decision to commit a crime — or to do anything in life for that matter — is triggered by a series of chemical and electrical interactions in the brain. It can also show approximately where those interactions are occurring.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 23572 - Posted: 05.04.2017

By Diana Kwon Most of us will laugh at a good joke, but we also laugh when we are not actually amused. Fake chuckles are common in social situations—such as during an important interview or a promising first date. “Laughter is really interesting because we observe it across all human cultures and in other species,” says Carolyn McGettigan, a cognitive neuroscientist at Royal Holloway, University of London. “It's an incredibly important social signal.” In a 2013 study, McGettigan, then a postdoctoral researcher at University College London, and her colleagues scanned the brains of 21 participants while they passively listened to clips of laughter elicited by funny YouTube videos or produced on command (with instructions to sound as natural as possible). Subjects whose medial prefrontal cortex “lit up” more when hearing the posed laughter were better at detecting whether laughs were genuine or not in a subsequent test. (This brain region is involved in understanding the viewpoint of others.) “If you hear a laugh that seems ambiguous in terms of what the person means,” McGettigan explains, “it makes sense that you're going to try to work out why this person sounds like this.” In a follow-up study in 2016, McGettigan and her colleagues recruited a fresh set of participants to rate the laugh tracks on various qualities, such as authenticity and positivity. They compared these findings with the original brain data and found that the activity in the medial prefrontal cortex was negatively correlated with the genuineness of the laughs. Their analyses also revealed that both types of laughter engaged the auditory cortices, although activity in these brain regions increased as the laughs became happier, more energetic and more authentic. © 2017 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23528 - Posted: 04.24.2017

By Emily Langer Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist who helped reveal the emotional lives of animals by tickling rats and listening to their ultrasonic laughter in experiments that upended his field and opened new possibilities for the treatment of depression and other forms of mental illness, died April 18 at his home in Bowling Green, Ohio. He was 73. The cause was cancer, said his wife, Anesa Miller. For much of his career, Dr. Panksepp was brushed aside by colleagues who accepted the prevailing notion that emotions were uniquely human experiences. Dr. Panksepp — along with many pet owners — suspected otherwise, and he sought to prove his intuition through the rigors of science. “People don’t have a monopoly on emotion,” he once said. “Rather, despair, joy and love are ancient, elemental responses that have helped all sorts of creatures survive and thrive in the natural world.” He was long associated with Bowling Green State University where, in the late 1990s, he conducted the experiments with lab rats that would vault him to national renown. He recalled walking into the laboratory one day and remarking to an assistant, “Let’s go tickle some rats.” He credited a graduate student with repurposing a bat detector — a tool capable of recording high-pitched sounds — as the instrument they would use to listen into the rats’ laughterlike chirps. “Lo and behold,” he told the Toledo Blade in 1998, “it sounded like a playground!” © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23521 - Posted: 04.22.2017

Laurel Hamers SAN FRANCISCO — Millennials, rejoice: A winking-face emoji is worth a slew of ironic words. The brain interprets irony or sarcasm conveyed by an emoji in the same way as it does verbal banter, researchers reported March 26 in San Francisco at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting. Researchers measured brain electrical activity of college students reading sentences ending in various emojis. For example, the sentence “You are such a jerk” was followed by an emoji that matched the words’ meaning (a frowning face), contradicted the words (a smiling face) or implied sarcasm (a winking face). Then the participants assessed the veracity of the sentence—was the person actually a jerk? Some participants read the sentence literally no matter what, said Benjamin Weissman, a linguist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But people who said emojis influenced their interpretation showed different brain activity in response to sentences with a winking emoji than ones with other emojis. A spike in electrical activity occurred 200 milliseconds after reading winky-face sentences, followed by another spike at 600 milliseconds. A similar electrical pattern has been noted in previous studies in which people listened to sentences where intonation conveyed a sarcastic rather than literal interpretation of the words. That peak at 600 milliseconds has been linked to reassessment. It’s as if the brain reads the sentence one way, sees the emoji and then updates its interpretation to fit the new information, Weissman said. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23417 - Posted: 03.29.2017

If your parrot is feeling glum, it might be tweetable. Wild keas spontaneously burst into playful behaviour when exposed to the parrot equivalent of canned laughter – the first birds known to respond to laughter-like sounds. The parrots soared after one another in aerobatic loops, exchanged foot-kicking high fives in mid-air and tossed objects to each other, in what seems to be emotionally contagious behaviour. And when the recording stops, so does the party, and the birds go back to whatever they had been doing. We already knew that these half-metre-tall parrots engage in playful behaviour, especially when young. What’s new is that a special warbling call they make has been shown to trigger behaviour that seems to be an equivalent of spontaneous, contagious laughter in humans. Moreover, it’s not just the young ones that respond, adults of both sexes join in the fun too. Raoul Schwing of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, and his team played 5-minute recordings to gatherings of between two and a dozen wild keas on a mountainside of New Zealand’s Arthur’s Pass National Park, on the southern island. The group played recordings of the warble sound, or other sounds, including two other frequent kea sounds – a screech and a whistle – plus the alarm call of a local robin species and a bland tone. © Copyright Reed Business Information Lt

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23400 - Posted: 03.24.2017

By Warren Cornwall The number of years someone spends behind bars can hinge on whether they were clearly aware that they were committing a crime. But how is a judge or jury to know for sure? A new study suggests brain scans can distinguish between hardcore criminal intent and simple reckless behavior, but the approach is far from being ready for the courtroom. The study is unusual because it looks directly at the brains of people while they are engaged in illicit activity, says Liane Young, a Boston College psychologist who was not involved in the work. Earlier research, including work by her, has instead generally looked at the brains of people only observing immoral activity. Researchers led by Read Montague, a neuroscientist at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Insitute in Roanoke and at University College London, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can measure brain activity based on blood flow. They analyzed the brains of 40 people—a mix of men and women mostly in their 20s and 30s—as they went through scenarios that simulated trying to smuggle something through a security checkpoint. In some cases, the people knew for certain they had contraband in a suitcase. In other cases, they chose from between two and five suitcases, with only one containing contraband (and thus they weren’t sure they were carrying contraband). The risk of getting caught also varied based on how many of the 10 security checkpoints had a guard stationed there. The results showed distinctive patterns of brain activity for when the person knew for certain the suitcase had contraband and when they only knew there was a chance of it, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But there was an unexpected twist. Those differing brain patterns only showed up when people were first shown how many security checkpoints were guarded, and then offered the suitcases. In that case, a computer analysis of the fMRI images correctly classified people as knowing or reckless between 71% and 80% of the time. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23355 - Posted: 03.14.2017

By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe Recognizing when a friend or colleague feels sad, angry or surprised is key to getting along with others. But a new study suggests that a knack for eavesdropping on feelings may sometimes come with an extra dose of stress. This and other research challenge the prevailing view that emotional intelligence is uniformly beneficial to its bearer. In a study published in the September 2016 issue of Emotion, psychologists Myriam Bechtoldt and Vanessa Schneider of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in Germany asked 166 male university students a series of questions to measure their emotional smarts. For example, they showed the students photographs of people's faces and asked them to what extent feelings such as happiness or disgust were being expressed. The students then had to give job talks in front of judges displaying stern facial expressions. The scientists measured concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol in the students' saliva before and after the talk. In students who were rated more emotionally intelligent, the stress measures increased more during the experiment and took longer to go back to baseline. The findings suggest that some people may be too emotionally astute for their own good, says Hillary Anger Elfenbein, a professor of organizational behavior at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the study. “Sometimes you can be so good at something that it causes trouble,” she notes. Indeed, the study adds to previous research hinting at a dark side of emotional intelligence. A study published in 2002 in Personality and Individual Differences suggested that emotionally perceptive people might be particularly susceptible to feelings of depression and hopelessness. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23326 - Posted: 03.08.2017

By Daniel Engber It took scientists six months to train Alexandra the red-footed tortoise, but by midsummer 2009 she’d finally learned to fake a yawn. A formal experiment came right after. Once per day for several weeks, the research team placed Alexandra on one side of a small tank and another tortoise—either Moses, Aldous, Wilhemina, Quinn, Esme, or Molly—just across from her. They then signaled her to tilt back her head and drop her jaw, just as she’d been taught, while they watched the other tortoise. Would Moses drop his jaw? Would Aldous or Wilhemina? Was there any sign at all that Alexandra’s tortoise yawn could be contagious? There was not. The research team tried again, this time having Alexandra fake her yawn not just once but twice or three times over; still, the observer tortoises did not respond. Next the scientists made Moses and the others watch a video of Alexandra in the middle of a natural yawn, not the fake one that she’d been practicing for months. Again, the yawn was not contagious. “It is possible that a real yawn is necessary to stimulate the observer tortoise,” the authors concluded in their 2011 paper, published in Current Zoology. But “our findings are more consistent with the suggestion that tortoises do not yawn in a contagious manner.” This finding, or lack thereof, may on its surface seem banal. But given what we know about the replication crisis in science, the tortoise paper might be a sign of things to come. Is it possible that the entire body of research on contagious yawning—a small but lively field that dates back 30 years—is resting on a shaky premise?

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23308 - Posted: 03.03.2017

By Veronique Greenwood A number of studies have used functional MRI to see what our brain looks like as we recall pleasant memories, watch scary movies or listen to sad music. Scientists have even had some success telling which of these stimuli a subject is experiencing by looking at his or her scans. But does this mean it is possible to tell what emotions we are experiencing in the absence of prompts, as we let our mind wander naturally? That is a difficult question to answer, in part because psychologists disagree about how emotions should be defined. Nevertheless, some scientists are trying to tackle it. In a study reported in the June 2016 issue of Cerebral Cortex, Heini Saarimäki of Aalto University in Finland and her colleagues observed volunteers in a brain scanner who were being prompted to recall memories they associated with words drawn from six emotional categories or to reflect on a movie clip selected to provoke certain emotions. The participants also completed a questionnaire about how closely linked different emotions were—rating, for instance, whether “anxiety” is closer to “fear” than to “happiness.” The researchers found that pattern-recognition software could detect which category of emotion a person had been prompted with. In addition, the more closely he or she linked words in the questionnaire, the more his or her brain scans for those emotions resembled one another. Another study, published in September 2016 in PLOS Biology by Kevin LaBar of Duke University and his colleagues, attempted to match brain scans of people lying idle in a scanner to seven predefined patterns associated with specific emotions provoked in an earlier study. The researchers found they could predict the subjects' self-reported emotions from the scans about 75 percent of the time. © 2017 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23307 - Posted: 03.03.2017

By Matthew Hutson, Veronique Greenwood For some things, such as deciding whether to take a new job or nab your opponent's rook in chess, you're better off thinking long and hard. For others, such as judging your interviewer's or opponent's emotional reactions, first instincts are best—or so traditional wisdom suggests. But new research finds that careful reflection actually makes us better at assessing others' feelings. The findings could improve how we deal with bosses, spouses, friends and, especially, strangers. We would have trouble getting through the day or even a conversation if we couldn't tell how other people were feeling. And yet this ability, called empathic accuracy, eludes introspection. “We don't think too hard about the exact processes we engage in when we do it,” says Christine Ma-Kellams, a psychologist at the University of La Verne in California, “and we don't necessarily know how accurate we are.” Recently Ma-Kellams and Jennifer Lerner of Harvard University conducted four studies, all published in 2016. In one experiment, participants imagined coaching an employee for a particular job. When told to help the employee get better at reading others' emotions, most people recommended thinking “in an intuitive and instinctive way” as opposed to “in an analytic and systematic way.” When told to make employees worse at the task, the participants recommended the opposite. And yet later experiments suggested this coaching was off base. For instance, in another experiment, professionals in an executive-education program took a “cognitive reflection test” to measure how much they relied on intuitive versus systematic thinking. The most reflective thinkers were most accurate at interpreting their partners' moods during mock interviews. Systematic thinkers also outperformed intuiters at guessing the emotions expressed in photographs of eyes. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: 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: 23258 - Posted: 02.21.2017

Emotions are a cognitive process that relies on “higher-order states” embedded in cortical (conscious) brain circuits; emotions are not innately programmed into subcortical (nonconscious) brain circuits, according to a potentially earth-shattering new paper by Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown. The February 2017 paper, “A Higher-Order Theory of Emotional Consciousness,” was published online today ahead of print in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This paper was written by neuroscience legend Joseph LeDoux of New York University and Richard Brown, professor of philosophy at the City University of New York's LaGuardia College. Joseph LeDoux has been working on the link between emotion, memory, and the brain since the 1990s. He's credited with putting the amygdala in the spotlight and making this previously esoteric subcortical brain region a household term. LeDoux founded the Emotional Brain Institute (EBI). He’s also a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. Why Is This New Report From LeDoux and Brown Significant? In the world of cognitive neuroscience, there's an ongoing debate about the interplay between emotional states of consciousness (or feelings) within cortical and subcortical brain regions. (Most experts believe that cortical brain regions house “thinking” neural circuits within the cerebral cortex. Subcortical brain regions are considered to be housed in “non-thinking” neural circuits beneath the 'thinking cap' of the cerebral cortex.) © 1991-2017 Sussex Publishers, LLC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23249 - Posted: 02.18.2017