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Takes a long time to form a sentenceThe brevity of these silences is doubly astonishing when you consider that it takes at least 600 milliseconds for us to retrieve a single word from memory and get ready to actually say it. For a short clause, that processing time rises to 1500 milliseconds. This means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn, using everything from grammatical cues to changes in pitch. We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain, while similarly building our hypothetical rejoinder, all using largely overlapping neural circuits.
The eyes have it: Mutual gaze potentially a vital component in social interactions: Eye contact may be vital in establishing successful human connections -- ScienceDailyIndeed, the researchers detected synchronization of eye-blinks, together with enhanced inter-brain synchronization in the IFG, in the pairs when eye contact was established. Compared with findings from previous studies, these outcomes show that synchronization of eye-blinks is not attributable to a common activity, but rather to mutual gaze. This indicates that mutual eye contact might be a crucial component for human face-to-face social interactions, given its potential to bind two individuals into a singular connected system.
Dolphin talkWhen given the hand signal to “innovate,” Hector and Han know to dip below the surface and blow a bubble, or vault out of the water, or dive down to the ocean floor, or perform any of the dozen or so other maneuvers in their repertoire—but not to repeat anything they’ve already done during that session. Incredibly, they usually understand that they’re supposed to keep trying some new behavior each session. Bolton presses her palms together over her head, the signal to innovate, and then puts her fists together, the sign for “tandem.” With those two gestures, she has instructed the dolphins to show her a behavior she hasn’t seen during this session and to do it in unison. Hector and Han disappear beneath the surface. With them is a comparative psychologist named Stan Kuczaj, wearing a wet suit and snorkel gear and carrying a large underwater video camera with hydrophones. He records several seconds of audible chirping between Hector and Han, then his camera captures them both slowly rolling over in unison and flapping their tails three times simultaneously. Above the surface Bolton presses her thumbs and middle fingers together, telling the dolphins to keep up this cooperative innovation. And they do. The 400-pound animals sink down, exchange a few more high-pitched whistles, and then simultaneously blow bubbles together. Then they pirouette side by side. Then they tail walk. After eight nearly perfectly synchronized sequences, the session ends.
The smart unconsciousHassin’s key experiment involved presenting arithmetic questions unconsciously. The questions would be things like “9 – 3 – 4 = ” and they would be followed by the presentation, fully visible, of a target number that the participants were asked to read aloud as quickly as possible. The target number could either be the right answer to the arithmetic question (so, in this case, “2”) or a wrong answer (for instance, “1”). The amazing result is that participants were significantly quicker to read the target number if it was the right answer rather than a wrong one. This shows that the equation had been processed and solved by their minds – even though they had no conscious awareness of it – meaning they were primed to read the right answer quicker than the wrong one.
Talking about fiction can reduce recidivismalternative sentencing programme Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) is proving that well-told stories can also re-orient the lives of adult offenders. CLTL began in the early 1990s with a pilot programme that included eight men, some with several convictions to their names. The men would sit around a table with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor Robert Waxler and talk about a variety of different books – from Jack London’s Sea-Wolf to James Dickey’s Deliverance. As they read and discussed the stories, the students came away with new, surprising perspectives. One man talked about his identification with Santiago, the beleaguered fisherman in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The man said he sometimes felt an inner pull to go back to his drug habit, but that Santiago’s will to persevere motivated him to stay a sober course. ‘The fictional character was alive for the student at that crucial moment, an inspiration, a stranger become a friend,’ Waxler writes. ‘It was not an exaggeration to say that a story had caught this student’s attention and perhaps saved his life that day.’ In a study of 600 participants, rates of criminal activity declined by 60 per cent compared to only 16 per cent in a control group.
Fiction as a template for livingThe Ohio State University psychologist Lisa Libby studied a group of people who engaged in ‘experience-taking’, or putting themselves in a character’s place while reading. High levels of experience-taking predicted observable changes in behaviour, Libby and her colleagues found in 2012. When people identified with a protagonist who voted in the face of challenges, for instance, they were more likely themselves to vote later on.
Brains synchronized by story-tellingIn a 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, the psychologist Uri Hasson and his Princeton University colleagues had a graduate student tell an unrehearsed story while her brain was being scanned in an fMRI machine. Then they scanned the brains of 11 volunteers listening to a recording of the story. As the researchers analysed the data, they found some striking similarities. Just when the speaker’s brain lit up in the area of the insula – a region that governs empathy and moral sensibilities – the listeners’ insulae lit up, too. Listeners and speakers also showed parallel activation of the temporoparietal junction, which helps us imagine other people’s thoughts and emotions. In certain essential ways, then, stories help our brains map that of the storyteller.
Brains look for a kindred soul in music and other dynamic objectsThe human brain is perpetually socializing. When we are faced with inanimate stimuli — like music, religion, nature and technology — the brain scrambles to figure out how to react. That’s partially why the solitary acts of praying to God or listening to music make us feel less alone. “We attribute mind states [to inanimate objects] at the drop of a hat,” Dr. Graziano said. “You get mad at your coffee machine when it doesn’t work. Children attribute minds to stuffed animals. If you turned down the volume on our tendency to [do that], we would be less attuned to each other socially.”
You shop like those around youOn average, people bought stuff 15 to 16 percent of the time. But if you saw someone next to you order something, your chances of buying something, too, jumped by 30 percent, or about four percentage points.
Peers drag us up... and downLeonardo Bursztyn, an assistant professor at UCLA, and Robert Jensen a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, handed out fliers encouraging 11th-graders to sign up for a free SAT class. The twist: Some of the fliers said that everyone in the class would know who signed up. Some of the fliers said that decisions would be kept private. In honors classrooms, kids were 25 percent more likely to sign up if they knew their peers would be judging them. In non-honors classrooms, kids were 25 percent less likely to sign up.
Brain waves drive memory... and planning.Over the past few decades, researchers have worked to uncover the details of how the brain organizes memories. Much remains a mystery, but scientists have identified a key event: the formation of an intense brain wave called a “sharp-wave ripple” (SWR). This process is the brain’s version of an instant replay — a sped-up version of the neural activity that occurred during a recent experience. These ripples are a strikingly synchronous neural symphony, the product of tens of thousands of cells firing over just 100 milliseconds. Any more activity than that could trigger a seizure.
Scientists Prove That Telepathic Communication Is Within Reach | Innovation | SmithsonianStill, telepathic communication that works like a sort of futuristic walkie-talkie will involve major advances in sensing, emitting and receiving technologies—and perhaps even a slight retraining of the human brain. At the same time, Pascual-Leone cautions that scientists must also keep in mind the ethics of telepathy.
The cultural evolutionary account of mind reading does not imply that mental states are mere fictions, but it does suggest that any aspect of mind reading—even those relating to knowledge and primary emotions—could show substantial cultural variation. More cross-cultural studies using sensitively translated test procedures are needed to chart extant variation. Similarly, although the cultural evolutionary account suggests that humans do not genetically inherit mechanisms that are specialized for the representation of mental states, it assumes that, as in the case of print reading, many of the neurocognitive raw materials for explicit mind reading are inborn. Therefore, priorities for future research are to identify the genetic “start-up kits” for both implicit and explicit mind reading and to find out exactly how the products of the former contribute to the development of the latter. Our view suggests that, like print reading, mind reading is a culturally inherited skill that facilitates the cultural inheritance of other, more specific skills; mind reading is a cultural gift that keeps on giving.
For mechanics, scientists, and accountants, emotional intelligence was a liability rather than an asset. Although more research is needed to unpack these results, one promising explanation is that these employees were paying attention to emotions when they should have been focusing on their tasks. If your job is to analyze data or repair cars, it can be quite distracting to read the facial expressions, vocal tones, and body languages of the people around you. In suggesting that emotional intelligence is critical in the workplace, perhaps we’ve put the cart before the horse.
Swedish meetings are short but many. They are arranged to give Bengan, Maggan and Lasse a chance to say what they think. If you want to reach a decision, you’ll have to arrange another meeting because in the meantime Bengan, Maggan and Lasse have to go back to the office and ask Ninni, Kicki and Titti (yes, there are girls of that name) what they think. In Swedish this is called förankringsprocessen, the consensus process. If Swedes mention the word ‘process’ you’d better not be in a hurry. There’s a process for everything. This one means getting everybody involved in everything. Everyone voices an opinion and everyone listens.
A focused leader is not the person concentrating on the three most important priorities of the year, or the most brilliant systems thinker, or the one most in tune with the corporate culture. Focused leaders can command the full range of their own attention: They are in touch with their inner feelings, they can control their impulses, they are aware of how others see them, they understand what others need from them, they can weed out distractions and also allow their minds to roam widely, free of preconceptions.
You have a dollar. I have a dollar. We swap. Now you have my dollar and I have yours. We are no better off. You have an idea. I have an idea. We swap. Now we have two ideas.
The philosopher John Searle, in his review of Consciousness, asked, “Why isn’t America conscious?” After all, there are 300 million Americans, interacting in very complicated ways. Why doesn’t consciousness extend to all of America? It’s because integrated information theory postulates that consciousness is a local maximum. You and me, for example: We’re interacting right now, but vastly less than the cells in my brain interact with each other. While you and I are conscious as individuals, there’s no conscious Übermind that unites us in a single entity. You and I are not collectively conscious. It’s the same thing with ecosystems. In each case, it’s a question of the degree and extent of causal interactions among all components making up the system.
In one study, researchers first assessed the baseline mindfulness of 45 doctors, nurses and physician assistants by asking them to respond to statements like, “I tend to walk quickly to where I am going without paying attention to what I experience along the way,” “I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time,” and “I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.” Then the investigators recorded the clinicians’ interactions with more than 400 patients and interviewed the patients to gauge their level of satisfaction. After analyzing the audio recordings and the patients’ responses, the researchers found that patients were more satisfied and more open with the more mindful clinicians. They also discovered that more mindful clinicians tended to be more upbeat during patient interactions, more focused on the conversation and more likely to make attempts to strengthen the relationship or ferret out details of the patient’s feelings. The less mindful clinicians, on the other hand, more frequently missed opportunities to be empathic and, in the most extreme cases, failed to pay attention at all, responding, for example, to a patient’s description of waking up in the middle of the night crying in pain with a question about a flu shot. Significantly, the most mindful doctors remained efficient. They accomplished just as much medically for their patients as their least mindful colleagues, despite all the extra conversation with patients about experiences and relationships.
In a subtler way, the interpenetration of self and other extends to everyone whose lives we have touched. For me, the most affecting part of my father’s funeral was when I entered the church to find it packed, standing-room only. It was not that he had dozens and dozens of very close friends. It was that, over the course of his life, he had become part of the lives of many people in his village, usually in small ways that were nonetheless significant enough to motivate them to come out to remember him. This community had lost a part of itself, and they were grieving for that. As we live more and more atomised lives, perhaps this aspect of grief will diminish in importance. There will be plenty of free seats at my funeral, for sure. When the fabric of our selves is torn apart, we will increasingly find it made of a smaller and smaller cloth. Grief will become more limited but also more private, and perhaps therefore harder to bear.