“People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.” –Harper Lee
Tali Sharot is the author of, “The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others.” An associate professor of cognitive neuroscience, she is the director of the Affective Brain Lab at University College London. The information and opinions expressed are hers.
Why does evidence seem to have little influence on people’s beliefs?
“To many of us who study the human mind, the diminishing influence of evidence is less a puzzle than a prototypical example of how the mind forms beliefs. And the very idea that simply providing people with data would be sufficient to alter their beliefs is condemned to fail.”
“It’s not only in the domain of politics that people cherry-pick news; it is apparent when it comes to our health, wealth and relationships. Many individuals avoid medical screenings in an attempt to evade alarming information.”
Using . . .” non-invasive brain imaging techniques, my colleagues and I have recently gathered evidence that suggests our brain reacts to desirable information as it does to rewarding stimuli like food, and reacts to undesirable information as it does to aversive stimuli like electric shocks. So, just as we are motivated to seek food and avoid shocks, we are also motivated either to seek or avoid incoming information.”
“Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as providing people with full and accurate information. When you provide someone with new data they quickly accept evidence that confirms their preconceived notions and assess counter evidence with a critical eye.“
Confidently-held opinions are difficult to change.
“They are even more difficult to change once people act on them. Research has shown that immediately after making an overt choice, our conviction strengthens as we tend to rationalize our choices to ourselves and others.”
Neuroscientist Kolber wanted to know if the length of time spent exercising makes a difference in the amount of relief patients get. Could boosting the exercise level, or “the dose,” bring more relief?
“Anyone who develops any drug has to go through hundreds of different tests looking at dose,” Kolber says, “but in exercise there’s almost no data about dose — especially in the context of pain.”
“He conducted a small, weeklong study measuring 40 healthy women’s sensitivity to pain before and after bouts of exercise, using heat and pressure to elicit pain. The individuals were asked to walk briskly on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Some exercised three times that week, others five or 10 times.”
“He and his team found there was no difference in pain perception after exercise for those who walked just three times a week.”
The findings were very different for the people who exercised
five times or more each week.
“We asked them to rate that pain,” he says. “And at the end of the study, they rated the same pressure — the exact same pressure — as 60% less painful than they rated it at the beginning of the study.”
Orange pumpkins, black cats
skeletons, and scary bats
mummies that horrify
Witches flying through the sky
Thank goodness witches aren’t like birds
screeching and dropping turds
Check out our Halloween collection – towels, gift boxes, mugs and more at Zazzle. Click here.
And of course ME! I have my own personal link
“Weight loss strategies are often inefficient because the body works like a thermostat and couples the amount of calories we burn to the amount of calories we eat,” says Dr Clémence Blouet from the Metabolic Research Laboratories at University of Cambridge. “When we eat less, our body compensates and burns fewer calories, which makes losing weight harder. We know that the brain must regulate this caloric thermostat, but how it adjusts calorie burning to the amount of food we’ve eaten has been something of a mystery.”
A team of researchers has identified a new mechanism through which the body adapts to low caloric intake and limits weight loss in mice. Mice share a number of important biological and physiological similarities with humans and so are a useful model for studying how our bodies work.
“The researchers tested the role of a group of neurons in a brain region known as the hypothalamus. These ‘agouti-related neuropeptide’ (AGRP) neurons are known for their major role in the regulation of appetite: when activated, they make us eat, but when fully inhibited they can lead to almost complete anorexia.”
“The team used a genetic trick to switch the AGRP neurons ‘on’ and ‘off’ in mice so that they could rapidly and reversibly manipulate the neurons’ activity. They studied the mice in special chambers that can measure energy expenditure, and implanted them with probes to remotely measure their temperature, a proxy for energy expenditure, in different contexts of food availability.”
“The researchers demonstrated that AGRP neurons are key contributors to the caloric thermostat that regulates our weight, regulating how many calories we burn. The findings suggest that when activated, these neurons make us hungry and drive us to eat – but when there is no food available, they act to spare energy, limiting the number of calories that we burn and hence our weight loss.”
“As soon as food becomes available and we start eating, the action of the AGRP neurons is interrupted and our energy expenditure goes back up again to normal levels.”
In addition, the researchers also describe a mechanism through which AGRP neurons regulate their activity by detecting how much energy we have on-board and then controlling how many calories we burn.
“Our findings suggest that a group of neurons in the brain coordinate appetite and energy expenditure, and can turn a switch on and off to burn or spare calories depending on what’s available in the environment,”says Dr Blouet, who led the study. “If food is available, they make us eat, and if food is scarce, they turn our body into saving mode and stop us from burning fat.”
“While this mechanism may have evolved to help us cope with famine, nowadays most people only encounter such a situation when they are deliberately dieting to lose weight. Our work helps explain why for these people, dieting has little effect on its own over a long period. Our bodies compensate for the reduction in calories.”
“Dr Luke Burke, the study’s first author, adds: “This study could help in the design of new or improved therapies in future to help reduce overeating and obesity. Until then, best solution for people to lose weight – at least for those who are only moderately overweight – is a combination of exercise and a moderate reduction in caloric intake.’”
Burke, LK et al. mTORC1 in AGRP neurons integrates exteroceptive and interoceptive food-related cues in the modulation of adaptive energy expenditure in mice. eLife; 23 May 2017; DOI: 10.7554/eLife.22848
It may be an unwise man
who doesn’t learn from his own mistakes,
but it’s an absolute idiot
who doesn’t learn from other peoples’.
Ay Yi Yiii Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
- In 2011 there was an earthquake in Japan. People risked their lives to . . . save bottles of alcohol.
- In 2017 a plane caught on fire at an airport in Denver. People fleeing from the plane . . . stopped to take selfies.
- In Dubai when a plane was on fire . . . people tried to collect their bags.
People argue while their ship is sinking, stand on the beach as a tsunami approaches. In fact 80-90% of people will respond to a crisis in ways that decrease rather than increase their safety. They may be in a deadly situation, but do not act fast enough to save themselves.
In most disasters, people wait–they do not panic, they do not stampede . . . they wait
What to avoid doing (easier said than done):
One of the natural responses to danger is to freeze. (Psychologists now add “freeze” to fight or flight.) Your brain stops you, even though you have plenty of adrenaline.
It isn’t intelligence that matters–in emergency situations your thinking brain can shut down. You enter a fight or flight situation-or you freeze.
2. INABILITY TO THINK.
We use our working memory to make quick decisions. (When faced with a new, first time disaster there is no working memory.)
Disasters happen fast (plane manufacturers must show that a plane can be evacuated in 90 seconds-because the risk of the cabin being consumed by the fire increases sharply after this). But our brains do not work that fast most of the time in part because we need to invent a new strategy
- The speed at which we can go through our options is limited and usually slower than the unfolding crisis.
- The brain is flooded with dopamine (a feel good chemical) which also triggers the release of more hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. in a disaster as the body prepares for the disaster.
- Then to make matters worse for figuring out what to do next . . . the prefrontal cortex (where we think things over) shuts down because of cortisol & adrenaline.
3. Having TUNNEL VISION
In a crisis, it is unlikely that most people can respond creatively about the problem. Instead, what we do is keep using the same solution over and over, even without good results.
Tunnel vision is also seen in people with permanent damaged to their prefrontal cortex. So the brain’s stress response of shutting down this region might be to blame for inflexible thinking in moments of crisis.
4. Staying STUCK IN ROUTINE
James Goff, a specialist in disaster and emergency management at the University of Hawaii has seen shocking reactions to disaster. People will risk their life to retrieve their wallet. It seems crazy, but it is common. This refers to continuing with everyday routines when faced with a crisis. He says,
“Invariably over 50% of the population do it, they go down to the sea to watch the tsunami,” says Goff. “They act as if nothing untoward is happening.” Denial usually happens because:
- We don’t see the situation as dangerous, or
- We don’t want to see it as dangerous.
- We are not good at calculating risk.
- We rely on our feelings, and sometimes reassure ourselves we will be OK. (Cancer patients wait four months on average before seeing a doctor. On 9/11 people who survived and were on the upper floors of New York World Trade Center waited an average of five minutes after the attacks before they started to evacuate.)
Why can’t we turn these reflexes off?
In everyday life, our brains are reliant on familiarity. Mindlessly getting our bag when the plane lands helps free up mental space to focus on new stuff we need to attend to.
In an emergency, adjusting to the new situation may be more than our brains can handle–so we keep doing what we have done before.
WHAT TO DO:
HAVE A PLAN AND PRACTICE “What if?”
If we can’t rely on our instincts, what can we do?
The best way is to replace automatic but not helpful reactions with ones that could save your life by practicing. You have to practice and practice until the survival technique is the dominant behavior. It’s a bit hard to practice for a tsunami but you can IMAGINE.
Taking some time to imagine “what if”. “Ask yourself one simple question, “If something happens, what is my first response? Once you can answer that, everything else will fall into place.
THE GOOD NEWS – OTHER PEOPLE
“Research shows that in most scenarios, groups of people are more likely to help each other than hinder. “In emergencies, the norm is cooperation . . . Selfish behavior is very mild and tends to be policed by the crowd rather than spreading.”*
“Psychologists call this response “collective resilience”: an attitude of mutual helping and unity in the middle of danger.”
People’s tendency to cooperate during emergencies increases the chances of survival for everyone. “Individually, the best thing tactically is to go along with the group interest. In situations where everyone acts individually, which are very rare, that actually decreases effective group evacuation.”*
but sometimes what is needed is a good dose of luck.
*Chris Cocking, studies crowd behavior at the University of Brighton.
“Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales