Imagine traveling to Ireland and suddenly having to drive on the left side of the road. The brain, trained for right-side driving, becomes overburdened trying to suppress the old rules while simultaneously focusing on the new rules, said Hans Schroder, primary researcher on the study.
“There’s so much conflict in your brain,” said Schroder, “that when you make a mistake like forgetting to turn on your blinker you don’t even realize it and make the same mistake again. What you learned initially is hard to overcome when rules change.” -Science Daily
…researchers have found that when people are put under stress — by being told to hold their hand in ice water for a few minutes, for example, or give a speech — they start paying more attention to positive information and discounting negative information. “Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback,” Mather says.
This means when people under stress are making a difficult decision, they may pay more attention to the upsides of the alternatives they’re considering and less to the downsides. So someone who’s deciding whether to take a new job and is feeling stressed by the decision might weigh the increase in salary more heavily than the worse commute.
The increased focus on the positive also helps explain why stress plays a role in addictions, and people under stress have a harder time controlling their urges. “The compulsion to get that reward comes stronger and they’re less able to resist it,” Mather says. So a person who’s under stress might think only about the good feelings they’ll get from a drug, while the downsides shrink into the distance.
Stress also increases the differences in how men and women think about risk. When men are under stress, they become even more willing to take risks; when women are stressed, they get more conservative about risk. Mather links this to other research that finds, at difficult times, men are inclined toward fight-or-flight responses, while women try to bond more and improve their relationships. -Science Daily
A majority of Americans rate their current financial situation as poor or fair, and nearly half of Americans say they have encountered financial problems in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center. A University of Missouri researcher studied how parents’ financial problems and resulting mental distress affect their relationships with their children. He found that parents who experience financial problems and depression are less likely to feel connected to their children, and their children are less likely to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as volunteering or helping others.
“The study serves as a reminder that children’s behaviors are affected by issues beyond their immediate surroundings,” said Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “Families’ economic situations are affected by broader factors in our society, and those financial problems can lead to depression that hurts parent-child relationships.”
Previous research has indicated that parent-child connectedness is an important indicator of prosocial behavior in children. Prosocial behaviors lead to moral development, better outcomes in relationships and enhanced performance at work and school.
Unlike previous research that has focused on high-risk and low-income families, Carlo and his colleagues studied middle- to upper-middle-class families. Parents and children answered questions about economic stress, depression and connectedness between parents and children. A year later, the children reported how often they engaged in prosocial behaviors toward strangers, family members and friends.
“Even middle-class families are having financial difficulties, and it’s affecting their ability to be effective parents,” Carlo said. “When parents are depressed, it affects their relationships with their kids.” -Science Daily
“Smart is only a polished version of dumb. Try intelligence.” Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals (Discworld)
Fear is a natural mechanism for survival. Some fears — such as of loud noise, sudden movements and heights — appear to be innate. Humans and other mammals also learn from their experiences, which include dangerous or bad situations. This “learned fear” can protect us from dangers.
That fear also can become abnormally enhanced in some cases, sometimes leading to debilitating phobias. About 40 million people in the United States suffer from dysregulated fear and heightened states of anxiety.
“Studies show that light influences learning, memory and anxiety,” Wiltgen said. “We have now shown that light also can modulate conditioned fear responses.” -Science Daily
…hunt reenactments served a purpose greater than showing off. They were instructive. With expressive pantomime, and a few props, they demonstrated hunting techniques and tactics to youngsters and other clans. It was a way of developing and sharing skills. -Jean Auel, The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children, Book One)
…second-grade students with a range of reading aptitudes and attitudes toward reading were paired with dogs — or people — and asked to read aloud to them once a week for 30 minutes in the summer of 2010.
At the end of the program, students who read to the dogs experienced a slight gain in their reading ability and improvement in their attitudes toward reading, as measured on the Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) and Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS), respectively — while those who read to people experienced a decrease on both measures.
Another surprising result was the high rate of attrition among students in the control group. Of the original cohort of nine, a third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group. -Science Daily
“autodidact n. a self-taught person. autodidactic adj. mid 18th century: from Greek autodidaktos ‘self-taught’, from autos ‘self’ + didaskein ‘teach’.”
Photo Credit: lethaargic on Flickr
In the early 1800s, a blind man from England named James Holman journeyed around the world — he may have been the most prolific traveler in history up to that point, Magellan and Marco Polo included — relying on the echoes from the click of his cane. Not until the 1940s, in Karl Dallenbach’s lab at Cornell University, was it irrefutably proven that humans could echolocate.-Michael Finkel, The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See
Healthy people notice a fearful face faster than they notice a neutral or happy face, but this was not the case in children who scored high on callous unemotionality. In fact, the higher the score, the slower they were to react to a fearful face.
The important point here, Sylvers says, is that the children’s reaction to the face was unconscious. Healthy people are “reacting to a threat even though they’re not aware of it.” That suggests that teaching children to pay attention to faces won’t help solve the underlying problems of psychopathy, because the difference happens before attention comes into play. “I think it’s just going to take a lot more research to figure out what you can do — whether it’s parenting, psychological interventions, or pharmacological therapy. At this point, we just don’t know,” Sylvers says.
The researchers also found that children in the study tended to respond more slowly to faces showing disgust, another threatening emotion — in this case, one that suggests something is toxic or otherwise wrong. Sylvers says psychological scientists should consider that psychopathy may not be related just to fearlessness, but to a more general problem with processing threats. -Science Daily
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