Tag Archives: brain

Awesome awe

I was struck by an article in the New Scientist (paywalled) on the effects of the experience of awe, such as being stopped in our tracks by a stunning view, gobsmacked by the vastness of the night sky or being transported by soaring music, or a grand scientific theory.

The article says that such experience can dissolve our sense of self, making us more open to other people and bring benefits to mind and body including lowering stress and boosting creativity.

Here’s a photo of Californian Redwoods: Continue reading Awesome awe

Power cripples your brain

The old saying that power corrupts has been verified by science. Not only that, it does your head in, as it were, cripples your brain and cuts you off from reality. Jerry Useem tells the story in Power Causes Brain Damage.

Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, conducted years of lab and field experiments.

    Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Continue reading Power cripples your brain

Compassion, empathy, feelings, emotion

The notion that we all operate in an empathy field was raised by BilB on another thread in a political context. Ootz subsequently raised Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking work on ’emotional intelligence’.

Richard Davidson, whose book with science writer Sharon Begley The Emotional Life of Your Brain: how to change the way you think, feel and live I outlined in the post Emotional style: the concept did his doctorate at Harvard when Goleman was there, they mixed in the same set and taught classes together.

Davidson went on to lead his own research team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is good mates with the Dalai Lama and his work on monks who engage in compassion meditation turns out to be counter-intuitive and, I think, important. Continue reading Compassion, empathy, feelings, emotion

Emotional style: the concept

When I looked up the word “emotion” in my Australian Oxford Dictionary the explanation referred to strong feelings. The word “feeling” has several meanings, but the relevant one gave an explanation in terms of emotions. So we all know what it means, right? In our binary habits of thinking we know that it is pretty much the opposite of reason, that emotions disrupt rational thought, that reasoning takes place in the pre-frontal and cerebral cortex while emotion bursts forth from the limbic system and the hypothalamus.

Wrong, says brain researcher Richard Davidson, who with help from science writer Sharon Begley has written a book The emotional life of your brain.