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December 13, 2005
The 5th Year in Ideas for the Brain (Part 2)
Continued from yesterday's 5th Year in Ideas for the Brain from the NYTimes Magazine:
5. Seeing with your Ears: A new device called "vOICe" allows you to present visual information into sounds, allowing blind people do "see" with sound.
6. Subadolescent Queen Bees: According to a study released this year, girls as young as 4 manipulate their peers to stay atop the social hierarchy. " They'll spread rumors and give their peers the silent treatment. They do what ever it takes to maintain control."
7. Trust Spray: A nasal spray containing the "trust hormone" Oxytocin can be used to make human subjects more trusting. In a 128 person research experiment almost half of the individuals who took three snorts per nostril of the spray transferred all their money to unseen trustees, whereas only a quarter of those who inhaled a placebo went that far.
8. Yawn Contagion. Steve Platek, a cognitive neuroscientist at Drexel University, describes yawning as " a primitive unconscious mechanism that has a lot to do with empathy. To prove his point he put volunteers into fMRI machines and made them yawn again and agin to pinpoint the areas involved. Apparently their brains lit up in the same region that is known to be highly associated with empathy. Bottom line: if you yawn a lot, you are more likely to exhibit "higher empathy."
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