mindfulness minimum effective dose response neurology

Friday’s 5 cognitive curiosities journal club

A weekly trail mix of thought-provoking essays and research.

1. I Asked a Psychopath How to Stop Caring About Rejection

From Vice

This brilliant article summarises the feelings of a psychopath with insight. I think is a valuable approach as instead of demonising people with psychopathy, it is better to understand:

  • With rejection, I always ask myself “why did this happen?” I never ask “why am I not worthy?” When I get rejected I feel bad for like negative-two seconds. It’s just, oh how do I fix it?
  • Everything for me is a percentage. For example if I think something’s against me at about 20:1, I’ll put in 20 different proposals or versions to make sure I get what I want. Doing that trains your expectations too. If your chances are 20:1 and you only put in one attempt, then you can’t get upset if it doesn’t work.

2. New research finds that dopamine is involved in human bonding

From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

“We found that social affiliation is a potent stimulator of dopamine,” says Barrett. “This link implies that strong social relationships have the potential to improve your outcome if you have a disease, such as depression, where dopamine is compromised. We already know that people deal with illness better when they have a strong social network. What our study suggests is that caring for others, not just receiving caring, may have the ability to increase your dopamine levels.”

3. The reasons behind right- and left-handedness revealed

From eLife

Epigenetic factors appear to be at the root of it, reflecting environmental influences. Those influences might, for example, lead to enzymes bonding methyl groups to the DNA, which in turn would affect and minimise the reading of genes. As this occurs to a different extent in the left and the right spinal cord, there is a difference to the activity of genes on both sides.

Unlike other forms of caregiving, the act of mothers singing to infants is a universal behaviour that seemingly withstands the test of time.

4. Infant brains engage through song

From University of Miami

“High cognitive scores during infant-directed singing suggested that engagement through song is just as effective as book reading or toy play in maintaining infant attention, and far more effective than listening to recorded music.”

“Mothers around the world sing to their infants in remarkably similar ways, and infants prefer these specialised songs. The tempo and key certainly don’t need to be perfect or professional for mothers and infants to interact through song. In fact, infants may be drawn to the personalised tempo and pitch of their mother, which encourage them to direct their gaze toward and ultimately communicate through this gaze.”

5. Use it or lose it: how the brain chooses what memories to store

From eLife

“This goes some way to answering the long-standing question of whether the formation of generalised memory is simply a result of the brain’s network ‘forgetting’ incidental features,” Morrissey explains. “On the contrary, we show that groups of neurons develop coding to store shared information from different experiences while, seemingly independently, losing selectivity for irrelevant details.”

Have a lovely weekend everyone!


9 thoughts on “Friday’s 5 cognitive curiosities journal club”

  1. “With rejection, I always ask myself “why did this happen?” I never ask “why am I not worthy?” When I get rejected I feel bad for like negative-two seconds. It’s just, oh how do I fix it?”

    I actually do that. I must have some psychopathic qualities, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s interesting to see the note the subtle difference between extreme self-confidence and psychopathy. On some level, all successful people need a certain amount of extreme self-confidence.


      2. I think when we are required to read something (as opposed go reading it for pleasure) we generally do not enjoy it as much – at least I don’t. Also, our more advanced life experiences when we’re older can make reading a book more fun. For example C&P deals with the agony of making a bad decision and being tortured by it (something that tends to effect older people more than younger ones).

        I am still plowing through The Idiot so I cannot make an accurate assessment at the moment.


  2. I guess it’s time to do some ‘shrooms.

    “When I want something, I almost always succeed in getting it. It’s just my experience.” — that or he’s gotten really good at block out all his failures (or adjusting his goals to suit what he eventually gets — “Yeah, I wanted that pie in the face, how did you know?”)

    Cool finds. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much of this feeling of happiness can be gamed, can’t it?

      That’s the part of the interview that makes the least sense to me. I think he is adjusting it by his probability of success (cheating!). Even if he did manipulate himself to believe he is entitled to be happy, I think it’s a more adaptive response than what many people do (negative self-talk etc), though you could argue it is still a form of escaping reality.

      Liked by 1 person

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