insulae

4

Claudia Corrent

Insulae (a selection; Venice)

het words:

“I started this project some years ago, I was trying to research what links territory and identity , making an effort to avoid the stereotypes and cliches a town like Venice inevitably offers. I have mapped the territory of the “laguna” with its islands (Burano, Lido, San Erasmo, San Francesco del deserto, Torcello , Pellestrina), through streets and squares, in search of signs, urban icons, landscapes and people, all through a minimal view, that lingers on small things and marginal objects. The work method was intentionally casual in order to favour an encounter with the reality of the place through its objects, people and artefacts.”

claudiacorrent.tumblr.com

claudiacorrent.carbonmade.com

KogaVerse: Colprax

Name: Colprax

Age: Ancient/Prehistoric

Length: 55 Meters

Description: The offense to Ol’ Bertha’s defense, Colprax is a member of the armored retrosaur family, although it is unsure exactly where he sits on the family tree. A rounder head with visible fenestrae and peg like teeth dawn the mouth, giving a fairly friendly disposition. From the back of the head halfway down his neck, twin pairs of plates extend outwards, shrinking down the back body armor into a single row of plates. These switch into spikes on the hip, and lead to the spiked tail end that acts as a thrashing weapon alongside a slashing weapon to strike into his foes. Four legs hold the body up, or lay against him in his basking in the sun.

Abilities

-          Thrashing Tail: The spiked tail is the primary weapon of Colprax, able to thrash into monsters and other retrosaurs without issue and leave massive wounds

-          Biolumensicent Flashes: The plates on the back of the beast can change colors depending on mood and message of communication. Calm times have none or green colors, warnings are yellow and orange, and attack modes are either bright blue or fiery red.

-          Extreme Fortitude: Some may call it tenacity, some may call it emoitional strength, but Colprax rarely backs down, and often sticks up for those that he cares about.

Weaknesses

-          Slow Movement: Due to the nature of his species, Colprax is not very fast and has trouble moving around quickly.

-          Unarmored Sides: While around the plates is well armored, all that Colprax has on his sides is scaly hide, and can be exploited by those that try and get close.

Backstory: One of the kaiju retrosaurs of Mortus Insula, Colprax is an herbivours species that seems to spend most of his day grazing or lounging in the sun. He enjoys life as a lazy herbivore, mingling among flowers, grasses, other monsters, and even humans. Of all the monsters, he seems to be friendly with nearly every speices on the island. There are a few that aren’t however, and have learned the hard way that Colprax is not just a lazy browser. Able to dash and slash with his tail, Colprax has earned himself a reputation as a formidable warrior that doesn’t appreciate those that attack the weak. This method of living has earned him kinship with Ol’ Bertha, the caretaker of the island.  The Romans view him as the better parts of Apollo’s good nature, and have established a friendly relationship with the big lummox.

When modern man first interacted with him, the gigantic retrosaur was surprisingly friendly and non caring of the humans that entered his domain. It didn’t take too long for him to see who they were being accompanied by, and quickly inspected them and watched them for Ol’ Bertha as she vanished into the brush. After a few close calls where he saved their lives, he returned them to Bertha, returning to his glade to go and rest once more. The exploring team saw him one last time in the final battle before they were taken off the island, and further trips indicated his survival from the massive battle. Still kicking, he defends those that need it the most.

How They Interact with Other Kaiju: With mainly herbivorous and friendly monsters, Colprax gets along swell. He tends to buddy up to a few like this, such as Ol’ Bertha, and will fight to the death to help these monsters out. To those that display threatening and predatory values, he acts violently against and will chase them away from himself and smaller communites of animals such as humans. This makes him a well favored ally among mankind.


So, a new kaiju for the world of Mortus Insula. Colprax is another retrosaur to dwell on the world of the KogaVerse, and certainly is one of the more unique designs that I’ve whipped up for a retrosaur so far. My favorite thing about Colprax is that he really, really looks like some kind of a dinosaur, but not specific enough to really identify what kind of a dinosaur/retrosaur he is. I’m satisfied with the most of it, but I think the tail is going to change from the double spike set to a single blade like set. Overall though, he’s the most Ultraman esque monster I’ve come up with, and that makes my heart happy. I hope y’all enjoy him too. 

anonymous asked:

Why exactly does dissociation happen? I had a moment yesterday where I was pretty sure I was dissociating but I had no idea why. And when I got home I just went to sleep to a specific playlist, (the one I usually listen to when I dissociate) and when I woke up everything was fine.

That’s a good question- dissociation (or intense breaks from reality) can happen for a lot of different reasons. If you’re sure it’s not a physical issue (like seizures, drugs, etc), then it’s tied to how your brain functions. A lot of chronically dissociated people have a disconnect in the cortico-limbic system (amygdala, ACC, prefrontal structures). Many of those with dissociative disorders (trauma linked the vast majority of the time) show diminished activity in the occipito-temporal cortex and insula, as well as a smaller amygdala and hippocampus (emotional engagement and memory). 

So put simply, dissociation happens most commonly when your brain rewires itself to not engage with reality as much (to protect the self from trauma). PTSD is a trained overreaction to reality to protect the self, and cPTSD (and dissociation) is a complex disconnect from reality to protect the self from repeated trauma. 

We don’t know everything about dissociation and what causes it to spike- obviously, triggering events can do that, but sometimes dissociative spikes seem random. If sleeping it off helps to clear it up, that’s good! Grounding can help too, it’s just a matter of finding methods that work for you. 

anonymous asked:

Favorite crackship and why?

So many. Too many. But my most recent crackship is CopDoc. 

Originally posted by fatalissia

And to further illustrate, here’s a quick little crackfic…


Tamsin set her bottle of Dark Belch down on the mahogany bar, perhaps a bit more forcefully than necessary as she half-glared at Lauren, who slid onto the stool next to her looking entirely too attractive in a sleeveless white blouse and form-fitting slacks. Not that Tamsin noticed such things about the world’s most uppity doctor. Ever.

“You know I kinda hate of you, right?” Tamsin asked. “Go sit somewhere else.”

“Kinda?” Lauren smirked. “Wow, I didn’t know you cared that much about me.”

Tamsin squinted back. “Um, did that fae serum affect your damn hearing? I care about you as much as I care about that ear parasite I got two years ago. Go sit somewhere else.”

“You know,” Lauren ignored her, “science has shown that the biological bases for love and hate are actually intimately linked.”

“Are you fucking me?”

“No. I can forward you the studies on the neural pathways involved with both emotions. They’re located in the putamen and the insula of the brain’s sub-cortex and–”

“O-kay, I’m gonna stop you there,” Tamsin put a hand up, instantly tamping down any and all thoughts about how cute Lauren could be when she went on one of her science rants. Lauren Lewis wasn’t cute, Tamsin reminded herself. She was an irritating know-it-all, not to mention her fiercest rival. “There is no way in Hel that you’re gonna convince me that love and hate are two sides of the same coin or whatever.”

“All I’m saying is that if you truly didn’t care, you would be completely indifferent to me.”

“And I am.” Tamsin took another sip of her beer.

“But you just said you hated me.”

“I can do both.” Tamsin pointedly turned away from Lauren.

Lauren left her alone for a few seconds, enough to order her own drink from Mark, before chiming back up: “You know, Dyson used to hate me too.”

Tamsin rolled her eyes and ignored her.

“And now he doesn’t,” Lauren said.

Tamsin refused to turn back around. She could feel Lauren’s gaze on her and she hated the way her skin tingled pleasantly from the attention. It was the beer, she convinced herself. It had to be. Maybe Vex had spiked the batch with Choga sweat. Again.

“And now I know you don’t either,” Lauren finished quietly.

“You wish,” Tamsin snorted.

Mark placed a Dark Belch in front of Lauren, who rolled the neck of the glass bottle between her fingers. “Maybe I do,” she admitted.

Tamsin couldn’t stop herself from glancing over. It was a mistake. A big one. Lauren was still watching her, amusement and affection in her brown eyes, and Tamsin frowned.

“Shut up and drink your beer, Lewis,” she said, chugging down the rest of her own drink in the hopes it would quench the unexpected warmth spreading through her chest.

What to do about stress-eating

Stress-eating (emotional eating when you’re not really hungry or your body doesn’t really need any more calories) is a very common issue for people coping with anxiety and/or depression.  Even in sub-clinical cases (where the difficulties with anxiety/depression is mild or transient) stress-eating can be a significant irritant and source of concern.  There’s no quick-fix for this difficulty, but there are some easy practices that quite often can act to reduce troubles with stress-eating.  

In terms of structural neurology, hunger and appetite appear to be mitigated by way of the amygdala, the hippocampus, the insula, and the orbitofrontal cortex.  Unfortunately, these same structural components are also heavily involved in experience of emotion.  And this may have much to do with how eating habits can be so often affected by feeling depressed and/or anxious.  

Put simply, feeling especially sad or worried accidentally tricks the brain into thinking that the body is hungry.  The involuntary aspects of our neurology are very susceptible to being tricked… and we can use that to our advantage.  
So, how do we trick our minds into thinking we are no longer hungry?  Of course the best (and most annoying) answer is to eat healthy and get lots of exercise.  Exercise gets the body to have a full parasympathetic reaction (an effective modulation of fight/flight stress).  But lets face it, getting lots of exercise can be pretty difficult when one is feeling depressed and/or anxious.  
Suggesting that a patient get more exercise almost always earns me the ‘Donna face’ - that look from the patient that sarcastically says, ‘oh thank you for suggesting something that is completely and entirely unhelpful.’

There are, however, easier things you can do that tricks your body into feeling its had exercise…
Here’s the easiest one: tense up the muscles in your arms and legs.  Curl your arms up into your chest constricting the muscles as hard as you can.  

Meanwhile, stretch your legs out, pointing your toes.  Hold this constricted pose for a count of ten.  

Then relax your muscles for another count of ten.  Repeat three times and then let your body fully relax, taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through your mouth.  

Doing this automatically causes a release of various hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with an effective reaction to stress.  It sort of completes a circuit that says to the involuntary parts of your brain that a fight-or-flight stress was encountered and effectively dealt with.  In turn, a secondary wave of hormones are released that helps the body to feel relaxed.  In other words, you can receive the neurological benefits of exercising without actually exercising.  
This process basically ‘chills out’ the amygdala, hippocampus, insula, and the orbitofrontal cortex.  Which in turn, reduces appetite and switches off that insatiable hunger.  Practicing this shortly after eating breakfast, lunch or dinner will even further enhance its effectiveness in terms of curbing your appetite.  

EMOTIONAL PAIN COUNTS TOO 

Getting kicked in the stomach could mean the same as a really bad break up. A recent study shows, that physical pain and emotional pain light up the same region of the brain: the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex 

Since both types of pain have the same neurological basis, why can’t someone who experienced a loss take a painkiller to feel better? Well they actually can! In an experiment, people who currently went through a form of social rejection (a bad break-up, a loss of friends) were randomly assigned to either a Tylenol or a placebo for three weeks.

At the end of the experiment, those who took the Tylenol reported being in less emotional pain than those who took a placebo. In addition, when each group’s brains were scanned, the Tylenol group showed less activity in the pain regions, or the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. 

And the winner of the fic contest is...

@zepppie! This fic. It killed me. I smiled and cried (a few actual tears, y’all), and it’s so in character it hurts. So beautifully done. I’m so proud to share this with you guys, and I INSIST that you all follow this incredible writer! XOXO

Imperfect

Author: @zepppie

Word Count: 2.4K

Pairing: Dean x Reader (1st person POV)

Summary:People say falling in love really feels like flying. But the truth is eventually, we all come crashing down; we are all Icarus on borrowed wings daring to reach the sun. I know this because I’ve been burned by a man named Dean Winchester.

Warnings: angst

A/N: Congratulations on 20K, Kim! You’re an amazing writer and a tremendous inspiration to me. Hope this entry satisfies. I drew heavy inspiration from the song’s lyrics.

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AN APH ENGLAND FANFICTION LIST //NOT USUK-NOT FRUK-//

As the title says, this list has fanfictions where APH England is the main character. If you are here searching for fics with that characteristic (APH England as the protagonist), I hope it will be useful. This one may be a little confusing, because in this list doesn’t have FRUK and USUK fics but fics with APH England and another partner. Also not all the fics here have romance or love stories.

  • If you are a writer and see your fic here, and don’t want it to be here, please, tell me and I will remove it. Also if you want me to add another link on it.
  • If some of the links don’t work, please, tell me so I could fix it.
  • I like to read angst, drama and hurt… (I’m a weirdo, I know) so some of them are on those lines, I warn you. Not all of them, there are fluff and things like that too. If you are very conscious or sensible to some topics, please, check the warnings and disclaimers of the fics, if they have. 
  • I love long things C: and I love long fics too, so the stories posted here are at least 10,000 words count.
  • All the stories are COMPLETE.
  • The numeration of the lists doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the fics (all of them are great!). Is beacuse is more easy for me to have a control of the fics posted, no other reason. So just ignore it.
  • If you want to read some USUK fics, click here, and also click here for more USUK fics (this list is divided in two parts).
  • If you want to read some FRUK fics, click here.
  • If you want to read some FACE/ACE family fics, click here.
  • I’m up for recomendatios!

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Over the last 500 years, there’s been a continuing effort to standardize all spelling – and a lot of the stuffy academic types making the rules made a real mess of it. In the 16th century, the people putting together dictionaries decided to insert a “b” into “debt” and “doubt” to remind everyone that they had evolved from the Latin word “debitum” – even though the preferred spellings, “dette” and “doute,” made way more sense. But hey, at least the common man would forever be reminded of precious Latin, thus ensuring that it would never become a dead langua- oh wait, no, it died more completely than an engineer on the away team, didn’t it? The academics did the exact same thing with “receipt” (then spelled “receit,” but drawn from the Latin word “recepta”) and smugly smirked down at generations of dyslexics accidentally writing “recipe.”

Changing the spelling to match the Latin origin is at least mildly understandable, if kind of a dick move – but less understandable is changing spellings to match Latin words they have nothing to do with, which also happened.

The origin of the word “island” is the Old English word “yland” or “iland,” but since the Latin word “insula” has a similar meaning, academics decided to just throw an “s” in there, because more Latin = more smarter. That one was so influential that it actually changed the word for the central walkway in a church – up until then spelled “aile” – to “aisle,” because “s” is friggin’ sexy, we guess. All those curves. Go ahead and toss it in there. Liven that sucker up.

5 Reasons the English Language Makes No Freaking Sense

A Hymn to the Graces

Orphic Hymn 60, “To the Graces” (author unknown; date perhaps ca. 200-250 CE)

Hear me, o Graces of great names and shining honors,
You daughters of Zeus and of deep-bosomed Eunomia-
Aglaia, Thalia, and prosperous Euphrosyne:
You are the begetters of joy, lovely, benevolent, holy;
Your forms are ever-changing, your beauty ever-blossoming-
You inspire longing in mortals.
Men pray for your presence, you dancers in a ring-
Your faces are like flowers, you fill us with desire.
Come, then, o bestowers of prosperity,
Ever gentle toward the initiates.

Κλῦτέ μοι, ὦ Χάριτες μεγαλώνυμοι, ἀγλαότιμοι,
θυγατέρες Ζηνός τε καὶ Εὐνομίης βαθυκόλπου,
Ἀγλαΐη Θαλίη τε καὶ Εὐφροσύνη πολύολβε,
χαρμοσύνης γενέτειραι, ἐράσμιαι, εὔφρονες, ἁγναί,
αἰολόμορφοι, ἀειθαλέες, θνητοῖσι ποθειναί·
εὐκταῖαι, κυκλάδες, καλυκώπιδες, ἱμερόεσσαι·
ἔλθοιτ’ ὀλβοδότειραι, ἀεὶ μύσταισι προσηνεῖς.

The three Graces.  Fresco from Regio IV, Insula Occidentalis, Pompeii; now in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

a roman ask meme
  1. Favourite emperor?
  2. What job in the Senate would you rather have?
  3. Tell me about your villa.
  4. Are we going to go see a tragedy or a comedy?
  5. Public or private baths?
  6. Whose letters did you enjoy more- Cicero’s or Pliny’s?
  7. Which ancient historian is your favourite?
  8. How many books on classics do you own?
  9. Do you know Latin, Greek, or both?
  10. Which province do you want to settle in?
  11. Tell me why I should live in an insula.
  12. What Roman dish sounds really good to you?
  13. What would you do as a slave?
  14. What are you going to buy at the market today?
  15. Favourite myth?
  16. You’re raiding a city in Greece. What do you take?
  17. Favourite poet?
  18. What’s your Roman name, and why did you choose it?
This Is Why Rejection Hurts (And How To Cope)

I’ve experienced it. You’ve experienced it. Even U2 has experienced it. Yet every time it happens, we’re reminded again how not fun it is to be rejected.

Rejection knows no bounds, invading social, romantic and job situations alike. And it feels terrible because “it communicates the sense to somebody that they’re not loved or not wanted, or not in some way valued,” explains Geraldine Downey, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Columbia University whose research is focused on rejection.

Plus, the more people learn to expect rejection and become concerned about it, the more sensitive they are to it – which can eventually lead to self-rejection, Downey tells HuffPost. “It makes you feel bad about yourself, and it makes you feel like nobody wants to be around you. It makes you feel angry.”

Indeed, Guy Winch, Ph.D., a HuffPost blogger, psychologist and author, notes that many times the rejection does 50 percent of the damage and we do the other 50 percent of the damage. “We start with this high volume of negative self-talk and criticism that takes the rejection to another level,” he says.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE HURT

The human experience of rejection goes back to our ancient roots, says Winch, who is the author of “Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies For Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injures” (Hudson Street Press, 2013). He has a chapter in his book dedicated specifically to rejection.

“When we were hunter-gatherers and living in tribes, the price of ostracism was pretty much death,” Winch tells HuffPost. “You wouldn’t survive without your tribe; you wouldn’t have the warmth of hearth, the protection of fire.” Therefore, he explains, we developed an early warning system – the feeling of rejection – to alert us when we might be at risk for ostracism. The more painful the experience of rejection, the more likely humans were to change their behavior to avoid ostracism, and be able to survive and pass on their genes. Meanwhile, “those who didn’t experience [rejection] as painful were less likely to correct [their] behavior and pass along their genes.”

And then there’s the fact that humans are social animals – which makes rejection all the more emotionally painful.

“It’s a form of shunning … so anything that keeps us out of the group in an overt way, we’re going to have a hard time with,” he says. “It’s an important aspect of who we are.”

There’s a physiological basis to the pain of rejection, too. Research shows that rejection triggers the same brain pathways that are activated when we experience physical pain, Winch says.

Indeed, a 2011 brain imaging study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that social rejection and physical pain both prompt activity in the brain regions of the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula. And a study published this year in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience shows that the posterior insular cortex and secondary somatosensory cortex parts of the brain are activated both when we experience social rejection and when we witness others experiencing social rejection.

A small study from University of Michigan Medical School researchers also showed that the brain’s mu-opioid receptor system releases natural painkillers, or opioids, in response to social pain. This happens to be the same system that releases opioids in the face of physical pain.

There is also some evidence that social rejection isn’t benign when it comes to health. A small study in the journal Clinical Psychological Science showed an association between the beginning processes of inflammation and rejection in teen girls at risk for depression. And as neuroscience jouranlist Maia Szalavitz points out in a Reuters blog post, childhood bullying – which at its core involves elements of rejection and ostracism – has been linked with depression rates, crime and reduced employment.

IDENTIFYING THE HARDEST-HIT

Everyone is sensitive to rejection, to a point. And when people feel bad or have other things go wrong in their lives, they may be even more vulnerable to rejection, explains Downey.

But still, some people do seem to be more sensitive to rejection than others. As Winch points out, self-esteem plays an important role.

“Research says that people whose self-esteem is lower will experience rejection as more painful, and it’ll take them a little longer to get over it,” he says. Meanwhile, those who have higher self-esteem – but who aren’t narcissists – tend to be more resilient.

Downey also notes that people who are sensitive to rejection may fall into patterns of behavior that only make the rejection worse. For instance, she says, if a rejection-sensitive person is having a conversation where he experiences rejection, he may stop paying attention during the rest of the interaction because he’s become so preoccupied with the rejection.

“They’re trying to think about ‘How can I get myself out of this situation?’ when really, that person may be giving you cues a little bit later in the conversation that everything is OK,” she explains. “For rejection-sensitive people, it may be self-protective to take your mind out of there, but it may not be good for your relationship or your interaction.”

This same avoidance tactic can also backfire. “When people are sensitive to rejection they tend to avoid a situation in which they can experience it,” which then puts them at a higher risk for loneliness, Winch says. “They are more at risk for developing anxiety around social situations because the more we avoid something, the more anxious it makes us.”

A real-world example: A rejection-sensitive person who has a strong desire to find a significant other may decide to give online dating a try. But after several “Nos” in response to requests for dates, she may take the rejections hard and decide to eschew online dating altogether. However, this doesn’t help with finding a significant other.

So how can you tell if you’re rejection-sensitive or not? Deep down, you probably already know. “You just need to be honest with yourself about whether you’re avoiding situations because you’re concerned or because you don’t want to deal with rejection,” Winch says.

HOW TO NOT LET REJECTION GET THE BEST OF YOU

There’s two ways to best rejection: Not letting it bother you in the first place, and then minimizing its effects after it’s wreaked its havoc.

The former proves the value of building resilience, Winch notes. He offers up a quick five-to-10-minute exercise that can help you to build resilience in the face of a potentially rejection-filled situation (such as a first date or job interview).

Using a date as an example, first make a list of five qualities you possess that a dating prospect would find valuable. For instance, are you considerate? A good listener? Are you emotionally available? Then, choose one of these qualities, and write one or two paragraphs about why this particular quality is important and why it would be meaningful to another person.

“Studies show that when you do that and remind yourself of your worth, then you are more resilient to rejection that comes thereafter,” Winch says, though he notes that this method would likely work only for immediately approaching situations (in other words, don’t do this expecting effects for a situation occurring a year out).

Winch also recommends the tactic of reminding yourself of how much you are loved. For instance, children who have been bullied at school could benefit greatly from having friends come over to hang out immediately after the bullying event. “That will remind them immediately, 'No, there are people who value you, who care about you, and you do belong somewhere.’ That reminder is really important, so you want to address those wounds,” he says.

Another good tactic for dealing with rejection is to keep in mind that it’s not always about you. “Try to move yourself out of the immediate feelings that you have, and think about what might be going on for the other person,” Downey says. “Are they having a bad day? Is it something that is really directed toward you, or is it something that’s going on with them?”

It’s also important to keep in mind that people change their reactions based on your behavior toward them. If you expect acceptance and convey positivity, and perhaps come off as more upbeat than you actually are, that can actually change others’ behavior. “The thing we know is that people who expect acceptance, versus rejection, are more likely to get it,” Downey says. “They may never end up accepting you, but at least you have engaged in the kind of behavior that draws people toward you. You’re taking control and behaving toward people the way you want them to behave toward you.”

Downey also emphasized the importance of having a good support system if you’re especially sensitive to rejection. Finding someone you can trust to serve as a sounding board can help you gain perspective. “They can use this other person as a sort of reality test,” Downey says. “They can ask, 'Am I overreacting?’ or "Does this make sense to you?’ And that way, they can get some perspective.”

Dealing with rejection sucks, but realizing what you’re experiencing, and allowing the feelings to pass, is how life remains chill.

xx

nature.com
Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence
Jonas T. Kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel & Sam Harris

People often discount evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms that govern this behavior. We used neuroimaging to investigate the neural systems involved in maintaining belief in the face of counterevidence, presenting 40 liberals with arguments that contradicted their strongly held political and non-political views. Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation and disengagement from the external world. Trials with greater belief resistance showed increased response in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. We also found that participants who changed their minds more showed less BOLD signal in the insula and the amygdala when evaluating counterevidence. These results highlight the role of emotion in belief-change resistance and offer insight into the neural systems involved in belief maintenance, motivated reasoning, and related phenomena.

theatlantic.com
The Brains of the Buddhists
What happens when you put a monk in an MRI machine.

In 1992, the neuroscientist Richard Davidson got a challenge from the Dalai Lama. By that point, he’d spent his career asking why people respond to, in his words, “life’s slings and arrows” in different ways. Why are some people more resilient than others in the face of tragedy? And is resilience something you can gain through practice?

The Dalai Lama had a different question for Davidson when he visited the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader at his residence in Dharamsala, India. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’ … I did not have a very good answer. I said it was hard.”

The Dalai Lama was interested in what the tools of modern neuroscience could reveal about the brains of people who spent years, in Davidson’s words, “cultivating well-being … cultivating qualities of the mind which promote a positive outlook.” The result was that, not long afterward, Davidson brought a series of Buddhist monks into his lab and strapped electrodes to their heads or treated them to a few hours in an MRI machine.

“The best way to activate positive-emotion circuits in the brain is through generosity,” Davidson, who founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin, Madison, said in a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “This is really a kind of exciting neuroscientific finding because there are pearls of wisdom in the contemplative tradition—the Dalai Lama frequently talks about this—that the best way for us to be happy is to be generous to others. And in fact the scientific evidence is in many ways bearing this out, and showing that there are systematic changes in the brain that are associated with acts of generosity.”


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The Neurological Pleasures of Fast Fashion

The Atlantic has an article today on the neurological pleasures of fast fashion. Not much new revealed here, except for the science behind what we already know – people like buying things and getting deals, and the culture of fast fashion has encouraged people to buy things they don’t really need. An excerpt: 

The researchers then showed the subject the item’s price. The medial prefrontal cortex weighed the decision, as the insula, which processes pain, reacted to the cost. Deciding whether to buy put the brain, as the study put it, in a “hedonic competition between the immediate pleasure of acquisition and an equally immediate pain of paying.” The mindset is in line with evidence that shows happiness in shopping comes from the pursuit of goods—from the sensation of wanting something.

While pleasure kicks in just from the act of looking, there’s also pleasure in purchasing, or more specifically, in getting a bargain. The medial prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that does what’s essentially cost-benefit analysis. “It seemed to be responsive not necessarily to price alone, or how much I like it, but that comparison of the two: how much I like it compared to what you charge me for it,” says Scott Rick, one of the study’s authors, now an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan.

Fast fashion perfectly feeds this neurological process. First, the clothing is incredibly cheap, which makes it easy to buy. Second, new deliveries to stores are frequent, which means customers always have something new to look at and desire. Zara stores famously gets two new shipments of clothes each week, while H&M and Forever21 get clothes daily. These brands are notorious for knocking off high-end designers, allowing the customer to get something at least superficially similar to the original at a small fraction of the cost, and they’re priced lower than the rest of the market, making their products feel like a bargain.

[…] 

The consumption isn’t by any means limited to the U.S. Women in Britain, for instance, now own four times as much clothing as they did in 1980. This glut of clothing is having effects beyond stuffing our closets. About 10.5 million tons of clothes end up in American landfills each year, and secondhand stores receive so much excess clothing that they only resell about 20 percent of it. The remainder is sent to textile recyclers, where it’s either turned into rags or fibers, or, if the quality is high enough, it’s exported and cycled through a cut throat, global, used-clothing business.

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