When the person next to you yawns, chances are you're going to break off a tonsil-rattling exhale, too. And when your stressed-out colleague is demanding a meeting right now, the alarmed face quickly incites yours to mimic it. Now you're stressed, too.
Vittorio Gallese's latest interdisciplinary connection: mirror neurons and cinema. Why is it that we become so immersed when watching a film? What goes on inside our brains to create this empathetic connection with the screen?
"Cups" is apparently akin to other rhythmic games -- "Miss Mary Mack" -- enduring products of an oral culture based on clapping and chanting. There is actually some intriguing psychological science that illuminates "Cups" and other rhythmic traditions.
Breakthroughs in the neuroscience of empathy, emotions and our conscious control of the breath have radically changed our view of our nature, helping explain the stubborn power of spiritual imagery, prayers and ritual.
In school reform, we dramatically overvalue the importance of academic learning, and assume that merely focusing on better curricula and clearer standards will carry the day. Yet the research suggests otherwise.
Hurtful interactions are repeated over and over and get lodged in the brain. Love-inducing chemicals are on hold and it seems like the end of love and passion. And the relationship is ripe for infidelity.
High in the skies of euphoric love, if any red flags pop up, you manage not to see them. Once you fall in love, parts of the brain go dormant -- the parts responsible for wariness, suspicion, discrimination.
Ever noticed that you feel happy around happy people and sad around sad or depressed people? This is known as "emotional contagion" and is facilitated by an interconnected network of cells in the brain.
Do you have music playing when you make love? I hope you do so let's assume you do. Do you notice that you like to put on the same play list, over and over, at least some of the time? The one you remember having the best lovemaking to?
In our culture we're taught to think of ourselves as independent and self-actualizing. In reality, our brain is uniquely constructed for experiencing other people's thoughts, emotions and actions as if they were our own.
Our rush to universal empathic connectivity is running up against a rapidly accelerating entropic juggernaut in the form of climate change. Can we reach biosphere consciousness in time to avert planetary collapse?