Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Empathy/analytical thinking

Someone posted this link in the comments that I thought was interesting. It essentially argues that you people either use empathetic or analytical thinking, and never both at the same time:

  • When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows.
  • At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found.
  • The new study shows that adults presented with social or analytical problems -- all external stimuli -- consistently engaged the appropriate neural pathway to solve the problem, while repressing the other pathway. The see-sawing brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
  • "This is the cognitive structure we've evolved," said Anthony Jack, an assistant professor of cognitive science at Case Western Reserve and lead author of the new study. "Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain."
  • These findings suggest the same neural phenomenon drives the explanatory gap as occurs when we look at a visual illusion such as the duck-rabbit, he continued. The drawing of the head of the animal can be seen as a duck facing one direction or a rabbit facing the other, but you can't see both at once.
  • "You want the CEO of a company to be highly analytical in order to run a company efficiently, otherwise it will go out of business," he said. "But, you can lose your moral compass if you get stuck in an analytic way of thinking." "You'll never get by without both networks," Jack continued. "You don't want to favor one, but cycle efficiently between them, and employ the right network at the right time."

It also mentioned briefly what sort of implications this would have for autism, whose sufferers often are advanced analytically and deficient socially, and for Williams syndrome, whose sufferers are socially adept but not analytically. That was interesting in a everything-has-its-opposite sort of way.

In terms of thinking about my own brain I thought about my own attention issues. To use the analogy from the article, maybe my seesaw is overly weighted on one side? Or it's rusty and hard to flip to the other side? I actually think that the issue is less in my ability to do or feel something, once I've set my mind to doing so, but that perhaps my brain does not naturally respond to the same sorts of external stimuli cuing the switch as well as other people's do.

83 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. If a cow says moo, a dog says woof, cat goes meow a turkey may go gobble gobble gobble wtf noise does a rabbit make?

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    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdZeOhpiaVY

      Freaking cute, isn't it.

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  2. You can't analyze and empathize at the same time because empathy, like feeling, is irrational and analysis requires rationality.

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    1. You can analyze some emotions though.

      I don't really understand what empathetic thinking is. You can't think emotions, right? Or analyze with emotions? You analyze with your logical part of the brain. Emotions are more responsible for impulses. When they take over, the rational part shuts up. But when they don't, they are just there, in the background, while your logical part of the brain does all the work.

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    2. I certainly respond to social cues analytically, and have done so since I was at least six years old. I imagine this particular fMRI protocol would be able to pick this up. I'll have to actually read the article, but I wonder if they encountered any individuals like myself.

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    3. Emotions are patterns of physiological responses to internal or external stimuli. The study is not measuring emotions in the brain but rather the origin for thoughts that are more immediate response, less logic. Measuring flight, not (strategic) fight.

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    4. "What you don't use - you lose"

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    5. Every thought that goes through your mind is checked for emotional responses through the amygdala as well as other areas. It makes a loop through all of the necessary brain parts. 'Paths brains do not do this like "normal" brains. The areas that form this loop stay dark on an fmri, whereas in an empath you can watch the "loop" light up when they are presented with an emotional problem to solve or see someone else in a situation they can empathize with. The 'pathic brain fires off straight through the rational areas without the emotional check. Check out Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole, episode "can we eliminate evil?" It is all about fmri scans comparing psychos to empaths.

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    6. Anon, this is interesting. What is an example of an "emotional problem to solve"? I'm going to watch the Wormhole thing now, maybe that will answer. (Doesn't compute to me - problems seem like things that need figuring, emotions are responses)

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  3. I put an episode on yesterdays blog.

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    1. Thx for the update, Iam gonna read and save it :)

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  4. Good Morning, Rich!

    This concept reminds me of the concept of subtext. I was fascinated with it when I studied it.

    Subtext is being able to pick up subtle social cues. I notice this with people. Some people you hint that you want them to leave and they won't until you take their pocketbook and bring it to the front door.

    Other people pick up social cues easily. I think subtext is what is missing in people who cannot get along in a social group. I wonder if low empathy and low subtext go together. The sociopath is very charming but is this subtext?

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    1. Monica,

      I don't think subtext has anything to do with effective empathy but possible cognitive empathy. Regardless of one's ability to empathize, one's ability to pick up on subtextual actions within a situation would seem much more cognitive than instinctual.

      Having the ability to cognitively empathize together with an acuired ability to pick up on an uncanny amount of subtextual interactions... well, sounds like a recipe for a manipulator to me.

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    2. OMG Monica, I have a PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS........

      Also, it has been said that some people with a lack of empath dont recognize social cues.....

      But anyway, my uncle is an alcoholic psychopath........ BUT, I dont think he was BORN that way, my stepdad said that after he got into a car accident with head trauma he turned that way. He has many traits of psychopaths like lack of empathy, superficial charm,pathological lying even if he knows it will be revealed he is lying the next day, lack of nervousness, ETC......

      Anyway, he comes over to my stepdads and my house ALMOST EVERYNIGHT right? My mother will be like "We're going to eat dinner in 15 mins" and he will LITRALLY sit there and watch us eat dinner some nights!!! He dosent eat because it will "ruin" his buzz.......

      Some night my stepdad literally just has to say "It's TIME TO LEAVE, you have been here for 3 hours and iam trying to relax with my family"......

      Plus, we have a big screen TV on our back patio, and since my stepdad smokes we all sit out there at night and watch TV, well anyway, Me, my mother, and my stepfather, can be GLUED to the TV, and he will sit there flapping his jaws while we are all STARING AT THE TV, and he does it untilhe is told to SHUT UP because we are trying to watch tv and not listen to his stupid stories from his day at work!!!! LOL

      Some people just DONT GET IT!!!!!!

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    3. Rich, at what age did your uncle get into that accident?

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    4. Iam not positive at the exact age because my stepdad isint home, but from what he has told me I think it happened in his late teens to early 20's.

      I dont know if he was exhibiting sociopathic/psychopatrhic traits before that, but they blame alot of his behavior on that accident and there is DEFINATE neurological damage, like when he has too many beers he starts SLIGHTLY bobbing his head around from side to side, and it isint because he is drunk, it is something to do with his brain, I havent seen anybody else do that in my life.

      PS- Monica,he is a trip! Its like he cant remember what he says minute to minute!!!!

      Also, Hey Virus!!!!!!

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  7. I relate to the seesaw idea quite a bit actually.

    My professional mode and my social mode are pretty extreme views of my personality. And my social modes have their own personalities haha. It feels like an actual switch in my brain flips when I do one or the other.

    I actually detest incorporating one in the other. Being social isn't something I'm very good at work. And I loathe bringing work home.

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    Replies
    1. It would've been easier if you weren't ugly.

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    2. How do you know she's ugly?

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    3. ::Laughs:: B/c she's never seen me haha.

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    4. Because she needs others to reassure her that she's not.

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    5. Newp. Don't believe what other people say about me. Try again.

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    6. Because she's still asking for reassurance.

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    7. Aw someone thinks they're clever. Bored now.

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    8. Bored... and ugly.

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    9. You never believe anyone's compliments or criticism?

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    10. It depends on how well I know the person and how well they know me + it depends on my own mood at the time.

      Strangers opinions don't have any weight with me though.

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    11. Ugh... You make me sick, this whole place makes me sick,
      I'm feeling sick to my stomach and yet they still partake. Bleh...

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    12. I am having really self destructive urges. I am praying to God and asking Him to help me or show me something to help.

      I think I saw that this self hatred and self destructive urges helped keep me together for my childhood. It developed for survival purposes: to keep me intact.

      Can anyone relate?

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    13. I think I saw that this self hatred and self destructive urges helped keep me together for my childhood

      This isn't making sense, Monica. What do you mean that those urges and self-hatred helped you back then? Can you describe how?

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    14. Thank you Elicit

      Well, I prayed so hard for help and then I felt I saw the answer. I had so much craziness in my life that I developed this self hatred, so I could live and be safe from the danger of my surroundings. It made life explainable, to me. I was worth hating and destroying. That is why my life was so bad. It was because of my awful nature. So, I could live, broken like this, but alive, still. I think the nature of defense mechanisms is that they warp us, so as to not kill us. That is what I mean. Do you understand, Elicit?

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    15. It helped that your experience then made sense to you. If you understand it, it isn't frightening or overwhelming, perhaps? Is that what you mean? If it is, then what isn't making sense now? The way you feel?

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    16. Elicit

      My mother cried and told me she loved me and was so grateful I was in her life. She said she was sorry she could not love me in a way that I could develop right.



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    17. OK. So, was that what resulted in you having feeling like you want to harm yourself? It was after she said that to you?

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    18. No, I have wanted to harm myself since my early teens when I became numb. It was just that I see her as a person, with a ton of shame that she put on me. It was not me.

      This intellectual understanding takes me some of the way, but the built up patterns are still there like an edifice which has already been built. The edifice is structured so I am a piece of garbage who deserves to be hurt.

      Now, she is gone from the equation and the edifice is still there.

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    19. But what has brought about these current self-destructive urges? It must have been triggered by something. When I asked you you told me what she'd said to you. It seemed you meant that the conversation with her was recent. Was it? Did this round of urges follow that talk with her?

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    20. The convo was recent but I have had these urges since my early teens. I did not face them. I did not look at them.

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    21. Either the urges are constant, and have been since your teens. Or something triggers them, right? Have the urges been with you every minute since your teens? You don't often post to say you're struggling with such feelings.

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    22. Yes, the urges have been constant but now I have been getting success, from my own endeavors, with no one's help.

      Was I ever garbage? I never questioned it, until now. I just believed it.

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  9. This comment makes ME wonder, are Sociopaths more analytical thinkers, and Humans more Empathic/Emotional? Do Sociopaths consider Human empathy to be a form of weakness, sort of like Wolves consider Sheep to be weak, or do any Sociopaths have the capacity for Human kindness? Have any of you ever seen the sci-fi series Invasion in which the Sociopath species take Humans as Hosts? Would a Sociopath Human Hybrid look just like a Human, and how could they be distinguished? And if one were thinking analytically, what would be the purpose of Sociopaths taking Human Hosts? Thank you for your valuable time and energy, and thanks again for your blog :)

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  10. At the staff meeting, people were checking people out. Alliances were formed Alliances were tested. On the surface, they were a group of highly trained professionals( mostly) but under the surface, the duck pedals, furiously.

    Rich and Edvard formed a fast friendship, given that they both had the idealism of youth. Mee tried to play tough guy and they let him know, post haste, that they were having none of it. He better know his place if he wanted to be the third member of the trio.If not, he was on his own to wander the halls of people who didn't want him. Mee chose the right way. He let down the guard dog demeanor and acted like the typical high school kid: an immature, mass of hormones.

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    1. Raven moved her black patent boot in a nervous back and forth motion. Other than that small nervous movement, she was the picture of cool insouciance. Elicit followed the leg's motion, out of the periphery of her eye.

      Zoe eyed Monica and Monica eyed Zoe. Zoe looked pretty in her tasteful pearls. Zoe grew up with luxuries as Franklin knew where his bread was buttered and it was in his wife's family money. Zoe went to Sarah Lawrence and Sarah Lawrence remained in Zoe. However, Zoe was not above a cat fight, if it was done in a refined enough manner.

      Monica was not sexy. Monica was not "not sexy". She was more of the old fashioned girl, like the sister of your best friend. She was more than likely to fall to the floor in some giggle than strike a sexy pose, but she could be counted on to offer a shoulder, if someone needed it.

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    2. ME commanded the attention of the group. His voice was commanding. His demeanor was the same. His casual elegance was the envy of the men and most of the women had a secret crush on him, to one degree or another. Degrees mattered a great deal, in this matter. Zoe swooned. Monica was second. It went down from there with Haven and Elicit vying for the next spot in this ethereal ladder.

      The meeting had come to order and ME was introducing the new members. After the introduction, each member stood up and told a bit about herself( or himself)

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    3. I think you captured something with the following the movement of Raven's leg out of the corner of my eye. It's quite evocative.

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    4. Suddenly, wild diarrhoea appears!

      A shit frenzy ensues, and everyone gets on the floor in a state of rapture, cause you know, they love shit...

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    5. Lol!
      You coprophiliac you!

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    6. Zoe looked pretty in her tasteful diamonds

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  11. Monica sneaked a look at Literary Anon(LA). He was a bit disheveled, as if ironing was the last thing on his mind. He could have slept in his shirt. She laughed at that, as she was no prize when it came to order. She, probably, could not keep up with a man like M.E who looked like he walked out of the pages of GQ( without even trying) He would need a woman who could iron and fold, which took her out of the running in one fell swoop. Now, LA was a different story. He could take care of himself, in the style to which Monica was accustomed: shabby chic.

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    Replies
    1. You've got it all wrong.

      From your mediocre at best writing style, bad taste, and inability to draw accurate conclusions, I can tell that Sofa doesn't get out much, and I don't even care to expand much on that.

      As for LA, he lives in a damp cave, and walks around in badger skin pants and baby seal skin boots.

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    2. I think the writing is pretty decent these days. The characters are really starting to come to life. I'm finding myself enjoying it and there's not even a hint of porn so far.

      Anon: Lol! Damp caves would be cool, but badger pants and seal boots? What's next? A pirate fetish complete with puffy shirts and hook?

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    3. You don't have to make everything out to be a fetish you freakshow.

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    4. I do have a very, very dirty mind ;)

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    5. Ooh, so smooth.

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    6. Thanks Anon, 9:45!

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    7. All homo sapiens are looking to mate( or at least copulate) and our heady group was no different. Monica and Literary Anon were asking each other what books they had read. Elicit and Raven were exchanging music. Zoe unbuttoned her blouse, a button too low, when M.E was around.

      ME was a colleague of her father and the founder of the clinic, Dr F Fometile. M.E. was careful concerning his relationship with Zoe, although he could be tempted and pondered that thought, on many an occasion. The interplay continued with glances and looks, but it was up to M.E, as to where to take it and that he had not decided.

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    8. ...And still the interplay continued with glances and looks, everyone eyeing here and there...

      And still it continued, until the air became awkward as hell, everyone eyeing frantically, eyes darting about like mad...

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    9. Haven was the only one of our erudite group who had captured man she loved. Trouble was he would not leave his toothy, heiress wife. Franklin had put too many years into this deal and he had signed a pre-nup. Franklin rued the day that happened, but Mary's( Zoe's mother)father demanded it. Grandad knew that Mary was not wanted for good looks or sex appeal. Grandad was no fool and Mary was no beauty.

      Fast forward to Haven and her heady beauty and headier intellect and Franklin wound up finding himself a mistress.

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    10. ...Fast forward some more, and we catch sight of the very rare, indonesian bigfoot, in his natural habitat.. Stay tuned.

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    11. Raven was having car trouble. Her stark Black BMWer with the real black leather seats( an upgrade even for them) was in the Boca Raton BMW dealer. Raven was on the phone asking them for the complimentary pick up service when Elicit asked if she needed a ride. Raven hung up the phone, gratefully, and accepted.

      Elicit had a two seater, red, convertible and the top was down on this balmy Florida day. After Raven climbed in, Elicit rammed her foot on the gas, as if the gas pedal was a long lost friend she had not seen in forever. Raven's hair was flying as Elicit turned corners, without letting up. Elicit was one of those highly concentrated types. She, always, payed attention to details. You don't get anywhere in life by being a slouch. Elicit had come a long way, in her life, and it was not by luck.

      "Here we are" announced Elicit. Raven thanked her and blew a casual kiss. Elicit watched Raven walk away and noticed how her calves were damn shapely in those high black boots, which touched the bottom of her short, fitted black skirt. Maybe, Elicit would invite Raven to the Boca Raton Country Club and Gym. It had been a long time since Elicit had been there.

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    12. Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Rich was looking at the personal records of one Bluebird, the girl whose boyfriend fucked her best friend in her bed, after she just had an abortion. She sounds pretty interesting, thought Rich.


      To Be Continued.

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    13. Hmm. Intradesting...

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    14. Great Sofa, just look at what these pointless little snippets of yours are attracting.

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    15. Not bad. You're building the tension nicely, Sofa.

      This Bluebird could be an interesting addition. Do they give her that little extra push and break her entirely? Do they use her as a guinea pig? Talk her into killing the boyfriend and room mate?
      The sky's the limit.

      Btw, those other anons were not me. I only wrote 954, 957 and 1001.

      L.A.

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    16. Thank you L.A.!

      Up From The Sofa

      Rich knew he was violating the detective's code of ethics by looking up the private information of a patient. Doctor/ Therapist relationships are privileged as are priest/ church member and lawyer/client.
      This was serious shit, but Rich had to get to know Bluebird. Her story tore at his heart, but there was something more. What kind of woman commands such utter disrespect from a man, even a scumbag, as this guy? Rich wanted to get to know that kind of woman, for his own purposes.

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    17. What a perfect little pity party.

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  12. Replies
    1. Oh yeah, gotta love 'em.

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  13. Let's just be honest. That's a duck.

    The eye is kind of rabbit-like, but I have to try a bit and be a little liberal in my interpretation to see it as rabbit-like and it still looks like a duck to me. I can see the eye, and then I can identify the mark that looks like a rabbit cheek, but the duck bill always looks like a duck bill.

    Ahhhhhh. :(

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    Replies
    1. The duck bill is supposed to be the rabbit's ears, if that even makes a difference for you.

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