There are always a few interesting stories and research results
that readers forward to me, and the last few weeks have been
no exception. We start this latest collection with the research
done by US psychologist Paul Piff. He found that wealth makes
people mean. You can watch his TED talk on the subject below.
Following that we have reports on a new creativity pill, a consciousness
switch, and the effects of young blood on old brains.
More specifically (for those of you skipped the video), he
found, among other things, that drivers of expensive vehicles
were four times as likely to cut off other drivers in traffic,
and three times as likely to ignore people trying to use pedestrian
crossings. He discovered that even thinking about being wealthy
can cause a greater sense of entitlement.
Having had some ups and downs in my own income, I think there
are some negative psychological/social effects that come with
making more money. But I wonder if it all people are affected
in negative ways, and if not, what the difference is in those
who remain simple, unpretentious and nice when getting richer.
Now there's a study worth doing.
A New Creativity Pill
Neurologist Rivka Inzelberg may have discovered a creativity
pill. It's a synthetic dopamine-precursor pill, levodopa (L-DOPA),
which she was using to treat patients with Parkinsons disease.
An article in the Atlantic says she found those
taking the drug wrote more novels and poems, and were painting
much more than patients who were not taking the drug. Here's
more from that article:
The patients with Parkinsons disease did significantly
better than their unafflicted peers in terms of verbal and visual
creativity, divergent thinking and combinational novelty.
We also found that patients taking higher doses of
dopaminergic medication had more creative answers, Inzelberg
In fact, we find our own musings so unsatisfying that,
in research done at the University of Virginia, many people chose
to administer painful electric shocks to themselves rather than
sit in quiet contemplation, researchers from that university
and Harvard reported Thursday.
"I was surprised that people find themselves such
bad company, said Jonathan Schooler, a psychology professor
from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not
involved in the research. It seems that the average person
doesnt seem to be capable of generating a sufficiently
interesting train of thought to prevent them from being miserable
Well, I'll have to sit here alone and think about that, although
that electrical outlet over there is looking mighty enticing...
...scientists at George Washington were treating an epileptic
patient with high frequency electric impulses via electrodes
placed in her brain. They found that when the electrode placed
next to the claustrum was activated, the woman temporarily lost
consciousness. When the electrode was turned off and the claustrum
was no longer being stimulated, the woman reverted back to consciousness
having no memory of what had just occurred.
Your Self-Repairing Brain
A new type of neuron has been identified. In
response to damage to cells in the brain it tells stem cells
to create new neurons. Researchers hope that this discovery and
others will lead to a way to upgrade our brain "hardware"
in the future.
Blood and Brains
Finally, USA Today reports that researchers have found
"substances in the blood of young mice rejuvenate the muscles
and brains of older ones." Yes, put young blood into old
mice and you get brain and body improvements. The researchers
hope this works for humans as well.
Of course, if it does work, old wealthy people will need a
steady supply of young blood. Sounds a bit ghoulish... or like
an opportunity to make some money if you're young and willing
to bleed a bit.
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