Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mirror Mirror

The psychology of empathy is an area of personal interest. I side with the moral sense theorists, then and now. The short answer is: rather than relentlessly searching for Platonic universals, maybe we simply need to admit we're drawn this way. This is the sort of thing that probably makes Objectivists apopletic. What can I say? I feel your pain. :)

This round, thanks to 3QD, a couple of new items.

From Science:

"Ever flinch at the sight of an actor being punched in the face? The reason is that neurons in the brain light up when we watch others suffering. Now a team of psychologists has added evidence to the theory that such mirror systems in our brains are what lie behind our ability to empathize with others. The conclusions are based on a rare group of individuals who feel a touch upon their own bodies when they see someone else being touched. Only one such case of mirror-touch synesthesia had been reported previously in the literature; University College London's Michael Banissy and Jamie Ward investigated the phenomenon in 10 other individuals."

more here

Again from Science:

"Giving feels good. The brain's reward center lights up on an MRI image when subjects give money to charity. You don't need to donate to charity to feel all warm inside. Researchers have found that even when money is taken from some people involuntarily, they feel good about the transaction, as long as the funds go to a good cause. The findings may force economists to rethink just what guides our response to taxes and other financial decisions."

more here.


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