Saturday, May 11, 2013

Rethinking Depression: Charles Raison at TEDxTucson

Dr. Charles Raison with the Dalai Lama.

Dr. Charles Raison is the Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health with the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona (with a joint position in the School of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry).

Dr. Raison joined the UA to further his research in mind-body medicine with hopes of joining his expertise in immune/neuroendocrine functioning to the strengths in psychiatry in neuroimaging and autonomic nervous system functioning, with the goal of conducting cutting edge work examining how interdependent processes at all levels, "from the genes to society itself," contribute to health and well-being.

Prior to joining the UA, Dr. Raison was with Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., where he was an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, clinical director of the Emory Mind Body Program, and director of the Behavioral Immunology Clinic.

Here is a little bit about Raison's work when he was at Emory (prior to coming to the U of A):
Dr. Raison is looking at both sides of a cycle that goes like this: stress and chronic illness activate the immune system and increase inflammation. The increased inflammation can contribute to the development of depression. Depression increases inflammation, even in people who are medically healthy. The increased inflammation can then contribute to the development of chronic illnesses. Dr. Raison is working to identify how the cycle can be interrupted and inflammation can be decreased so that both physical and mental health can be restored and maintained. 
In a recent research project, Dr Raison teamed up with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, lecturer at Emory’s Department of Religion and the president and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, to study the effects of a regular practice of compassion meditation on inflammation. The two worked together under the auspices of Emory’s Mind-Body Institute to study the effects of practicing a form of compassion meditation on Emory students. 
For the purposes of the study, Negi developed a variation on the traditional practice of compassion meditation. The new meditation removed references to religious beliefs but retained visualizations that were intended to enhance the students’ perceptions of social support. The experiment sought to build on previous research that showed correlations between health, happiness, and the perception of inclusion within a supportive social network.
The meditation model Raison and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi developed is called Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT). This model has been shown, as in the study above, to reduce inflammation, and as Raison has been showing is work over the years, depression is an inflammatory illness (in part) caused by stress and a lack of social supports.

Here are a few relevant publications on CBCT (a couple with Dr. Raison):
  • Ozawa-de Silva, B. & Dodson-Lavelle, B. (2011) An education of heart and mind: Practical and theoretical issues in teaching cognitive-based compassion training to children. Practical Matters,Spring 2011, Issue 4.
  • Ozawa-de Silva, B., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Raison, C.L., and Negi, L.T. (2012) “Compassion and Ethics: Scientific and Practical Approaches to the Cultivation of compassion as a Foundation for Ethical Subjectivity and Well-Being.” Journal of Healthcare, Science & the Humanities. Volume 2(1): 145-164.
  • Pace, T.W., Negi L.T., Adame, D.D., Cole, S.P., Sivilli, T.I., Brown, T.D., et al. (2008). Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34 (1) 87-98.
  • Pace TW, Negi LT, Sivilli TI, Issa MJ, Cole SP, Adame DD et al. (2009). Innate immune neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35(2) 310-5.
  • Reddy, S., Negi, L.T., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Ozawa-de Silva, B., Pace, T.W., Cole, S.P., Raison, C.L., and Craighead, L. (2012) “Cognitive-Based Compassion Training: A promising prevention strategy for at-risk adolescents.” Journal of Child and Family Studies
At the bottom is a bonus video of Dr. Raison at TEDxAtlanta talking about knowing our enemies.

Rethinking Depression: Charles Raison at TEDxTucson

Published on May 11, 2013

Charles Raison, MD, holds a joint appointment as associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, and as the Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health with the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions. The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to his activities at University of Arizona, Dr. Raison is the mental health expert for
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TEDxAtlanta - Dr. Charles Raison - We're Fighting The Wrong Enemy

Uploaded on Oct 13, 2011 
Dr. Charles Raison believes our survival as a species depends on finding better ways to deal with our enemies. But who is the real enemy? Thank you to Definition 6 for providing in-kind video editing services for TEDxAtlanta.

Emotional Recovery Seen Possible for Victims of Prolonged Abuse

From The New York Times, an article on how the young women rescued from the house in Ohio can possibly heal from their trauma. One thing they fail to mention in this article is that the single greatest predictor of how someone recovers from this kind of traumatic experience is determined by the quality of their attachment relationship with their primary caregiver as infants and toddlers. Secure attachment allows much quicker and complete healing, insecure attachment generates more intense PTSD and prolongs the healing process.

Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at age 14.

Emotional Recovery Seen Possible for Victims of Prolonged Abuse

Published: May 9, 2013

Day after day, it was his voice they heard, his face they saw.

He was their tormentor and their deliverer, the one who — at his whim — could violate their minds and bodies, the keeper of the keys and the source of food and water. His dominion was a ramshackle house with boarded up windows. His control was absolute.

For the women he is accused of kidnapping and holding prisoner for a decade in a home on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, their captor was for all intents and purposes their world.

Therapists experienced in the treatment of trauma survivors said on Thursday that how the three women — Amanda Berry, now 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 — interpreted that relationship and the small ways that they struggled to preserve their selfhood in the face of physical and psychological intimidation will be critical to their recovery.

The women were finally freed on Monday after two neighbors responded to Ms. Berry’s call for help by kicking in the front door. Ms. Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was born during the ordeal, also came out of the house. Ariel Castro, who the police say imprisoned the women and initially kept them tied with chains and rope in the basement and sexually assaulted them repeatedly, has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

David A. Wolfe, a senior scientist and psychologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, said that in situations of long-term sexual abuse and threat to life, victims inevitably develop complicated and ambivalent emotions toward their abuser in order to survive.

“You turn the devil into something you can handle,” he said, adding that the first thing he would want to know from someone who survived such an ordeal would be “What was your feeling about this person during the captivity?”

Dr. Wolfe and other therapists noted that all traumatic experiences are different and that many details of the women’s ordeal have not been made public; some experts argued that for the women’s sake, they should not be.

But they said many people can and do rebound from even the most extreme abuse, aided by the support of family and friends, the use of specifically tailored therapies and the privacy, safety and time to digest and come to terms with their experience. It is important, some therapists said, that the women not be turned into a spectacle, their identities as individuals diminished to “kidnap victims.”

“We know that resilience exists and that recovery is possible,” said Dr. Judith A. Cohen, medical director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. “For people who believe that it’s inevitable that a horrific experience like this would leave lasting scars, the evidence does not necessarily support that.”

That does not mean that the women, who with the exception of Ms. Knight have been reunited with their families, have an easy road ahead. Studies have found that about two-thirds of children who are kidnapped or abused have lingering psychological disturbances, including depression and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The toll of prolonged abuse is physical as well as psychological, as the body tries to cope with constant fear.

“Your brain is being flooded with stress hormones,” Dr. Wolfe said, “just like you’ve been sitting in a cage with an animal for a long time.”

Yet about 80 percent of abuse victims who receive trauma-focused weekly therapy show significant improvement after three to four months, studies find — the authorities in Cleveland are arranging for the women to receive trauma therapy, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Some survivors of lengthy captivities can have continuing problems, especially if they were already experiencing emotional difficulties before their abduction, and so, are more vulnerable. Others — like Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her bedroom in 2002 at the age of 14, and Jaycee Lee Dugard, who spent 18 years as a prisoner after being kidnapped in 1991 and had two children by her abductor — have apparently done well, going on to write books about their experiences and work on behalf of other abuse victims.

Terri L. Weaver, a professor of psychology at St. Louis University who has been a consultant in long-term kidnapping cases, said that the presence of the other captives in the Seymour Avenue house may possibly have helped each woman cope.

“My hope would be that they could have provided some degree of support with one another,” Dr. Weaver said, “and that may have aided in their ability to emotionally, and perhaps even physically, cope with the situation.” In fact, the person familiar with the investigation said the victims felt they were like sisters now because of what they went through.

Ms. Berry’s young daughter, Dr. Weaver said, who, like the child in Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel “Room,” was born into captivity, has an equally good chance of surmounting the adversity of her early life.

“There are all types of children in this world that were conceived in violent and traumatic circumstances who come to an understanding of those circumstances and go on to have very happy lives,” Dr. Weaver said.

Like cases of domestic violence, Dr. Weaver and other therapists said, the stories of women who remain with their captors for years sometimes give rise to misconceptions — like the idea that the women could have escaped. But such notions vastly underestimate the psychological and physical control exerted by perpetrators, and often arise from people’s desire to believe that they themselves would not fall victim to a similar fate.

“Rape in conjunction with life-threatening force is very powerful,” Dr. Weaver said, “and it’s repeatedly used by men against women.”

Dr. Cohen put it more sharply: “It’s very easy to sit in your living room and second-guess from the safety of your couch why somebody didn’t act a certain way. But when your life is under constant threat, you think and act and feel quite differently.”

Steven Yaccino contributed reporting from Cleveland.

New Books from Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter

Daniel Dennett's new book is Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking and Douglas Hofstadter's new book (written with French psychologist Emmanuel Sander) is Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. Eric Banks from Bookforum reviews the two new books.

This Is Your Brain, On

Two books seek to explain how our minds work their way through the maze of consciousness


YOU DON’T HAVE TO CONDUCT A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT to see why some philosophers or scientists want to write for an audience cheerfully indifferent to the ways of the seminar room and the strictures of the refereed journal. Beyond the fame and fortune, perhaps more important is the sense that if one’s work is worth doing at all, it ought to reach the widest possible audience, particularly when it bears on issues (religion, free will) with decisive implications for how readers choose to live. Some, I imagine, also relish the bonus frisson of mixing it up in the rowdy rough-and-tumble of the public arena. If you’re like Daniel C. Dennett—one of whose many mantras is Gore Vidal’s “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail”—what’s the point of felling a philosophical tree if there’s no one to hear it? Since the publication in 1991 of his book Consciousness Explained, Dennett has gladly risen to the challenge, merrily taking on all comers left and right, in works that play to a packed house most philosophers couldn’t dream of.

For Dennett, moreover, the experience of communicating to a broad readership his brawny materialist agenda, which aims at nothing less than squaring philosophy with a host of other fields—cognitive psychology, brain science, evolutionary biology—has an ancillary and less obvious boon. Specialists, he writes, tend to underexplain to one another the very terms of their discussions. These experts benefit from translating their respective positions down, as it were, so that they might be presented to “curious nonexperts,” as Dennett puts it in his newest book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. They will be forced to think anew, and paradoxically to think harder: “To explain their position under these conditions helps them find better ways of making their points than they had ever found before.”

The notion that an idea or “position” might get fine-tuned just as neatly in the imagined company of a well-intentioned fast learner as it would among scholarly peers is ingrained in Dennett’s go-go style of doing philosophy and its winner-take-all stakes. As set out in Intuition Pumps, his narrative approach, with its flurry of catchy neologisms, plain-talk prose, and gotcha argument stoppers, will prove as roundly appealing to some as it will seem pandering, I suppose, to others. The pep-talk jocularity and the shoot-from-the-hip posture of its presentation, familiar enough throughout Dennett’s writing, make it seem as if the book—which is focused less on a single subject than on a kind of survey of Dennett’s greatest hits (from positions on consciousness to free will, from “intentional stances” to “competence without comprehension”)—imagines its reader as a slightly nerdy college kid with high math SATs who, with just the right writerly nudge, might be tempted to jump majors. There’s no accounting for tastes, but the odd recipe Dennett produces here—one part avuncular guide (who dubs himself “Uncle Dan” early on), one part pugnacious tough guy—makes for a weird slaw. Picture a helpful Burl Ives crossed with a philosophical Robert Conrad from the old commercials for Eveready batteries, just taunting anybody to go ahead, try and knock this position off—I dare you.

Dennett declares that his aim in Intuition Pumps is to lay out devices by which we might think more clearly, or with more insight, about a host of thorny topics—which might be boiled down to those many areas in which we errantly or too hastily assume we have a solid sense of the right and wrong answers. The sheer number of these thought experiments, geared to reveal how thoroughly incorrect our assumptions might be, is daring itself. The most provocative comprise consciousness, free will, and our own sense of what we mean by meaning and intend by speaking of intentionality—in other words, the philosophical terrain Dennett has explored extensively in his prior books. (A glance at the notes reveals how vastly Intuition Pumps recycles material and arguments he has used or made in previously published work, extending as far back as 1969.)

The Karnak Temple, Thebes, Egypt, and the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Part of Dennett’s role in Intuition Pumps is to serve as a kind of design engineer. With the concept of “intuition pump,” he repurposes the thought experiment—a form of argumentation of ancient and venerable purpose in philosophy (and in sundry other disciplines, especially physics)—in order to transform its somewhat neutral-sounding disposition into a power tool, one that answers to a basic question: Is it well or poorly designed to get the job done? (The interesting question of the epistemological standing of thought experiments in philosophy is never really given much attention here.) First rechristened as “intuition pumps” in The Mind’s I, the hybrid work Dennett co-produced in 1981 with his friend Douglas Hofstadter, these narrative devices can condense, in a straightforward way, a complex set of propositions and suppositions into an imaginable story that summarizes or illustrates a position. Hence their extreme popularity in the history of philosophy, from Plato’s cave to Parfit’s amoeba. They can be positive or critical, launching a new idea or yanking the rug out from under someone else’s pet position (or even both). Either way, such thought experiments are designed to jolt the hearer’s or reader’s sense of intuition (hence the idea of the “pump” that paradoxically strands the reader’s analogic mind in an awkward, ill-specified locution) and channel it in certain indubitable directions. To mix the metaphor, intuition pumps are thus double-edged: They can accomplish a lot, and produce a kind of free analogue of the costly experiments carried out in laboratories, but they can also carry a heavy cost for a thinker when they are dubiously or even dangerously built. The lesson that Dennett hopes the reader might take away is that we must remain wary of intuition pumps, taking them apart to find their hidden biases and built-in assumptions, before we let ourselves be overinflated by them.

I lost track of just how many intuition pumps Dennett ticks off in the book, but taken as a whole they offer a sense that philosophy is a fabulous field if your career in sci-fi fails to take off. A menagerie of mindless robots, devious neurosurgeons implanting replica brain cells in their unknowing subjects, parallel worlds with exactly a single element changed from ours, swamp men transformed by strikes of lightning into brain-duplicating doppelgängers: Almost all these personae and philosophical fables will be familiar to anyone who has followed the rough course of the philosophy of mind for the past several decades. Some of the signal thought experiments devised by philosophers since the early 1970s are present: Mary the color scientist, who emerges from a black-and-white world; John Searle’s Chinese Room experiment, the response he devised more than thirty years ago to challenge an argument made in 1950 by artificial-intelligence pioneer Alan Turing. If a computer could pass for a human being to an interlocutor who wasn’t aware he or she was communicating with a computer, Turing held, the machine could be said to possess intelligence. As familiar as Searle’s Chinese Room experiment may be, it is worth lingering on it, since it illustrates what is ultimately so frustrating about Intuition Pumps. To quote Searle’s summary of the experiment:
Imagine a native English speaker who knows no Chinese locked in a room full of boxes of Chinese symbols (a data base) together with a book of instructions for manipulating the symbols (the program). Imagine that people outside the room send in other Chinese symbols which, unknown to the person in the room, are questions in Chinese (the input). And imagine that by following the instructions in the program the man in the room is able to pass out Chinese symbols which are correct answers to the questions (the output). The program enables the person in the room to pass the Turing Test for understanding Chinese but he does not understand a word of Chinese.
Dennett famously objected in The Mind’s I, as he does here, that Searle’s experiment pumps the wrong intuitions—among other things, it massively misrepresents what it means to “manipulate the symbols” or to “understand.” The example is undercooked and unnourishing, and if Searle had known anything about computing, he couldn’t in good faith have constructed it as he did. Therefore it is a flawed intuition pump: “It persuades by clouding our imagination,” Dennett writes, “not exploiting it well.”

But what is the difference between a good intuition pump and a flawed one? The Chinese Room has spawned scores of counter–thought experiments, replicating itself in many variations of structure and content; by the mid-’90s, Steven Pinker commented that it had become the source of at least a hundred papers. It has allowed articulations of positions from a vast number of academic fields, from proponents of AI to linguists, and generated commentary on semantics and syntax, intentionality and consciousness, and evolution. Sounds like a pretty fecund little tool for thinking to me! But for the budding philosophy student reading Intuition Pumps, Dennett reserves the right to select the hammer and pick the gauge of nail. “Here I am concentrating on the thinking tool itself, not the theories and propositions it was aimed at,” Dennett hopefully backtracks. But what good is it to present this book as a collection of helpful “tools for thinking” when it turns out the only successful tools happen to run on precisely the same voltage as Dennett’s own particular theories and propositions?

Intuition Pumps is valuable in providing an overview of a body of recent work in the philosophy of mind, but it suffers as well from Dennett’s penchant for cleverness—no more egregiously than in his soi-disant playfulness in mapping nasty flaws on his favorite intellectual targets, like Stephen Jay Gould. It grows tiresome and tacky: He returns to a long-ago pissing match with Gould to discuss rhetorical sleights of hand, and even coins a new word to describe the tendency to advance straw-man arguments and false dichotomies—“Goulding.” How is that a better “thinking tool”? He mocks philosopher Ned Block’s use of the word surely as a sure sign of a mental block (get it?) and offers up “Occam’s Broom” as an example of an argument that sweeps inconvenient facts under the rug, and circularly, not to mention condescendingly, takes the opportunity to chide Thomas Nagel for not consulting “the experts” on evolutionary biology. (At least he doesn’t call this oversight a “Nageling.”) All this sour score-settling with Dennett’s philosophical peers is infinitely less witty than I imagine he takes it to be. But in the spirit of Dennett’s tactic, I’d offer one historical vignette that characterizes his frequent summoning of an army of scientists at his back, with an arsenal of cutting-edge knowledge about our chemistry and biology, ready at some later date to vindicate his positions, and call that future-perfect feint a Ledru-Rollin. That would be in honor of the hectoring French propagandist of 1848 who famously bellowed, “There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

Intuition Pumps at least has the benefit of tasking us with thinking about what we do when we intuit a given set of problems. Working with and against intuitions is a strategy that also permeates Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, a book-length thought experiment published by French psychologist Emmanuel Sander and Dennett’s old partner, Douglas Hofstadter, probably still best known for his 1979 Pulitzer Prize–winning gift to high-SAT-math kids everywhere, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. The new book brings together a laundry list of often laborious found examples, culled by the authors from their daily experiences and overheard talk, in order to tease out the logical paradoxes and contradictions of analogy, which, they contend, forms something like the essence of cognition. If that sounds like a sweeping claim, it is because in their view—as robustly flushed out in Surfaces and Essences—the nature of analogical thinking is vastly more complex than our folk understanding of it. The book’s argument may be stated fairly simply: When we as subjects attempt to make sense of any phenomenal experience in the world, which we do at every waking moment, we do so through a kind of quick cognitive shorthand, forging analogies between the unknown and past experience, both consciously and unconsciously.

The magic of analogical thinking is its odd recursiveness, a plasticity that has long delighted Hofstadter and engaged his fascination with metalanguage and the brain-teasing conundrums of self-referential puzzles. Analogy as a rhetorical device is an almost endless source of such entanglements. What makes one analogy like another analogy? They’re both analogical. Their definition as analogies refers to, well, other analogies. From this angle, which is very much Hofstadter and Sander’s preferred vantage, there may be naive analogies, and there may be analogies that lead us into dangerous directions or that cause us to make poor judgments, but it’s hard to see what would count as a wrong analogy. As such, in Hofstadter and Sander’s view, analogies exemplify a form of mental mapping, tying various states of things together or announcing semiresemblances among different types of experiences as we pass through the world. This schema links analogical thought profoundly with perception. Analogies can be beacons of creative thought, but they can also be utterly banal—just as our perception can be at times. And as much as we try to control our ability to dazzle and amuse with new analogies, it’s more frequently the case that analogies have a hold over us—over our language, over our thought patterns.

Here’s a sort of example. I was recently trying to describe to someone the (to my mind) unusual fact of my dog—of a breed very highly marked as “American” (a coonhound)—spending several long weekends without me in rural France. What suddenly popped into my head was the analogy of Tom Ripley, played by Dennis Hopper, in Wim Wenders’s The American Friend (1977), a classic of the New German Cinema with an American actor occupying an unexpectedly European landscape. Where did that come from? But my mind did another turn, as odd perhaps as the first, and I blurted out the film as Fassbinder’s The American Soldier (1970), another “Americanism” of German film. A collision of analogies! It took some time for me to figure out the train of “A is to B” at play, but the important point is threefold. First, the mental linking, which felt unmotivated, no matter how “creative” the thought, was so rapid that it felt automatic. Second, I had this set of analogies primed by an experience that seemed to call forth a pseudocategory—experimental German films of the ’70s that, according to the logic of experimental German films of the ’70s, featured an American component (whether in their titles or their casting)—which it’s hard to imagine I might have stored somewhere as a useful “category,” years ago, just waiting for an analogical item to happen onto the scene. Finally, the multiple, linked frameworks involved (German films with Americans in them, films that have American in the title) are flexible enough that they could blend into one another to create in essence a makeshift, almost ad hoc new frame. (The downside of such conscious awareness on my part is that it’s hard not to look at the poor pooch now and not think of Dennis Hopper.)

Hofstadter and Sander’s book is a bottomless exploration of the potential of analogic thinking to eat away at any simple idea of how one thing is related to another. The authors pursue this problem by pondering analogies of all types and at ascending levels of abstraction, with lists that span pages. They posit that the logic of analogy brings together not just how two unrelated things get related by their likeness (A is to B as X is to Y), but how, on a different level of abstraction, we might analogize relationality itself. We make sense of a variety of situations, sometimes consciously, sometimes below the level of reflection, by thinking of them in terms of label-like proverbs or aphorisms or even fables: X situation is just like what we think of when we think of the experience of “sour grapes,” or of “have your cake and eat it too.” The abstraction that provides the “label” for an analogy may not even have a name: Hofstadter returns throughout the book to a recurring and evidently personally haunting example of a situation in which the act of gathering stray bottle caps while on a tour of the temple at Karnak is linked to a memory of his young son, during a family visit to the Grand Canyon, mesmerized by a formation of ants instead of the sublime view. There’s no convenient or pithy category label for what these two things share, though the manner in which Hofstadter processed the former experience, as he exhaustively argues, seems to depend on an ingrained version of analogical thinking.

This being a book with Douglas Hofstadter as an author, it will discursively scale the Karnak–Grand Canyon experience in the form of a poem written by a friend, plumb the loop-de-loop relationship between the analogy thus formed and the incipient category it instantiates, and construct a tower out of analogies that ensue from yet another . . . analogy. It will show how the ur-form of a particular analogy (“X is the Y of something”) will throw off endless variations (in one virtuoso list, Hofstadter and Sander offer found variations including the “Bill Gates of wastewater,” the “Tiger Woods of user-generated video,” and the “Mussolini of mulligatawny”). Surfaces and Essences is a Hofstadterian machine of knot tying: With lists after lists, some virtuosic, some groan inspiring, of how to do things with analogy, it becomes clear that analogy and categorization are inseparable. We use analogies whenever we open our mouths—it should be obvious in the sentence above that “scale,” “plumb,” and “tower” are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of how pernicious analogical language is on some basic level of communication—and Hofstadter and Sander eat up 590 densely printed pages thick with puns to make sure that we don’t miss the point. Surfaces and Essences caps itself with a twenty-five-page-long dialogue between two characters, Katy and Anna, who, like a pair of escapees from a play by Brecht, debate the positions taken in the book, with the dummkopf Katy arguing the bad view that categories form the core of cognition while the enlightened, analogically hip Anna proves the errors of her ways. (Wouldn’t you know it—every argument that Katy comes up with for her view about the primacy of categories as the basis for analogy turns on conceptualizing “categories” by way of various analogies. Like a spin on Monsieur Jourdain, she didn’t know she was speaking in analogies all along!)

Rhetorical strategies aside—insert metajoke here—you have to wonder whom this book was written for. It seems like a textbook, but there are no notes, no bibliography, no real sense of how Surfaces and Essences fits with or argues against (analogous?) work in psychology or cognitive science. It’s difficult, too, to gauge its urgency. The book feels like it could have been hatched three decades ago, around the time that George Lakoff and Mark Johnson wrote Metaphors We Live By, which raises many similar issues. Maybe that’s irrelevant, and the point is to disabuse us of a conceptual, context-free model of “dictionary meaning”—that meaning is a matter of discrete taxonomic categories like “mammal” or “sandwich” or “president,” all of which will by definition contain a set of necessary and sufficient features. Fair enough (although who really believes that?). But when all thought becomes “analogized” as analogy, if it, like Bertrand Russell’s tale of the turtles, is analogy all the way down, the explanatory value of “analogy” comes to seem tautological. This may be the way cognition “works,” but if there’s no other way to express it but, well, analogically—then it frankly seems a game of increasingly clever wordplay. To take a further step and refer to “analogy” as the core, that is, essence, of thought is to cast the analogy as hard fact, which seems no less reductive than the kind of conceptual models from which Hofstadter and Sander have labored mightily to rid us. The analogy I’m thinking of is “can’t have it both ways.”

~ Eric Banks is the former editor in chief of Bookforum and the former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Brain Games that Capture Brain Circuits and What Neuroscience Tells Us about the Self

Interesting presentation from the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. This is part of The Multidimensional Mind series - "Learn from leading experts in neurology, neuropsychology, neuroscience and geriatrics about how your brain works and how it changes with age."

Brain Games that Capture Brain Circuits and What Neuroscience Tells Us about the Self

Published on May 8, 2013

(Visit: What is the self? Dr. Winston Chiong, Brianne Bettcher and Kate Possin explore what neuroscience tells us about this age old question. Series: "UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine presents Mini Medical School for the Public" [5/2013]

Tom Waits Sings and Tells Stories in Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna, a 1979 Austrian Film

Via Open Culture, a cool old Tom Waits film. Happy Friday!

Tom Waits Sings and Tells Stories inTom Waits: A Day in Vienna, a 1979 Austrian Film

May 8th, 2013

The film opens at a derelict gas station. A paper sign, peeling from the wall, warns in German that open flames and smoking are dangerous and strictly forbidden. In walks Tom Waits, smoking a cigarette.

“This reminds me of a place I used to work in National City, California, called Spotco Self Service,” Waits says as he leans against a pump. “I worked for a gentleman named Charles Spotco. I was always late for work. I used to stay out at night. I’d come dragging to work, used to get there about ten-thirty in the morning. He’d chew me out and scream at me for being late. He always said I’d never amount to nothing. I never thought I’d be standing in a gas station in Vienna Austria. If I’d of told him that one day, Spotco, I’ll be leaning on a gas pump at a gas station in Vienna Austria, he would have said you gotta be out of your mind.”

The scene is from Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna, a half-hour Austrian TV film shot on April 19, 1979, and shown above in its entirety. Filmmakers Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher approached Waits when he arrived in Vienna on a short European tour, according to Barney Hoskyns in Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits. “He came in from Amsterdam saying he hadn’t slept all night, but he agreed on the spot to let us film him,” Rossacher told Hoskyns. “He didn’t want to do a proper interview but instead he wanted to tell stories.”

Dolezal and Rossacher drove Waits to the old gas station and later to a Greek cafe, where he told a comic story about a saxophone player. At the Konzerthaus that night they filmed Waits performing “Sweet Little Bullet From a Pretty Blue Gun,” “Pasties and a G-String” and “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.” Backstage before the encore, Dolezal can be seen, an amused look on his face, holding the boom mic as Waits paces back and forth singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Afterward, in a lounge, Waits sits down at a piano and plays a few bars of “I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work” before dancing with a bar girl and retiring for the night.

Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna will be added to our collection of 525 Free Movies Online.

Related Content:

Emotional Self-Control Involves Different Brain Systems than Externally Directed Emotional Response

This recent study sought to identify the brain structures involved in emotion suppression (endogenous condition, i.e., freely chosen by the subject) vs. emotion inhibition (exogenous, or directed by a prompt on the screen) when shown emotionally unpleasant or frightening images.

The results demonstrate that "that emotional self-control involves a quite different brain system from simply being told how to respond emotionally," according to Dr. Simone Kuhn (Ghent University), the lead author.
Endogenous inhibition of emotions was associated with dorso-medial prefrontal cortex activation, whereas exogenous inhibition was found associated with lateral prefrontal cortex activation. 
Here is the study abstract and citation (the full article is behind Springer's paywall), followed by a summary of the article from Science Codex.

Differences between endogenous and exogenous emotion inhibition in the human brain

Simone Kühn, Patrick Haggard, Marcel Brass


The regulation of emotions is an integral part of our mental health. It has only recently been investigated using brain imaging techniques. In most studies, participants are instructed by a cue to inhibit a specific emotional reaction. The aim of the present study was to investigate the alternative situation where a person decides to inhibit an emotion as an act of endogenous self-control. Healthy participants viewed highly arousing pictures with negative valence. In the endogenous condition, participants could freely choose on each trial to inhibit or feel the emotions elicited by the picture. In an exogenous condition, a visual cue instructed them to either feel or inhibit the emotion elicited by the picture. Participants’ subjective ratings of intensity of experienced emotion showed an interaction effect between source of control (endogenous/exogenous) and feel/inhibit based on a stronger modulation between feel and inhibition for the endogenous compared to the exogenous condition. Endogenous inhibition of emotions was associated with dorso-medial prefrontal cortex activation, whereas exogenous inhibition was found associated with lateral prefrontal cortex activation. Thus, the brain regions for both endogenous and exogenous inhibition of emotion are highly similar to those for inhibition of motor actions in Brass and Haggard (J Neurosci 27:9141–9145, 2007), Kühn et al. (Hum Brain Mapp 30:2834–2843, 2009). Functional connectivity analyses showed that dorsofrontomedial cortex exerts greater control onto pre-supplementary motor area during endogenous inhibition compared to endogenous feel. This functional dissociation between an endogenous, fronto-medial and an exogenous, fronto-lateral inhibition centre has important implications for our understanding of emotion regulation in health and psychopathology.

Full Citation:
Simone Kühn, Patrick Haggard, Marcel Brass. Differences between endogenous and exogenous emotion inhibition in the human brain. Brain Structure and Function, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0556-0

Study finds brain system for emotional self-control

Posted May 9, 2013

Different brain areas are activated when we choose to suppress an emotion, compared to when we are instructed to inhibit an emotion, according a new study from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Ghent University.

In this study, published in Brain Structure and Function, the researchers scanned the brains of healthy participants and found that key brain systems were activated when choosing for oneself to suppress an emotion. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement.

"This result shows that emotional self-control involves a quite different brain system from simply being told how to respond emotionally," said lead author Dr Simone Kuhn (Ghent University).

In most previous studies, participants were instructed to feel or inhibit an emotional response. However, in everyday life we are rarely told to suppress our emotions, and usually have to decide ourselves whether to feel or control our emotions.

In this new study the researchers showed fifteen healthy women unpleasant or frightening pictures. The participants were given a choice to feel the emotion elicited by the image, or alternatively to inhibit the emotion, by distancing themselves through an act of self-control.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of the participants. They compared this brain activity to another experiment where the participants were instructed to feel or inhibit their emotions, rather than choose for themselves.

Different parts of the brain were activated in the two situations. When participants decided for themselves to inhibit negative emotions, the scientists found activation in the dorso-medial prefrontal area of the brain. They had previously linked this brain area to deciding to inhibit movement.

In contrast, when participants were instructed by the experimenter to inhibit the emotion, a second, more lateral area was activated.

"We think controlling one's emotions and controlling one's behaviour involve overlapping mechanisms," said Dr Kuhn.

"We should distinguish between voluntary and instructed control of emotions, in the same way as we can distinguish between making up our own mind about what do, versus following instructions."

Regulating emotions is part of our daily life, and is important for our mental health. For example, many people have to conquer fear of speaking in public, while some professionals such as health-care workers and firemen have to maintain an emotional distance from unpleasant or distressing scenes that occur in their jobs.

Professor Patrick Haggard (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) co-author of the paper said the brain mechanism identified in this study could be a potential target for therapies.

"The ability to manage one's own emotions is affected in many mental health conditions, so identifying this mechanism opens interesting possibilities for future research.

"Most studies of emotion processing in the brain simply assume that people passively receive emotional stimuli, and automatically feel the corresponding emotion. In contrast, the area we have identified may contribute to some individuals' ability to rise above particular emotional situations.

"This kind of self-control mechanism may have positive aspects, for example making people less vulnerable to excessive emotion. But altered function of this brain area could also potentially lead to difficulties in responding appropriately to emotional situations."

Source: University College London

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Biology of Kindness: How It Makes Us Happier & Healthier

A nice little piece from Time Magazine. The author of the article, Maia Szalavitz, is a neuroscience journalist for and co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential--and Endangered.

Szalavitz looks at a new study published in Psychological Science, suggests that the link between social connection and physical health may be related to the vagus nerve, which connects social contact to the positive emotions that can flow from interactions.

The Biology of Kindness: How It Makes Us Happier & Healthier

By Maia Szalavitz
May 09, 2013

There’s a reason why being kind to others is good for you— and it can now be traced to a specific nerve.

When it comes to staying healthy, both physically and mentally, studies consistently show that strong relationships are at least as important as avoiding smoking and obesity. But how does social support translate into physical benefits such as lower blood pressure, healthier weights and other physiological measures of sound health? A new study published in Psychological Science, suggests that the link may follow the twisting path of the vagus nerve, which connects social contact to the positive emotions that can flow from interactions.

The researchers, led by Barbara Fredrickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recruited 65 members of the faculty and staff of the university for a study on meditation and stress. Roughly half were randomly assigned to take an hour-long class each week for six weeks in “lovingkindness” meditation, which involves focusing on warm, compassionate thoughts about yourself and others.

In the class, the participants were instructed to sit and think compassionately about others by starting to contemplate their own worries and concerns and then moving out to include those of more of their social contacts. People were taught to silently repeat phrases like, “May you feel safe, may you feel happy, may you feel healthy, may you live with ease,” and keep returning to these thoughts when their minds wandered. They were also advised to focus on these thoughts, and on other people, in stressful situations such as when they were stuck in traffic. “It’s kind of softening your own heart to be more open to others,” says Fredrickson.

The group not assigned to the meditation class was placed on a waiting list for a future class. For 61 days, all of the participants logged their daily amount of meditation and prayer (those in the class were encouraged to practice every day) as well as their most powerful experiences of positive and negative emotions. They were also tested before starting the six week class and again after completing it on their heart rate variability, which is a measure of how “toned,” or responsive the vagus can be.

The vagus regulates how efficiently heart rate changes with breathing and, in general, the greater its tone, the higher the heart rate variability and the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease and other major killers. It may also play a role in regulating glucose levels and immune resoponses.

In addition, and relevant to the study, the vagus is intimately tied to how we connect with each other— it links directly to nerves that tune our ears to human speech, coordinate eye contact and regulate emotional expressions. It influences the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is important in social bonding. Studies have found that higher vagal tone is associated with greater closeness to others and more altruistic behavior.

More of the meditaters than those on the waiting list showed an overall increase in positive emotions, like joy, interest, amusement, serenity and hope after completing the class. And these emotional and psychological changes were correlated with a greater sense of connectedness to others — as well as to an improvement in vagal function as seen in heart rate variability, particularly for those whose “vagal tone,” was already high at the start of the study.

“The biggest news is that we’re able to change something physical about people’s health by increasing their daily diet of positive emotion and that helps us get at a long standing mystery of how our emotional and social experience affects our physical health,” says Fredrickson.

Simply meditating, however, didn’t always result in a more toned vagus nerve, however. The change only occurred in meditaters who became happier and felt more socially connected; for those who meditated just as much but didn’t report feeling any closer to others, there was no change in the tone of the vagal nerve. “We find that the active ingredients are two psychological variables: positive emotion and the feeling of positive social connection,” she says. “If the practice of “lovingkindness” didn’t budge those, it didn’t change vagal tone.”

More research is needed to determine how large these changes can be and if they can be sustained, as well as how the feelings of social connectedness and interact with compassionate meditation. But, Fredrickson says, “We’ve had a lot of indirect clues that relationships are healing. What’s exciting about this study is that it suggests that every [positive] interaction we have with people is a miniature health tune-up.” Being a good friend, and being compassionate toward others, may be one of the best ways to improve your own health.

Michael Harner - Our World: Shamans and Spirits

Reality Sandwich posted this excerpt from the new book by Michael Harner, one of the pioneers in bringing shamanic practices into the modern world. His new book is called Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality, published by North Atlantic Books.

Here is the publisher's promotional blurb for the book:
In 1980, Michael Harner blazed the trail for the worldwide revival of shamanism with his seminal classic The Way of the Shaman. In this long-awaited sequel, he provides new evidence of the reality of heavens.

Drawing from a lifetime of personal shamanic experiences and more than 2,500 reports of Westerners’ experiences during shamanic ascension, Harner highlights the striking similarities between their discoveries, indicating that the heavens and spirits they've encountered do indeed exist. He also provides instructions on his innovative core-shamanism techniques, so that readers too can ascend to heavenly realms, seek spirit teachers, and return later at will for additional healing and advice.

Written by the leading authority on shamanism, Cave and Cosmos is a must-read not only for those interested in shamanism, but also for those interested in spirituality, comparative religion, near-death experiences, healing, consciousness, anthropology, and the nature of reality.
For the sake of honesty and full disclosure, I don't buy into the "reality" of heaven realms or the underworld. I see them as archetypal inner worlds all of us can access with a little training. Nor do I believe the "spirits" people encounter in their journeys are real - rather, I see them as inner figures, not unlike CG Jung's spiritual guide, Philemon.

Our World: Shamans and Spirits

Michael Harner

The following is excerpted from Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality, published by North Atlantic Books.

Close your eyes,
then you will find the way.
--from a Puyallup Indian myth

Based on archaeological and comparative ethnological evidence, shamanism is believed by many scholars to be at least 30,000 years old and quite possibly is more ancient. Without dispute, it is the most time-tested system for healing through the purposeful integration of mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. Although the word "shaman" comes from the Tungusic-speaking peoples of Siberia and north China, the worldwide similarity of the basic practices led anthropologists to apply the term generically elsewhere.

Until the present century, shamanism was practiced on all inhabited continents by indigenous peoples, including such widely separated peoples as the Sami (formerly "Lapps") of northernmost Europe, the aboriginal peoples of Australia, the Kung Bushmen of southern Africa, and the indigenous peoples of North and South America. However, due to such factors as introduced disease, wars, missionization, and persecution, the numbers of indigenous shamans were drastically reduced in the last five centuries, commonly along with a radical erosion of their culture's shamanic knowledge. In the last few decades this situation has started to change.


Definitions are often a contentious matter, particularly in the case of shamans and shamanism. What I offer now is what I have personally found useful in my work with shamans, and within shamanism, for half a century. The following words are not intended to satisfy everyone, or perhaps even most, but they are intended to communicate what I am talking about in this book.

While the work of shamans encompasses virtually the full gamut of known spiritual practices, shamanism is universally characterized by an intentional change in consciousness (Eliade's "ecstasy") to engage in purposeful two-way interaction with spirits. Its most distinctive feature, which is not universal, is the out-of-body journey to other worlds.

It should be noted that in some indigenous societies, there are shamans who do not journey at all, and others who journey only in the Middle World or, if they journey beyond the Middle World, may not go to both the Upper and Lower Worlds. What they all do share is disciplined interaction with spirits in nonordinary reality to help and heal others.

Whether journeying or not, shamans depend heavily upon the assistance of their tutelary entities, or helping spirits, with whom they interact in the altered state of consciousness that worldwide is most commonly achieved with the aid of auditory (sonic) driving. Both in traditional indigenous settings and in contemporary society, shamans work within a holistic framework. They address the spiritual side of illness in a complementary relationship with the nonspiritual treatment of illness and injury.

Shamans must be distinguished from sorcerers. Sorcerers are not healers and commonly cause pain and suffering.

The Two Realities

A basic assumption in shamanism is that there are two realities, and the perception of each depends upon one's state of consciousness. This assumption is explicit in core shamanism but usually is implicit in indigenous shamanism, where there is commonly not as much interest in a disciplined distinction between realities. Indeed, some indigenous shamans I have known seemed to enjoy the drama and romance of a blurring between realities.

Shamans access another reality especially in order to work with helping spirits to heal, divine, and accomplish other tasks for their patients and clients. This other reality is accessed by entering the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC), as I described in The Way of the Shaman. The SSC can range from light to deep and is most commonly entered temporarily with the help of auditory driving.

Those in the ordinary state of consciousness (OSC) perceive ordinary reality (OR); those in the SSC are able to enter into and perceive nonordinary reality (NOR). These states are both called realities because each is empirically encountered and has its own forms of knowledge and relevance to human existence.

NOR is not a consensual reality, and indeed if it were, shamanic practitioners would have no function, for it is their responsibility to perceive successfully what others do not. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the shamanic practitioner is the ability to move back and forth at will between these realities with discipline and purpose in order to heal and help others.

"Seeing" in Shamanism

"Seeing" is an important aspect of shamanism and shamanic journeying. As Eliade remarks, "‘Seeing' a spirit ... is a certain sign that one has in some sort obtained a ‘spiritual condition,' that is, that one has transcended the profane condition of humanity." The word "seer" in English may refer to the ancient European shamans, those who were "see-ers." Similarly, the Matsigenka Indians of the Upper Amazon call a shaman one "who sees." At the same time, "seeing" is a gloss in shamanism for more than visualizing, for it refers to perceiving with all the senses, including hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

Shamans differ from those who believe in spirits, because they know from firsthand experience that spirits exist. They see the spirits, touch them, hear them, smell them, and converse with them. This is why in many tribal societies around the world, the shaman is referred to not only as "one who sees" but also as "one who knows," or as a "person of knowledge." Shamans no more believe spirits exist than you believe your family, friends, and acquaintances exist. You know your family, friends, and acquaintances exist because you talk and otherwise interact with them daily. Similarly, shamans know spirits exist because they interact with them daily or, more often, nightly, for it is usually easier to see spirits in darkness. Also, darkness is an important medium for identifying spirits, for it eliminates the possibility of confusing them with the ordinary images of daylight reality.

The familiar concept of the "third eye" from Eastern spiritual practices crops up elsewhere. It is often known among Australian aboriginals, for example, as the "strong eye," located similarly in the center of the forehead. Sometimes a quartz crystal, a uniquely important stone crossculturally in shamanism, is pressed into that center to help the beginning shaman see shamanically more clearly. In former times, a Paviotso shaman in America could carry a quartz crystal on the cave power quest described in Chapter 1 so as to be able afterward to "see through anything." The seeing of shamans is not restricted to perceiving in darkness but commonly extends to seeing through things that in ordinary reality appear to most people as opaque. In shamanic extraction healing work, one sees or senses the illness within the sick person.

A power to "see through anything" is a common feature of shamanic experience. This power brings its own light to penetrate darkness and matter, as Knud Rasmussen notes for the Iglulik Eskimo:

"The first time a young shaman experiences this light, while sitting up on the bench [in the darkened igloo] invoking his helping spirits, it is as if the house in which he is suddenly rises; he sees far ahead of him, through mountains, exactly as if the earth were one great plain, and his eyes could reach the end of the earth. Nothing is hidden from him any longer."

In shamanism, "seeing" also involves seeing with the heart, or knowing in your heart that what you are perceiving is truth. This emotional certainty is fundamental to the experience of direct revelation and is one of the features that usually characterize shamanic seeing.

In 1968 I was discussing shamanic seeing with French ethnologist Jacques Lemoine, a specialist in the shamanism of the Hmong peoples of Laos. Although an outstanding fieldworker, he had never asked the shamans if they saw images, because they had already told him that they "saw with the heart." Therefore he assumed that no visual perception was involved. I urged him to interview one of his Hmong shaman friends further. Sure enough, a few months later he reported that they did indeed see images with their closed and covered eyes when they were doing their journeys and other work, and that they still said they saw with the heart, simply because emotional certainty was part of their direct revelations. Such an emotional certainty is also necessary for successful work in Western shamanic healing.

Are Shamans Born or Made?

For the Westerner, it is easy to assume that shamans practice their profession full-time. In fact, however, shamans usually spend most of their time doing ordinary work such as farming or hunting, food gathering and processing, and child-rearing. In the evenings, and upon request, they journey and do other shamanic work in a disciplined and controlled way. Their spiritual work in an altered state of consciousness is very intense. It is not possible even to eat a meal when doing it. So it is inconceivable that one could be working in this kind of altered state of consciousness all day on a regular basis. Shamans must be part-timers.

Persons may become shamans in many different ways. In Siberia, for example, shamans might inherit the power and knowledge through their families. Elsewhere in Siberia, and in some places in native South America, persons might suffer a serious illness, such as smallpox, and be expected to die but then have a miraculous recovery. Or perhaps it was a freak accident like a lightning strike that one survived. When such a thing happened, the community members characteristically concluded that healing power had come to save the person. They then sometimes asked the power-blessed person, upon recovery, to help heal someone else who was sick. The recovered person, even if unsure of his or her ability, could hardly refuse relatives and friends in need. If, in response, he or she successfully intervened, a shaman could be born.

In some indigenous societies, children were watched to see if they showed signs of being directly in touch with the spiritual realms, such as when they spontaneously sang a song apparently received from the spirits, as among the Pomo of Native California. If such signs occurred, then the children's healing powers might be tested by the adults. However, even in such cases the child was rarely recognized as a full-fledged shaman until becoming an adult. Shamanic practitioners worldwide were typically mature adults, usually with their own children.

In certain cultures, it was quite common to pay an established shaman for training. For example, East Greenland Eskimo shamans usually had several paid teachers. Among the Shuar in eastern Ecuador, the only known way to become a shaman is to buy the power, in the form of spirit helpers, from another shaman. The usual payment in the 1950s was in shuar kuit, or "Indian valuables." To pay a well-known shaman for a weeklong period of training and power transmission, a man might have to spend two or three years amassing enough feather headdresses, blowguns, curare blowgun dart poison, perhaps a hunting dog, and maybe even a muzzle-loading shotgun. Today shamanism remains strong among the Shuar, but the payment is usually in major amounts of Ecuadorian currency.

There are other ways, too, that one may become a shaman. In the Conibo tribe of eastern Peru, for example, the beginner, under the guidance of a shaman, may learn primarily from the spirit of a tall sacred tree (the ceiba). In the old days among Inuit of the Arctic, usually one of the most valued ways to become a shaman was to be initiated by the spirits in extreme isolation while suffering. To achieve this, an apprentice, under the supervision of a shaman, might spend days alone in a miniature igloo in the dead of winter without any heat, light, food, and little or no water, until the spirits brought enlightenment and healing power.

Perhaps one of the most mysterious and distinctive ways of becoming a shaman has been through experiencing the dismemberment of one's body in an altered state of consciousness. Accounts of this kind of initiatory experience are relatively common among Siberian tribes and Aboriginal Australian people. Later we will examine this important type of shamanic experience and its significance (see Chapter 11).

While there are many ways to become a shaman, how is not as important as the strength of the helping spirits supporting a person. In other words, the crucial issue is not whether one pays a shaman, as among the Shuar, or almost starves and freezes to death in isolated darkness on the ice, as among some Inuit in the days before missionization. Rather, the issue can be stated very simply: does one's shamanic work produce successful results for those who ask for help? If such results come, it matters little how or where one trained, or if one trained at all in a formal sense, for the people will recognize him or her as a shaman. Shamans are known by their works, and the ultimate judgment is by those on whose behalf they work for healing, divination, and other purposes.
Read the whole article.

Ben Goertzel - Countering Objections to Mind Uploading (and Refuting that Countering)

In this post from IEET, Ben Goertzel offers his rebuttal to a recent article by George Dvorsky at io9 on why we will likely never be able to upload our "minds" into computers. He gave 8 reasons, none of which is the most crucial reason.

Before getting to the 9th reason, there is one REALLY important piece that has not been addressed in most of the articles I have seen - what is the definition of "mind" being used in the argument? Here is one of the possible versions of mind, from Wikipedia:

Understanding the relationship between the brain and the mind – mind-body problem is one of the central issues in the history of philosophy – is a challenging problem both philosophically and scientifically.[11] There are three major philosophical schools of thought concerning the answer: dualism, materialism, and idealism. Dualism holds that the mind exists independently of the brain;[12] materialism holds that mental phenomena are identical to neuronal phenomena;[13] and idealism holds that only mental phenomena exist.[13] 
The most straightforward scientific evidence that there is a strong relationship between the physical brain matter and the mind is the impact physical alterations to the brain have on the mind, such as with traumatic brain injury and psychoactive drug use.[14] 
In addition to the philosophical questions, the relationship between mind and brain involves a number of scientific questions, including understanding the relationship between mental activity and brain activity, the exact mechanisms by which drugs influence cognition, and the neural correlates of consciousness
Through most of history many philosophers found it inconceivable that cognition could be implemented by a physical substance such as brain tissue (that is neurons and synapses).[15]Philosophers such as Patricia Churchland posit that the drug-mind interaction is indicative of an intimate connection between the brain and the mind, not that the two are the same entity.[16] Descartes, who thought extensively about mind-brain relationships, found it possible to explain reflexes and other simple behaviors in mechanistic terms, although he did not believe that complex thought, and language in particular, could be explained by reference to the physical brain alone.[17]
There is a fourth option to the mind-body problem, an alternative I once named Singularism. In essence, Mind is the complex interaction between the body/brain and it's subjective experience, which is shaped and defined by its interpersonal and intersubjective context within a specific physical and temporal space.

Dan Siegel has a much simpler definition, but it's based on similar ideas to the ones I offer above - “A core aspect of the mind can be defined as an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” 

The key words in Siegel's definition are embodied and relational - these are the essential elements missing from most of the definitions of mind that are used when people talk about uploading mind into computers.

Countering Objections to Mind Uploading

Ben Goertzel

Posted: May 6, 2013
By Adam Ford

Ben Goertzel, an IEET Fellow, in response to some common objections covered in an article on io9 by George Dvorsky (IEET Director) 'You'll Probably Never Upload Your Mind Into A Computer.'
Here is the beginning of the original article:

You Might Never Upload Your Brain Into a Computer

Many futurists predict that one day we'll upload our minds into computers, where we'll romp around in virtual reality environments. That's possible — but there are still a number of thorny issues to consider. Here are eight reasons why your brain may never be digitized.

Indeed, this isn't just idle speculation. Many important thinkers have expressed their support of the possibility, including the renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil (author of How to Create a Mind), roboticist Hans Moravec, cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, neuroscientist David Eagleman, and many others.

Skeptics, of course, relish the opportunity to debunk uploads. The claim that we’ll be able to transfer our conscious thoughts to a computer, after all, is a rather extraordinary one.

But many of the standard counter-arguments tend to fall short. Typical complaints cite insufficient processing power, inadequate storage space, or the fear that the supercomputers will be slow, unstable and prone to catastrophic failures — concerns that certainly don’t appear intractable given the onslaught of Moore’s Law and the potential for megascale computation. Another popular objection is that the mind cannot exist without a body. But an uploaded mind could be endowed with a simulated body and placed in a simulated world.

To be fair, however, there are a number of genuine scientific, philosophical, ethical, and even security concerns that could significantly limit or even prevent consciousness uploads from ever happening. Here are eight of the most serious.
With that, here is the reply from Ben Goertzel, one of the most vocal supporters of mind uploads.

Objections are covered in order as they appear in the article:
1. Brain functions are not computable
2. We'll never solve the hard problem of consciousness
3. We'll never solve the binding problem
4. Panpsychism is true
5. Mind-body dualism is true
6. It would be unethical to develop
7. We can never be sure it works
8. Uploaded minds would be vulnerable to hacking and abuse
Ben Goertzel wrote a response to the io9 article:…

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Compassionate Mind - Science Shows Why it’s Healthy and How it Spreads

From the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Observer, this article offers a solid overview of compassion and empathy research and how to cultivate compassion in our own lives.

The Compassionate Mind

Science shows why it’s healthy and how it spreads

By Emma Seppala
Observer Vol.26, No.5 May/June, 2013

At a Glance

Gathering Empirical Evidence About Compassion
  • Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behavior and will even overcome obstacles to do so.
  • Steve Cole at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Barbara L. Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found in a study that people who are happy because they live a life of purpose or meaning had low levels of the cellular inflammation associated with many diseases, including cancer.
  • A brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health showed that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves.

Decades of clinical research has focused and shed light on the psychology of human suffering. That suffering, as unpleasant as it is, often also has a bright side to which research has paid less attention: compassion. Human suffering is often accompanied by beautiful acts of compassion by others wishing to help relieve it. What led 26.5 percent of Americans to volunteer in 2012 (according to statistics from the US Department of Labor)? What propels someone to serve food at a homeless shelter, pull over on the highway in the rain to help someone with a broken down vehicle, or feed a stray cat?

What is Compassion?

What is compassion and how is it different from empathy or altruism? The definition of compassion is often confused with that of empathy. Empathy, as defined by researchers, is the visceral or emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring of another’s emotion, like tearing up at a friend’s sadness. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else. It may or may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion, for example in the case of making a donation for tax purposes. Although these terms are related to compassion, they are not identical. Compassion often does, of course, involve an empathic response and an altruistic behavior. However, compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help.

Is Compassion Natural or Learned?

Though economists have long argued the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both animals and human beings have what APS Fellow Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley, coins a “compassionate instinct.” In other words, compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival. Research by APS Fellow Jean Decety, at the University of Chicago, showed that even rats are driven to empathize with another suffering rat and to go out of their way to help it out of its quandary. Studies with chimpanzees and human infants too young to have learned the rules of politeness, also back up these claims. Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute, in Germany, have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behavior and will even overcome obstacles to do so. They apparently do so from intrinsic motivation without expectation of reward. A recent study they ran indicated that infants’ pupil diameters (a measure of attention) decrease both when they help and when they see someone else helping, suggesting that they are not simply helping because helping feels rewarding. It appears to be the alleviation of suffering that brings reward — whether or not they engage in the helping behavior themselves. Recent research by David Rand at Harvard University shows that adults’ and children’s first impulse is to help others. Research by APS Fellow Dale Miller at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business suggests that this is also the case of adults, however, worrying that others will think they are acting out of self-interest can stop them from this impulse to help.

It is not surprising that compassion is a natural tendency since it is essential for human survival. As has been brought to light by Keltner, the term “survival of the fittest,” often attributed to Charles Darwin, was actually coined by Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinists who wished to justify class and race superiority. A lesser known fact is that Darwin’s work is best described with the phrase “survival of the kindest.” Indeed in The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex, Darwin argued for “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” In another passage, he comments that “communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” Compassion may indeed be a naturally evolved and adaptive trait. Without it, the survival and flourishing of our species would have been unlikely.

One more sign that suggests that compassion is an adaptively evolved trait is that it makes us more attractive to potential mates. A study examining the trait most highly valued in potential romantic partners suggests that both men and women agree that “kindness” is one of the most highly desirable traits.

Compassion’s Surprising Benefits for Physical and Psychological Health

Compassion may have ensured our survival because of its tremendous benefits for both physical and mental health and overall well-being. Research by APS William James Fellow Ed Diener, a leading researcher in positive psychology, and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Martin Seligman, a pioneer of the psychology of happiness and human flourishing, suggests that connecting with others in a meaningful way helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore, research by Stephanie Brown, at Stony Brook University, and Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, has shown that it may even lengthen our life spans.

The reason a compassionate lifestyle leads to greater psychological well-being may be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving. A brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health showed that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Giving to others even increases well-being above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves. In a revealing experiment by Elizabeth Dunn, at the University of British Columbia, participants received a sum of money and half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half was told to spend the money on others. At the end of the study, which was published in the academic journal Science, participants who had spent money on others felt significantly happier than those who had spent money on themselves.

This is true even for infants. A study by Lara Aknin and colleagues at the University of British Columbia shows that even in children as young as two, giving treats to others increases the givers’ happiness more than receiving treats themselves. Even more surprisingly, the fact that giving makes us happier than receiving is true across the world, regardless of whether countries are rich or poor. A new study by Aknin, now at Simon Fraser University, shows that the amount of money spent on others (rather than for personal benefit) and personal well-being were highly correlated, regardless of income, social support, perceived freedom, and perceived national corruption.

Why is Compassion Good For Us?

Why does compassion lead to health benefits in particular? A clue to this question rests in a fascinating new study by Steve Cole at the University of California, Los Angeles, and APS Fellow Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The results were reported at Stanford Medical School’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education’s (CCARE) inaugural Science of Compassion conference in 2012. Their study evaluated the levels of cellular inflammation in people who describe themselves as “very happy.” Inflammation is at the root of cancer and other diseases and is generally high in people who live under a lot of stress. We might expect that inflammation would be lower for people with higher levels of happiness. Cole and Fredrickson found that this was only the case for certain “very happy” people. They found that people who were happy because they lived the “good life” (sometimes also know as “hedonic happiness”) had high inflammation levels but that, on the other hand, people who were happy because they lived a life of purpose or meaning (sometimes also known as “eudaimonic happiness”) had low inflammation levels. A life of meaning and purpose is one focused less on satisfying oneself and more on others. It is a life rich in compassion, altruism, and greater meaning.

Another way in which a compassionate lifestyle may improve longevity is that it may serve as a buffer against stress. A new study conducted on a large population (more than 800 people) and spearheaded by the University at Buffalo’s Michael Poulin found that stress did not predict mortality in those who helped others, but that it did in those who did not. One of the reasons that compassion may protect against stress is the very fact that it is so pleasurable. Motivation, however, seems to play an important role in predicting whether a compassionate lifestyle exerts a beneficial impact on health. Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, discovered that people who engaged in volunteerism lived longer than their non-volunteering peers — but only if their reasons for volunteering were altruistic rather than self-serving.

Another reason compassion may boost our well-being is that it can help broaden our perspective beyond ourselves. Research shows that depression and anxiety are linked to a state of self-focus, a preoccupation with “me, myself, and I.” When you do something for someone else, however, that state of self-focus shifts to a state of other-focus. If you recall a time you were feeling blue and suddenly a close friend or relative calls you for urgent help with a problem, you may remember that as your attention shifts to helping them, your mood lifts. Rather than feeling blue, you may have felt energized to help; before you knew it, you may even have felt better and gained some perspective on your own situation as well.

Finally, one additional way in which compassion may boost our well-being is by increasing a sense of connection to others. One telling study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, strong social connection leads to a 50 percent increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system (research by Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show that they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness. Low social connection has been generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health, as well as a higher propensity for antisocial behavior that leads to further isolation. Adopting a compassionate lifestyle or cultivating compassion may help boost social connection and improve physical and psychological health.

Why Compassion Really Does Have the Ability to Change the World

Why are the lives of people like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Desmond Tutu so inspiring? Research by APS Fellow Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia suggests that seeing someone helping another person creates a state of “elevation.” Have you ever been moved to tears by seeing someone’s loving and compassionate behavior? Haidt’s data suggest that elevation then inspires us to help others — and it may just be the force behind a chain reaction of giving. Haidt has shown that corporate leaders who engage in self-sacrificing behavior and elicit “elevation” in their employees, also yield greater influence among their employees — who become more committed and in turn may act with more compassion in the workplace. Indeed, compassion is contagious. Social scientists James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard demonstrated that helping is contagious: acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness. You may have seen one of the news reports about chain reactions that occur when someone pays for the coffee of the drivers behind them at a drive-through restaurant or at a highway tollbooth. People keep the generous behavior going for hours. Our acts of compassion uplift others and make them happy. We may not know it, but by uplifting others we are also helping ourselves; research by Fowler and Christakis has shown that happiness spreads and that if the people around us are happy, we, in turn become happier.

Cultivating Compassion

Although compassion appears to be a naturally evolved instinct, it sometimes helps to receive some training. A number of studies have now shown that a variety of compassion and “loving-kindness” meditation practices, mostly derived out of traditional Buddhist practices, may help cultivate compassion. Cultivating compassion does not require years of study and can be elicited quite rapidly. In a study Cendri Hutcherson, at the California Institute of Technology, and I conducted in 2008 with APS Fellow James Gross at Stanford, we found that a seven-minute intervention was enough to increase feelings of closeness and connection to the target of meditation on both explicit measures, but also on implicit measures that participants could not voluntarily control; this suggests that their sense of connection had changed on a deep-seated level. Fredrickson tested a nine-week loving-kindness meditation intervention and found that the participants who went through the intervention experienced increased daily positive emotions, reduced depressive symptoms, and increased life satisfaction. A group led by Sheethal Reddy at Emory with foster children showed that a compassion intervention increased hopefulness in the children. Overall, research on compassion interventions show improvements in psychological well-being, compassion, and social connection.

In addition to questionnaire measures, researchers are finding that compassion interventions also impact behavior. APS Fellow Tania Singer and her team at the Max Planck Institute conducted a study that looked at the effects of compassion training on prosocial behavior. These researchers developed the Zurich Prosocial Game, which has the ability to measure an individual’s prosocial behavior multiple times, unlike many other prosocial tasks that only measure prosocial behavior in individuals once. Singer found that daylong compassion training did in fact increase prosocial behavior on the game. Interestingly, the type of meditation seems to matter less than just the act of meditation itself. Condon, Miller, Desbordes, and DeSteno (in press) found that eight-week meditation trainings led participants to act more compassionately toward a person who is suffering (give up their chair to someone in crutches) — regardless of the type of meditation that they did (mindfulness or compassion).

More research is needed to understand exactly how compassion training improves well-being and promotes altruistic behavior. Research by Antoine Lutz and APS William James Fellow Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that, during meditation, participants display enhanced emotional processing in brain regions linked to empathy in response to emotion-evoking cries. A study led by Gaëlle Desbordes at Massachusetts General Hospital indicated that both compassion and a mindfulness meditation training decreased activity in the amygdala in response to emotional images; this suggests that meditation in general can help improve emotion regulation. However, compassion meditation did not reduce activity for images of human suffering, suggesting that the compassion meditation increased a person’s responsiveness to suffering.

In collaboration with Thupten Jinpa, personal translator to the Dalai Lama, as well as several Stanford psychologists, CCARE has developed a secular compassion training program known as the Compassion Cultivation Training Program. Preliminary research spearheaded by Stanford’s Philippe Goldin suggests that it is helpful in reducing ailments such as social anxiety and that it elevates different compassion measures. In addition to having taught hundreds of community members and Stanford students who have expressed interest, we have also developed a teacher-training program currently under way.

Given the importance of compassion in our world today, and a growing body of evidence about the benefits of compassion for health and well-being, this field is bound to generate more interest and hopefully impact our community at large. CCARE envisions a world in which, thanks to rigorous research studies on the benefits of compassion, the practice of compassion is understood to be as important for health as physical exercise and a healthful diet; empirically validated techniques for cultivating compassion are widely accessible; and the practice of compassion is taught and applied in schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, and other community settings.

Establishing A Compassion Center at Stanford University School of Medicine

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine was founded in 2008 with the explicit goal of promoting, supporting, and conducting rigorous scientific studies on compassion and altruistic behavior. In 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke at Stanford University before 5,000 people. During his visit, he shared the stage with a number of prominent neuroscientists and psychologists in a dialogue about the brain and emotions. James Doty, clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University, was so inspired by the event that he created an informal research group of scientists to pursue research on compassion. He called this group “Project Compassion.”

In 2008, following a meeting with the Dalai Lama during which an invitation was extended to again visit Stanford to speak on compassion, His Holiness made a spontaneous donation to CCARE — the largest he has ever given to a non-Tibetan cause. Following that visit and on the receipt of two other significant donations, “Project Compassion” was formally integrated into the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences as “The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.”

Founded and directed by Doty, CCARE is established within the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences. CCARE has collaborated with a number of prominent neuroscientists, behavioral scientists, geneticists, and biomedical researchers to closely examine the physiological and psychological correlates of compassion and altruism. The center has also developed a secular compassion education program with Thupten Jinpa, Buddhist scholar and personal translator to the Dalai Lama.

Doty has a longstanding interest in the fundamental motivations of individuals to do good. This interest stemmed out of personal experience. A neurosurgeon with a background that involved poverty, hopelessness, and neglect as the child of an invalid mother and alcoholic father, Doty is no stranger to suffering. Through a series of acts of compassion by and love from strangers, however, he found his life transformed.

Despite the emotional challenges and financial difficulties of his life as a child and young adult, Doty was able not only to attend college but to complete medical school, a long-standing dream, and to go on to become a successful neurosurgeon, entrepreneur, inventor, philanthropist, and father of three. Deeply inspired by the compassion he received as a child, Doty now devotes much of his time to promoting compassion in society through research, education, events, and writing.

“I have received the greatest gift in my life and that is seeing the power of compassion to result in transformation,” Doty says.

References and Further Reading:
  • Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J., & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE, 7.
  • Aknin, L. B., Barrington-Leigh, C. P., Dunn, E. W., Helliwell, J. F., Burns, J., Biswas-Diener, R., Kemeza, I., Nyende, P., Ashton-James, C. E., & Norton, M. I. (in press). Prosocial spending and well-being: Cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009). Witnessing excellence in action: The ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 105–127.
  • Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.
  • Brown, S. L., Nesse, R. M., Vinokur, A. D., & Smith, D. M. (2003). Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of mortality. Psychological Science, 14, 320–327.
  • Burton, N. (2011, May). Romance report: Most men and women believe in the enduring power of attraction. Retrieved from
  • Cole, S. W., Hawkley, L. C., Arevalo, J. M., Sung, C. Y., Rose, R. M., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). Social regulation of gene expression in human leukocytes. Genome Biology, 8, R189.
  • Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W., & DeSteno, D. (in press). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science.
  • Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5, 1–31.
  • Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687–1688.
  • Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2010). Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America, 107, 5334–5338.
  • Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLOS Med 7, e1000316.
  • House, J. S., Landis, K. R., & Umberson, D. (2003). Social relationships and health. In P. Salovey, A. J. Rothman (Eds.), Social Psychology of Health (pp. 218–226). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press.
  • Konrath, S., Fuhrel-Forbis, A., Lou, A., & Brown, S. (2012). Motives for volunteering are associated with mortality risk in older adults. Health Psychology, 31, 87–96.
  • Lee, R. M., Draper, M., & Lee, S. (2001). Social connectedness, dysfunctional interpersonal behaviors, and psychological distress: Testing a mediator model. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48, 310–318.
  • Leiberg, S., Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2011). Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game. PLOS ONE, 6: e17798.
  • Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., Davidson, R. J. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLOS ONE, 3: e1897.
  • Miller, D. T. (1999). The norm of self-interest. American Psychologist, 54, 1053–1060.
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  • Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300876
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  • Rand, D. G., Greene, G. D., & Nowak, M. A. (2013). Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature, 489, 227–430.
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  • Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2006). Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science, 311, 1301–1003.