Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 4

Researchers discovered that axes within a multidimensional space, now known as the “face space” can combine in different ways to create every possible face. In other words, there is no Jennifer Aniston neuron. Senior author Doris Tsao, a professor of biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology reported: “We’ve discovered that this code is extremely simple. We can now reconstruct a face that a monkey is seeing by monitoring the electrical activity of only 205 neurons in the monkey’s brain. One can imagine applications in forensics where one could reconstruct the face of a criminal by analyzing a witness’s brain activity.” More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 3

Primates recognize complex objects such as faces with remarkable speed and reliability. Experiments in macaques demonstrated an extraordinarily simple transformation between faces and responses of cells in face patches. Six general areas of the primate and human brain that are responsible for recognizing faces were identified. Labelled ‘face patches,’ all six face patches were located in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex. Researchers found that these areas are packed with specific nerve cells that activate much more strongly when seeing faces than when seeing other objects. They called these neurons “face cells.” Rather than representing a specific identity, each face cell represents a specific axis within a multidimensional space, which researchers called the “face space.” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding, 2

In a paper published June 1, 2017 in the journal Cell, researchers Le Chang and Doris Y. Tsao reported that they have deciphered how faces are encoded in the brain—at least in primates. Previously, some experts in the field believed that each face cell (a.k.a. “grandmother cell“) in the brain represents a specific face. This presented a paradox, according to Doris Y. Tsao, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “You could potentially recognize 6 billion people, but you don’t have 6 billion face cells in the IT or inferior temporal cortex. There had to be some other solution.” It turns out there was. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Brain & Facial Encoding/Recognition

Earlier this year I mentioned the “Jennifer Aniston neuron,” so called, which led some to believe that the representation of an entire face may be filed in a single neuron. They reportedly touched a single neuron inside a person’s brain and the patient reported seeing Jennifer Aniston’s face. That flew in the face of previous beliefs that memory for faces was somewhat diffuse throughout the brain and that the hippocampus might play a role in searching for pieces to assemble a ‘face’ much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A new study was recently released that provided some specifics related to facial encoding in a primate brain. That’s what it so exciting about brain-function research—new information is released quite regularly! More tomorrow.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Aphorisms, 8



  • Life is short, art is long
  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place—well, rarely, anyway
  • Little strokes fell great oaks
  • Live and learn—so you can stop making the same mistakes your whole life
  • Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration
  • Give people fish and they eat for one meal; teach them how and they eat for life
  • Give them an inch and they'll demand a mile
  • Little pitchers have big ears
  • If you’re not with me you’re against me or you’re standing alone
  • Give him enough rope and he'll hang himself

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pratfall Effect, 4

To recap: the pratfall effect is a psychological phenomenon that says your likability actually increases when you make mistakes! Competent people appear more likeable and attractive when they make a mistake than when they are perceived as perfect and flawless. No surprise, it is named after an American expression or slang word for falling on your behind or keister. In one study, psychologist Elliot Aronson asked research participants to listen to recordings of people answering a quiz. Select recordings included the sound of the person knocking over a cup of coffee. When study participants were asked to rate the quizzers on likability, the coffee-spill group came out on top. This means that being real—acknowledging when you make a mistake, apologizing as indicated, and moving on—may make you look better than an individual who seems quite flawless due to being perceived as not being as human. Indeed, mistakes are simply a validation that one is human. Everyone makes mistakes; not everyone learns from them. Therein lies the rub.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pratfall Effect, 3

There appear to be some male-female differences in terms of the pratfall effect. This from studies by K. Deaux: “To err is humanizing: But sex makes a difference” Representative Research in Social Psychology, p 3, 20-28, 1972).
In general:
  • The effects of pratfall are most directly applicable to males
  • Females tend to prefer the non-blunderer regardless of gender
  • Neither males nor females preferred the mediocre blunderer
Aronson studied a person’s attractiveness as related to his or her making a blunder. His research found that a perceived ‘able’ individual’s attractiveness increased after a blunder in comparison to the control group; while attractiveness decreased in a person perceived as less ‘able.’ (Attractiveness was defined as a combination of liking and respect.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pratfall Effect, 2

There appear to be some male-female differences in terms of the pratfall effect. This from studies by K. Deaux: “To err is humanizing: But sex makes a difference” Representative Research in Social Psychology, p 3, 20-28, 1972). 
In general:

  • The effects of pratfall are most directly applicable to males
  • Females tend to prefer the non-blunderer regardless of gender
  • Neither males nor females preferred the mediocre blunderer
Aronson studied a person's relative attractiveness as related to his or her making a blunder. His research found that a perceived 'able' individual's attractiveness increased after a blunder in comparison to the control group; while attractiveness decreased in a person perceived as less 'able.' (Attractiveness was defined as a combination of liking and respect.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pratfall Effect

The “pratfall effect appears to be well established in popular culture. It can be described as the tendency for a person’s attractiveness to increase or decrease after he or she makes a mistake, depending on the individual's perceived ability to perform well in a general sense. For example, an individual who is perceived as highly-competent would be, on average, more likable after committing a blunder. The individual would tend to be less likable after making a mistake or faux pas if he or she was perceived as an average person. The pratfall effect was described by Elliot Aronson in 1966. Since then, a plethora of studies have been conducted in an attempt to isolate the impact of self-esteem levels, gender, and the severity of the blunder on perceived changes in attractiveness or likability. The pratfall effect is also referred to as the blemishing effect when it is used as a form of marketing. More tomorrow.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Spotlight Effect, 4

What is the bottom line here? Other people are not paying attention to you nearly as much as you may think they are. Knowing this can give you permission to be yourself, help you feel less embarrassed in public when something untoward happens, and take it a bit easier when you do make a mistake. Kenneth Savitsky put it like this: "You can’t completely eliminate the embarrassment you feel when you commit a faux pas, but it helps to know how much you’re exaggerating its impact.” Studies have shown empirically that a drastic over-estimation of one's effect on others is widely common. Once you know about the spotlight effect, you can choose to become more realistic in terms of how much you believe you really are the center of attention and in a social spotlight. The perception of being under constant scrutiny is a mind construct, and the self-doubt you feel after making a mistake appears not to truly reflect reality. That’s good news! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spotlight Effect, 3

An article by Gilovich, et al, entitled: “The spotlight effect in social judgment: An egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one's own actions and appearance,” (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(02), 211–222), pointed out that aspects of social judgment are impacted by the spotlight effect. That is, people routinely overestimate the extent to which their contributions make an impact on those around them, especially the significance of one’s ideas and contributions within a group. Researchers found that in a group setting, contributions by an individual are perceived by that individual as being more significant than the contributions of their group members. No surprise, the other members in the group believe the same thing about their own individual contributions. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spotlight Effect, 2

Thomas Gilovich and Kenneth Savitsky reportedly coined the term “spotlight effect,” in 1999, although behaviors related to this phenomenon had been described earlier than that. What are some of those behaviors? When individuals are anxious about something they tend to overestimate the extent to which their anxiety is obvious to onlookers. When an individual is embarrassed by something (e.g., a run in one’s stocking, a tear in one’s shirt), the likelihood of the spotlight effect rearing its head is increased. The timing of the incident also plays a part. Immediate exposure increases the spotlight effect, while delayed exposure decreases it. Psychologists at Cornell University reportedly asked study participants to wear an embarrassing T-shirt and then estimate how many people noticed what they were wearing. The participant estimates were twice as high as the actual number. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spotlight Effect

Yes, this is real phenomenon that plays a significant role in many different aspects of society. The term Spotlight Effect refers to a general perception by people that they are being noticed much more than they really are. According to some sources, research on this phenomenon has been pioneered primarily by four individuals: Thomas Gilovich, Kenneth Savitsky, Victoria Medvec, and Thomas Kruger. The underpinnings of the spotlight effect is the innate tendency of many individuals to forget that although each person is the center of his or her own world, that person is not the center of everyone else’s world. Being that one is constantly in the center of one's own world, an accurate evaluation of how much one is noticed by others is uncommon. The spotlight effect may be more pronounced, however, when a person does something that is not typical behavior for them. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Brain-Body Community

Dr. Bruce Lipton pointed out that if you were the size of an individual cell so you could see your body from that perspective, you would see yourself, not as a single entity, but as a bustling community of more than 50 trillion individual cells. Most of the cell’s structures are referred to as organelles, which are its ‘miniature organs,’ suspended within a jelly-like cytoplasm. Organelles are the functional equivalents of the tissues and organs of your own body. Each nucleus-containing cell (eukaryote) possesses the functional equivalent of your nervous, digestive, respiratory, excretory, endocrine, skeletal, circulatory, skin, and immune systems. Groups of specialized cells that form the tissues and organs of the nervous system, are concerned with reading and responding to environmental stimuli. The nervous system’s job is to perceive the environment and coordinate the behavior of all the cells in the vast cellular community.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Aphorisms, 7

Aphorisms, 7


  • All things come to the one who is patient—only some of which may be wanted
  • All we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history
  • All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl--all play and no work makes Jill a dumb girl.
  • Never give up your ship.
  • Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.
  • Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise--if you’re working wisely while you’re awake.
  • Easier said than done.
  • East is East and West is West and better the twain shall meet.
  • North or South, East or West, travel’s great but home is best.
  • Easy come, easy go—and not necessarily to find again.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Brain and Sodas, 4

Sudha Seshadri is a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (MED) and a faculty member at the University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Senior author on both study papers containing data related to drinking sugary drinks and sodas of any type, Seshadri reportedly said that the study conclusions make it appear that there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help. Smaller overall brain volume? Poorer episodic memory? A shrunken hippocampus? A higher risk for stroke and dementia? Both sugary and diet drinks are linked with an increased risk of accelerated brain aging? I don’t think so; not for me. True, research studies do not say anything about a specific individual. Nevertheless, water is my beverage of choice and part of my Longevity Lifestyle journey.