Friday, April 29, 2016

Can't stop thinking about the brain

Last fall I happened to catch part of a PBS series on the brain hosted by David Eagleman. I haven't stopped being able to think about it ever since. I bought a copy of the DVD and book for my library and have recommended it to several library patrons. 

What is so interesting about it? Well as you may guess brain science is growing by leaps and bounds. There are things we know today that we didn't know six months or a year ago. One episode I found the most interesting, #5 for anyone who wants to check it out, was the "social brain". An interview with Dr. Lasana Harris in the Netherlands revealed some very interesting discoveries. 

  • Dr. Lasana Harris at Leiden University has discovered that the brain can dehumanize people, registering some people as little more than objects. When he showed subjects different groups of people, including bankers, nurses, sports people, and the homeless, their social networks were deactivated when they viewed images of the homeless. When we perceive others as less than human it’s easier to ignore them, and it’s easier to suspend the moral and social rules we normally live by. Dr Eagleman reveals that Propaganda is an important step from dehumanization to the mass atrocities of genocide. Propaganda plugs directly into circuits in the brain, dialing down the degree to which one group cares about another group.
I hope some of you are interested enough that you'll watch this series too. It really will change the way you think about the brain.

Want to test your knowledge of the brain? Check out these quizzes online.  

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