Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Kuwaitis and Other Tribals, Do you Think this might explain local Politics?

Dear Kuwaitis and Other Tribals,

As a lifelong educator, I used to teach several classes of technical English. While doing so, I enjoyed reviewing DISCOVERY and other scientific websites for stories like the one which follows.

As I read through the results on recent scientific research on how the brain responds to family members (as compared to others, even non-family loved ones).

Do you KUWAITIS and other tribals think this research might partially explain local Kuwaiti and Middle Eastern politics? That is, the way the brain responds to family tribes might effect our behaviors in crazy or distorted ways as outlined in this research?

The article from DISCOVERY is as follows at this link:


How Visiting Your Family Warps Your Brain

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Dec. 29, 2008 -- Visiting -- or even just viewing photos of family members -- prompts brain activity that affects how you feel about them, your friends, and even yourself, a new study suggests.

The study is the first to compare brain activity associated with seeing relatives with that linked to seeing friends and strangers. It suggests our feelings about biological relatives are at least somewhat primal.

The findings may help explain everything from why our family can get on our nerves to why people who look like us can spark immediate feelings of trust, "but not lust," said Steven Platek, who co-authored the study with Shelly Kemp.

"We like to be around people that look more like us, but we do not find them as sexually attractive," added Platek, editor-in-chief of the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience. "I think it is linked to our subconscious ability to detect facial resemblances so we avoid lusting after those that may be related to us."

For the study, the researchers performed MRI brain scans on test subjects viewing images of biological relatives, friends, strangers, themselves and various morphed images.

The scientists found that relatives and self-lookalikes are processed through a self-referential part of the brain. Friends and strangers who look nothing like the viewer, on the other hand, light up entirely different areas of the brain, those linked to making important and risky decisions with respect to the self.

The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Neuropsychologia.

Platek and Kemp also found that the brain ranks everyone socially, with relatives at the head of the line.

"I think facial resemblance is ranked right up there in importance with attractiveness," Platek said.

Since relatives are processed through areas of the brain linked to self-reference, the study could also help to explain why relatives cause us to take things personally. While we may tolerate a friend's loud laughter or snoring, for example, we may have less patience with a relative because we judge them similarly to how we judge ourselves.

"This research is a wonderful example of the fruitfulness of conducting cognitive neuroscience informed by evolutionary theory," said Todd Shackelford, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University.

"I am hopeful that other researchers in the cognitive neurosciences will follow Dr. Platek's lead and take full advantage of the predictive power of a Darwinian perspective on the design of the structure of the mind," he told Discovery News.

It's likely, he explained, that a face we perceive as "friendly" is one that looks more like us. But how we later feel about that person could be tied to how we feel about ourselves, perhaps explaining the prevalence of arguments during family reunions and holiday gatherings.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that this study would get different results in Kuwait. The whole way of relating to family is different. For example, what we would call a big family reunion or holiday gathering in the U.S. is something that happens weekly - at least - in the average Kuwaiti family, and at weddings, funerals, receptions after a woman has a baby or someone returns from Hajj, etc. And as for not being attracted to relatives, keep in mind that in many cultures, marrying cousins is perfectly acceptable.

And most Kuwaitis are not "tribals".

1:30 AM  

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