Learning! Roundup: This is your brain on friendship, loner cells, manipulation, and more!

Photo by Ali Yahya.

This is Your Brain on Friendship

Friends share! We share our our fruit roll-ups, popcorn, and, it turns out, our neural responses to external stimuli. A new study has shown that people who are friends have similar brain-response patterns, and that this holds across factors like ethnicity, gender, or nationality. So much so that you can predict the closeness of a friendship by how similar their neural responses are.

So far this appears to just be correlational, so now I'm curious: do our responses meld as we get closer, or are we more drawn to friendship with people similar to us?

Loner Cells

Scientists have recently discovered a new single-celled organism, one with no known relatives. It seems that this throws the generally held view of mitochondria evolution into a bit of disarray.

How to Manipulate

This is kind of fascinating! Want to create a system that is thoroughly dysfunctional and keeps people loyal, even when they want to leave? Whether it's a lover or employee, there is a formula to follow: keep them too busy to think, tired, and emotionally invested. Then reward them intermittently and keep crises coming. Manipulation, laid bare.

How Not to Apologize

Hilary Clinton posted an "apology" for her protection of a man accused of sexual assault (her 2008 faith adviser was accused of sexually harassing women in the office), and it's a great example of how not to apologize. Here's a breakdown of what you can learn from her un-apology.

Bowel Cancer Causing Bacteria

There are two types of bacteria that are being investigated as potential causes of bowel cancer. It seems possible that some bacteria helps get it started, and other bacteria helps make it worse.

Death and Illusions of Self

Here's a cool study: monastic Tibetan monks believe that the self is an illusion, and so a researcher was curious whether this belief makes them less afraid of death. After all, if you're just an ever-changing illusion, who cares if that illusion ends, right? Wrong! Compared to Indian Hindus, American Christians, and atheists, the monastic monks were the least willing to sacrifice their lives for a stranger.

Interestingly, despite the fact that Buddhist scholars said they ought to, the more devout Buddhists used no self-doctrine to cope with the notion of death.


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