November 13, 2012

Why Would CIA Director David Petraeus Risk So Much to Cheat?
“People tend to underestimate how quickly small risks mount up” because of repeated exposure to those risks, said Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision science at Carnegie Mellon University. “You do something once and you get away with it—certain things you’re probably going to get away with—but you keep doing them often enough, eventually the risk gets pretty high.” Even so, men can become blind to risk at the sight of an attractive woman, and from an evolutionary perspective, cheating can be a positive mechanism for ensuring gene survival, regardless of risk, scientists say. (Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience)

Moral Dilemmas and OCD
When we’re faced with tough choices, certain parts of our brain light up, helping us navigate morally sticky situations. New research finds that these brain regions are more active in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which suggests they tend to be more distressed by moral quandaries than people without the condition. (LiveScience)

Trust Your Instincts
“The study demonstrates that humans have a remarkable ability to integrate value when they do so intuitively, pointing to the possibility that the brain has a system that specializes in averaging value,” Marius Usher of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences said. (Janice Wood, Psych Central)

Harmonicity
Many creatures, such as human babies, chimpanzees, and chicks, react negatively to dissonance—harsh, unstable, grating sounds. Since the days of the ancient Greeks, scientists have wondered why the ear prefers harmony. Now, scientists suggest that the reason may go deeper than an aversion to the way clashing notes abrade auditory nerves; instead, it may lie in the very structure of the ear and brain, which are designed to respond to the elegantly spaced structure of a harmonious sound. (Elizabeth Norton, ScienceNOW)

New Results From the Large Hadron Collider
CERN researchers said they have spotted a particle reshaping into two others in their Large Hadron Collider, a breakthrough that could be crucial in exploring physics frontiers once the realm of science fiction. The mutation—in a process known as decay—was predicted under the so-called Standard Model of physics which describes how the universe works at the most fundamental level, but until now scientists had never seen it. (Robert Evans, Reuters)

Q&A
Dr. Steven Southwick and Dr. Dennis Charney

To better understand which tools help us to bounce back from trauma and cope with stress, Steven Southwick, a psychiatry professor at Yale University, and Dennis Charney, a psychiatry professor at Mount Sinai Hospital, studied Navy SEALs, rape survivors, prisoners of war, and others who overcame highly stressful situations with only minimal mental hardship. It turns out that these survivors share critical skills that can support anyone, even those who haven’t been professionally trained or naturally endowed with resilience, to better combat trauma. (Maia Szalavitz, TIME)

Category: Field Notes

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