Touching Primes the Brain to Learn and Care for Others

Constant touching and emotional warmth are essential to cognitive development, yet our educational and professional environments are skeptical, often for litigious reasons.

Constant touching and emotional warmth are essential to cognitive development, helping the young to socialize, and relieving stress and tension at all ages, yet our educational and professional environments are skeptical of touching, often for litigious reasons.

A wealth of research supports the claim that social isolation and coldness have knock-on effects that are potentially damaging in the long term, Maria Konnikova explains at The New Yorker.

She refers to a ruthlessly efficient system, called the leagăne, intended to increase the Romanian birthrate — and by extension, its economy — through the 1960s and '70s. Bans on contraception and abortion resulted in a population spike, but thousands of infants were raised in understaffed orphanages, experiencing sensory deprivation in their formative months.

Harvard medical researchers, upon learning of the leagăne, decided to test the biometrics of individuals born into isolation. They found skewed levels of cortisol, a hormone which regulates stress in the body, and stunted cognitive development.

Antonio Damasio, cognitive scientist and director of USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, explains that the body is essential in receiving information that we normally believe the brain can process:

"The body itself is being the border and the translation service that will allow the outside world to come into the brain. So we do not get the outside world coming into our brain, which really means coming into our mind directly; there’s no such thing. The outside world comes into your mind via your body. The body is constantly being the broker; it’s in between."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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For a long time, the West shaped the world. That time is over.

The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.

  • Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
  • European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
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Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
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Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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