from the world's big
The Neurobiology of Evil
Michael Stone is professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. From 2006 to 2008, Stone hosted the series Most Evil on the Discovery Channel, for which he developed a "Gradations of Evil Scale" to rank homicides from 1 to 22 based on their level of evil. He has written 10 books, including The Anatomy of Evil.
Topic: The neurobiology of evil
Michael Stone: For a long time, people wondered: "Is there something different about the brain of somebody who does violent acts, particularly repetitive violent acts in comparison to an ordinary person’s brain?" But not very much was known about it until the last maybe 15-20 years, particularly as we entered the era of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging. And with MRI and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging where you’re actually are taking pictures of the brain as the person is looking at some picture or hearing certain words and showing how the brain blood flow differs from moment to moment, now we really know a lot more than we used to. And it turns out that there are a number of areas in the brain that are very important in social decision making and moral attitudes and so on.
If you think that the brain has a number of main sections, there’s, everyone knows about the wrinkly cortex of the part that seems to underlie thought, but there’s a more primitive part of the brain that deals with emotion called the limbic system and then there’s the part of the brain that just has to do with arousal versus just being asleep.
In the limbic system, there’s the small organ called the amygdala that registers emotion, but particularly has an ability to recognize when somebody else out there has a fearful face or is in a state of fight or upset. The interesting thing about the kind of cold-hearted murderers is that their amygdala’s don’t function properly, the way ours does and they may recognize dimly that so and so out there is afraid, but they don’t have the concern that you or I would say, if we saw a crying kid in a department store who probably got separated from its mother. They would recognize it, but they would take advantage of the child, pretend to take it to the information booth, you know, to get it reconnected with its mom, and then kidnap the kid or something like that. So, their amygdala functions in a significantly different way, as has been shown by a number of neuroscientific researchers in the last 10-15 years.
Another important area is the front part of the brain, the lower front part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. That area is involved in moral decision-making in figure out what’s right versus what’s wrong that we learned as we grow up and are instructed by our parents and our teachers. So, if that area of the brain is not operating at full tilt, it may be possible then to carryout an act which would be repugnant and very much against the law if it were contemplated by an ordinary person, but that does not stop the individual who has this defect in the orbitofrontal cortex from carrying out the act that he may feel like doing. So think of the orbitofrontal cortex as kind of a braking system, which if it’s operating will put the brakes on a thought or a desire that may have preceded it: “I’d like to kill that son of a bitch,” or “I want to take that kid and kidnap him and –“ you know, but then one thinks of the consequences, “Oh my god, I’d be eating cheese sandwiches in jail for the rest of my life, I won’t go there.” But if that cortex is not operating the person would just go ahead and do it.
So we know now that there’s interconnection between the amygdala and the frontal cortex actually and if that connectivity is not operating properly, the person may go ahead and do the unspeakable crime, which otherwise he would have put the brakes on or maybe even, you know, not even contemplate doing it in the first place.
There are other areas of the brain, like the anterior cingulate that acts as a kind of a jury so that when messages gets sent up to that part of the brain, the – if you can imagine the anterior cingulate cortex having a mind of its own, so to speak. It might say, “Well, yeah, I hear you want to kill your wife and get the insurance money, but I don’t know. You could get into a lot of trouble for that. And so I’d vote against it.” And if that message is weak and it gets transmitted to the frontal cortex and the frontal cortex says, “Eh, what the heck. I can get away with it and I can be rich forever.” The person goes ahead and does it. But if the person gets the message from the anterior cingulate that says, “Hm, bad move. We vote against it. We don’t have the power to stop it, but we vote against it.” And the cortex would say, “Yeah, I agree with you guys, we’re not going to let that happen.”
So there are these very important and interesting areas in the brain that have to do with whether we behave morally or whether we can break the law with impunity.
Recorded July 28, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
Thanks to MRI and fMRI bran scans, we now know much more about how damage to or deficiencies in certain parts of the brain may underlie "evil" behavior.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.