A new study of 1,024 mammal species has determined which animals are the most vicious killers of their own kind. Killer whales perhaps? Pit bulls maybe? For the answer, just look in the mirror.
A surprising outcome of my four-year investigation into the neuroscience of human aggression for my new book Why We Snap, was how the reductionist approach that I took to understand individual violent behavior in terms of the specific neural circuits responsible, exploded in scope to illuminate human aggressive behavior in mass–between groups of people, from gangs to races to nations at war. Brexit is a recent example.
As we honor Capt. Groberg with the nation’s highest award for military valor, and we set aside one day, Veteran’s Day, to reflect on all the men and women who served their country in the armed forces, let’s take a moment to examine the most astonishing and noble characteristic of our species–unhesitating self-sacrifice for others.
Neuroscientists in Japan imaged the brains of 290 children between the ages of 5 and 18 years and sorted the data according to how many hours of TV each child had watched. The results showed significant anatomical differences in several brain regions that correlated with the number of hours of TV viewed. These findings were strengthened when the researchers re-examined the same children several years later and were able to see many of these anatomical changes taking place in the children’s brain over time. The more hours of TV children watched, the greater the changes were in brain structure.
(First published on BrainFacts.org )
The last time I was on Boylston Street it was to give a lecture in November at a scientific meeting in the Weston Hotel. Today, Sunday, I’m looking out onto an empty street, barricaded. An eerie modern-day ghost town festooned with yellow police tape rippling in the cold Boston wind. I look across an enormous pile of fresh-cut flowers, teddy bears, helium balloons, baseball caps, candles, and hand-written notes. American flags spout from the mound like brilliant poppies. Grief, still raw, is slipping away, drifting as if carried helplessly on a current, and transforming into something else. Defiance, but shaken with bewilderment. Tourists gather now, out of sorrow and the need to understand. “Do we have anything to give?” a woman asks her companion desperately. “Do we have anything to give?” she repeats, and turns back to survey the makeshift shrine empty handed. It must have begun with a single bouquet. Now it has grown into a mountain.
Psychologists have many cleaver tests to ascertain personality traits. Now, according to a study published in the journal Aggressive Behavior, the shrinks have a new tool in their diagnostic kit: a 6-inch ruler.
Leander van der Meij and colleagues at the Department of Psychology in The Netherlands report a finding that seems more rooted in mysticism of the palm reading parlor than in science from a laboratory, but there is good biological evidence to back up their conclusion: two measurements of a man’s hand can predict how aggressive and domineering he will be.