biology brain cognition cognitive style communication fear introversion law enforcement mental flexibility mental health personality physical environment psychology risk analysis speech stress

Introversion’s potential risks – temporary language blindness

During the past two weeks, I’ve enjoyed rich conversations with some creative, insightful friends—introverts all. As an introvert with many interests, I can occupy myself with research and other projects for weeks on end without feeling the need to engage directly with others beyond my wife. A few years ago I became more aware of research finding introverts, to be optimally healthy, need to deliberately cultivate regular social interaction with others. We can do this without violating our other needs. Introversion entails both health boosters and detractors. On the downside, according to Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., introverts

  • may experience more stress in social situations or even when thinking about social situations and avoiding social opportunities may erode health
  • be more realistic about negative realities or fixate on them, presenting more opportunities for negative moods or depression
  • may be less emotionally adaptable to open or crowded living or working environments (introverts tend to prefer living in less populated areas where they can be outdoors without being crowded, as in many mountainous areas)
  • may not benefit as much from fitness and other activities that are organized to emphasize socialization (think Cross Fit or many other popular fitness programs)
  • may have less effective immune systems, though the effect is small
  • may require more time and effort to think through decision scenarios (possibly due to the denser gray matter in their brains)
  • are more easily aroused by sensory stimuli, which can make them seek situations with less stimulation
  • may avoid risk-taking, which can have positive and negative effects (they’re unlikely to become gambling addicts but are also more likely to miss significant opportunities that require them to take chances)
  • may ignore negative health indicators and delay speaking with health care providers about potential health issues
  • may experience slower situational comprehension and response times in loud environments or situations with intensified sounds or urgency signals, such as when exposed to alarms, vehicle horns, or other people yelling commands (think of the spate of recent episodes of police excessive force against people the claim were not obeying their screamed orders)

Regarding the last point above, an introvert friend worries she’ll not be capable of understanding the screamed commands of a threatening policeman and will be arrested, injured, or even killed because of it. There is probably a clinical or technical name for such a temporary inability to process language. I’m unaware of any law enforcement training specifically addressing this issue. If you know more about it, please post a comment.


Prosthetic memory system successful in humans

“This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a patient’s own brain cell code or pattern for memory and, in essence, ‘write in’ that code to make existing memory work better, an important first step in potentially restoring memory loss”

We showed that we could tap into a patient’s own memory content, reinforce it and feed it back to the patient,” Hampson said. “Even when a person’s memory is impaired, it is possible to identify the neural firing patterns that indicate correct memory formation and separate them from the patterns that are incorrect. We can then feed in the correct patterns to assist the patient’s brain in accurately forming new memories, not as a replacement for innate memory function, but as a boost to it.”



Giant neuron found encircling and intraconnecting mouse brain

A neuron that encircles the mouse brain emanates from the claustrum (an on/off switch for awareness) and has dense links with both brain hemispheres. Scientists including Francis Crick and Christoph Koch have speculated that the claustrum may play a role in enabling conscious thought. (Crick and Koch academic article)

We’ve frequently discussed how self-aware consciousness likely arises not from any single brain structure or signal, but from complex, recursive (reentrant), synchronized signaling among many structures organized into functional regions. (Did I get close to accurate there?) That a giant neuron provides another connection path among such regions can be taken to align with the reentrant signaling and coordination view of consciousness (ala Edelman and Tononi).

artificial intelligence brain cognition computing metaphors

Computer metaphor not accurate for brain’s embodied cognition

It’s common for brain functions to be described in terms of digital computing, but this metaphor does not hold up in brain research. Unlike computers, in which hardware and software are separate, organic brains’ structures embody memories and brain functions. Form and function are entangled.

Rather than finding brains to work like computers, we are beginning to design computers–artificial intelligence systems–to work more like brains.

brain brain imaging

Mathematical field of topology reveals importance of ‘holes in brain’

New Scientist article: Applying the mathematical field of topology to brain science suggests gaps in densely connected brain regions serve important cognitive functions. Newly discovered densely connected neural groups are characterized by a gap in the center, with one edge of the ring (cycle) being very thin. It’s speculated that this architecture evolved to enable the brain to better time and sequence the integration of information from different functional areas into a coherent pattern.

Aspects of the findings appear to support Edelman’s and Tononi’s (2000, p. 83) theory of neuronal group selection (TNGS, aka neural Darwinism).

Edelman, G.M. and Tononi, G. (2000). A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. Basic Books.

brain brain imaging cognitive bias conservatism environmental influence fear liberalism neuroplasticity political orientation political science rationality risk analysis

Mass and activity of brain structures correlate with political perspectives

Brain imaging research indicates some aspects of individual political orientation correlate significantly with the mass and activity of particular brain structures including the right amygdala and the insula. This correlation may derive in part from genetics, but is also influenced by environment and behavior.

“there’s a critical nuance here. Schreiber thinks the current research suggests not only that having a particular brain influences your political views, but also that having a particular political view influences and changes your brain. The causal arrow seems likely to run in both directions—which would make sense in light of what we know about the plasticity of the brain. Simply by living our lives, we change our brains. Our political affiliations, and the lifestyles that go along with them, probably condition many such changes.”

Thanks to member, Edward, for recommending this article: 

In a similar vein, Bob Altemeyer conducted and reported on some seminal social science research and theory on political dispositions. See Note the free book link on the left.


cognitive bias rationality

Politicians use ‘salient availability’ bias to manipulate constituents and journalists 

“When something is memorable, it tends to be the thing you think of first, and then it has an outsize influence on your understanding of the world. After the movie Jaws came out, a generation of people was afraid to swim in the sea—not because shark attacks were more likely but because all those movie viewers could more readily imagine them.”


Neuroplasticity at the neuron and synapse level – Neurons sort into functional networks

“Until recently, scientists had thought that most synapses of a similar type and in a similar location in the brain behaved in a similar fashion with respect to how experience induces plasticity,” Friedlander said. “In our work, however, we found dramatic differences in the plasticity response, even between neighboring synapses in response to identical activity experiences.”

“Individual neurons whose synapses are most likely to strengthen in response to a certain experience are more likely to connect to certain partner neurons, while those whose synapses weaken in response to a similar experience are more likely to connect to other partner neurons,” Friedlander said. “The neurons whose synapses do not change at all in response to that same experience are more likely to connect to yet other partner neurons, forming a more stable but non-plastic network.”

Read more at:


MIT AI Primer

Here’s a useful artificial intelligence introductory lesson from an MIT course:

cognitive bias rationality

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

Cognitive bias article of the day: How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

A concise, timely look at how worldview-driven cognitive dissonance leads people to double down on their misbeliefs in the face of challenging evidence. It also recommends steps for having more meaningful conversations with others whose irrational positions differ from your own. 😉