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Social (also Prompt 1)

I’m late to the party, I apologize, I’ve been holed up in the lab running behavioral expts, how apropos to read a text about behavior this week! I heard from a colleague about this book I think in the Fall, we considered it as a supplemental reading for a cognitive course that we wished to propose.  I enjoy his writing, he seems, from my perspective, to illustrate well social cognition and all of the related areas—I enjoyed the physical/psychological pain chapter the most.  I think that it is something that isn’t well understood—pain is just a perception. Everything that we experience is. It’s what our brain makes of the stimulus. If you’ve seen The Matrix, when they talk about their favorite meals, and if the gruel that they are eating really “tastes” like what they remember—did they ever actually “taste” any of these foods—is that air you are breathing?!?! Okay, I’ve been locked up with these rats for too long, I digress…

I discussed congenital insensitivity to pain in my A&P lecture—an  injury can exist, but it is how your brain ‘experiences’ (or doesn’t experience) that pain that molds your experience. I explain the same to my pre-nursing students what Lieberman reports regarding pain meds—it can lessen our perception of the pain, but the same can be done through the suggestion of receiving pain medication. Once removed, it will cause a type of pain—which is psychological AND physical in the case of opiate withdrawl. What I’ve always found profound about the brain is that, it is the psychological withdrawl the one that stays with you forever! Social and psychological pain are such powerful sensations, all of the interconnections between the limbic system, areas in memory and emotion, lend so much to how we look back and relive this pain—its difficult to remember how it felt to break an arm, to really re-live the experience, but an emotional pain can be recalled and felt in all of it’s intensity, long after the actual event happens. This book made me remember why I study the brain. His book provides so many examples that I love, and many that I use to teach (although not as well organized and as clearly as he does here!).  It is tough for me to provide any type of interpretation of the Lieberman book, I wish I could explain cognition as clearly as he does. He is gifted at interpreting the data and putting forth smart scenarios that illustrate cognition so well. I can read this book again and again. I have to step my game up.

As for interpreting through the lens of Gaipa, Liberman does a bit of a Crossbreeding exercise when explaining his view on social cognition: Instead of viewing us defaulting the network when at rest because we have an interest in it, he reframed the way that he looked at the phenomenon: instead it is a reflex—-we subconsciously enter to this default state. It is an interesting way to frame it. As a person who would be more than happy to live in my own little bubble, but still defaults to this type of social cognitive state, I’m acutely aware that we default to this state. I could also think of the “Trojan Horse Selves” chapter in this manner, looking at the data and reinterpreting. He has so many examples of this in the book. Maybe I’m taking the easy road by choosing this, I think as scientists this is pretty much what we do, looking at data from many angles.

This does lend itself in a way to my paper topic…how relationships, support systems, etc contribute to the development of addictive behaviors…but that is for my next prompt…

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