LITERARY NEUROSCIENCE: Corrie Goldman / “This is your Brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford Researchers are Taking Notes”

In an innovative interdisciplinary study, neurobiological experts, radiologists and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction – by reading Jane Austen.

Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for “executive function,” areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, said Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.

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Pioneering in a number of respects, her research is “one of the first fMRI experiments to study how our brains respond to literature,” Phillips said, as well as the first to consider “how cognition is shaped not just by what we read, but how we read it.”

Critical reading of humanities-oriented texts is recognized for fostering analytical thought, but if such results hold across subjects, Phillips said it would suggest “it’s not only what we read – but thinking rigorously about it that’s of value, and that literary study provides a truly valuable exercise of people’s brains.”

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Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism

Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes.

The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.

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. . . People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice[.]

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Quote: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson, MPhil, PhD (born October 5, 1958)
American astrophysicist, science communicator and author

The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

Extreme Poverty In The U.S. Has Doubled In The Last 15 Years

According to the latest Census Bureau data, nearly 50 percent of Americans are either low-income or living in poverty in the wake of the Great Recession. . .

The number of U.S. households living on less than $2 per person per day — which the study terms “extreme poverty” — more than doubled between 1996 and 2011, from 636,000 to 1.46 million, the study finds. The number of children in extremely poor households also doubled, from 1.4 million to 2.8 million.

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