CMN - TECHNOLOGYCMN SCIENCESCIENCE & INNOVATIONTechnologyA new era for brain studies: Our brains sculpt each other, so why do we study them in isolation?

Chief Editor2 years ago5 min

Our brains have been studied neuroscientists for over decades. But due do the focus of scientist focusing on one subject in isolation the typical “Brain in a jar ” experiments might be why a huge parts of what makes us human, might be still undiscovered as a huge part of what makes us human is the social ties we possess.

social neuroscientist Thalia Wheatley of Dartmouth College was said “There’s this assumption that we can understand how the mind works by just looking at individual minds, and not looking at them in interactions,” which she further said “I think that’s wrong.”

Wheatle argues that in order to properly study the brain scientists will have to study the mind as it exists as it goes about its day interacting with other humans as Wheatle believes this is the only way to help answer some of the thorniest questions about the human brain. To illustrate her point, at a symposium in San Francisco on March 26, during the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, she had asked the audience how many of them had talked to another person that morning. Almost all the hands went up in the crowd about 100 raised hands.

Daily social interaction may seem inconsequential. But recent work has shown that brains isolated for long periods of time such as elderly people and prisoners in solitary confinement, suggests otherwise: as a Brains deprived of social interaction stop working well.
“That’s a hint that it’s not just that we like interaction,” Wheatley says. “It’s important to keep us healthy and sane.”
Part of the tendency toward studying solitary brains is due to a lack of ways to tease apart life’s rich social interactions. Functional MRI brain scanners are built for one person at a time, for example, and they usually can’t accommodate the movement that comes from talking.

Wheatley and her colleagues have found a solution to this issue and are getting around it by using special cases that fit on the head and cushion motion. This helps the team to study the brain activity in pairs of people as they make up a story together over the internet. his multi-person method, called hyperscanning, may help to reveal what’s special about people working together.

“we’re creating something that doesn’t just come from me, and it doesn’t just come from you,” Wheatley says. “There’s something special about putting our minds together, about putting our heads together, to create something new that couldn’t have existed before.”

By pushing to study brains being social, Wheatley and others hope to nudge the neuroscience field toward a more holistic view of human cognition. In keeping brain experiments too basic, scientists can “lose the meaning,” Wheatley says. “You’re missing a lot if you’re studying one person.”

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