Tania Singer – Germany

Linked with the University Research Priority Programm URPP, and with Meditation may increase empathy.

Bio: Tania Singer is Assistant Professor of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics at the Center for the Study of Social and Neural Systems at the University of Zürich. She studied psychology and media at the University of Marburg and the Technical University of Berlin. She was Pre- and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where she worked on cognitive development over the life span … Her main research interest is in the understanding of the foundation of human social behaviour and cooperation as well as social emotions such as empathy and fairness from the perspective of social neuroscience, developmental and social cognitive psychology as well as economics. In her spare time, she pursues interests in the arts, participating in drama and film productions as well as studying music, voice, and dance. (at congress.com).

More Bio on URPP; on Max Planck;

She is:

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Tania Singer – Germany

She works for the URPP Foundations of Human Social Behavior, Altruism and Egoism.

Her work’s Main Goals/Keywords: Main Goals, Keywords: Investigation of the social brain including the study of the neuronal, hormonal and behavioural foundations of empathy, cognitive perspective taking, social learning, trust, and revenge. fMRI and behavioural studies of deficient social behaviour in pathologies such as Autism and Alexythimia. Development and plasticity of social emotions (social brain, Asperger, insula, pain, reward learning, empathy, pro-social behaviour, emotional plasticity, oxytocin) … Group Members, Previous ans Current Research, Future Projects, Techniques and Equipment … etc. (UZH / ETH Zürich).

She says: “My main research interest lies in the foundation of human social behaviour from the perspectives of social neuroscience, developmental, cognitive, and social psychology, as well as economics” … (full text).

How your brain handles love and pain.

Men’s vengeful brains.

Putative neurobiological substrates of punishment.

Empathy, Serious Drill, Placebo Effect, etc.

Empathy for Pain Involves the Affective but not Sensory Components of Pain.

Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk from Tibet with a PhD in molecular biology, has been working with neuroscientists to find out. Brain scans of regular meditators, including Ricard himself, have shown that they have greatly increased levels of high-frequency brain activity called gamma waves. Does the secret of happiness lie in this unusual brain activity, and the meditation training that seems to produce it? … (full text).

She says also (on BBC): …

  • “Men expressed more desire for revenge and seemed to feel satisfaction when unfair people were given what they perceived as deserved physical punishment.
  • “This type of behaviour has probably been crucial in the evolution of society as the majority of people in a group are motivated to punish those who cheat on the rest.
  • “This altruistic behaviour means that people tend to protect each other against being exploited by society’s free-loaders, and evolution has probably seeded this sense of justice and moral duty into our brains.”
  • Dr Singer said it was possible that men reacted more sharply because the punishment being meted out was physical, rather than psychological or financial.”
  • However, she said: “This investigation would seem to indicate there is a predominant role for men in maintaining justice and issuing punishment.”

… She worked in London on the social brain and the neural underpinnings of empathy and fairness at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. At the beginning of 2006, as an assistant professor, Tania moved to the University of Zurich, Switzerland, to join a young, multidisciplinary group investigating the neuronal, behavioural, developmental, and hormonal underpinnings of human social behaviour. In addition to her scientific work, she also pursues interests in the arts by participating in drama and film productions, as well as studying music, voice, and dance. (full text).

Find her and her publications on URPP; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search.

… These results suggest that impaired interoceptive awareness –a symptom observed in Alexithymia- is associated with impaired empathy but not cognitive perspective taking, the latter being frequently observed in patients with ASD. Finally, I will conclude the talk with results of three studies, one investigating the effects of oxytocin on empathy and prosocial behavior, the second one on the developmental underpinnings of our capacity for empathy and emotion control and the third one on expertise effects observed in Buddhist monks while they are engaging in different forms of compassion meditation techniques while being scanned. (full text).

The neuronal basis of prosocial behavior is examined using a combination of methods from social neuroscience, neuroeconomics, and experimental economics. Neuroimaging techniques (for example, fMRI, PET, TMS) permit a better understanding of how trust, empathy, altruistic cooperation, reputation formation, and fairness are processed in the brain … (full text).

Just out now in Cell is a wonderful article on the full sequence of mitochondria DNA from the Neanderthal. The paper is already receiving much interest in the media, and Nature has a news story somewhat misleadingly entitled “First complete Neanderthal genome sequenced“. Using very rigorous methods for extracting DNA material from the Vindija Cave in Croatia and keeping it clean from (human) contamination, the researchers were able to analyze 35 samples. The paper abstract basically tells the main findings: … (full text).

Emotional reactions may come in many forms and have different causes. But one of the main responses is the fear response, which has been shown to involved the amygdala. Different nuclei of the amygdala may contribute differentially to the fear response process. One vital feature of emotion and amygdala is that emotional responses can be reduced, and eventually diminish. This is one of the basic mechanisms at play when we habituate to (or even extinguish) fearful stimuli. But is is also possible to reduce fear responses through more controlled processes, what has been termed cognitive emotion regulation. Such basic cognitive mechanisms underlie the psychological treatment of, e.g., phobias. In other words, there are two ways of reducing fear responses of the amygdala: 1) through habituation/extinction and 2) through cognitive (”rational”?) processing … (full text).

… She has authored many articles on the social brain in prestigious journals such as Science or Nature, is associate editor of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and on the board of the Society for Neuroeconomics. Her main research interest is in the understanding of the foundation of human social behaviour and cooperation as well as social emotions such as empathy and fairness from the perspective of social neuroscience, developmental and social cognitive psychology as well as economics. In her spare time, she pursues interests in the arts, participating in drama and film productions as well as studying music, voice, and dance. (full text).

links:

System to Instantly Relax, Reduce Stress and Easily Enter the Deepest Meditation … ;

Nouveautés sur le site d’autisme suisse;

BRAINETHICS, Consequences of Brain Science.

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