Envy: The Feeling Can Help Us Even When It Hurts
Wanting what another person has can spur us to better ourselves
Scientific American Mind (November 2013) Volume 24, Issue 5
By Jan Crusius and Thomas Mussweiler
It’s the pain of occupying an inferior position relative to another and a desire for what that other person has.
Envy can also motivate us to try harder and perform better on challenging tasks. The trick is to learn to channel the more productive of its two forms.
Aristotle. He described its dark, destructive side and the pleasure a person can take in another’s pain, today captured by the German term schadenfreude.
He also suggested that envy could encourage people to strive harder to reach a desired state—a facet that was long overlooked in empirical investigations of envy.
Social psychologist Niels van de Ven of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and his colleagues compared how people from their home country and those from the U.S. and Spain expressed intense feelings of envy in their respective languages.
(In Dutch, as in German, Polish and Thai, two words can mean envy, whereas English and Spanish have a single word.)
In 2009 the psychologists found that regardless of language, their subjects’ experiences divided into two types:
malicious envy, characterized by negative thoughts and ill will, and
benign envy, in which hostility is less evident. Although dark feelings still factored in, the subjects mentioned more positive sentiments, such as admiration. They were more likely to believe
that the envied person deserved good fortune and to express a desire to make up the difference through their own efforts.
EEG data reveal how tightly connected the frontal cortex (red) is to the rest of the brain in depression (left) and health (right).
The Depression Connection
Scientific American Mind 23, 9 (2012)
Brain regions may communicate excessively in depression
Like an overwhelmed traffic cop, the depressed brain may transmit signals among regions in a dysfunctional way.
Recent brain-imaging studies suggest that areas of the brain involved in mood, concentration and conscious thought are hyperconnected, which scientists believe could lead to the problems with focus, anxiety and memory frequently seen in depression.
hyperconnectivity is a hallmark of depression in the brain
Electroencephalographic evaluation of decapitation of the anaesthetized rat
Lab Anim January 2014 vol. 48 no. 1 15-19
The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes in electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum in response to decapitation of anaesthetized rats, in order to assess the nociception or otherwise of this procedure.
Ten young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were anaesthetized with halothane in oxygen and anaesthesia was maintained at a stable concentration of halothane between 1.20% and 1.25%.
The rat’s head and neck were placed through the opening of a small animal guillotine so that the blade of the guillotine was positioned over the atlanto-occipital joint of the rat’s neck.
The EEG was recorded in a five-electrode montage, bilaterally.
After recording a 15 min baseline the rat was decapitated by swiftly pressing the guillotine blade and the EEG recording was continued until the signal was isoelectric on both channels.
Changes in the median frequency (F50), 95% spectral edge frequency (F95) and total power of the EEG (Ptot) were used to investigate the effects of decapitation.
During the first 15 s following decapitation, there were significant increases in the F50 and F95, and a decrease in the Ptot compared with baseline values.
There was a clear window of time immediately following decapitation where changes in the EEG frequency spectrum were obvious; these changes in the EEG indices of nociception could be attributed as responses generated by the rat’s cerebral cortex following decapitation.
The enigma of pain
British Dental Journal 196, 502 – 503 (2004)
On the one hand we are a non-tolerant society towards pain but then at the same time we are pain consumers.
“We go to the movies and see it in the media, we think it is perfectly alright to consume the pain of others“
How to lose the one you love
Nature Physics 10, 172 (2014)
I have to admit that Jil lian was truly one to die for. I’d never seen a woman whose visage struck me so deeply — smack-dab in my gut, and various regions nearby. Whenever I saw her in the flesh, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would insinuate itself into my brain, and I would reel in response to the ecstasy of her divine musical theme.
Many wise men throughout the ages have written about this sensation. Suffice it for me to say that, if she were a predator and I were her prey, I’d gladly give up my bodily organs for her to feast upon.
Every Girl Dreams Of Falling In Love
Sierra Alligator Lizard
The powerful jaws of this lizard allow it to bite hard and hold on. Human skin is rarely broken, just pinched hard.
Neurological Consequences of Diabetic Ketoacidosis at Initial Presentation of Type 1 Diabetes in a Prospective Cohort Study of Children
Diabetes Care June 2014 vol. 37 no. 6 1554-1562
Fergus J. Cameron, et al.
OBJECTIVE To investigate the impact of new-onset diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) during childhood on brain morphology and function.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Patients aged 6–18 years with and without DKA at diagnosis were studied at four time points:
RESULTS Thirty-six DKA and 59 non-DKA patients were recruited between 2004 and 2009.
With DKA, cerebral white matter showed the greatest alterations with increased total white matter volume and higher mean diffusivity in the frontal, temporal, and parietal white matter.
Total white matter volume decreased over the first 6 months.
For gray matter in DKA patients, total volume was lower at baseline and increased over 6 months.
Lower levels of N-acetylaspartate were noted at baseline in the frontal gray matter and basal ganglia.
Mental state scores were lower at baseline and at 5 days.
Of note, although changes in total and regional brain volumes over the first 5 days resolved, they were associated with poorer delayed memory recall and poorer sustained and divided attention at 6 months.
Age at time of presentation and pH level were predictors of neuroimaging and functional outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS DKA at type 1 diabetes diagnosis results in morphologic and functional brain changes.
These changes are associated with adverse neurocognitive outcomes in the medium term.
Uncertainty Swirls Saturday’s Predicted Meteor Shower
May 23, 2014
Alan MacRobert, an editor at Sky & Telescope magazine is among those hoping to see a meteor shower in the wee hours Saturday.
The thought is that the planet is about to pass through the debris stream of a recently discovered comet called 209Linear.
MACROBERT: We are going through the trail of debris it should have left if, a few centuries ago, it was shedding stuff at the rate that astronomers think it may well have been doing, but we’re not going to know until we get there.
Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident
May 23, 2014
In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America’s only nuclear dump, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.
Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.
“It was the wrong kitty litter,” says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.
It turns out there’s more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it’s just as good at absorbing radioactive material.
“It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory,” says Conca
Marin Alsop’s Guide To Mendelssohn’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
by Marin Alsop
May 24, 2014
Growing up as a violinist, Felix Mendelssohn‘s Violin Concerto ranked among my top 10 Holy Grail pieces. As I got older, I moved on to his Octet and Piano Trio in D minor, which became two of my favorite chamber works. There’s almost nothing comparable to playing Mendelssohn’s Octet with seven great string players. It’s absolutely thrilling, energetic, virtuosic, youthful, fun and challenging. And to think that Mendelssohn wrote it when he was just 16.
Only a year later, at the ripe age of 17, he wrote his Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, completely capt uring the magic and frivolity in the ethereal world Shakespeare created.