Profanity is Mindless

That’s right. Curse words are not processed in the same area of the brain as other language. Speaking requires language processing of units of sound, whereas curse words are stored as whole data chunks. Cussing requires less mental processing, and is primarily a function of the amygdala, a part of the brain’s limbic system which processes negative emotions.

The limbic system is in the center depths of the brain and composed of several organs responsible for memory and processing of emotions and behaviors. This area is also responsible for vocalizations in primates and animals. Yep, even animals use profanity, or at least it sounds like it!

Piecing the smallest units of sound (phonemes) together is slower and occurs in the cerebral cortex. This area of higher functioning is home to our abilities to reason and write, in addition to speaking. The formation of non-curse words seems to take longer and involves less spontaneous emotion. The formation of words is not only based on literal meanings but also feelings and emotions the words evoke. Since adult speech perception is somewhat automatic, words with strong negative connotations are easily retrieved and spoken almost spontaneously

Here are a few questions I’ve been asked recently: Why does profanity seem to slip out when our emotions are negative and spontaneous? Why is it so hard to complete a sentence when I’m angry or frustrated?

Since the amygdala is correlated with negative emotional associations; stimulating the amygdala can cause panic attacks and aggressive behaviors, while destroying the amygdala causes unusual calmness or fearlessness. Therefore, it makes sense that the amygdala would be activated in association with unpleasant words such as swear words.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate verbal working memory tasks’ performances increase during positive emotional states but decrease during negative emotional states. Aha! “That’s why we can’t remember ‘sh_t’ when we are upset and frustrated.”

~ Dr. Doscher

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Transparency, Good or Bad?

Human behavior is unique, so generalizing veracity cues is erroneous, if knowing the difference between truth and fiction is important. Think of a few instances when you would want to know the truth. Job interview? First date? Reading of a will? You get the idea…

foxnews.com

Unlike jellyfish, humans do not clone themselves, but our words can sting. What we say and do are unique. Our verbal and nonverbal communication skills cannot be duplicated. Humans are one-of-a-kind communicators. We also like short-cuts. Not only were our brains created to process and store large amounts of information but also to retrieve information about the past, present, and future! Yes, the future. Speculation is the result of gathering past information to predict a future situation.

I say this jokingly, but I think my brain is constantly saying “Keep it simple, stupid.” (K.I.S.S.) I will admit, there have been days when brain overload seemed imminent. Cognitive load (brain stress) occurs, because of mental conflict, a mass input of information, or new and different surroundings, to name a few. As I mentioned before, our brain likes to take short-cuts, and our brain also likes to avoid cognitive load. The result is sometimes deceptive or incomplete answers. For example, what is the best way to avoid conflict? Answer: Don’t mention details that would initiate or result in conflict. This is also known as omission. What if you need to be convincing to save face or prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt? Answer: Fabricate a convincing scenario based on the truth, or simply embellish the truth a bit.

Although I am not encouraging deceptive practices, white lies do sometimes serve a purpose. But what if knowing the TRUTH is paramount? Then do not seek to identify universal lie detection cues. Although many people exhibit similar behavioral traits, these cues do not always represent the same trait in each person. For more information on indirect methods to quantitative deception detection, visit https://MindSleuth.us Transparency may disclose information that should be kept secret, or disclose valuable information for the greater good. Either way, a noninvasive indirect method now exists allowing a glimpse into the mind’s cognitive processing.

Stay true to yourself!

~Dr. Doscher

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Mothers Who Murder Their Children

Mothers murder their children for many reasons, which typically fall into one of three classes: accidental, purposeful, and abuse-related filicide. Research points to differences between maternal behavioral characteristics when committing neonaticide and filicide.

  • neonaticide (children less than 24 hours old). Limited statistics exists for neonaticides, since many go unreported. The majority of the mothers are young and unmarried. Their self-image appears to be important and the homicides result to save face and social status.
  • infanticide (children less than one year old) There is a clear distinction between mothers who commit neonaticide vs infanticide. Michelle Oberman, law professor/author suggests reviewing societal norms which may be causing undo stress to mothers or harm to children. Infanticide is not random and is not committed by only the mentally ill.
  • filicide (children 18 years and younger). The U.S. statistics are the highest for infanticide followed by pre-school and school-age children. 30%-45% percent of parents committing filicide commit suicide.

The following are 5 recurring motives for maternal filicide based on Phillip Resnick’s worldwide review of psychiatric research: (Altruistic)-These mothers feel they are protecting their children from worse harm. (Psychotic)-Psychotic or delirious mothers have no motive other than reacting to hallucinations. (Fatal maltreatment)-These mothers’ intentions are usually not homicide, but residual effects of years of abuse and neglect or Munchausen syndrome by proxy are often culprits. (Unwanted child)-The child is seen as a hindrance or burden. Lastly, (Spouse revenge)-Although rare, the mother kills the child to torture the child’s father or seek revenge.

The following podcast was taped by death investigator Darren Dake of Coroner Talk™ with myself, discussing the psychology of mom’s who kill.

 

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How Does Color Affect Our Mood?

Companies around the world research the best colors for their logos. Google tested 40 shades of blue before deciding which blue to use in their logo. The psychology of color plays a role in most of these decisions, such as red signifies warmth, passion, and sales! Blue is calming and trustworthy, while green signifies health. Chanel, coined “the little black dress” and continues to use black in their logo symbolizing classic and sophisticated designs.

We see images via the visual cortex portion of the brain. However, the retinal ganglion cells are the first responder neurons, sending signals to the hypothalamus, part of our brain’s limbic system. The hypothalamus helps maintain balance with our body’s internal environment (hunger, thirst, temperature, and sleep). It also triggers secretion of hormones that affect our mood, emotions, and need for reward. Here lies the key to how different wavelengths of color affect our mood.

Blue/green wavelengths, such as in morning light stimulate the hormone cortisol, which stimulates us to awaken. Therefore, it is hard to go to sleep after working on the computer for hours, unless you wear blue blocking glasses, such as EyeYee. I discovered this secret after experiencing many sleepless nights and eye strain while writing my dissertation. Keep in mind, too much cortisol released in our body causes stress and anxiety. (Could that be the reason why people tend to be more anxious after hours of computer gaming? Don’t go there! LOL.) Whereas, soft oranges/yellows in sunsets encourage melatonin production and help keep our sleep cycles on schedule; that why I recommend using warm lights in the bedroom to encourage restful sleep.

One Tokyo railway line installed blue lights at the end of their platforms and claimed they had a 74% reduction in suicide at these platforms. However, Nicholas Ciccone, PhD found inconclusive evidence regarding the effects of blue light on impulsivity. Correlations can be a bit misleading, but they do sell headlines! Two of the world’s largest restaurant food chains rely on color science for their marketing. McDonald’s has maintained their golden arches and red accents, while Subway adds a pop of yellow and green. Volkswagen maintains their image as “the car of the people” while encourage trustworthiness with the blue background in their logo.

As a researcher in interpersonal communications, I would love to hear your feedback regarding your choice of colors for clothes and possible effects on conversation.

Best to you all,

Dr. Michelle Doscher

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The Power of Suggestion

Although amazing, our hippocampus and amygdala have their limitations.  Both are a part of our brain’s limbic system, and both play roles in our memory systems. The synergy between the two are suspected to play a significant role in the long-term storage of emotional memories.  Yet, according to J.E. LeDoux, “Emotions are conscious products of unconscious processes.” Here is the kicker and reason for this post.

Emotions influence our declarative memories, and leave remnants of consequences from our emotional responses. These neural transmissions sometimes bypass the usual (longer) route for memory storage and recollection. Hence, this explains why a particular sound or smell may evoke a feeling of anxiousness, without you completely understanding or remembering the event responsible for the behavioral response.  Without corroboration of physical evidence, verifying reported memories can be difficult.  However, this does not mean  they are not true.

Unfortunately, research studies have demonstrated guided retrieval of memories can appear genuine to participants, especially when the participant feels pressured to remember a difficult-to-recall event.  A suggestion as simple as, “imagine this event and the sights and sounds around you, but don’t worry about the accuracy of your memories”, has been shown to elicit completely false memories or disassociated memories.

False memories of events never occurred, whereas disassociated memories are truthful and guided components of memories that meld into one memory. Previous truthful components of memories and guided components become indistinguishable.  The power of suggestion is noteworthy.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher

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