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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Call for Research Participants

How well do you mask lies?

Single or multiple submissions welcome. Make it a contest! Get your office involved. Assign yourself a 5-digit code to be placed on your writing sample. No identifying information please.

 

Instructions: Please write 4 paragraphs per the below instructions. You may print or write cursive on lined or unlined paper, and it does not matter if you write with a pen or pencil. Scan or photograph your completed statements and email or text them (with your 5-digit code) to: Michelle@MindSleuth.us or (800) 910-0270s.  Results with 5-digit codes will be published on Facebook and in the Spring issue of eliteinvestigativejournal.com

PARAGRAPH #1– Copy the following paragraph.
I was asked to write an article about bitcoins. The editor will contact me with needed edits prior to publishing my article. The compensation will be in virtual dollars.
PARAGRAPH #2
In 3 or more sentences, state your sex, age, your favorite pastime, and why you enjoy this pastime.
PARAGRAPH #3
In 3 or more sentences, write about your dream vacation, as if you just returned from a week of rest and relaxation. Be creative! But, remember, you must have never experienced this vacation.
PARAGRAPH #4
In 3 or more sentences, write about an incident which never occurred.

Thank you for your participation!

Dr. Michelle Doscher

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Your Brain, a Microcosm of a City

All major cities have infrastructure which is needed for operation and maintenance of its society.  Your brain is no different.  Information and essential elements are transported efficiently.  Permanent structures are erected and restructured to meet needs and demands.  Lastly, operations are ever-changing, including changes in function.  As brain scientist Lara Boyd noted, everything we do and encounter changes our brains, for better or for worse.  Are these changes permanent? Yes and no.

We shape the way our microcosm presents itself and functions.  We determine whether certain structures expand or are allowed to diminish.  “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”  Our brains exhibit neuroplasticity; that is why our experiences and gained knowledge affect our perspectives, hence personalities.  Nutritionists often say, “You are what you eat.”  Well, from a psycho-social perspective, “We are what we experience.”  Fill your brain with positive, thought-provoking thoughts and diminish the effects of negative life experiences. These fluctuations will result in behavioral changes, along with awakened brain regions and the opportunity for amplified learning capabilities!

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Memories of the Future

Coined by David Ingvar, memories of the future, refers to our intentions.   As proactive beings, we make plans and follow them to guide our behavior.  While gathering snippets of our past experiences, we try to anticipate outcomes of possible future actions.  Therefore, we depend on these schemas to direct our actions, resulting in desired behavioral outcomes that do not imitate past experiences or present realities.

The general consensus has been that deceptive behavior is more cognitively demanding than truthful behavior.  However, more recent research is pointing to truthful intent as more cognitively demanding than false intent.  How so? You may ask.  Conceptualizing truthful intent requires not only planning for the future but also recalling memories of past actions and their corresponding behaviors and reactions.  Then, our proactive selves digest this information and anticipate possible future actions with desired behavioral outcomes. Whew! Talk about cognitive load!

The prefrontal cortex, which means “at the front of the cortex”, is our corporate executive of the brain.  Its tasks include, but not be limited to, executive control, conflict monitoring, emotion, and working memory.   Hmm…so, maybe the cognitive load approach to interviewing is not the golden ticket, if determining veracity of intent is the interviewer’s objective.

If the above assumptions are correct, a truthful interviewee could exhibit more deceptive behavioral cues, such as pauses or exaggerated details, than a deceptive interviewee.  This might occur as a result of the multi-layer cognitive processing when creating truthful ‘memories of the future’.  Remember, false statements, especially fabricated statements, may contain some truthful content; however, the deceptive person’s goal is not to unintentionally reference past actions, which could associate them to a particular phenomenon in question.  To prevent this from occurring, deceptive persons typically shy away from referencing memories and their associated behavioral responses,  when creating false statements of intent.

 

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