Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Masculinity, emotions, and memory

The Atlantic- Conventional scientific wisdom recognizes six "classic" emotions: ... For example, both anger and disgust share a wrinkled nose, and both ... The study has challenged a commonly-held belief that there are six basic emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgus 
"We show that 'basic' facial expression signals are perceptually segmented across time and follow an evolving hierarchy of signals over time - from the biologically-rooted basic signals to more complex socially-specific signals."

She added: "Over time, and as humans migrated across the globe, socioecological diversity probably further specialised once-common facial expressions, altering the number, variety and form of signals across cultures."

The researchers intend to develop their study by looking at facial expressions of different cultures.

They said East Asian populations interpreted some of the six classical emotions differently - placing more emphasis on eye signals than mouth movements compared to Westerners.

DNA Our memory plays tricks on us and it is far from accurate if compared with a video camera, reveals a study. The memory plucks fragments of the present and inserts them into the past, add researchers from Illinois-based Northwestern Medicine. It rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences.

"When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of love and euphoria," said lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "But you may actually be projecting your current feelings back to the original encounter with this person."

This is the first study to show specifically how memory is faulty. It shows the exact point in time when that incorrectly recalled information gets implanted into an existing memory. To help us survive, Bridge said, our memories adapt to an ever-changing environment and help us deal with what's important now. "The memory is not like a video camera. It reframes and edits events to create a story to fit your current world. It's built to be current," explained Bridge.

All that editing happens in the hippocampus, the study found. The hippocampus, in this function, is the memory's equivalent of a film editor and special effects team. "The notion of a perfect memory is a myth," said Joel Voss, assistant professor of neurology at Feinberg. "The memory is designed to help us make good decisions in the moment and, therefore, memory has to stay up-to-date," Voss added.

There is a grain of truth in what feminist Camille Paglia stridently wrote: “The way gender is being taught in the universities – in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralisation of maleness.” 

As in the media, academics too easily fall into the trap of depicting men as“damaged and damage doing”. Even if there’s acceptance of multiple ways of being masculine, dominant descriptions by academics commonly caricaturise men as emotionally constipated risk takers with no interest in their own well-being or in seeking help. 

But depending on the circumstances, men can be very interested in wellness, being intimate with others and in consulting with professionals like counsellors. And the dominant ideals of masculinity are not as toxic as is so often fantasised. 

All the world is a stage, and masculinity is defined by the way that men perform in public, and so what is considered masculine can change. At one extreme, in a South African prison, men who had been raped were considered by other inmates to have been de-masculinised even if the encounter was non-concensual. But in some other societies (including by heterosexual men in the west), where homosexuality was once viewed as unmasculine, its increasing acceptance shows that concepts of masculinity can be flexible. 

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