How does getting older change the way you think?
Plus, what happens when you suppress a memory.
“This whole, ‘You have to be a warrior, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ approach ignores the fact that before we can do that, we have to listen to anxiety. We have to tune in and leverage it.” – psychologist Tracy Dennis-Tiwary
Tell us how you really feel. We all know we change as we get older, but how so? One study suggests that we may become less empathetic – or at least, less attuned to emotions. The study asked a group of volunteers if they could correctly identify happiness from someone else’s voice patterns. Older adults (those over the age of 65) had a harder time with this than younger volunteers in their 20s. The latter group was 17% better at detecting happiness. This happened with negative emotions, too. Older adults were 13% worse at picking up on disgust in voices and 5% worse at detecting anger. The study suggests this mismatch “may be due to hormonal and anatomical changes that happen in the brain as we age naturally.” The good news is, we also get happier as we get older.
Ah, memories. We think of suppression as a bad thing, but it might make upsetting memories feel less painful. In a study, scientists had a group of people learn to associate neutral clues with photos of what they called “aversive scenes”: accidents, injuries, and disasters. Then they asked people to practice suppressing their associations and monitored their brain activity using fMRI. "As predicted, this process rendered the memories less vivid.” the study reported. Also, the patterns of brain activity that once represented those memories had, in some cases, become unrecognizable. “The findings run counter to the idea that suppressed memories lurk in the subconscious,” reported Scientific American writer Ingrid Wickelgren. Useful information next time you remember that cringey thing you said in a meeting.
Either/or. We all face tough decisions in life, whether we’re juggling the demands of work and family or deciding whether to take a new job. These situations often feel like either/or choices. But there’s another way to think about difficult choices, one that opens up unexpected possibilities. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
Oct 26: Anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion, which is why most of us try to avoid it. But psychologist Tracy Dennis-Tiwary says our anxiety is also trying to tell us something. This week, we explore how we can interpret those messages and manage the intense discomfort these feelings can generate.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Oct 27: "There was something about the power of the sound of his voice… that just put a balm and a soothingness over that pain." Jennifer reflects on the hospital worker who helped her feel relief, for the first time since a traumatic accident.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A sundial is a timepiece that has the fewest number of moving parts. Which timepiece has the most moving parts?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
A petri dish hosts a healthy colony of bacteria. Once a minute every bacterium divides into two. The colony was founded by a single cell at noon. At exactly 12:43 (43 minutes later) the petri dish was half full. At what time will the dish be full?
The answer: The dish will be completely filled at 12:44.
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
We’ll take, “A thing we’ve been dying to share for months” for $200.
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