Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another challenge to mind-body separation

Source: "Mind over matter? How your body does your thinking," 24 March 2010, Anil Ananthaswamy, New Scientist

My friend Julianne suggested this article.
Until recently, the assumption has been that our bodies contribute only to our most basic interactions with the environment, namely sensory and motor processes. The new results suggest that our bodies are also exploited to produce abstract thought, and that even seemingly inconsequential activities have the power to influence our thinking.

One result reported is that eye movements occur which are predictive of random numbers generated by subjects in an experimental setting. The interpretation is that the Americans may associate larger numbers with higher regions in the field of view and regions more to the right, and that the involuntary eye movement up and right is part of the brain's function to generate a larger "random" number.

A second, similar result suggested that moving things up in space tended to make people's responses more positive, and moving them down in space to make responses more negative.

I heard recently on a radio broadcast a result which I can not reference, but that a subject hearing sneezes will tend to be more concerned about health than if he/she had not heard the sneeze.

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