How culture plays into cognitive research

In a new paper published in Nature Human Behaviour, scientists look at how cognitive research on poverty, ethics and discrimination would be enriched by engaging more with cultural sociology. They examine three of the most prominent cognitive research models: studies of poverty focused on scarcity and cognitive bandwidth, studies of dual-process morality, and studies of biases using the implicit association test.

Source: Poverty, ethics and discrimination: How culture plays into cognitive research

Practices for Resilience

It’s such a powerful thing, resilience … but how do you develop it? Because make no mistake: it’s a set of skills, a set of capacities, that can be developed over time. Some people might be born with greater tendencies toward resiliency, but we can all get better at it.

I’m going to offer a set of practices that you can work on, if you want to develop extraordinary resiliency. I hope you find them useful.


The Cognitive Health Crisis

Maybe more than any other disease, severe cognitive impairments have the potential to unravel families. They’re not one and done. They drag on. They aren’t “lethal” in the normal sense. People with Alzheimer’s can lead long lives, the latter halves of which can get very difficult for everyone involved. There’s an entire body of literature devoted to studying the effects of Alzheimer’s on families and caregivers and discovering effective methods for mitigating the damage done. You don’t get that so much with other diseases.

Yet for whatever reason, Alzheimer’s doesn’t get enough attention. Sure, it’s mentioned. People are aware it exists. They can probably name the general symptoms. But it doesn’t seem as pressing a concern as something like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

Source: Why Aren’t We Talking About the Cognitive Health Crisis? | Mark’s Daily Apple

Counter Rationalizations Rationally

Mary Gentile discusses commonly confronted rationalizations and potential responses for those who wish to act effectively and with integrity under pressure.


When we encounter values conflicts in the workplace, we often face barriers that appear in the form of “reasons and rationalizations” for pursuing a particular course of action. These obstacles can confound our best attempts to fulfill our own sense of organizational and personal purpose. These are the objections you hear from your colleagues when you try to point out an ethical problem in the way things are being done. Sometimes you don’t even hear them because they are the unspoken assumptions — seeming truisms — of the organization.

It is extremely difficult to make a strong argument against the “prevailing winds” if you feel you are in the minority, or if you don’t feel you have the time to come up with a workable alternative or if you don’t want to take the chance to present a half-baked response. So the Giving Voice to Values curriculum is about creating a time and space to be in the majority, with sufficient time to come up with a fully baked and pre-tested response to some of the most common challenges you are likely to face in your workplace.

Source: Giving Voice to Values: How to Counter Rationalizations Rationally

Who is at most risk of opioid deaths?

A new study of 13,000 people who died of an opioid overdose found that more than half had been diagnosed with chronic pain; many had psychiatric disorders.

Approximately one-third of those who died had been diagnosed with a drug use disorder in the prior year. However, fewer than one in twenty had been diagnosed with opioid use disorder in the last month. “Because clinical diagnoses generally indicate treatment, this service pattern suggests that dropout from drug treatment is common before fatal opioid overdose. Improving treatment retention with contingency management or other effective behavioral interventions might help lower the risk of fatal overdose in these patients,” said Dr. Olfson.

Source: Largest study of opioid deaths reveals who is at most risk

Net Positive Leadership

Ben Kellard explains how leaders are fundamentally rethinking their strategy to contribute more to the economy than they take.

One major source of impetus towards a Net Positive future is the Sustainable Development Goals: the set of 17 ambitions that were adopted by world leaders in 2015, offering all sectors for the first time a common framework for transformation. These aren’t just a useful communications tool for framing existing corporate action, Kellard observed: they actually call for a step-change in the role of business in developing a resilient economy. He referred to the flagship report of the Overseas Development Institute which says that five goals call for a complete reversal in current trajectories – if we are to reduce inequality and the growth of slums, combat climate change, reduce waste, and protect marine environments.

The Bullshit Industrial Complex

The bullshit industrial complex is a pyramid of groups that goes something like this:

Group 1: People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.

Group 2: People writing about group 1 in clear, concise, accessible language.

[And here rests the line of bullshit demarcation…]

Group 3: People aggregating the learnings of group 2, passing it off as first-hand wisdom.

Group 4: People aggregating the learnings of group 3, believing they are as worthy of praise as the people in group 1.

Groups 5+: And downward….

The Complex eventually becomes a full fledged self-sufficient ecosystem when people in group 4 are reviewing books by people in group 3 who are only tweeting people in group 2 who are appearing on the podcasts started by people in group 3.

Source: The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex

Better Connected Brains?

“It is possible that due to their biological predispositions, some individuals develop brain networks that favor intelligent behaviors or more challenging cognitive tasks. However, it is equally as likely that the frequent use of the brain for cognitively challenging tasks may positively influence the development of brain networks. Given what we currently know about intelligence, an interplay of both processes seems most likely.”

Source: Smarter People Have Better Connected Brains

How Self-Organization Happens

“There isn’t one specific pattern that emerges from self-organization. The processes are so deep and fundamental to human interactions that you cannot enforce any specific hierarchical or non-hierarchical pattern with rules. Trust between people is an outcome of allowing people to freely self-organize. Complex networks of trust emerge and change as people continuously negotiate their relationships.”

Source: How Self-Organization Happens

Future of e-Learning: Personalization

In the future, e-learning is likely to be as follows. The worker or student would be asking the virtual assistant about what they should study further to improve their performance and would receive an answer: “You should read these materials here (providing the link) and watch this video in order to improve your knowledge in the field.” What is especially important is that these data will be not just general, but will take into account the actual person’s knowledge, his or her own experience, as well as previous experiences of the people with similar patterns of learning. Such approach will:

  • significantly improve the learning process;
  • reduce the time needed for studying;
  • reduce costs, and much more.

Source: Future of e-Learning: Personalization and Effect on Business – TFOT