My Weekly Learnings #38 (12.12 – 18.12)

Amidst all the content I consume every week, through this weekly series of ‘My Weekly Learnings’, sharing highlights of content pieces that caught my eye and provided more value than I could imagine.

(P.S. Every Sunday, I share a list of what to read, listen to, and watch, in my weekly series, The Last 7 Days. You can check out the editions here).

1. The Social Neuroscience of Music: Understanding the Social Brain Through Human Song

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that people can adapt quickly to ensure that their social needs are met after being forced to isolate and socially distance. Many individuals turned immediately to music, as evidenced by people singing from balconies, watching live concerts on social media, and group singing online. In this article, we show how these musical adaptations can be understood through the latest advances in the social neuroscience of music—an area that, to date, has been largely overlooked. By streamlining and synthesizing prior theory and research, we introduce a model of the brain that sheds light on the social functions and brain mechanisms that underlie the musical adaptations used for human connection. We highlight the role of oxytocin and the neurocircuitry associated with reward, stress, and the immune system. We show that the social brain networks implicated in music production (in contrast to music listening) overlap with the networks in the brain implicated in the social processes of human cognition, mentalization, empathy, and synchrony—all of which are components of herding; moreover, these components have evolved for social affiliation and connectedness. We conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic could be a starting point for an improved understanding of the relationship between music and the social brain, and we outline goals for future research in the social neuroscience of music. In a time when people across the globe have been unable to meet in person, they have found a way to meet in the music”

From: https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2021-55326-001.pdf

2. The eyes are not just two external things connected to the brain, in a very real sense, they are the brain.

Why can we say that?⠀

The retina and optic nerve are, anatomically speaking, part of the brain. And, the eye is part of the forebrain during embryological development, being essentially birthed by neurological tissue. As we grow from infants to adults, it’s the combination of the maturation of the eye working with the brain that creates perception, the ability to see well and perform perceptual-cognitive tasks.⠀

Not only is the eye-brain an integrated whole, but sighted humans are primarily visual creatures. For most of us, vision is the dominant sense used to interact with the external world. Because of this, visual processes occupy the largest amount of real estate in the cerebral cortex—this is the area of the brain that, among other things, receives and processes sensory information—with 20–30% of the cortex devoted to vision. [Neurohacker]

3. The events that make your blood boil reveal what matters most to you.

Anger rises when your core values are in jeopardy. With reflection, it becomes a mirror for seeing your principles more clearly.

With action, it becomes a map for making changes to protect what you hold dear. [Adam Grant]

4. If you put one adult’s veins, capillaries, and arteries end to end, it would stretch 60,000 miles (96560 km), which would circle the Earth two and a half times. [8fact]

5. Author and social activist bell hooks on how to love yourself:

“One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am.

It is silly, isn’t it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim “You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself” made clear sense. And I add, “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.”

Source: All About Love: New Visions (via James Clear’s newsletter)