The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 6 • October 2015


RECIPE FOR A PEACEFUL CIVILIZATION? COULD THIS KNOWLEDGE SAVE THE WORLD?

We interrupt this tax preparation waste of productive effort for a flash from the scientific literature on what may be an excellent recipe for the peaceful, productive society we all want. This paper (Rilling, 2012) presents what the authors claim is the first ever [we’ve certainly never seen anything like this before] comparison of chimpanzee and bonobo brains using diffusion tensor imaging, supplemented with a voxel-wise analysis of T3-weighted images to specifically compare neural circuitry implicated in social cognition. As you know, the bonobos have largely substituted sex and play for aggressive violence in social interactions, while chimps are more like humans, with plenty of aggressive violence in social interactions.

Here it is: “We find that bonobos have more gray matter in brain regions involved in perceiving distress in both oneself and others, including the right dorsal amygdala and right anterior insula. Bonobos also have a larger pathway linking the amygdala with the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, a pathway implicated in both top-down control of aggressive impulses as well as bottom-up biases against harming others. We suggest that this neural system not only supports increased empathic sensitivity in bonobos, but also behaviors like sex and play that serve to dissipate tension, thereby limiting distress and anxiety to levels conducive with prosocial behavior.” (Rilling, 2012)

WOW! You’d think that findings such as this would receive a lot of attention, but have you seen this anywhere in the press??? This could be a formula to save the world because human aggression, particularly the coercive type, is wrecking havoc.

Imagine having the opportunity to find out how the brains of your potential mates or potential business associates look as compared to the bonobo brain? We’d definitely choose people with those traits over what you usually get. People are dangerous and, in business, the difficulty of distinguishing liars, sociopaths, and criminals from the others is such that you make mistakes and may have to pay a high cost for those mistakes. We’ve had plenty of experience with that. It has cost us a lot.

Our thanks to the authors, whose names we give in full as the heroes that they are:

James K. Rilling, Jan Scholz, Todd M. Preuss, Matthew F. Glasser, Bhargav K. Errangi, and Timothy E. Behrens. Differences between chimpanzees and bonobos in neural systems supporting social cognition. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 7:369-79 (2012).

Correspondence should be addressed to: James K. Rilling, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322 E-mail: jrillin@emory.edu [email as given in the paper; don’t know why the “g” was dropped from jrillin.]

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