Optomism Is a Brain Defect, According to Functional MRI Scans

Luckynumber3

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http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-10/biased-brains-help-humans-always-look-bright-side-life

Pervasive, persistent optimism is one of those uniquely human traits/flaws — we tend to believe things are better than they really are, or that negative consequences won’t befall us, even if they befall others. It stands to reason that people would adjust their expectations when confronted with harsh reality, yet they don’t. Our brains are to blame, according to a new study — we’re wired to have a positive outlook.
Neuroscientists have been searching for the physiological underpinnings for this sanguineness, because there are actual harms that can come from an “it-can’t-happen-to-me” or “it’ll-get-better-this-year” attitude. People might make reckless decisions or have unrealistic expectations, in everything from personal health to finance. Researchers have thought this rose-colored outlook is mediated in the brain centers involved in error processing, so a team from England and Germany set about studying this using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

To study optimism, they examined how people under-estimated the impact or possibility of future negative events, because this “it-can’t-happen-to-me” feeling has implications for how people protect themselves. The research team gave participants a list of 80 different negative life events, including getting Alzheimer’s disease, being fired, being cheated on by a spouse, and so on. They were asked to rate how likely they were to experience these events, and then they were told their actual probability for experiencing the events. Then they were asked to estimate their own likelihoods of experience again. The scientists monitored brain activity during these tests.


People were far more likely to change their estimates when they learned they were less likely to experience these harms, according to the researchers, from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, the Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University in Berlin. On the other hand, when things were worse than expected, the participants still gave the original, incorrect estimate.
Brain activity tracks with these findings, the researchers say. When things were better than expected, activity in the frontal cortices spiked, monitoring estimation errors. But when things were worse, the brain activity was much weaker.

“Our findings suggest that this human propensity toward optimism is facilitated by the brain’s failure to code errors in estimation when those call for pessimistic updates,” the authors write in the online version of Nature Neuroscience.

“Any advantage arising out of unrealistic optimism is likely to come at a cost. For example, an unrealistic assessment of financial risk is widely seen as contributing factor to the 2008 global economic collapse,” they write. “Dismissing undesirable errors in estimation renders us peculiarly susceptible to view the future through rose-colored glasses.”
I guess it makes sense after reading it, but reading the title and the opening paragraphs makes me want to become emo. :(
 

Leendrix

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That's a load of crap. If your optimistic, it's also proven that you live a longer life. Probably by the scientist right next door to this hack.
 

SKATTERBRANE

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I have no such brain defect. When I encounter optimists, I do not understand them nor can I relate to them.
 

bertzie

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Clearly it is.

Functional MRI does not refer to an MRI that is in working order, but rather an MRI that measures certain abilities, Functions if you will, of the human brain.
 

Thermionik

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Optimist - great thread, let's discuss it some more.
Pessimist - this will end badly..... or possibly worse.


Fezziwig - IIGgy wOULd Love THIS Thread go phillies FUZzz calm, no NOT calm - aaargh!
 

HOT-BRIT

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How can any one know what is a defect and what is normal!!!!!
 

rockstar232007

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If optimism is a "brain defect", then color me retarded.

What a load of crap!:rolleyes:

So, does that mean when people try to make the best of bad situations, they are suffering from severe denile?
 

bertzie

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If optimism is a "brain defect", then color me retarded.

What a load of crap!:rolleyes:

So, does that mean when people try to make the best of bad situations, they are suffering from severe denile?

Psychology says: Yes.

Stockholm syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Battered person syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Institutional syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When Life gives you lemons, burn Lifes house down with the lemons.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8ufRnf2Exc[/ame]
 

The DUDE

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That's a load of crap. If your optimistic, it's also proven that you live a longer life. Probably by the scientist right next door to this hack.

Optimists live longer lives because pessimists think of all the bad things that might happen to them and plan accordingly. Thus, optimists have the benefit of happiness without the stress of worrying - and still reap the benefits of preventive planning by pessimists....:cool:
 

Lyrica

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If you're the only one with 12 toes, it's a defect.

so if everyone is basically nuts, and you're not, you're the defective one? i cry bullshit :)
 

bertzie

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so if everyone is basically nuts, and you're not, you're the defective one? i cry bullshit :)

That's how science works. If an entire group, (say, primates) exhibit one trait, while a single individual species exhibits a different trait, than it makes logical sense that the single one is not correct. You can't just call something wrong in science because you don't like the results.

As I said in my earlier example. If everyone of your species is born with 10 toes, and you as an individual are born with 12, you are the defective one, not the rest of the species.
 

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