[Paleopsych] why do we need to SEE sex and violence?

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Sat Aug 13 05:08:59 UTC 2005

Judging from the following item, our perceptual system  seems preprogrammed 
to stop, pause, and rivet on sights that promise sex or  threaten violence.  
Makes  sense.  Sex makes sure that when we  die our genes go marching on.  
Avoiding violence makes sure our body and mind live to see another  day.  Gawking 
at violence from a  distance hopefully helps us learn how to avoid it—or 
overcome it-- in the  future. 
Now  the question is this.  Is this  fixation on violence and sex a product 
of Western Culture.  Or is it universal in humans?  If it’s universal in 
humans, does it  also show up in lab rats, pigeons, and anolis lizards?  In other 
words, does it go back to a  common ancestor of birds, mammals, and lizards? 
At  what age does this phenomenon appear in humans?  When are babies able to 
perceive sex and  violence?  When do these two become  emotionally potent to 
kids?  Howard 
Retrieved August 13,  2005, from the World Wide Web  
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7845  NewScientist.com Erotic images can turn you blind  * 
18:09 12 August 2005 * NewScientist.com  news service * Gaia Vince  
Researchers have finally found evidence  for what good Catholic boys have known all 
along – erotic images make you go blind. The effect  is temporary and lasts just 
a moment, but the research has added to  road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban 
sexy billboard-advertising near busy  roads, in the hope of preventing 
accidents.  The new study by US psychologists found  that people shown erotic or 
gory images  frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. 
And the  researchers say some personality types  appear to be affected more 
than others by the phenomenon, known as “emotion-induced blindness”.  David 
Zald, from  Vanderbilt  University in  Nashville,  Tennessee, and Marvin Chun and 
colleagues  from Yale  University in  Connecticut, showed hundreds of images 
to volunteers and  asked them to pick a specific image from the rapid sequence. 
Most of the images  were landscape or architectural scenes, but the 
psychologists included a few  emotionally charged images, portraying violent or 
sexually provocative scenes.  The closer these emotionally  charged images occurred 
prior to the target image, the more frequently people  failed to spot the 
target image, the researchers found.  “We observed that people failed to detect  
visual images that appeared one-fifth of a second after emotional images,  
whereas they can detect those images with little problem after neutral images,”  
Zald says. Primitive brain  “We  think there is essentially a bottleneck for 
information processing and if a  certain type of stimulus captures attention, it 
can jam up the bottleneck so  subsequent information can’t get through,” Zald 
explains. “It appears to happen  involuntarily. The stimulus captures 
attention and once allocated to that  particular stimulus, no other stimuli can get 
through” for several tenths of a  second.  He believes that a  primitive part 
of the brain, known as the amygdala, may play a part. That region  is involved 
in evaluating sensory input according to its emotional relevance and  has an 
autonomic role, influencing heart rate and sweating.  “It is possible that 
emotionally-charged  stimuli produce preferential rapid routing of the impulse 
that bypasses the  slower cortical route via the amygdala," Zald told New 
Scientist. "Patients with  amygdala lesions pick out the target image without 
reacting to violent images,  although they show normal blindness reactions when 
sexual images are introduced,  which suggests another mechanism may also be 
involved.” Harm avoiders  The researchers think emotion-induced  blindness could lead 
to drivers simply not seeing another car or pedestrian if  they have just 
witnessed an emotionally charged scene, such as an accident or  sexually explicit 
billboard.  The  effect could exacerbate the more obvious problem of drivers 
simply being  distracted by large, arresting images. "It's the responsibility 
of drivers to  ensure that when they are behind the wheel they keep their eyes 
on the job in  hand," says a spokeswoman from Brake, a  UK road safety  
organisation.  And some people are  more vulnerable than others. The study assessed 
participants using a personality  questionnaire, rating them according to 
their level of “harm avoidance”. Those  scoring highly were more fearful, 
careful and cautious; those scoring low were  more carefree and more comfortable in 
difficult or dangerous situations.  The researchers found that those with low  
harm avoidance scores were better able to stay focused on a target image than 
 those with high harm avoidance scores.  “People who are more harm avoidant 
may  not be detecting negative stimuli more than other people, but they have a  
greater difficulty suppressing that information,” Zald suggests.  The Brake 
spokeswoman says companies  should think about the consequences of placing 
emotionally charged billboards at  dangerous road junctions: “We should be 
concerned if drivers are experiencing  split-second breaks in concentration, which 
could result in an accident or death  on the roads.”  Journal reference:  
Psychonomic Bulletin and Review (August 2005 issue) Related Articles  * Early 
blindness frees brain-power for  hearing * 
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18524845.200 * 29 January  2005 * Porn panic over eroto-toxins *  
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18424750.800 * 27 November 2004 *  Women's 
better emotional recall explained *  
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2576 * 22 July 2002  Weblinks  * David Zald,  Vanderbilt University *  
http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/zalddh/zaldhomepage.htm * Marvin Chun,  Yale 
University *  http://www.yale.edu/psychology/FacInfo/Chun.html *  Brake,  UK 
road safety organisation  * http://www.brake.org.uk/ * Psychonomic Bulletin 
and Review *  http://www.psychonomic.org/PBR/  Close this window Printed on Sat 
Aug 13  05:53:57 BST 2005 
Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Recent Visiting  Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; 
Core Faculty  Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Institute for 
Accelerating Change ; executive  editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International  Paleopsychology Project, see: 
for two chapters from  
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,  
see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The  Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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