Experience Alters Perception

Glen M. Sizemore gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 19 06:42:05 EST 2002

Probably a continuum with rocks on one end and people on the other. Right,
Dr. Jones?

"Ian Goddard" <igoddard at erols.mom> wrote in message
news:3d0fed81.1364087 at news.erols.com...
>  Here's another example of how environmental stressors can
>  significantly modify neurology. This tends to counter the
>  prevailing paradigm of biological psychiatry that sees
>  atypical behavior as inherently indicative of internally
>  sourced neurological malfunction. http://IanGoddard.net
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/06/020618072601.htm
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> Experience Alters How We Perceive Emotion
> Because people recognize the same emotions across languages and
> cultures, psychologists have long suspected that a person's ability
> to perceive basic emotions is innate. However, a new study published
> in the June 18 early edition of the Proceedings of the National
> Academy of Sciences suggests that experience can alter the way
> people see emotions.
> Led by University of Wisconsin-Madison psychologist Seth Pollak, the
> study examined how children categorize facial expressions as happy,
> sad, angry or fearful based on one particular emotional experience -
> physical abuse. Studying children who had been abused, Pollak says,
> offered an opportunity both to examine the effects of atypical
> experience on how children think about emotions and to possibly
> identify new interventions that could help abused children more
> effectively manage resulting behavioral problems.
> For this study, Pollak invited both abused and non-abused children,
> 8 to 10 years old, to his Child Emotion Research Laboratory. There,
> they played computer "games" that presented digitally morphed photos
> of facial expressions that ranged from either happy to fearful,
> happy to sad, angry to fearful or angry to sad. While some of the
> faces expressed a single emotion, most were blends of two emotions.
> In one of the games, the children saw a single face and had to
> choose which emotion it expressed the most. Because many images
> were a composite of emotions, this task allowed the researchers to
> determine how the children perceived different expressions.
> Pollak, along with colleague Doris Kistler from the Waisman Center,
> a national center dedicated to advancing knowledge about human
> development, found that the two groups of children did categorize
> emotional expressions differently. While both abused and non-abused
> children generally responded the same way to expressions showing
> mostly happiness, sadness or fear, abused children identified more
> faces as being "angry," rather than fearful or sad. Even though an
> expression would show, for example, 60 percent fear and 40 percent
> anger, abused children would identify the latter emotion.
> "There aren't differences in how the children recognize pictures of
> faces, but in how they categorize those faces. The abused children
> were more sensitive to anger," Pollak says. "Experience can shift
> where a person draws the boundary of a particular emotion, and
> this idea runs counter to claims that boundaries for emotions are
> innate."
> Pollak says that the neural processes the brain uses to perceive
> and categorize emotion might be innate but that how people actually
> perceive and understand expressions of emotion can be shaped by
> experience.
> Pollak's latest finding confirms the results of one of the
> psychologist's earlier studies, which found that children who were
> abused exhibited more brain electrical activity than non-abused
> children when shown angry faces, as opposed to other facial
> expressions.
> "It may be the case that physically abused children develop a
> broader category of anger because it's adaptive for them to notice
> when adults are angry," he says.
> But while this sensitivity could be protective in a threatening
> environment, it could be disadvantageous in others. An abused child
> might over-interpret a social cue, such as an accidental ball toss
> during recess, to be hostile. As a result, the child might try to
> protect himself by lashing out, calling names or exhibiting other
> inappropriate behaviors. By recognizing an abused child's
> sensitivity to cues of anger, Pollak says psychologists may be able
> to help these children respond more appropriately.
> Through his research, Pollak hopes to not only understand better
> the effects of experience on how a person perceives emotion but
> to identify neurological aspects that are also affected by such
> experience.
> "We are trying to add to the body of literature demonstrating the
> behavior problems observed in abused children," Pollak says. "We're
> looking at the problem of child abuse from the perspective of
> neuroscience and the developing brain." By doing so, he hopes to
> pinpoint underlying mechanisms that could lead to the development
> of tailored interventions to help abused children.
> Pollak's work is supported by the National Institute of Mental
> Health and the UW-Madison Graduate School.
> For more information on Pollak's work, visit:
> http://psych.wisc.edu/childemotion/
> NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: High resolution photos of Seth Pollak, as
> well as images of the digitally morphed facial expressions used
> in the study, are available at
> http://www.news.wisc.edu/newsphotos/childemotions.html
>   http://IanGoddard.net
>   "To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals." Ben Franklin
>   Caloric Restriction: http://IanGoddard.net/cr.htm
>   Fat to Thin: http://IanGoddard.net/me-cr.htm

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