Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows

Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy – the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us – friends, spouses, lovers – with our very selves.

U.Va. psychologist James A. Coan conducted the study. "People close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real," he said. Credit: Dan Addison

U.Va. psychologist James A. Coan conducted the study. “People close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real,” he said. Credit: Dan Addison

“With , other people become part of ourselves,” said James Coan, a U.Va.  in the College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging  scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Continue reading

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Brain-penetrating particle attacks deadly tumors

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Scientists have developed a new approach for treating a deadly brain cancer that strikes 15,000 in the United States annually and for which there is no effective long-term therapy. The researchers, from Yale and Johns Hopkins, have shown that the approach extends the lives of laboratory animals and are preparing to seek government approval for a human clinical trial.

“We wanted to make a system that would penetrate into the brain and deliver drugs to a greater volume of tissue,” said Mark Saltzman, a biomedical engineer at Yale and principal investigator of the research. “Drugs have to get to  in order to work, and they have to be the right drugs.” Continue reading