Big thinkers

first_imgPsychologists at Harvard University have found that infants younger than a year old understand social dominance and use relative size to predict who will prevail when two individuals’ goals conflict. The finding is presented this week in the journal Science.Lead author Lotte Thomsen says the work suggests that we may be born with — or develop at a very early age — some understanding of social dominance and how it relates to relative size, a correlation ubiquitous across human cultures and the animal kingdom. This potentially innate knowledge may help infants face the formidable challenge of learning the structure of their social environment, specifying ways of recognizing who is socially dominant in their particular culture.“Traditional kings and chieftains sit on large, elevated thrones and wear elaborate crowns or robes that make them look bigger than they really are, and subordinates often bow or kneel to show respect to superior humans and gods,” says Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. “Many animals, like birds and cats, will puff themselves up to look physically larger to an adversary, and prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission, like dogs do. Our work suggests that even with limited socialization, preverbal human infants may understand such displays.”Thomsen and colleagues at Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), studied the reactions of infants ranging from 8 to 16 months old as they watched videos of interactions between cartoon figures of various sizes.“Since preverbal infants can’t be interviewed, their experiences and expectations must be assessed by their behavior,” Thomsen says. “Infants tend to watch longer when something surprises them. So we can test hypotheses about what they expect by measuring how long they look at scenarios that either violate or confirm their expectations.”The researchers showed infants videos depicting a large and a small block with eyes and mouth bouncing across a stage in opposite directions. Next, infants watched the two blocks meet in the middle, impeding one another’s progress. They then saw either the large or the small block bow and step aside, deferring to the other.“As predicted by our theory, the infants watched much longer when a large agent yielded to a smaller one,” Thomsen says. On average, the babies watched this unexpected outcome for 20 seconds, compared with just 12 seconds when a smaller character made way for a larger one.In a follow-up experiment, Thomsen and her co-authors found that 8-month-old infants failed to grasp the significance of the larger block deferring to the smaller one. But those who were 10 to 16 months old consistently demonstrated surprise at depictions of a larger individual yielding to a smaller one, suggesting that this conceptual understanding develops between 8 and 10 months of age.Two other follow-ups showed that infants’ reactions were not simply caused by the expectation that smaller individuals tend to fall over in general, including in situations that do not involve conflicting goals.“Understanding what makes humans’ rich conceptual repertoire possible is one of the formidable challenges of cognitive science,” says co-author Susan Carey, the Henry A. Morss Jr. and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Psychology at Harvard. “Part of meeting this challenge is specifying the initial state: What representational resources are infants born with that enable further learning? Our work shows that, apparently, infants come prepared to understand abstract aspects of their social world.”In recent decades, scientists have learned that the infant mind creates abstract representations of intuitive physics, psychology, and mathematics. It has also been shown that young infants account for aspects of the social world, such as tracking whether other agents help or hinder third parties. These representations constitute part of what babies need in order to understand collaboration and cooperation in the world.“The studies we report here are the first to show that young infants also understand events where agents have conflicting goals, and have ways of predicting which of two agents will prevail,” Carey says.Thomsen and Carey’s co-authors on the Science paper are Willem E. Frankenhuis at UCLA and McCaila Ingold-Smith at Harvard. Their work was sponsored by Harvard, the National Institutes of Health, the Winkler Foundation, and the Danish Council for Independent Research.last_img read more

Beyond the Concrete Jungle

first_imgThough our legs were tired and heavy after completing the nearly 2-mile journey uphill along the Cedar Run portion of the hike, we received a tremendous amount of gratitude and feedback from each of the guys. After a delicious roadside dinner consisting of BBQ sandwiches, burgers, and ice cream, we made our way back to the city, thus ending an incredible day spent with good people in the great outdoors. And most importantly, as always, we completed the adventure and returned home safely.The outdoors has played an enormous role in my spiritual journey in my 20s, and I have had the privilege of some truly life-changing experiences through outdoor conquests. I cannot imagine going through life without investing time, energy, and resources into pursuing such outdoor pursuits that have led to incredible personal, physical, and spiritual growth. I, along with many others, am truly blessed to have the ability to access nature and many of the outdoor experiences and challenges that exist all over this planet. However, I believe it is very important to understand how many individuals do not have such access or do not have influences in their lives who place great emphasis on the value the outdoors can have on an individual’s personal growth. Many residents in Washington, DC, and in places across the Southeast are only privy to life in the concrete jungle. This past summer I had the privilege of going on a day trip to Shenandoah National Park with a few young men from Southeast Washington, DC who had recently struggled with homelessness and unemployment. We had come to know these young men through our involvement with Covenant House Washington, a nonprofit organization focused on addressing the needs of young men and women who suffer from homelessness, abuse, and neglect in the Washington, DC area.The Covenant House Crisis Center is a short-term emergency shelter for single and parenting young adults who lack a safe place to stay at night. Building relationships with these young men and women can be a humbling and emotional endeavor, as many of the young adults reveal to us over time the painful circumstances that have led to their involvement with Covenant House. Though we have witnessed incredible experiences and outcomes during our bi-monthly visits to the Crisis Center, I wanted the opportunity to engage the young men at the shelter in a setting far different than their typical environment in southeast Washington, D.C., an area where the presence of drugs, violence, abuse, exploitation, and homelessness heavily impacts the lives of its residents starting at a very young age.Our desire to show these young men an experience far different from their standard daily activities manifested into an incredible day trip spent conquering the White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run trail within Shenandoah National Park. Having done this hike before, I felt the trail’s combination of length, physical difficulty, scenery, spectacular waterfalls, and the cliff-jumping and rock-sliding opportunities made for a fantastic opportunity to further bond with these men and to show them the rewarding experiences one can receive when investing extensive time and energy into exploring the great outdoors.The day could not have been more rewarding for all individuals present. We engaged in conversations far more personal and meaningful than ever before. We also introduced these men to several aspects of nature that they had never previously experienced. None of these guys had ever seen a waterfall before, and until that day none of them had experienced the awesomeness of leaping from a ledge into a fresh natural body of water.P1030645last_img read more

‘Crazy journey’: From double shark attack to Paralympic snowboarder

first_imgCarpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award “It’s been a crazy journey,” said the 26-year-old.“I am just really happy to get on the big stage, and try and show what I am capable of still doing now.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkPollard made it through the early heats in the snowboard cross, narrowly missing out on the quarter-finals.Even in a Winter Paralympics filled with hundreds of inspiring tales, from war veterans who lost limbs on the front line to cancer survivors, the Australian’s story stands out as remarkable. 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Brown among SAG Awards presenters Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazilcenter_img “It’s been a fairly tough kind of ride the last few years,” he said.“It took me six months before I could put socks on again.”Sean Pollard of Australia rests after his men’s snowboard Cross SB-UL qualification run at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Pyeongchang on March 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONESBut he picked himself up and got his first taste of para-snowboarding during a visit to a ski resort town in the Australian state of Victoria.During a subsequent trip to Canada, he happened to meet the country’s Paralympic coach, which further fired his interest in the sport. On his return home he contacted the Australian Paralympic Committee — and began in earnest the journey that would eventually bring him to Pyeongchang.ADVERTISEMENT Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown View comments Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew He says he feels grateful to them as the attack gave him the chance to travel the world taking part in sports events — and he ended up becoming a marine conservationist focused on shark protection.Another Paralympian to have lost a limb in an animal attack is Ukraine’s Vasyl Kovalchuk, whose right arm was torn off by a bear during a visit to a zoo when he was 11.He won gold medals in air rifle shooting at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics.Pollard has a message for anyone who finds themselves struggling to overcome such a trauma: just keep trying.“I think the biggest thing for me was I was not afraid to fail,” he said. “You’ve got to keep trying.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next In Liverpool, Man United sees the pain and path to recovery Sean Pollard of Australia rests after his men’s snowboard Cross SB-UL qualification run at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Pyeongchang on March 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONESSean Pollard was surfing in Australia in 2014 when he was attacked by two great white sharks, losing his left arm and right hand and only just escaping alive.But far from wallowing in his misfortune, he threw himself into snowboarding — and just three years after taking up the sport, he made his Paralympic debut in Pyeongchang this week.ADVERTISEMENT Since November he has been travelling widely on the para-snowboarding circuit in preparation for the Games, competing in the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and the United States.As well as snowboard cross — which pits competitors in a series of heats and head-to-head races — Pollard is also competing in slalom. ‘You’ve got to keep trying’There are numerous different categories in para-sports depending on athletes’ disability, and Pollard competes in the category for people with upper limb impairments.With both hands missing, he is at a disadvantage even to other para-snowboarders. Snowboarders typically begin their runs by pushing off the top with a hand — but Pollard has to place his board sideways and jump out, giving him a slower start than his rivals.“It puts me to the back of the pack straight away, but that is the sport and I would not whinge about it at all,” he said.He is not the first Paralympian to have suffered a shark attack. South African swimmer Achmat Hassiem lost part of his right leg when he was mauled by one of the creatures in 2006.He earned the nickname “Shark Boy”, and competed in three Summer Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in London 2012.But Hassiem does not hold a grudge against sharks. Cabuyao City rising above the ashes through volunteerismlast_img read more