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消极负面情绪如何改变大脑感知能力

更新时间:2018/1/25 21:52:02 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

How feeling bad changes the brain
消极负面情绪如何改变大脑感知能力

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, the many wrongs that befall Offred strike a chilling chord among most readers. When she is struck with a cattle prod we can almost feel her pain, and recoil at the terrible injustice of her imprisonment.

在玛格丽特·阿特伍德(Margaret Atwood)的反乌托邦小说《使女的故事》(A Handmaid's Tale)中,奥芙瑞德(Offred)遭遇的诸多不幸让大多数读者都感到了一种令人心寒的共鸣。当她被人用电击棒虐待的时候,我们几乎可以感觉到她的痛苦,并且对她被监禁的可怕的不公正感到畏惧与恐缩。

It is so unsettling because we know that each scenario in this fictional work was influenced by an element of history. “If I was to create an imaginary garden I wanted the toads in it to be real,” Atwood wrote of her work in the New York Times.

令人更加不安的是我们知道这部虚构作品里面的每一个场景都源自某一个历史元素。阿特伍德在《纽约时报》上形容她的作品的时候写道:"如果我想创造一个想象中的花园,那么我就想让它里面就连蛤蟆也是真实的。"

We are therefore easily able to put ourselves in Offred’s shoes and feel empathy towards her. It taps into our very human capacity to share the feelings others feel. In fact, when we see someone else hurt, the brain areas linked to our own pain also become active.

因此我们很容易就能设想奥芙瑞德的境遇,并对她的遭遇感同身受。这种情感是基于我们人类本身的能力,使我们能够共享他人的感受。事实上,当我们看到别人受伤时,与我们自身疼痛有关的大脑区域也变得活跃起来。

But it turns out that our emotional state has an effect on how much empathy we feel. Our emotions literally change the way our brain responds to others, even when they are in pain. In particular, it is when we feel bad that it can have a consequence on our social world.

但事实上,我们的情绪状态会影响我们的同情心。我们的情绪确实改变了我们的大脑对他人的反馈,哪怕他人处于痛苦中。尤其是当我们心情很差的时候,它会对我们的社交行为产生影响。

It is apparent that our mood can influence our behaviour in a myriad of ways, from the food choices we make – when we are in a bad mood we eat less healthily – to our friendships. When our friends are down and gloomy, the feeling can be contagious and can makes us feel more miserable too. Bad moods can even spread on social media, a 2017 study found.

很明显,我们的情绪会以无数种方式影响我们的行为,从我们选择的食物——当我们心情不好的时候,我们吃得不那么健康——到我们的友谊。当我们的朋友情绪低落时,这种感觉会传染,也会让我们感到更消极。2017年的一项研究发现,坏情绪甚至会在社交媒体上传播。

In fact, our emotions are so powerful that when we are in a positive mood, it can dampen how much pain we feel when injured. It provides us with an analgesic-like effect. When it comes to negative emotions, the opposite occurs: our feeling towards that pain is exaggerated.

事实上,我们的情绪是如此的强大,以至于当我们处于积极的情绪中时,它可以抑制我们在受伤时感到的痛苦。它为我们提供了一种类似于镇痛剂的效果。而当它涉及到负面情绪时,就会发生相反的情况:我们对痛苦的感觉被夸大了。

Worse, a recent study, published in December 2017, has shown that when we feel bad it affects our in-built capacity to respond to others in pain. It literally dampens our empathy. Emilie Qiao-Tasserit at the University of Geneva and her team wanted to understand how our emotions influence the way we respond to others while they are in pain. Individuals were made to feel pain with a temperature-increasing device on their leg. The team also showed participants positive or negative movie clips while in a brain scanner, in addition to making them feel pain, or when watching clips of others in pain. Did participants feel empathy towards those who they knew were made to feel pain, the team wondered.

更糟糕的是,在2017年12月出版的一份最近的研究表明,当我们心情不好时,它会影响我们的内在的能够应对他人痛苦的能力。它确实会抑制我们的同情心。日内瓦大学(University of Geneva)的艾米莉·乔-塔瑟雷特(Emilie Qiao-Tasserit)和她的团队想要了解我们的情绪能够如何影响我们对处于痛苦中的他人的反应。参与实验者在腿上有一个温度升高的装置,使他们感到疼痛。除了使他们感到疼痛,或者在观看别人的痛苦片段之外,团队还向正在接受脑部扫描的参与者展示了带有正面或负面情绪画面的影片剪辑。研究小组想知道,参与者是否对那些他们知道会遭受痛苦的人产生了同情感。

It turns out that those who watched a negative clip and then saw others in pain showed less brain activity in areas that are related to pain: the anterior insula and middle cingulate cortex. These are usually active when we see others in pain as well as when we experience pain ourselves. “In other words, negative emotions can suppress our brain capacity to be sensitive to others’ pain,” explains Qiao-Tasserit.

结果发现,那些看了负面情绪影片剪辑的人,在看到其他的处于疼痛中的人后,在与疼痛有关的大脑区域中——前脑岛和中间扣带皮层——表现出较少的脑部活动。当我们看到别人处于痛苦中或者当我们自己经历痛苦的时候,这些区域通常是会是处于激活状态的。"换句话说,负面情绪会抑制我们的大脑感知他人痛苦的敏锐度,"乔-塔瑟雷特这样解释。

This work is revealing. It shows that emotions can literally change our “brain state”, and that by doing so our own feelings modify how we perceive someone else’s.

这项工作的发现富有意义。它展示了情绪确实能够改变我们"大脑状态",而通过这样做,我们自己的感受能够改变我们对他人的感知。

Along similar lines, another study by Qiao-Tasserit and colleagues found that after watching a negative clip, people tended to judge a face with a neutral emotion as more negative.

与此类似,乔-塔瑟雷特和同事们还发现,在观看了一段情绪消极的影片之后,人们面对一个不带情绪的面容时,会做出较为消极的判断。

These results obviously have real-world implications. If a person in power, say a boss, has been exposed to something negative in their lives – even something as simple as a negative movie – they could be less sensitive to a colleague in pain and even view them more negatively. Our bad moods literally make us less receptive to others’ feelings.

这些结果显然具有现实意义。如果一个掌权的人,比如说一个老板,在他们的生活中经历了一些负面的东西——甚至就是看了一部悲伤的电影那样简单的事情——他们对一个处于痛苦中的同事就会变得不那么敏感,甚至对他们的看法也会更加消极。我们糟糕的心情确实会让我们不那么容易感知别人的感受。

A lack of empathy has other implications too. Findings show that reduced empathy will result in less monetary donations for charity. Brain scans reveal that we also show less empathy to those who are not in our immediate social circle, say teammates in a sports club.

缺乏同理心还有其他的影响。研究结果表明,同情心的减少会导致慈善捐款减少。脑部扫描显示,我们也对那些不在我们身边最为亲近的社交圈中的人表现出较少的同情心,比如在体育俱乐部里的队友。

So why would negative emotions reduce empathy? It could be that a specific type of empathy, called empathic distress, is at play. This, explains Olga Klimecki, also at the University of Geneva, is “the feeling of being overwhelmed” when something bad happens to someone else, which makes you want to protect yourself instead of being overcome by negative feelings. This type of empathy even shows very different brain activation compared to typical empathy. This kind of distress might naturally also reduce compassion.

那么为什么负面情绪会抑制同情心?这可能是某种特定类型的移情,被称为"移情困扰",正在起到作用。这也是日内瓦大学的奥尔加·克里姆茨基(Olga Klimecki)解释的,当别人遇到不好的事情时,人们感到的"不知所措"的感觉,这使得你想要保护自己,而不是被消极情绪所克服。与典型的移情相比,这种类型的移情甚至表现出非常不同的大脑激活情况。这种苦恼自然也会减少同情心。

It might also be that any situation that elicits negative emotions encourages us to focus more on ourselves and any issues we face. "Anxious and depressed patients who suffer from an excess negative emotions are more likely to focus on their own problems and be isolated," says Qiao-Tasserit.

也有这种可能,那就是任何引起负面情绪的情况,都会鼓励我们更多地关注自己,以及我们自己面临的任何问题。乔·塔瑟雷特说:"处于过度消极情绪中的焦虑和抑郁症患者更有可能只关注自己的问题,并显得孤立一人。"

One 2016 study by Klimecki and colleagues even found that empathic distress increases aggression. Here participants were subjected to unfair scenarios and then had the chance to punish or forgive their competitors. What’s more, the participants in her study were asked to do personality tests before they came into the lab. She found that those who were more naturally compassionate reacted with less derogatory behaviour.

克里姆茨基和同事们在2016年进行的一项研究甚至发现,移情困扰会增加攻击性。在这项研究中,参与者经历了不公平的情况,然后有机会惩罚或原谅他们的竞争者。此外,她的研究中的参与者在进入实验室之前被要求做性格测试,她发现那些天生更具同情心的人会做出更少的贬低对手的行为。

For Klimecki this was telling. In her extensive research on empathy she has shown that it is possible to cultivate more compassionate behaviour. She found that feelings of compassionate empathy can be trained. Our emotional responses to others are therefore clearly not set in stone.

对于克里姆茨基来说这是一个发现。在她对移情作用的广泛研究中,她展示了人们能够培养更具同情的行为。她发现这种同情同理的感觉可以经过训练而来。因此,我们对他人的情感反应显然不是一成不变的。

This shows that we can all re-engage our inner empathy, even in the face of someone else’s distress. And when we think a bit more positively it will help broaden our attention towards others’ needs. “This could contribute to greater relationships, a key factor of happiness,” says Qiao-Tasserit.

这表明,即使面对别人的痛苦,我们也能重新唤起内心的共鸣。而如果我们考虑事情的立场能够更加积极一步时,它会帮助拓展我们的注意力以应对别人的需求上。"这可能有助于建立更好的关系,而这是幸福的一个关键因素,"乔-塔瑟雷特说。

So next time you are in a foul mood, consider the effect it might have on the people you communicate with day-to-day. You may also want to time your reading of chilling dystopian novels or horror movies wisely. If you read or watch them while in a bad mood, that’s the perfect time to keep your empathy at bay, and feel a little less distressed at the pain – real or fictional – of others.

所以下次你心情不好时,考虑一下它可能对你日常交流的人造成的影响。你也可以更加明智地安排时间来阅读恐怖的反乌托邦小说或观看恐怖电影。如果你在心情不好的时候阅读或看那些故事,这是维持你的同情心的最佳时机,并且你会对他人的痛苦——无论是真实的还是虚构的——感到不那么难过。

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