To speak… to connect

To come in contact with another individual can be perceived as a challenge, for some. When one considers that what is required can be neurologically taxing, could it be that this is more challenging for some than others?

What is required when addressing someone is twofold:

  • Looking at them straight in the eyes;
  • Speaking.

It appears to scientists that this is not so easy as one may think.

Scientists from Kyoto University, Japan, in 2016, tested 26 volunteers. When asked to make eye contact, the participants found it harder to come up with links between words.

The volunteers took longer to think of words when they were making eye contact, but only when difficult word associations were involved.

To add to this, in an effort to understand what is happening, in 2015, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo demonstrated that staring into someone else’s eyes for just 10 minutes induced an altered state of consciousness. Participants saw hallucinations of monsters, their relatives, and even their own faces.

A process called neural adaptation whereby our brains gradually alter its response to a stimulus that doesn’t change could explain this. You simply start to feel less of the stimulus since it is the same, ongoing.

This could be what’s happening in the case of the volunteers making eye contact.

Either way, one can think that if oculo-motor control is optimal, for once, it could be easier to engage, while thinking!




The cerebellum: why?

If the cerebral cortex is the brain region that best differentiates us from other species, the cerebellum is the part that is found behind the brain and it is responsible for many important functions: 

– Coordination of movement: the cerebellum coordinates muscular activity so that the body can move fluidly.
– Balance: it receives data from the inner ear, which allows the cerebellum to contribute to keeping you upright. 
– Vision: the cerebellum allows for coordination of ocular movements.
– Motor learning: the cerebellum helps in learning tasks such as riding a bike.
– Language and humor: we don’t know how precisely the cerebellum is involved her but we do know it is. 
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