Why it’s so hard not to touch your face was written by Art Markman for FastCompany.com, 16 March 2020. This is certainly TIMELY!!!
Over the past couple of weeks as the coronavirus has spread around the world, you’ve likely heard public health officials encouraging people to follow three pieces of advice: avoid large gatherings, wash your hands regularly, and don’t touch your face. This last bit of advice, while critical, needs to be amended if it has any hope of working.
Touching your face is a perfect example of a habit. You often experience small itches on your face, because of the many sensory receptors in the skin of your face and mucous membranes. The motions you need to make to move your arms and hands to touch your face in a particular place are roughly the same each time you do it, and you have been practicing these motions your whole life. As a result, responding to an itch or small pain with a touch is easy to do without thinking about it.
To stop yourself from engaging in this action, there are two effortful processes you have to go through.
- First, you have to be mindful of an action you have performed your whole life mindlessly. That is hard.
- Second, to stop yourself from doing something that your motivational system has engaged, you have to activate a second circuit in the motivational system that stops actions that have been engaged. This inhibition system is effortful to engage and can be disrupted by stress or distraction.
Plus, you can’t learn a habit not to perform an action. Instead, you need to reprogram your habit system to perform a different action. You need to learn a new action when you are tempted to touch your face with your hand. Perhaps, you can carry a cloth or tissues in your pocket and touch your face with a covered hand. Perhaps you can carry a pen or other object that you disinfect frequently that you can use to soothe itches when they happen.
Read more: Why it’s so hard not to touch your face
The Empathy Circuit: How a tiny circuit in our brain can save the world. Why it can be so hard to walk in someone else’s shoes – literally, sometimes! A short exercise to build up your empathy circuit. How empathy can bring us all together to solve the world’s problems.
For years Josh Kornbluth (one of my all-time favorite performers), who writes and hosts the “Citizen Brain” series, has been performing his autobiographical monologues for theater audiences all over the U.S. (and occasionally in other countries as well). His show Red Diaper Baby ran Off-Broadway, was selected for the Best American Plays collection, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and was made into a performance film for the Sundance Channel. His monologue The Mathematics of Change was also made into a performance film. His shows Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes have both been adapted into feature films by Josh and his brother Jacob: Haiku was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed nationally by Sony Pictures Classics; Love & Taxes was distributed nationally by Abramorama and received a 100 percent “Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. He was also artist-in-residence at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. Since January 2017 he has been an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute; he also served a stint as Hellman Visiting Artist at UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center. He lives in Berkeley, Calif., with his wife, Sara, a public schoolteacher, and their son, Guthrie, a budding filmmaker.
This short video is called The Empathy Circuit … ENJOY!
Rose scents while you sleep can boost your memory was reported by Naama Barak for Israel21c.org, 9 March 2020. Israeli researchers demonstrate that administering a memory-evoking smell during sleep bolsters memory processes in the brain.
In a study published by scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Current Biology, “Our findings emphasize that the memory consolidation process can be amplified by external cues such as scents,” said Ella Bar, the PhD student who led the study. “By using the special organization of the olfactory pathways, memories can be manipulated in a local manner on one side of the brain.”