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Annoying people can slow down your brain: study

London, Oct 11, 2012, PTI:

Here is why you should avoid people who annoy you! Scientists have discovered that being in the company of annoying people slows the rate at which the mind processes movement.

Whether you like someone or not can affect how your brain processes their actions, according to new research from the University of Southern California.

Most of the time, watching someone else move causes a ‘mirroring’ effect - that is, the parts of our brains responsible for movement are activated by watching someone else in action, the Daily Mail reported.

However, being around someone you don’t like can send this process awry - you might think the person is moving more slowly than they actually are.


Previous research has shown that race or physical similarity can influence brain processes, and we tend to have more empathy for people who look more like us.

Researchers split Jewish men into two groups - half were presented as neo-Nazis, with the aim of making them disliked, the others were presented as likable and open-minded.
When the men viewed someone they disliked, the part of their brain that was otherwise activated in ‘mirroring’ — the right ventral premotor cortex - had a different pattern of activity for the disliked individuals compared to the likeable ones.

The difference was only spotted when the annoying person was actually present.
“Even something as basic as how we process visual stimuli of a movement is modulated by social factors, such as our interpersonal relationships and social group membership,” said Mona Sobhani, lead author of the paper.

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