“Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks” – Science Mag


Identifying Influential and Susceptible Members of Social Networks June 21, 2012

A representative sample of 1.3 million Facebook users showed that:

  • younger users are more susceptible than older users,
  • men are more influential than women,
  • women influence men more than they influence other women, and
  • married individuals are the least susceptible to influence in the decision to adopt the product we studied.
  • influential individuals are less susceptible to influence than non-influential individuals and that they cluster in the network, which suggests that influential people with influential friends help spread this product.
  • homophily (the tendency for individuals to choose friends with similar tastes and preferences and thus for preferences to be correlated amongst friends),
  • confounding effects (the tendency for connected individuals to be exposed to the same external stimuli)
  • simultaneity (the tendency for connected individuals to co-influence each other and to behave similarly at approximately the same time)

Influencers – Not Really So
One particularly controversial argument in the peer effects literature is the “influentials” hypothesis—the idea that influential individuals catalyze the diffusion of opinions, behaviors, innovations and products in society.  Continue reading


Metaphors Make Brains Touchy Feely


Metaphors Make Brains Touchy Feely

Conceptual metaphor theory suggests that knowledge is structured around metaphorical mappings derived from physical experience. Segregated processing of object properties in sensory cortex allows testing of the hypothesis that metaphor processing recruits activity in domain-specific sensory cortex. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we show that texture-selective somatosensory cortex in the parietal operculum is activated when processing sentences containing textural metaphors, compared to literal sentences matched for meaning. This finding supports the idea that comprehension of metaphors is perceptually grounded.

Mapping Metaphor.  Touching different textures activates certain areas of the brain, shown in yellow and red. But a new study finds that textural metaphors trigger a reaction, too (shown in green and, where overlapping, brown), in the parietal operculum. 

The right turn of phrase can activate the brain’s sensory centers, a new study suggests.  Researchers have found that textural metaphors—phrases such as “soft-hearted”—turn on a part of the brain that’s important to the sense of touch. Continue reading

Great Art Brain Research — It’s Just Marketing


Bottom Line:  “We only see the beauty because we are looking for it.”

Take Aways

  •  The quality of art seemed to be irrelevant.
  • the sensory differences on display are overwhelmed by our cognitive beliefs about what we’re experiencing.

How Does the Brain Perceive Art? | Wired Science (excerpted)

We want to believe that pleasure is simple, that our delight in a fine painting or bottle of wine is due entirely to the thing itself. But that’s not the way reality works. Whenever we experience anything, that experience is shaped by factors and beliefs that are not visible on the canvas or present in the glass. Even the most exquisite works in the world — and what is more exceptional than a Rembrandt portrait? — still require a little mental help. We only see the beauty because we are looking for it. Continue reading

“Key ‘Impact Hunters’ Catalyze Hunting Among Male Chimpanzees” Sounds Like Type-A Sales Folks to Us!


“Hunting” is the basis for resources acquisition and economics.  Hunting of meat is a critical activity for all primates and especially human primates with our more complex brains.  So the physical and social dynamics of hunting are likely a template for higher level economics activities – like sales and marketing!

 While hunting among chimpanzees is a group effort:

  • Key males, known as “impact hunters” are highly influential within the group.
  • They are more likely to initiate a hunt,
  • And hunts rarely occur in their absence,

The findings shed light on how and why some animals cooperate to hunt for food, and how individual variation among chimpanzees contributes to collective predation.  Continue reading