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Thread: Neuroanatomy of disgust

  1. #1

    Neuroanatomy of disgust

    There is a disgusting video that is circulating internet, called two girls and a cup. No, I have not see it but I know that it was removed from this site by a moderator after it was posted. And also, no, the video below is not that video. Rather, it is a video of a girl watching that video.



    Disgust is an interesting phenomenon. There are some things that appear to be universally disgusting. For example, the vast majority of us are repelled by feces and urine. The latter, by the way, is not dangerous. Certain items are only disgusting depending on culture. For example, hindus and orthodox jews feel revulsion even at the thought of eating beef or pork respectively while others actually find the thought attractive.



    Digust is engendered rather early in childhood and may rather strongly expressed by children between the ages of 4-12. Babies, on the other hand, are not disgusted so much by certain items although they seem to find certain smells distasteful.

    In adults, disgust extends to people. Certain castes in India, for example, arouse disgust amongst other classes. Likewise, in Japan, for many years, the Eta or the untouchable class were considered disgusting to the point that people would no share the same road or house with them.

    Homophobia expresses itself as a form of disgust. Thus, homophobic people say that they find homosexual acts, such as two men kissing on the mouth, to be "disgusting" whereas they would find the same heterosexual act to be exciting or arousing.

    Some artists have choose to confront us with the "disgusting" and this has resulted in rather extreme actions and feelings against the National Endowment for Arts, which has some of this art. For example, the association with the madonna with feces is a type of "disgusting" art that many people cannot tolerate (Source).

    As one might expect, disgust has a definite neuroanatomical correlate (Source) that is not that different from the activity distribution of happiness and sadness. Interestingly, disgust induced activities are not as stable as those that were associated with fear, suggesting that there may be more accomodation to disgust than to fear.

    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 02-03-2008 at 04:07 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kratos's Avatar
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    that is why we like you dr.y! for you there is science behind everything!
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivica Rod
    that is why we like you dr.y! for you there is science behind everything!
    Ivica,

    Your comment stimulated some thoughts. You know, science is not so different from "everything". It is just a way of looking at things. I came across the youtube video on Slate, commenting that there is a increasing collection of videos of people watching "two girls and a cuWhilip". I was thinking that this would be a great video to use in an experiments to study disgust because it seems to evoke such a response in so many people.

    So, I thought of looking for the neuroanatomical basis of such a reaction. As it turns out, disgust seems to activate the same areas of the brain as intense happiness and sadness. It is also interesting that it is a relatively unstable response, compared to fear, for example, which is very stable. I guess that it means that we can get use to the most disgusting things, if exposed to it long enough.

    Now, as I am watching clips of campaign speeches and reading commentary on the speeches, I realize that certain behaviors of politicians stimulate "disgust" in audiences. In particular, one behavior of politicians that arouses disgust amongst viewers is lying or not telling the truth. People are disgusted by such behavior. I think that Bush's behavior on television in the aftermath of Katrina led to a feeling of disgust and subsequent downturn of his popularity. The lesson from this is that if the politicians keep engaging in this behavior, we accommodate to it and no longer feel disgusted.

    When I take American friends to China and look at their faces when fried bamboo worms, wasp pupae, and other strange foods are served, there is an initial feeling of disgust. However, people swallow the disgust and some go on to eat the food and actually enjoy it. Then I watched some Chinese kids eat the food and show no emotion other than enjoyment.

    Wise.

  4. #4
    i was looking for a good example of political disgust to post... here is one:

    http://www.americablog.com/2006/08/s...-god-damn.html

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    When I take American friends to China and look at their faces when fried bamboo worms, wasp pupae, and other strange foods are served, there is an initial feeling of disgust. However, people swallow the disgust and some go on to eat the food and actually enjoy it. Then I watched some Chinese kids eat the food and show no emotion other than enjoyment.

    Wise.
    Wise, this reminds me of something which I found out about some American people. Among the Mexican dishes we eat is one which most of us eat on weekends or for a hangover. I's name is "Menudo". My sister was married to a white man and he was disgusted with the idea of eating this dish. The reason? It is made from the cow's tripe. It is such a good tasting dish. I will say though that there are other Mexican dishes which I personally don't like. Not because of the taste of them since I have never tasted them, but because of their name, "Machos". It makes me think of what I believe others call the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Not sure if they are made of this but the name sure sounds like it to me.

    Raven

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Raven
    Wise, this reminds me of something which I found out about some American people. Among the Mexican dishes we eat is one which most of us eat on weekends or for a hangover. I's name is "Menudo". My sister was married to a white man and he was disgusted with the idea of eating this dish. The reason? It is made from the cow's tripe. It is such a good tasting dish. I will say though that there are other Mexican dishes which I personally don't like. Not because of the taste of them since I have never tasted them, but because of their name, "Machos". It makes me think of what I believe others call the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Not sure if they are made of this but the name sure sounds like it to me.

    Raven
    Raven, your response reminded me of another universal disgusting behavior: cannibalism. wise

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