Author Interviews, Neurology, Social Issues / 22.08.2018 Interview with: Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Social hierarchies are pervasive and social status has deep consequences for health, wellbeing and societal organizations. Socially dominant individuals have priority access to resources and are more likely to become leaders. Although there are drastic differences in the predisposition of individuals to attain or strive for dominance, very little is known regarding the factors that predispose individuals to attain dominance. Does dominance become visible only in social context? Here, we performed five behavioral experiments and consistently found that individuals high in dominance are faster than less dominant ones to respond in choice situations, though not less accurate, which suggests that promptness to respond may predispose individuals to become dominant. Strikingly, using high-density EEG, we find that promptness to respond in dominant individuals is reflected in a strongly amplified brain signal at approximately 240 ms post-stimulus presentation. At this latency, participants’ reaction times were negatively correlated with activity in the cingulate cortex. Our results may open a new research approach using EEG signatures as a measure for dominance, independent of social context. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Occupational Health, Social Issues / 07.05.2017 Interview with: Tarani Chandola Professor of Medical Sociology Social Statistics Disciplinary Area of the School of Social Sciences University of Manchester What is the background for this study? Response: We (the authors) were particularly interested in examining evidence for the common perception that people at the top of the occupational hierarchy are the most stressed. And also what happens to people’s stress levels when they retire. We had assumed that people with poorer quality work to have decreased levels of stress when they retired. There have been other studies on this topic before, but none that have used salivary cortisol to measure physiological stress responses. We analysed changes in people’s stress levels before and after retirement, in a follow up study of over 1,000 older workers in the British civil service. Stress levels were measured by taking salivary cortisol samples across the day, from awakening until bedtime. (more…)