What habitual liars should know about their brains.

They say each lie is easier than the last.

Let's try it out.

I had a bagel for breakfast this morning. I am completely happy with my diet. My loan and rent payments are — deep breath — entirely reasonable. I am totally fine with ... how this political season ... has ... gajsdfasdjfklsadf.


Photo from iStock.

Damn it. I can't do it.

But there is a well-known idea that little white lies can eventually snowball into giant ones. (For reference, consider any romantic comedy movie, ever.)

So scientists from University College London decided to see if lies really spin out of control like we think they do.

To test this, they made people play a lying game, and scientists watched their brains.

The game was pretty simple: The player's task was to look at a jar of pennies and try to tell a friend how many pennies there were. They'd each get a prize based on their guesses. Sometimes the prizes would be better if they cooperated, but sometimes the player would get better prizes if they lied to their friend.

While this was all happening, the scientists used a type of brain scan called an fMRI to watch the activity in the person's brain.

If the player lied, a region of their brain called the amygdala would light up on the scans.

The amygdala is kind of like an emotional control booth in our brains. It lights up whenever something makes us feel an intense emotion, such as learning your child bought an alligator.

Photo by iStock.

The scientists saw that same emotional center light up when a person told a lie.

But the amygdala didn't always stay lit up and that's the interesting part of this story.

Each time a person told a self-serving lie, their amygdala reacted a little less. And larger drops in activity predicted an increase in the size of the person's lies.

So if the amygdala controls emotion, and we see less activity after repeated lying, that means...

Repeated lies might blunt the brain's emotional response.

At least, that's what the scientists are speculating. (They're a little cautious about making a big statement just yet.) They think that the first time we lie, our amygdala produces a strong emotional response, such as shame or guilt. The more you lie, however, the less the amygdala protests. Basically, the more you lie, the easier it is for you to keep lying.

However, the scientists didn't see the same pattern when the lie actually benefited the player's friend — just when it screwed them over.

So those little white lies we tell to protect our friends? Those stay with us. But the lies we tell to serve ourselves? Those can get so easy, we don't even feel them.

Scientists think this could also teach us new things about decision-making in general too, but they need to do a bit more research on that line of thinking.

"We only tested dishonesty in this experiment, but the same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or violent behavior," study author Neil Garrett said in a statement.

Let's try this lying thing again...

I did not eat pizza last night. I am definitely not currently bingeing my way through Luke Cage. The traffic in my city is — eye twitch — fine. Just fine. And I am definitely not freaking out about climate change. Nope. Not at all.

I did it! Take that, amygdala.

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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