The Neuroscience of PMA

The Neuroscience of PMA

Before I dive into today’s post, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this post! Your appreciation is much appreciated, and now let’s explore how PMA from a neuroscientific perspective can help us better understand the world around us.


Our blog guests today are psychologists Steven Pinker and Paul Ekman. Both psychologists’ work falls under the umbrella of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) Science. This PMA’s blog will discuss some of their work on personal development and the importance of work in our daily lives. Furthermore, their research examines how it promotes overall well-being psychologically. For instance, Pinker and Ekman’s research suggests that positive thinking can improve mental health, increase productivity, and improve relationships with others.

Bringing together two philosophies and psychology is still in its infancy. These tools will become more prominent as I write blogs, books, podcasts, and courses about the mind, emotions, and virtues. I believe that a combination of Stoicism, Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and Psychology, as well as cognitive and behavioral techniques, can be a powerful tool to help people find balance and fulfillment in their lives. This will be the focus of my work going forward.

Stoicism, PMA, and Psychology = PMA Science

Steven Pinker and Paul Ekman are included in this short blog for now. Due to the fact that I am quite impressed with their work in psychology and the mind. For such reason, I’m writing and sharing with you this short blog which is just the tip of the iceberg of their research. However, it fits well under the philosophy of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).


Pinker, Ekman: Psychology Giants

“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work towards a better one.” – Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker
An award-winning cognitive scientist, psychologist, and linguist, Steven Pinker was born on September 18, 1954. As a child growing up in Montreal, Canada, Pinker became fascinated with human nature at an early age. Known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind, Pinker’s research focuses on visual cognition and language development.

A cornerstone of modern linguistics, “The Language Instinct” (1994), was his first important publication. Throughout the book, it was argued that language is an innate human ability, shaped by evolution for the purpose of communication. His later works, such as “How the Mind Works” (1997) and “The Blank Slate” (2002), further cemented his reputation as a cognitive science pioneer. As a result of positive mental (PMA) influences, our mental processes have been shaped, and the idea that humans are born without innate abilities has been challenged.

One of the world’s most influential intellectuals, Pinker is widely recognized for his rigorous scientific approach. According to his book “Enlightenment Now” (2018), human progress will lead to a brighter future.

“Emotional expressions are, to a considerable extent, under voluntary control, but the capacity to deceive varies among people and even among the various expressions of a particular person.” – Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman
A pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions, Paul Ekman was born on February 15, 1934. During his early years living in Washington, D.C., Ekman encountered a variety of human behaviors that sparked his interest in understanding how emotions are expressed.

Facial expressions between cultures have been universal since the 1960s when he began his groundbreaking work. A comprehensive tool for measuring facial movement was developed from this research, the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). In his work, Ekman demonstrated that emotions and their expressions are universal and biological in nature.

The techniques Ekman developed for detecting deception were part of the research he conducted. As a result of his findings on microexpressions – fleeting facial expressions that reveal true emotions – training programs were developed for law enforcement and a variety of other fields.

In addition to influencing entertainment and popular culture, his work gained wide attention outside academia. Based on his research, the TV series “Lie to Me” depicted a protagonist who was an expert in deception detection.


It’s no secret that our mental states profoundly influence our daily lives. Whether it’s our performance at work or relationships or our overall well-being, our mental health plays a significant role in the quality of our lives. In recent research, the neuroscience of emotions is examined to gain an understanding of the benefits of a positive mental attitude (PMA). Steven Pinker and Paul Ekman, both leading figures in the field of cognitive psychology, have authored papers on this topic.

Note: Napoleon Hill popularized Positive Mental Attitude in his book Think and Grow Rich (1937).

According to Pinker, a researcher in cognitive science and psycholinguistics, human cognition is essentially a combinatorial process. A small number of elementary units can be combined in countless ways to produce infinite thoughts and behaviors. As a result of this understanding of our cognitive ability, we can conclude that positivity is more than just a buzzword. Rather, it is a scientifically proven tool that can help us shape our thinking patterns to lead to more positive outcomes. By incorporating positivity into our lives, we can tap into the power of human cognition to produce more positive results in our lives. For instance, positive self-talk can help us to become more confident and motivated, while positive affirmations can help us to stay focused and direct our energy towards our goals.

Paul Ekman, a researcher who has studied the connection between facial expressions and emotions, proposes that emotions are actually physiological states whose manifestation is manifest through our body’s reactions. In Ekman’s research, emotions are shown to be more than just subjective experiences but are deeply rooted in our minds and brains. Ekman’s research suggests that our emotions are not simply rooted in our subjective experiences, but are also connected to our physical responses, such as facial expressions, providing further evidence of the powerful influence our emotions have on us. For example, Ekman showed that facial expressions of emotions are universal, and not limited to a single culture or language.

The findings suggest that neuroscience, emotions, and PMA are intertwined in fascinating ways. The feelings we experience are closely related to our physical states and can be discerned through objective measures. Additionally, we have the ability to alter these emotional states through our cognitive abilities, which points to the potential of PMA. This indicates that the power of positive thinking is not just a popular adage, but a real phenomenon with far-reaching implications for the study of psychology and neuroscience. For instance, research indicates that people with a more optimistic worldview have higher levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness. For example, in a 2016 study published in the journal Mindfulness, researchers found that after 8 weeks of teaching participants mindfulness-based stress reduction, their levels of optimism had increased significantly compared to a control group.

PMA is about maintaining a positive attitude, regardless of the circumstances, not ignoring them. Positive outcomes can be achieved when we approach these situations with the belief that we can succeed. As a result of framing our experiences in a positive way, our brains release dopamine and serotonin. Not only do neurotransmitters promote happiness, but they also enhance memory and attention. Furthermore, when we view our experiences from a positive perspective, we open ourselves to new possibilities and opportunities, allowing us to approach challenges with more creative solutions.

Considering these findings, how can we apply them to our daily lives? In order to achieve PMA, we need to develop emotional literacy, which is the ability to recognize emotions in others and to respond appropriately to them. For instance, when someone expresses anger, we should take the time to identify the emotion and process it in a constructive manner, such as by asking questions to try and understand the person’s perspective.

The cultivation of PMA can be facilitated by mindfulness and gratitude. By practicing mindfulness, we learn to live in the present, appreciate the moment, and reduce our negative thoughts. Similarly, expressing gratitude consistently fosters an optimistic outlook by shifting our focus toward positive aspects. For instance, journaling what we are grateful for every day can help us to build our capacity for PMA, as it helps to build our optimism and trust in the future.

Using Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS) could help improve emotional literacy. Using this system, which categorizes human facial movements, we can enhance our emotional intelligence and better understand our emotions and those of others. For example, Ekman’s FACS can be used to more accurately interpret subtle facial expressions, such as a slight raising of the eyebrows or the curling of the lips, which may indicate surprise or amusement.

The conclusions Pinker and Ekman draw from their research offer a persuasive argument in favor of PMA and neuroscience. When we adopt a positive mindset and develop our emotional literacy, we can improve our mental and physical health, leading to improved productivity and well-being. The purpose of embracing PMA science goes beyond feeling well; it’s about creating a life that is more fulfilling and balanced. This suggests that the purpose of adopting a positive mindset and emotional literacy is not only to feel well but to lead a life that is more meaningful and rewarding.

I hope you enjoy this blog and encourage you to share your experiences. My goal is to continue to share tools for the mind, emotions, and virtues with you.

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