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A Lesson From FaceApp: Learning to Relate to the Older Person We Will Become

Hal E. Hershfield: Why do we often fail to make sacrifices for the grayer versions of our present-day selves? My ongoing research might offer an explanation: We tend to think about our future selves as if they are someone else, wholly different from who we are today. A brain-imaging study I co-authored found the brain activity patterns that are evoked by thoughts about a future self are quite similar to the brain activity that arises when we think about other people today. It may not be problematic to think about our future selves as if they are other people, as long as we see them as people with whom we have a close, emotionally bonded relationship — for those are the sorts of relationships that inspire us to make sacrifices.

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