Posts tagged neuroimaging

“The narcissistic self and its psychological and neural correlates: an exploratory fMRI study”

The concept of narcissism has been much researched in psychoanalysis and especially in self psychology. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is altered emotion, including decreased affective resonance (e.g. empathy) with others, the neural underpinnings of which remain unclear. (…) 
Psychological and neuroimaging data indicate respectively higher degrees of alexithymia and lower deactivation during empathy in the insula in high narcissistic subjects. Taken together, our preliminary findings demonstrate, for the first time, psychological and neuronal correlates of narcissism in non-clinical subjects. This might stipulate both novel psychodynamic conceptualization and future psychological-neuronal investigation of narcissism.

Obvious next round, unhealthy subjects then ID 2 types of empathy circuits in both. boom. Also? When is the insula and ACC not involved? mmmm mm.

The narcissistic self and its psychological and neural correlates: an exploratory fMRI study

The concept of narcissism has been much researched in psychoanalysis and especially in self psychology. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is altered emotion, including decreased affective resonance (e.g. empathy) with others, the neural underpinnings of which remain unclear. (…) 

Psychological and neuroimaging data indicate respectively higher degrees of alexithymia and lower deactivation during empathy in the insula in high narcissistic subjects. Taken together, our preliminary findings demonstrate, for the first time, psychological and neuronal correlates of narcissism in non-clinical subjects. This might stipulate both novel psychodynamic conceptualization and future psychological-neuronal investigation of narcissism.

Obvious next round, unhealthy subjects then ID 2 types of empathy circuits in both. boom. Also? When is the insula and ACC not involved? mmmm mm.

Brain Scanning for Recidivism
So, we all love the work that neuroscientist Kent Kiehl and his group does involving fMRI and incarcerated offenders, right? He’s the only guy I know out there workin’ the beat, going door to door (prison to prison), uphill both ways, not really. ok really (science drama), with a mobile scanner collecting brain scan data from prisoners. This week, his latest study is all over the place with headlines parading how this technique can predict who will reoffend. And it’s not way off. 
The idea: it’s all about impulsivity. The data links those with low activity in the ACC and poor impulse control…and:

Inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were roughly twice as likely as inmates with high anterior cingulate activity to be rearrested for a felony offense within 4 years of their release, even after controlling for other behavioral and psychological risk factors.

Correlations are cool obvs, since they allow for predictions to be made, but this doen’t imply causality or tell us anything about the underlying factors that spur the relationship. Kiehl tells us this is not where near real world use, but it will be really interesting when the results from his entire group of 3000 inmates is processed, vs the 96 for this study (which is still a lot for fMRI work). We can talk about issues pertaining to beating the scanner then. Soon, we can compare old school nelly forensic psych assessment tools to the scans for risk assessment and seeing how these findings will effect sentencing (does this negate or reinforce mandatories?), probationary proceedings or even program development. I have a feeling a matrix design is coming on.
[via, img: mine]

Brain Scanning for Recidivism

So, we all love the work that neuroscientist Kent Kiehl and his group does involving fMRI and incarcerated offenders, right? He’s the only guy I know out there workin’ the beat, going door to door (prison to prison), uphill both ways, not really. ok really (science drama), with a mobile scanner collecting brain scan data from prisoners. This week, his latest study is all over the place with headlines parading how this technique can predict who will reoffend. And it’s not way off. 

The idea: it’s all about impulsivity. The data links those with low activity in the ACC and poor impulse control…and:

Inmates with relatively low anterior cingulate activity were roughly twice as likely as inmates with high anterior cingulate activity to be rearrested for a felony offense within 4 years of their release, even after controlling for other behavioral and psychological risk factors.

Correlations are cool obvs, since they allow for predictions to be made, but this doen’t imply causality or tell us anything about the underlying factors that spur the relationship. Kiehl tells us this is not where near real world use, but it will be really interesting when the results from his entire group of 3000 inmates is processed, vs the 96 for this study (which is still a lot for fMRI work). We can talk about issues pertaining to beating the scanner then. Soon, we can compare old school nelly forensic psych assessment tools to the scans for risk assessment and seeing how these findings will effect sentencing (does this negate or reinforce mandatories?), probationary proceedings or even program development. I have a feeling a matrix design is coming on.

[via, img: mine]

Practicing my pre-processing and modeling speed: matlab, spm8 and not cursing out loud.

Practicing my pre-processing and modeling speed: matlab, spm8 and not cursing out loud.

Scientists find brain differences in pedophiles

Aside from functional differences in the brain during magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) experiments, where subjects are shown images of  ”cars, houses, holiday scenes, and images meant to arouse pedophiles”, there is also a “string of neuropsychological characteristics” says psychologist, Jorge Ponseti. 

"For example, their intelligence quotient is about 8 percentage points lower than the average. 

It’s also interesting that the age of the victim is related to the IQ of the abuser,” he added. “So the dumber the criminal, the younger the child. [via]

thenoobyorker:

dailymedical:
Goodbye, IQ Tests: Brain Imaging Can Reveal Intelligence Levels
Research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified variations in brain scans that they believe identify portions of the brain that are responsible for intelligence.
As suspected (and as explained by cartoons) brain size does play a small role; they said that brain size accounts for 6.7 percent of variance in intelligence. Recent research has placed the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a region just behind the forehead, as providing for 5 percent of the variation in intelligence between people.
Read more

Honestly, neuroscience is going to feed science studies for at least three decades with this type of work.

The interesting thing here is these guys used resting state images, meaning the tasks were not done in the scanner. They looked at the LPFC (left prefrontal cortext), but other findings have shown the dlPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortext) to be a global hub of general intelligence, so, it’s about connections as well. I don’t have access to the Wash methods, so I wonder how/if SCR signals were factored. Notice I didn’t call it noise, you’ll be seeing more of that.

thenoobyorker:

dailymedical:

Goodbye, IQ Tests: Brain Imaging Can Reveal Intelligence Levels

Research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified variations in brain scans that they believe identify portions of the brain that are responsible for intelligence.

As suspected (and as explained by cartoons) brain size does play a small role; they said that brain size accounts for 6.7 percent of variance in intelligence. Recent research has placed the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a region just behind the forehead, as providing for 5 percent of the variation in intelligence between people.

Read more

Honestly, neuroscience is going to feed science studies for at least three decades with this type of work.

The interesting thing here is these guys used resting state images, meaning the tasks were not done in the scanner. They looked at the LPFC (left prefrontal cortext), but other findings have shown the dlPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortext) to be a global hub of general intelligence, so, it’s about connections as well. I don’t have access to the Wash methods, so I wonder how/if SCR signals were factored. Notice I didn’t call it noise, you’ll be seeing more of that.

"False Memories of UFO Encounters: An fMRI Investigation"
False memories used to be all the rage in the 70’s to late 80’s, everyone got busy un-repressing memories of abuse, incest, aliens and my personal fav, satanic rituals. Recovered Memory Therapy was a thing, people immediately jumped on Geraldo or Sally Jesse and got a book going.

 So seeing that there will be an fMRI study for everything eventually, why not abductees? The idea of identifying not just the neural circuitry of false memories but unusual false memories, is intriguing. From the abstract:

 A sample of 12 men and women who identified themselves as UFO abductees were used in the fMRI part of this experiment with their UFO abduction memory as the ‘self false memory’ condition. We found evidence that the processing of real and false memories is correlated with different patterns of brain activity.  The results indicated that self-referential responding was mainly associated to prefrontal and limbic activations whereas the successful retrieval of unusual content was associated to multiple regions of the brain including but not limited to bilateral prefrontal and occipital activations, and right anterior cingulate. Significant interactions were also observed in four right hemispheric regions: the lateral globus pallidus; the superior frontal gyrus; the parietal supramarginal gyrus; and the limbic lobe with increased activation specifically linked to the condition “self false memory”. [via]

Some chalk abduction memories up to the “abductee” having an epileptic fit, which is consistent with common reports of bright lights, buzzing noises and paralysis right before all the probing goes down. BUT THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK.

"False Memories of UFO Encounters: An fMRI Investigation"

False memories used to be all the rage in the 70’s to late 80’s, everyone got busy un-repressing memories of abuse, incest, aliens and my personal fav, satanic rituals. Recovered Memory Therapy was a thing, people immediately jumped on Geraldo or Sally Jesse and got a book going.

 So seeing that there will be an fMRI study for everything eventually, why not abductees? The idea of identifying not just the neural circuitry of false memories but unusual false memories, is intriguing. From the abstract:

 A sample of 12 men and women who identified themselves as UFO abductees were used in the fMRI part of this experiment with their UFO abduction memory as the ‘self false memory’ condition. We found evidence that the processing of real and false memories is correlated with different patterns of brain activity.  The results indicated that self-referential responding was mainly associated to prefrontal and limbic activations whereas the successful retrieval of unusual content was associated to multiple regions of the brain including but not limited to bilateral prefrontal and occipital activations, and right anterior cingulate. Significant interactions were also observed in four right hemispheric regions: the lateral globus pallidus; the superior frontal gyrus; the parietal supramarginal gyrus; and the limbic lobe with increased activation specifically linked to the condition “self false memory”. [via]

Some chalk abduction memories up to the “abductee” having an epileptic fit, which is consistent with common reports of bright lights, buzzing noises and paralysis right before all the probing goes down. BUT THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK.

Mo on Phineas Gage’s connectome

..neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles have produced Gage’s connectome - a detailed wiring diagram of his brain, showing how its long-range connections were altered by the injury.

Using CT scans, MRI and DTI, researchers have come up with a model of Gage’s brain and the trajectory of the rod, showing what areas would have likely been damaged (interesting) but still leaving questions as to the extent/duration of the damage. I’ve heard a lot of mehs about the connectome project, and I know people that won’t even talk about it’s possible/potential usefulness, but I suppose that’s to be expected right out the gate. sigh.
Read Mo Costandi’s article here.

Mo on Phineas Gage’s connectome

..neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles have produced Gage’s connectome - a detailed wiring diagram of his brain, showing how its long-range connections were altered by the injury.

Using CT scans, MRI and DTI, researchers have come up with a model of Gage’s brain and the trajectory of the rod, showing what areas would have likely been damaged (interesting) but still leaving questions as to the extent/duration of the damage. I’ve heard a lot of mehs about the connectome project, and I know people that won’t even talk about it’s possible/potential usefulness, but I suppose that’s to be expected right out the gate. sigh.

Read Mo Costandi’s article here.

Dogs in (K) Space
The goal of The Dog Project is to use fMRI to decode the dog-human relationship from the dog’s perspective. We hope to learn what a dog is really thinking. [via]

While in the scanner, they gave the dog a visual cue, a hand signal for hotdog treat, and his little caudate showed activity…in human brains, this means we are expecting something good to happen. I mean, sure that’s neat. And to see if they experience empathy for others? Alright. I get it.
Unrelated FYI, it’s about $1000 smackers per participant to run a scan for a human study, and that’s if you have a good relationship going with whatever institution has the scanner. I’m restraining all my bitter comments about funding, and there’s no treat for that. 
[img]

Dogs in (K) Space

The goal of The Dog Project is to use fMRI to decode the dog-human relationship from the dog’s perspective. We hope to learn what a dog is really thinking. [via]

While in the scanner, they gave the dog a visual cue, a hand signal for hotdog treat, and his little caudate showed activity…in human brains, this means we are expecting something good to happen. I mean, sure that’s neat. And to see if they experience empathy for others? Alright. I get it.

Unrelated FYI, it’s about $1000 smackers per participant to run a scan for a human study, and that’s if you have a good relationship going with whatever institution has the scanner. I’m restraining all my bitter comments about funding, and there’s no treat for that. 

[img]

Two weeks to submit abstracts to SFN. 

Two weeks to submit abstracts to SFN

"Hey, whatcha readin’?" series
Whenever I answer this question, I’ve either made a fast friend or they back away slowly like I have something contagious. ….Mostly the latter.

In the context of MRI, an image is simply not a photograph of the object being scanned. It is a map that depicts the spacial distribution of some property of the atomic nuclei (or spins) within the sample. That property might reflect the density of the spins, their mobility or the T1 or T2 relaxation times of the tissue in which the space reside.

-fMRI by Huettel, Song & McCarthy.

"Hey, whatcha readin’?" series

Whenever I answer this question, I’ve either made a fast friend or they back away slowly like I have something contagious. ….Mostly the latter.

In the context of MRI, an image is simply not a photograph of the object being scanned. It is a map that depicts the spacial distribution of some property of the atomic nuclei (or spins) within the sample. That property might reflect the density of the spins, their mobility or the T1 or T2 relaxation times of the tissue in which the space reside.

-fMRI by Huettel, Song & McCarthy.


“I believe connectomes are the meeting ground for nature and nurture. The gene controls how the brain wires up, but experiences also modify the connections of the brain.”- MIT Neuroscientist, Sabastian Seung [via]

Most of you have heard of the Human Connectome Project. If not, have a look.
Using “state-of-the-art diffusion-imaging scanner” images of neural pathways are collected via a MRI looking machine, which allows scienctists to view connections of the brain “by tracking the passage of water molecules through nerve fibers, giving a more accurate picture of the brain’s structure and its neuronal pathways”. [via] Eventually, the idea is to identify connectopathies (abnormal circuits) then treat with appropriate pharmacology targeted for that area.
Above: [via] “White matter fiber architecture of the brain. Measured from diffusion spectral imaging (DSI). The fibers are color-coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = through brain stem. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Randy Buckner, PhD and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.”

I believe connectomes are the meeting ground for nature and nurture. The gene controls how the brain wires up, but experiences also modify the connections of the brain.”- MIT Neuroscientist, Sabastian Seung [via]

Most of you have heard of the Human Connectome Project. If not, have a look.

Using “state-of-the-art diffusion-imaging scanner” images of neural pathways are collected via a MRI looking machine, which allows scienctists to view connections of the brain “by tracking the passage of water molecules through nerve fibers, giving a more accurate picture of the brain’s structure and its neuronal pathways”. [via] Eventually, the idea is to identify connectopathies (abnormal circuits) then treat with appropriate pharmacology targeted for that area.

Above: [via] “White matter fiber architecture of the brain. Measured from diffusion spectral imaging (DSI). The fibers are color-coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = through brain stem. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Randy Buckner, PhD and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.”

Mmmm hmm, but how much do you love me?

Using fMRI, neuroscientists measured the neurochemical experience of love in a “love competition”.  The idea is love isn’t a black or white concept where you either love someone or you don’t…it’s about degrees or power. Here, they put several people in an fMRI machine, told them to think about the object of their affection to see who displayed the most activity in the regions associated with love and made a little documentary about it. You can watch a preview here.

Whispery to the giddy 23 yr old: the mild head throbbing may not be love..it’s a common side effect of being in a heavily magnetized, 3-6 Tesla machine & that’s a lot …(a 1 Telsa magnet can pick up a car, FYI).

So we know that “love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain”.[via]

Although all fMRI studies of love point to the subcortical dopaminergic reward-related brain systems (involving dopamine and oxytocin receptors) for motivating individuals in pair-bonding, the present meta-analysis newly demonstrated that different types of love involve distinct cerebral networks, including those for higher cognitive functions such as social cognition and bodily self-representation. [via]

I wonder how they are able to compare different types of love related emotions (new/passionate vs older/secure), as well as the love they they feel when thinking of the other vs the love they have for other…or as the older lady suggested, the appreciation and love she feels for herself……cited by W. Houston (1985) replicating G. Benson (1977) as the greatest love of all.

“Crucial Advances in ‘Brain Reading’ Demonstrated”

At UCLA’s Laboratory of Integrative Neuroimaging Technology, researchers use functional MRI brain scans to observe brain signal changes that take place during mental activity. They then employ computerized machine learning (ML) methods to study these patterns and identify the cognitive state — or sometimes the thought process — of human subjects. The technique is called “brain reading” or “brain decoding.”


Researchers have found they can detect these believe-disbelieve differences with high accuracy, in effect creating a lie detector.


"We are interested in exploring the relationships between structure and function in the human brain, particularly as related to higher-level cognition, such as mental imagery," Anderson said. "The lab is engaged in the active exploration of modern data-analysis approaches, such as machine learning, with special attention to methods that reveal systems-level neural organization." (via)

But no need to get frantic, this technique works kinda like auto text on your cell or google search suggestions, by “anticipating neurocognitive changes”.
Image. And read more here, gorgeous online poster.

Crucial Advances in ‘Brain Reading’ Demonstrated

At UCLA’s Laboratory of Integrative Neuroimaging Technology, researchers use functional MRI brain scans to observe brain signal changes that take place during mental activity. They then employ computerized machine learning (ML) methods to study these patterns and identify the cognitive state — or sometimes the thought process — of human subjects. The technique is called “brain reading” or “brain decoding.”

Researchers have found they can detect these believe-disbelieve differences with high accuracy, in effect creating a lie detector.

"We are interested in exploring the relationships between structure and function in the human brain, particularly as related to higher-level cognition, such as mental imagery," Anderson said. "The lab is engaged in the active exploration of modern data-analysis approaches, such as machine learning, with special attention to methods that reveal systems-level neural organization." (via)

But no need to get frantic, this technique works kinda like auto text on your cell or google search suggestions, by “anticipating neurocognitive changes”.

Image. And read more here, gorgeous online poster.

"Are Doing Harm and Allowing Harm Equivalent? Ask fMRI"
Most people, as well as the law, recognize that doing harm is morally worse than not doing anything when you know there to be a risk, thereby allowing harm to just happen. To that end, you would assume that judging the former to be worse is cognitively more demanding than the latter. Well, so did Fiery Cushman. He does research surrounding neuroethics up at Brown to see “…how the brain has evolved to process moral dilemmas and make moral judgments.”

People typically say they are invoking an ethical principle when they judge acts that cause harm more harshly than willful inaction that allows that same harm to occur. That difference is even codified in criminal law. A new study based on brain scans, however, shows that people make that moral distinction automatically. Researchers found that it requires conscious reasoning to decide that active and passive behaviors that are equally harmful are equally wrong. Via

This is interesting because you would think that in order to decide that doing harm is worse than non-acting that results in harm, it would require lots of conscious reasoning to arrive at that point, like most moral dilemmas. But it turns out, that’s the easy part for our brains requiring less activity…the hard part for our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which via the fMRI scans show evidence of using more “careful deliberative controlled thinking” is after weighing the two, deciding that they are both as bad. Now that makes even more sense, huh.
I’ve read enough of his fascinating work to contact Dr. Cushman about an idea I had a couple months ago to see if collaborations with him are possible. He is very accessible, but it appears my new lab- AKA the hardest lab to get into ever, is taking me away from this.  Yes, I’m still waiting on that confirmation… fingers crossed so hard it hurts. 

Above: Looking at a moral choice Test subjects who feel that doing active harm is morally the same as allowing harm to occur will show more brain activity. The notion that active harm is worse appears to be automatic, a psychological default requiring less thought. (Credit: Cushman Lab/Brown University)

"Are Doing Harm and Allowing Harm Equivalent? Ask fMRI"

Most people, as well as the law, recognize that doing harm is morally worse than not doing anything when you know there to be a risk, thereby allowing harm to just happen. To that end, you would assume that judging the former to be worse is cognitively more demanding than the latter. Well, so did Fiery Cushman. He does research surrounding neuroethics up at Brown to see “…how the brain has evolved to process moral dilemmas and make moral judgments.”

People typically say they are invoking an ethical principle when they judge acts that cause harm more harshly than willful inaction that allows that same harm to occur. That difference is even codified in criminal law. A new study based on brain scans, however, shows that people make that moral distinction automatically. Researchers found that it requires conscious reasoning to decide that active and passive behaviors that are equally harmful are equally wrong. Via

This is interesting because you would think that in order to decide that doing harm is worse than non-acting that results in harm, it would require lots of conscious reasoning to arrive at that point, like most moral dilemmas. But it turns out, that’s the easy part for our brains requiring less activity…the hard part for our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which via the fMRI scans show evidence of using more “careful deliberative controlled thinking” is after weighing the two, deciding that they are both as bad. Now that makes even more sense, huh.

I’ve read enough of his fascinating work to contact Dr. Cushman about an idea I had a couple months ago to see if collaborations with him are possible. He is very accessible, but it appears my new lab- AKA the hardest lab to get into ever, is taking me away from this.  Yes, I’m still waiting on that confirmation… fingers crossed so hard it hurts. 

Above: Looking at a moral choice Test subjects who feel that doing active harm is morally the same as allowing harm to occur will show more brain activity. The notion that active harm is worse appears to be automatic, a psychological default requiring less thought. (Credit: Cushman Lab/Brown University)

Brain-imaging research on violence troubles us by challenging the way we think about crime. It questions our treatment of murderers in the way that, looking back 200 years, we question the shackling of the mentally ill. The history of civilization suggests that, at least over the long term, society has tended to become more humane. Two hundred years from now will we have reconceptualized recidivistic, serious criminal behavior as a clinical disorder with roots in early social, biological, and genetic forces beyond the individual’s control? Will we look back aghast at the execution of seriously violent offenders? Will we view execution of prisoners as we now view the burning of witches?

Dr. Adrian Raine, who did the first  neuroimaging study of killers in 1999. A then and now look: Johanna Goldberg for the Dana Foundation Blog :

If biology is to blame for behavior, how should we punish criminal acts? Where do personal responsibility and morality fit into the equation? And if science gets to the point of being able to predict who will become a criminal, what comes next?   VIA

Brain scan (PET) of a normal control (left) and a murderer (right), illustrating the lack of activation in the prefrontal cortex in the murderer. Via