Posts tagged neuroscience!

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Neuroscience of Homewrecking®

…will be a book. And it will be about how you trick yourself in and out of relationships. So an LA Times article talks about a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, about a new property in the love hormone, oxytocin, and how it “may help protect monogamous relationships”. Miracle juice! Such a terrible, terrible headline, right? …perking every Cosmo reader and former CIA director’s wife’s ear. If you think a hormone nasal spray will stop your man from cheating or leaving you, sweetie, you may need more than a nasal spray. Ok, backing up…the gist of the experiment is that men in relationships given a little toot of oxytocin spray, distanced themselves from an attractive woman they’d just met. 

This finding is very interesting since it’s a little counterintuitive to what we think oxytocin does.  Instead of just bringing the two together, this love hormone played a role in keeping the relationship man apart from the new pretty lady. Get back you succubus! We know oxytocin plays a role in trust and pair bonding, as it is “released in response to orgasm, early romance, breast-feeding and childbirth" but, it does more than than this - it enhances empathy, making people "more attuned to social cues, and more inclined to adjust their behavior accordingly"… which is a good reason why it’s currently used trials for patients with autism or schizophrenia.

The larger idea here is that:

…if your relationship status affects how oxytocin affects the brain, this provides some evidence that our brains evolved to form long-term romantic relationships.

Nothing is natural and your brain cells are tricking you again. Jolene, you can have him. 

"Can we have free will, if the brain’s actions are automatic? A scholar makes the case" 

Warned at the outset that the topic ignited controversy, the evening’s Q&A featured an outraged tirade by a speaker so apoplectic over Gazzaniga’s claims of the deterministic brain, that he could barely make himself understood. This was balanced by the question of a more modest audience member worried only about his ‘senior moments.’ He had attended a talk given by Eric Kandel, Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist, and had also asked Kandel’s counsel, hoping there would be a simple solution such as eating “brain food.” “What do you advise?” he asked Gazzaniga. “Blueberries and martinis,” Gazzaniga answered. “What did Kandel say?” asked Gazzaniga. The man replied, “wine every night and forget about it!”

Agita, quaque die post meridiem. Ex modo prescripto.

"Can we have free will, if the brain’s actions are automatic? A scholar makes the case" 

Warned at the outset that the topic ignited controversy, the evening’s Q&A featured an outraged tirade by a speaker so apoplectic over Gazzaniga’s claims of the deterministic brain, that he could barely make himself understood. This was balanced by the question of a more modest audience member worried only about his ‘senior moments.’ He had attended a talk given by Eric Kandel, Nobel-prize winning neuroscientist, and had also asked Kandel’s counsel, hoping there would be a simple solution such as eating “brain food.” “What do you advise?” he asked Gazzaniga. “Blueberries and martinis,” Gazzaniga answered. “What did Kandel say?” asked Gazzaniga. The man replied, “wine every night and forget about it!”

Agita, quaque die post meridiemEx modo prescripto.

“Soon, You May Download New Skills to Your Brain”

It may someday be possible to use brain technology to learn to play the piano, reduce mental stress, or even master kung fu with little or no conscious effort. Lead author and BU neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe says in a statement: “Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.” [via]

One of the more interesting finding is pointed out in the same article, that the participants showed improvement in learning the visual task tests “especially when the subjects were unaware of the nature of what they were learning.”  OooOoooOoo.
 From the abstract of the study:

With an online-feedback method that uses decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals, we induced activity patterns only in early visual cortex corresponding to an orientation without stimulus presentation or participants’ awareness of what was to be learned. The induced activation caused VPL specific to the orientation. These results suggest that early visual areas are so plastic that mere inductions of activity patterns are sufficient to cause VPL. This technique can induce plasticity in a highly selective manner, potentially leading to powerful training and rehabilitative protocols. [via]

Training is the keyword for me and how this technique could be used with sexual offenders.  

Soon, You May Download New Skills to Your Brain

It may someday be possible to use brain technology to learn to play the piano, reduce mental stress, or even master kung fu with little or no conscious effort. Lead author and BU neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe says in a statement: “Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.” [via]

One of the more interesting finding is pointed out in the same article, that the participants showed improvement in learning the visual task tests “especially when the subjects were unaware of the nature of what they were learning.”  OooOoooOoo.

 From the abstract of the study:

With an online-feedback method that uses decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals, we induced activity patterns only in early visual cortex corresponding to an orientation without stimulus presentation or participants’ awareness of what was to be learned. The induced activation caused VPL specific to the orientation. These results suggest that early visual areas are so plastic that mere inductions of activity patterns are sufficient to cause VPL. This technique can induce plasticity in a highly selective manner, potentially leading to powerful training and rehabilitative protocols. [via]

Training is the keyword for me and how this technique could be used with sexual offenders.  

"Cross-Cultural Variation and fMRI Lie-Detection"

Welcome to a paper I’ll be referencing IRL. I was actually fighting with myself last night about populations to use for my fMRI study (I don’t want to use college students, since my study isn’t about college students), which Bruni brings up in the abstract:

On several basic features of perception and cognition, Western university students turn out to be outliers relative to the general human population, so that data based on them should be interpreted with caution.

So, I’m really glad I have this paper to base my request of special population off of now…since I’m not sure how easy it will be getting access to the population I need

So big up to Tommaso Bruni, former ‘guest list neighbor’ at the Neuroethics and Law Blog!  From Bruni’s conclusion:

The long and the short of this paper is that cross-cultural experiments on fMRI lie-detection should be performed before this technique enters courts, because the lab experiments with US citizens risk having an unacceptably low external validity. As a matter of fact, I suggest the technique cannot live up to the Daubert standards without such checks, because no error rate calculated in the lab can be projected onto real life without them. I do not take any position about the ethical acceptability of fMRI lie-detection, but argue that more neuroscientific research is needed (not only in the cross-cultural field) in order to assess its full potential both legally and morally. I therefore encourage and endorse more funding for fMRI lie-detection research. Only sound and carefully conducted empirical research can lead to new forensic technologies that can be useful to ascertain the truth and to justly determine legal proceedings. (via)

I ABSOLUTELY agree with him on why (technically) lie detection isn’t ready for courts.

Hey look internet, I agree with someone!

Sometimes, saturday is about looking at results that may show the neurobiological markers of moral insensitivity in psychopaths. 

Sometimes, saturday is about looking at results that may show the neurobiological markers of moral insensitivity in psychopaths.