Posts tagged research

While studies in behavioural genetics show certain gene and environment combinations correlate with antisocial conduct, many of the studies have not been replicated, which raises questions about their reliability.
Blame the brain ….and how about those grant offering institutions, which set requirements for studies they will fund. Rarely do you see replication involved or allowed. Confirming previous findings may not as sexy as publishing novel ones, but it’s as important -if not more so. 
Presenting research at West Point with my co-author.

Presenting research at West Point with my co-author.

Neuroimages in court: not as bad as we thought
So what I usually get from the lawyers I corner speak with about using brain scans as evidence, it’s mostly hell to the no, because A) we’d need an expert B) experts are expensive C) client is broke. Another response is jurors won’t get it and it will just complicate things. The consensus is jurors can’t handle a brief fMRI lecture to understand it’s meaning and limitations so they’ll just figure it’s all hard science, self evident to the argument being made and treat it like photographic proof.  dun dun.
Until recently, a couple of really big studies supported this notion and everyone at the cool table got on board. Brain porn in the court became a thing and whispering sexy hard-sciencey neurobabble in your ear is what it did seducing you with its pretty colored blobs. Then it kinda fell into a place like tween technology can, where we can’t trust it running the streets alone without a decent explanation, some background and a curfew. But new research contradicts this concept “prompting a rethinking of the ‘threat’ of neuroscience in the courtroom”. dun dun. (ok I’ll stop.)
The deal is the initial studies didn’t look at the effect of using the images with mock jurors in. a. full. mock. trial. Srsly, methodologies? Anyway, this article (+1 for the multidisciplinary collabo) gives a detailed overview of 3 new studies that are show findings contradictory to the neurolaw safety dance that’s so trendy. No reason for that link except, it’s the only chance it will ever have. …k, moving on.
I’m all for being cautious, but we are tip toeing, slow poking and dumbing down when what we need is just a little explanation, insight and mostly more experiments designed to replicate a real world trial experience. Showing images and peppering it with a scientific summary is like convicting by confession alone without seeing the interrogation. It turns out:

…in experiments with crimes ranging from homicide to unintentional assault, the authors found no evidence that neuroimages influenced jurors’ decisions about criminal liability or sentences. Convictions and punishments were, however, related to the level of perceived control by the defendant, and this was affected by the presence and kind of expert testimony – but not by neuroimages. -Gurley and Marcus

The next study danced a similar jig when looking at the use of neuroimages in an insanity defense, “Gurley and Marcus did not dissociate the effects of the neuroimage from those of the neurological expert testimony. Schweitzer and Saks did, and found no impact of neuroimages over and above the effects of verbal neuroscience testimony.” Further work can go beyond culpability and look at sentencing as well.  
Three recent studies (the 3rd unpublished) have all suggested testimony weighed heavier in juror decision making (exculpatory fashions) than brain scans … and may have me thinking I’ll reopen my expert witness biz. Giddyup.

Neuroimages in court: not as bad as we thought

So what I usually get from the lawyers I corner speak with about using brain scans as evidence, it’s mostly hell to the no, because A) we’d need an expert B) experts are expensive C) client is broke. Another response is jurors won’t get it and it will just complicate things. The consensus is jurors can’t handle a brief fMRI lecture to understand it’s meaning and limitations so they’ll just figure it’s all hard science, self evident to the argument being made and treat it like photographic proof.  dun dun.

Until recently, a couple of really big studies supported this notion and everyone at the cool table got on board. Brain porn in the court became a thing and whispering sexy hard-sciencey neurobabble in your ear is what it did seducing you with its pretty colored blobs. Then it kinda fell into a place like tween technology can, where we can’t trust it running the streets alone without a decent explanation, some background and a curfew. But new research contradicts this concept “prompting a rethinking of the threat’ of neuroscience in the courtroom”. dun dun. (ok I’ll stop.)

The deal is the initial studies didn’t look at the effect of using the images with mock jurors in. a. full. mock. trial. Srsly, methodologies? Anyway, this article (+1 for the multidisciplinary collabo) gives a detailed overview of 3 new studies that are show findings contradictory to the neurolaw safety dance that’s so trendy. No reason for that link except, it’s the only chance it will ever have. …k, moving on.

I’m all for being cautious, but we are tip toeing, slow poking and dumbing down when what we need is just a little explanation, insight and mostly more experiments designed to replicate a real world trial experience. Showing images and peppering it with a scientific summary is like convicting by confession alone without seeing the interrogation. It turns out:

…in experiments with crimes ranging from homicide to unintentional assault, the authors found no evidence that neuroimages influenced jurors’ decisions about criminal liability or sentences. Convictions and punishments were, however, related to the level of perceived control by the defendant, and this was affected by the presence and kind of expert testimony – but not by neuroimages. -Gurley and Marcus

The next study danced a similar jig when looking at the use of neuroimages in an insanity defense, “Gurley and Marcus did not dissociate the effects of the neuroimage from those of the neurological expert testimony. Schweitzer and Saks did, and found no impact of neuroimages over and above the effects of verbal neuroscience testimony.” Further work can go beyond culpability and look at sentencing as well.  

Three recent studies (the 3rd unpublished) have all suggested testimony weighed heavier in juror decision making (exculpatory fashions) than brain scans … and may have me thinking I’ll reopen my expert witness biz. Giddyup.

- I Cannot Tell a Lie by Adrienne Anifant in John Jay’s JusticeMatters, Fall 2012 …which just arrived in the mail a few days ago. (I’ve said it a hundred times, amazing faculty [srsly, none better] but the admin could use a trailer load of help.)
Fascinating article about Professor Maria Hartwig’s work towards the effectiveness of interrogation techniques based on “embodied cognition” and new approaches for detecting deception which seek to, “…reduce false accusations, wrongful convictions, lengthy appeals and the concomitant stress and anxiety to the accused and their families.” Her recent work is funded by the FBI/High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Clearly, I’d love to meet her. So maybe I WILL. Operation cold email awesome people in effect. Boom. 

- I Cannot Tell a Lie by Adrienne Anifant in John Jay’s JusticeMatters, Fall 2012 …which just arrived in the mail a few days ago. (I’ve said it a hundred times, amazing faculty [srsly, none better] but the admin could use a trailer load of help.)

Fascinating article about Professor Maria Hartwig’s work towards the effectiveness of interrogation techniques based on “embodied cognition” and new approaches for detecting deception which seek to, “…reduce false accusations, wrongful convictions, lengthy appeals and the concomitant stress and anxiety to the accused and their families.” Her recent work is funded by the FBI/High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Clearly, I’d love to meet her. So maybe I WILL. Operation cold email awesome people in effect. Boom. 

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How expectations shape pain

Pain is highly modifiable by psychological factors, including expectations. However, pain is a complex phenomenon, and expectations may work by influencing any number of processes that underlie the construction of pain. Neuroimaging has begun to provide a window into these brain processes, and how expectations influence them. (…) The body of work reviewed indicates that expectancies shape pain-intensity processing in the central nervous system, with strong effects on nociceptive portions of insula, cingulate and thalamus. Expectancy effects on subjective experience are driven by responses in these regions as well as regions less reliably activated by changes in noxious input, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex. 

As I move into anticipation, it only makes sense I bring expectations with me. 

“Scientists create first ‘atlas of the brain’ - and release it online so researchers across the world can unlock our mind’s secrets”

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, based in Seattle, created the atlas so that other researchers can compare and contrast their own findings from brain scans and genetic surveys, with the hope that having a ‘baseline’ to work from will unveil more secrets about psychiatric conditions. (…) This allows us for the first time to overlay the human genome on to the human brain. ’It gives us essentially the Rosetta stone for understanding the link between the genome and the brain, and gives us a path forward to decoding how genetic disorders impact and produce brain disease.’

Scientists create first ‘atlas of the brain’ - and release it online so researchers across the world can unlock our mind’s secrets

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, based in Seattle, created the atlas so that other researchers can compare and contrast their own findings from brain scans and genetic surveys, with the hope that having a ‘baseline’ to work from will unveil more secrets about psychiatric conditions. (…) This allows us for the first time to overlay the human genome on to the human brain. ’It gives us essentially the Rosetta stone for understanding the link between the genome and the brain, and gives us a path forward to decoding how genetic disorders impact and produce brain disease.’

Here’s a sneak peek of some experimental work that’s happening over here. It answers all the where have I beens and what am I doings. 
(whispery: I’m still looking for a video editor who knows tricks. I lost the replies from before. Pls contact me again.)

Here’s a sneak peek of some experimental work that’s happening over here. It answers all the where have I beens and what am I doings. 

(whispery: I’m still looking for a video editor who knows tricks. I lost the replies from before. Pls contact me again.)

fMRI-based biomarkers for pain and distress

[Prof. Tor D. Wager describes] a series of studies developing fMRI as a sensitive and specific biomarker for acute physical pain. These biomarkers provide new information on the roles of anterior cingulate, insula, thalamus, SII/dorsal posterior insula, and other ‘pain intensity coding’ regions in pain vs. other emotional experiences, and provide new ways of testing the effects of attention, emotion, and expectancy on ‘pain processing’ in the brain. [via]

Relevant to a project that I anticipate working on soon. See Fig. 1.

fMRI-based biomarkers for pain and distress

[Prof. Tor D. Wager describes] a series of studies developing fMRI as a sensitive and specific biomarker for acute physical pain. These biomarkers provide new information on the roles of anterior cingulate, insula, thalamus, SII/dorsal posterior insula, and other ‘pain intensity coding’ regions in pain vs. other emotional experiences, and provide new ways of testing the effects of attention, emotion, and expectancy on ‘pain processing’ in the brain. [via]

Relevant to a project that I anticipate working on soon. See Fig. 1.

Brains in jars still remain in this abandoned Russian neuroscience laboratory

There are few details on this abandoned neuroscience lab, so we’ll have to take the photographer’s word that it’s the real deal. Supposedly, this former Soviet laboratory sits in Moscow, where it was operated by the army. Some time after the lab was hastily abandoned, it was sealed off. But civilians who venture inside will see skinned animal heads, slides depicting brain cross-sections, and lots and lots of actual brains amidst the more mundane dirty dishes and glassware. Head over to the Russian blog brusnichka for more macabre photos from the lab. [via]

соответствующие.

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Discrepancies in the lit, II

In a 2011 paper published in Emotion Review titled Emotion and Morality in Psychopathy and Paraphilias - Harenski (U. of New Mexico) states her findings “demonstrate that psychopaths and likely sexual sadists experience significant deficits in their emotional processing and experience.” 

Then we have, Empathy in sexually sadistic offenders: An experimental comparison with non-sadistic sexual offenders, a paper by Nitschke, et al. that says their results “suggest that severe sexual sadism is a distinct, pathological sexual arousal response, not a deficit in emotional processing.” 

Big difference there. A place where distinguishing the underlying systems can tell us what’s what. Confidently going with the Germans on this one, obv. 

People with narcissistic vulnerabilities often relate to others sadomasochistically—either exerting power, or submitting to others, or both—in order to manage their vulnerabilities and protect themselves from feelings of abandonment.
Narcissism and Sadomasochistic Relationships, via Journal of Clinical Psychology, Aug. 2012
“The Sexual Responses of Sexual Sadists”
Often, new questions and gaps in the research are a reflection of the way in which we define behavior, definitions which may change over time. From a recent Canadian study:

Part of the controversy and disagreement about the essential features of sexual sadism may arise from the contexts in which sadism is studied. Forensic studies will mostly comprise sadists who have committed sexual assaults or homicides or who have experienced serious difficulties resulting in clinical attention, whereas nonclinical studies of community sadists might include individuals who have committed sexual assaults but would also include a majority of individuals without any such history. The types of sadistic activities observed may differ by context, with more antisocial sadists seen in a forensic setting being more likely to engage in severe sadistic activities such as torture, cutting, or mutilation, whereas community sadists are more likely to engage in binding, spanking, and whipping. [via]

Clearly, there is now a crossover involving such activities within the community, which is one of the reasons why consent/non-consent and consenting-non-consent studies have become a study focus.
img: Clips from Lot in Sodom, 1933. 
H/T overmuziek:
from the video: Haleek Maul - Fraulein

The Sexual Responses of Sexual Sadists

Often, new questions and gaps in the research are a reflection of the way in which we define behavior, definitions which may change over time. From a recent Canadian study:

Part of the controversy and disagreement about the essential features of sexual sadism may arise from the contexts in which sadism is studied. Forensic studies will mostly comprise sadists who have committed sexual assaults or homicides or who have experienced serious difficulties resulting in clinical attention, whereas nonclinical studies of community sadists might include individuals who have committed sexual assaults but would also include a majority of individuals without any such history. The types of sadistic activities observed may differ by context, with more antisocial sadists seen in a forensic setting being more likely to engage in severe sadistic activities such as torture, cutting, or mutilation, whereas community sadists are more likely to engage in binding, spanking, and whipping. [via]

Clearly, there is now a crossover involving such activities within the community, which is one of the reasons why consent/non-consent and consenting-non-consent studies have become a study focus.

img: Clips from Lot in Sodom, 1933. 

H/T overmuziek:

from the video: Haleek Maul - Fraulein

So what is smart? My brother knows a lot of things. But, I have to tell you, this is not what makes him smart — it’s what makes him both pedantic and dangerous in an argument. But he’s smart because he makes sense of things, because he makes connections between disparate realms, because he can make sense of anything.

Daniel Coffeen on “What is Smart” (via highwaterline)

This is what matters to me.

Being good and working on my lit review. 

Being good and working on my lit review.