Posts tagged science

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.

American Journal of Insanity, 1844 [via]  …edited by the officers of the NYS Lunatic Asylum.  TRUSTY!

American Journal of Insanity, 1844 [via]  …edited by the officers of the NYS Lunatic Asylum.  TRUSTY!

Write exactly what you would want to read, what you wish someone else had written.

Neuroscientist, David Eagleman replying to: “What advice would you give to an aspiring author?” [via]  

 …Meanwhile: this ol blog she aint what she used to be, aint what she used to be…

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.

Running through preprocessing and data analysis now in order to construct an fMRI image. 

Smart move on The Observer's part having the always interesting Dr. Vaughan Bell on board. In this issue, he tells us about lie dectection and the return of the highly questionable polygraph. 

But despite the inherent unreliability of lie detectors, they have recently seen a rebirth. (…) Yet this is unlikely to be due to the technology itself; years of research have shown people are more truthful when wired up to a convincing but fake machine – the so-called “bogus pipeline to the truth” effect.

In the U.S.,  the poly is mostly used as an interrogation tool with the results by and large, not admissible into evidence because of reliability and validity issues, as per the SCOTUS.  So: if the poly gets the side eye from the 5th amendment [Schmerber v. California, 86 S. Ct. 1826 (l966)] for violating the protection of self incrimination, wouldn’t that also apply to fMRI lie detection (if that ever was a legit consideration) for evidence? 
Read Dr. Bell’s article with a little polygraph history here.

Smart move on The Observer's part having the always interesting Dr. Vaughan Bell on board. In this issue, he tells us about lie dectection and the return of the highly questionable polygraph. 

But despite the inherent unreliability of lie detectors, they have recently seen a rebirth. (…) Yet this is unlikely to be due to the technology itself; years of research have shown people are more truthful when wired up to a convincing but fake machine – the so-called “bogus pipeline to the truth” effect.

In the U.S.,  the poly is mostly used as an interrogation tool with the results by and large, not admissible into evidence because of reliability and validity issues, as per the SCOTUS.  So: if the poly gets the side eye from the 5th amendment [Schmerber v. California, 86 S. Ct. 1826 (l966)] for violating the protection of self incrimination, wouldn’t that also apply to fMRI lie detection (if that ever was a legit consideration) for evidence? 

Read Dr. Bell’s article with a little polygraph history here.

Check it out: The first neurobiological model for third-party punishment
Here’s a a very recent update to my last post on the Neurobiology of Punishment by Joshua W Buckholtz and René Marois, breaking down the events that take place in the brain when asked to make decisions regarding punishment. Of the five processes you have the frontal cortex (higher mental functions) the amygdala (emotional responses) and the intraparietal sulcus and temporal-parietal junction (interpreting the intent of others, thoery of mind).

In the modern criminal justice system, judges and jury members – impartial third-party decision-makers – are tasked to evaluate the severity of a criminal act, the mental state of the accused and the amount of harm done, and then integrate these evaluations with the applicable legal codes and select the most appropriate punishment from available options. (…) 
 [via] 

  One of the key take aways is that:

..it’s assumed legal decision-making is purely based on rational thinking, research suggests that much of the motivation for punishing is driven by negative emotional responses to the harm. This signal appears to be generated in the amygdala, causing people to factor in their emotional state when making decisions instead of making solely factual judgments.

Getting ahead of ourselves: glossy brain porn v. emotion  
What happens if the jury is presented with neuroscientific evidence suggesting what may have caused the accused to offend, e.g., a brain scan showing a tumor? This may challenge the negative emotional response since it’s been reported that this type of evidence is so seductive to juries. >law & order, donk donk<

Article here.
[Img: Parts of the brain involved in third party punishment. (Rene Marois, Deborah Brewington/Vanderbilt University)]

Check it out: The first neurobiological model for third-party punishment

Here’s a a very recent update to my last post on the Neurobiology of Punishment by Joshua W Buckholtz and René Marois, breaking down the events that take place in the brain when asked to make decisions regarding punishment. Of the five processes you have the frontal cortex (higher mental functions) the amygdala (emotional responses) and the intraparietal sulcus and temporal-parietal junction (interpreting the intent of others, thoery of mind).

In the modern criminal justice system, judges and jury members – impartial third-party decision-makers – are tasked to evaluate the severity of a criminal act, the mental state of the accused and the amount of harm done, and then integrate these evaluations with the applicable legal codes and select the most appropriate punishment from available options. (…) 

 [via

  One of the key take aways is that:

..it’s assumed legal decision-making is purely based on rational thinking, research suggests that much of the motivation for punishing is driven by negative emotional responses to the harm. This signal appears to be generated in the amygdala, causing people to factor in their emotional state when making decisions instead of making solely factual judgments.

Getting ahead of ourselves: glossy brain porn v. emotion  

What happens if the jury is presented with neuroscientific evidence suggesting what may have caused the accused to offend, e.g., a brain scan showing a tumor? This may challenge the negative emotional response since it’s been reported that this type of evidence is so seductive to juries. >law & order, donk donk<


Article here.

[ImgParts of the brain involved in third party punishment. (Rene Marois, Deborah Brewington/Vanderbilt University)]

I was revisiting a Nature article published about using fMRI as evidence in a murder case featuring someone&#8217;s work that I don&#8217;t talk enough about, Dr. Kent Kiehl. I find his research focusing on criminal psychopathy using fMRI extremely interesting.

The purpose of the work, Kiehl says, is to eliminate the stigma against psychopaths and find them treatments so they can stop committing crimes. But [the] lawyers saw  another purpose. During sentencing for capital crimes, the defence may present just about anything as a mitigating factor, from accounts  of the defendant being abused as a child to  evidence of extreme emotional disturbance. Kiehl’s research could offer a persuasive argument that Dugan is a psychopath and could not control his killer impulses.

Eight years I&#8217;ve spent in my business working with psychologists and psychopharmacologists prepping them as expert witnesses, so I was glad to see an article that not only discusses some of the debate on if the science of fMRI is ready for the courts, but also offers a little peep on how the attorneys intend to use this new tool.
Like I&#8217;ve said before, the bottom line (after sorting the science/admissibility) is educating the jury on brain scans, which is no easy task since to understand what the image is mapping, one needs an understanding of physics, math, neurobiology and very complex data analysis techniques. To that end, and in the time being, lawyers will be looking for more neuroscience experts to battle this out infront of the jury, much to some researchers&#8217; dismay.
Would we rather spend time explaining the science and admit we aren&#8217;t exactly confident in it and why (which I do not consider a &#8220;soap box&#8221; position) or repeat that it&#8217;s not ready, click our heels 3 times and hope attorneys don&#8217;t take advantage? Those that don&#8217;t support the former, by default, may be allowing the latter. Besides, even if science get to say how far fMRI should reach, lawyers will be the ones saying how fast it will get there.  It would still seem the immediate need is two fold: more replication studies, more subjects and investigating further the potential of fMRI in clinical applications. 
Nature&#8217;s full article here. 

I was revisiting a Nature article published about using fMRI as evidence in a murder case featuring someone’s work that I don’t talk enough about, Dr. Kent Kiehl. I find his research focusing on criminal psychopathy using fMRI extremely interesting.

The purpose of the work, Kiehl says, is to eliminate the stigma against psychopaths and find them treatments so they can stop committing crimes. But [the] lawyers saw  another purpose. During sentencing for capital crimes, the defence may present just about anything as a mitigating factor, from accounts  of the defendant being abused as a child to  evidence of extreme emotional disturbance. Kiehl’s research could offer a persuasive argument that Dugan is a psychopath and could not control his killer impulses.

Eight years I’ve spent in my business working with psychologists and psychopharmacologists prepping them as expert witnesses, so I was glad to see an article that not only discusses some of the debate on if the science of fMRI is ready for the courts, but also offers a little peep on how the attorneys intend to use this new tool.

Like I’ve said before, the bottom line (after sorting the science/admissibility) is educating the jury on brain scans, which is no easy task since to understand what the image is mapping, one needs an understanding of physics, math, neurobiology and very complex data analysis techniques. To that end, and in the time being, lawyers will be looking for more neuroscience experts to battle this out infront of the jury, much to some researchers’ dismay.

Would we rather spend time explaining the science and admit we aren’t exactly confident in it and why (which I do not consider a “soap box” position) or repeat that it’s not ready, click our heels 3 times and hope attorneys don’t take advantage? Those that don’t support the former, by default, may be allowing the latter. Besides, even if science get to say how far fMRI should reach, lawyers will be the ones saying how fast it will get there.  It would still seem the immediate need is two fold: more replication studies, more subjects and investigating further the potential of fMRI in clinical applications. 

Nature’s full article here

Notes on Neurobiological Substrates of Punishment
 Impulsive punishment may relate to amygdala-based circuitry (AM/PAG, yellow), where there is associative learning between cues and outcomes.
Instrumental punishment may be connected to striatal-mediated reinforcement for goal oriented actions. This type of punishment may lead to appetitive retributive goals (fascinating), possibly coming from the MFOC (medial orbitofrontal cortex), or from forward-planning areas of the prefrontal cortex which also plays a role in theory of mind (blue areas).
These appetitive/instinctual actions may reinforce further action through the dorsomedial striatum (DMS,green) which if becoming &#8220;habit-based&#8221;, we&#8217;re then looking at reinforced action through dorsolateral striatum (DLS, red), which would likely indicate dopamine-dependent circuits. 
[via: The Neurobiology of Punishment]

Notes on Neurobiological Substrates of Punishment

  •  Impulsive punishment may relate to amygdala-based circuitry (AM/PAG, yellow), where there is associative learning between cues and outcomes.
  • Instrumental punishment may be connected to striatal-mediated reinforcement for goal oriented actions. This type of punishment may lead to appetitive retributive goals (fascinating), possibly coming from the MFOC (medial orbitofrontal cortex), or from forward-planning areas of the prefrontal cortex which also plays a role in theory of mind (blue areas).
  • These appetitive/instinctual actions may reinforce further action through the dorsomedial striatum (DMS,green) which if becoming “habit-based”, we’re then looking at reinforced action through dorsolateral striatum (DLS, red), which would likely indicate dopamine-dependent circuits. 

[via: The Neurobiology of Punishment]

Surviving Progress

garymarcus:

A film “about nothing less than history of the modern world and the fate of civilization”, with a cameo by Guitar Zero author Gary Marcus, opens tomorrow in NYC

V.I.Reblog.  Trailer here.

Two weeks to submit abstracts to SFN. 

Two weeks to submit abstracts to SFN

The Moral Perspective: The more you think, the less you cheat

themoralperspective:

A new study in the journal Psychological Science suggests that the human tendency to cheat is a natural impulse, and that given some time for reflection, humans are less likely to cheat.

The research experiment — conducted by Shaul Shalvi, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, and his…

Which has always amazed me neuroanatomically speaking. In 2002, the first research re: fMRI and lying was published and found that the distribution of deception-related activation in the brain suggests that lying involves both conflict and suppression of the truth. So it turns out, if lying and cheating is instinctual, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s any less neurally demanding.  

It’s tough to associate creativity with mental illness because obviously if you’re very ill, it gets in the way. … But one of the theories now is that the terrible swings of the mental illness – of bipolar depression – you get these manic highs, these euphorias, where the ideas just pour out of you. And you need to write them down. That’s followed by this dismal low period when maybe you’re a better editor. Maybe it’s easier for you to focus and refine those epiphanies into a perfect form. … The thinking is maybe the correlation exists because the swings of mental illness echo the natural swings of the creative process.

Jonah Lehrer, on the link between depression and creativity. [complete interview here] (via nprfreshair)

Ok, by “one of the theories now" I assume he means the one published back in 2006.  NYC Psychopharmacologist, Ronald Fieve, MD  specializes in depressive disorders, namely bipolar - and wrote all about enhancing the lows and highs in Bipolar II. Since the 70’s, many of his patients have been creative types: writers, directors, actors, fashion designers…etc. 


It&#8217;s a simple but deeply unsettling question.
One that scientists are now starting to answer. &#8230;meet the scientist who believes he has found the moral molecule and the man who is using this new understanding to rewrite our ideas of crime and punishment.

The BBC&#8217;s (sensationalized) 4 part series here.

It’s a simple but deeply unsettling question.

One that scientists are now starting to answer. …meet the scientist who believes he has found the moral molecule and the man who is using this new understanding to rewrite our ideas of crime and punishment.

The BBC’s (sensationalized) 4 part series here.