science

The eye could not see from any point

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There’s been an explosion of interest in the use of psychedelics in psychiatry. […]

Psychedelics have mostly been investigated in small studies run by true believers. […] Some of the most exciting psychedelic findings have already failed to replicate […]

Ketamine is the best comparison for psychedelics. […] Like psychedelics, it got hyped as an exciting new innovation that was going to revolutionize everything in psychiatry (in this case, depression treatment). But it’s been in pretty common (albeit non-formulary) use for five years now, and nothing has been revolutionized. […]

Between 10% and 50% of Americans have tried psychedelics. If psychedelics did something shocking, we would already know about it. […]

Even if all of the above are wrong and psychedelics work very well, the FDA could kill them with a thousand paper cuts. Again, look at ketamine: the new FDA approval ensures people will be getting the slightly different esketamine, through a weird route of administration, while paying $600 a pop, in specialized clinics that will probably be hard to find. Given the price and inconvenience, insurance companies will probably restrict it to the most treatment-resistant patients, and it probably won’t help them (treatment-resistant patients tend to stay that way). Given the panic around psychedelics, I expect it to be similarly difficult to get them even if they are legal and technically FDA-approved. Depressed people will never be able to walk into a psychiatrist’s office and get LSD. They’ll walk into a psychiatrist’s office, try Prozac for three months, try Wellbutrin for three months, argue with their insurance for a while, eventually get permission to drive to a city an hour away that has a government-licensed LSD clinic, and get some weird form of LSD that might or might not work, using a procedure optimized to minimize hallucinations.

{ Slate Star Codex | Continue reading }

Flashbacks hit me right between the eyes

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Physical pain represents a common feature of Bondage and Discipline/Dominance and Submission/Sadism and Machochism (BDSM) activity. This article explores the literature accounting for how painful stimuli may be experienced as pleasurable among practitioners of BDSM, and contrasting this with how it is experienced as painful among non-BDSM individuals. […] The experience of pain in this context can bring about altered states of consciousness that may be similar to what occurs during mindfulness meditation.

{ The Journal of Sex Research | Continue reading }

Prettymaide hues may have their cry apple, bacchante, custard, dove, eskimo, fawn, ginger, hemalite isinglass, jet, kipper, lucile, mimosa, nut, oysterette, prune, quasimodo, royal, sago, tango, umber, vanilla, wistaria, xray, yesplease, zaza, philomel, theerose. What are they all by? Shee.

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Faces are a primary source of social information, but little is known about the sequence of neural processing of personally relevant faces, such as those of our loved ones.

We applied representational similarity analyses to EEG-fMRI measurement of neural responses to faces of personal relevance to participants – their romantic partner and a friend – compared to a stranger. Faces expressed fear, happiness or no emotion. […]

Models of face processing postulate that recognition of face identity takes place with structural encoding in the fusiform gyrus around 170 ms after stimulus onset. We provide evidence that the high personal relevance of our friends’ and loved ones’ faces is detected prior to structural encoding […] as early as 100 ms after stimulus onset. […] Our findings imply that our brain can ‘bypass’ full structural encoding of face identity in order to prioritise the processing of faces most relevant to us.

{ BioRxiv | Continue reading }

acrylic on canvas { Nychos, Barbie Meltdown, 2016 }

We may recall that Socrates and Plato maintained that in a sense the good person is necessarily happy, whereas Aristotle, holding a more realistic and commonsensical view, acknowledged the possibility that even the most virtuous person can be unhappy due to various misfortunes, i.e., virtue fails to guarantee happiness

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According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, negative feelings are rising around the world—and the United States is particularly hard hit with an “epidemic of addictions.” Tellingly, the report also shows a widening happiness gap, with some people reporting much more well-being and others showing much less within each country. […]

Negative feelings—worry, sadness, and anger—have been rising around the world, up by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018. […]

“The U.S. is suffering an epidemic of addictions.” This includes an addiction to technology, which researcher Jean Twenge largely blames for the worrying mental health trends among U.S. adolescents. In her chapter of the report, she argues that screen time is displacing activities that are key to our happiness, like in-person social contact. Forty-five percent of adolescents are online “almost constantly,” and the average high school senior spends six hours a day texting, on social media or on the internet.

But we’re hooked on more than just technology. According to researcher Steve Sussman, around half of Americans suffer from at least one addiction. Some of the most prevalent are alcohol, food, and work—which each affect around 10 percent of adults—as well as drugs, gambling, exercise, shopping, and sex.

There’s another possible explanation for unhappiness, though: Governments are losing their way. […] According to survey results since 2005, people across the globe are more satisfied with life when their governments are more effective, enforce the rule of law, have better regulation, control corruption, and spend in certain ways—more on health care and less on military.

{ Yes | Continue reading }

is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction?

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In this study, we examine whether perceived loneliness is greater among the Baby Boomers—individuals born 1948–1965—relative to those born 1920–1947, and whether older adults have become lonelier over the past decade (2005–2016). […]

Overall, loneliness decreases with age through the early 70s, after which it increases. We find no evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decade.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

quote { Going at the heart of social cognition: is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction? }

Wanna short synthetic credit volatility?

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Software from Amenity Analytics promises to automate this process by spotting when chief executive officers try to duck tough questions. The software, its makers say, can even pick up on the signs of potential deception that CIA and FBI interrogators look for—including stalling and the use of qualifiers—and can gauge the sentiment of what is said on calls and reported in public filings, issuing a positive or negative numeric score. The goal is to make it easier for investors to wade through information and quickly make trading decisions.

{ Bloomberg Businessweek | Continue reading }

previously { Former CIA Officer Will Teach You How to Spot a Lie }

photo { Laurie Simmons, Blonde/Pink Dress/Standing Corner, 2014 }

ho, ho, ho, pimp

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Where Does Time Go When You Blink?

Retinal input is frequently lost because of eye blinks, yet humans rarely notice these gaps in visual input. […]

Here, we investigated whether the subjective sense of time is altered by spontaneous blinks. […]

The results point to a link between spontaneous blinks, previously demonstrated to induce activity suppression in the visual cortex, and a compression of subjective time.

{ bioRxiv | Continue reading }

photo { Helmut Newton, A cure for a black eye, Jerry Hall, 1974 }

The ball is round, the game is long

Two alternative hypotheses have been proposed to explain why grunting in tennis may impede opponents’ predictions, referred to as the distraction account (i.e., grunts capture attentional resources necessary for anticipation) and the multisensory integration account (i.e., auditory information from the grunt systematically influences ball trajectory prediction typically assumed to rely on visual information). […]

our findings provide strong support for the multisensory integration account by demonstrating that grunt intensity systematically influences judgments of ball trajectory.

{ PLoS One | Continue reading }

Bene ascolta chi la nota

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In a series of experiments, students listened to stories and then took a test of how much information they remembered an hour later. Their recall spiked by 10 to 30 percent if they had been randomly assigned to sit and do nothing in a dark, quiet room for a few minutes right after hearing the story. Your mind needs rest and space to consolidate and store information. […]

Don’t bother with rereading or highlighting. Research reveals that they don’t help much. […]

The best way to learn something truly is to teach it.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

In order for a proposition to be true (or false) it must have a sense; a nonsensical proposition can be neither true nor false.

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a team of psychology researchers began to challenge his ideas using a technique called “paradoxical thinking.” The premise is simple: Instead of presenting evidence that contradicts someone’s deeply held views, a psychologist agrees with the participant, then takes their views further, stretching their arguments to absurdity. This causes the participant to pause, reconsider, and reframe their own beliefs.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

acrylic and oil stick on plywood { Jean-Michel Basquiat, Now’s the Time, 1985 }

Structural color in Junonia butterflies evolves by tuning scale lamina thickness

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We have scientifically studied magic tricks to explore the human mind. For example, we use cutting-edge eye-tracking technologies to investigate how magicians misdirect our attention, and this work informs us about why people fail to see things right in front of their eyes. […] Magic works because we are typically unaware of our mind’s limitations, and most magic techniques rely on exploiting these surprising cognitive biases and limitations. Magicians don’t simply manipulate what you perceive – they manipulate your false beliefs about how much you can perceive.

{ The Psychologist | Continue reading }

related { we report a series of studies investigating the “paranormal potential” of magic performances }

Still walkin barefoot, in Beverly Hills

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Litigation stemming from an incident in which a middle-aged woman tripped while stepping backward to take a photograph, and without first looking in her direction of travel, led to an observational study of the frequency with which people taking photographs step back without first looking where they were stepping. Prior research on looking before stepping backward did not exist.

Research assistants asked a convenience sample of middle-aged women to take a photograph of the assistants standing in front of a building. The task required the participants to step away from the building. The study found that 87% of the participants looked back at least once before or during a backward step, and that 83% of the steps away from the building were preceded by or accompanied by a look in the direction of travel. Suggestions for future research are provided.

{ Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting }

related { “The First Moonwalk” — Bill Bailey at the Apollo Theatre, New York, 1955 }

unrelated { Man accused of sexually abusing minor identifies himself as Michael Jackson }

still image { Faye Dunaway in Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978 }