Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween



Yay! Today is Halloween. I'm so excited to get to dress up and spend the day with my friends. Our church has even asked us to dress up for mass today.

We're also going to the Mall later to do some trick or treating. They're going to have a costume contest too. And then, we're going to go out to dinner. My tios are also taking some of us for more trick or treating. I'm very excited!

I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween. Stay safe! :) C

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Marc Hauser: Plot Thickens, Solidifies, Cracks?

By now everyone's heard of the story of Marc Hauser, a well-known Harvard psychologist who's been suspended for research misconduct involving monkeys.

Until a few days ago, the situation seemed fairly clear: Hauser was guilty of several counts of misconduct, according to a Harvard committee, and there was no reason to doubt that judgement. Although the details of the investigation were never made public, it was generally believed that he'd fabricated the data from at least one experiment, as I explained previously.

However, all that was thrown into question on Monday by an article in the New York Times: Difficulties in Defining Errors in Case Against Harvard Researcher. The author, respected science journalist Nicholas Wade, writes that there's more to the story than first appeared, and specifically, that Hauser may not have fabricated data, instead being the victim of an innocent (if serious) mistake:
[A paper Hauser recently retracted], published in 2002, reported that rhesus monkeys can distinguish a novel string of sounds from a control sequence, an issue which has important bearing on their capacity for language. The novel and control sound sequences must be alternated... But the video of the experiment contains only novel sequences.

Critics like Dr. Altmann at first charged that the controls had never been done, and that since control conditions are reported in the paper, they must have been concocted. But Altmann... now says his earlier accusation was “heavily dependent on the knowledge that Harvard found Professor Hauser guilty of misconduct.” When he gave the issue further thought, he saw an alternative explanation.

In the experimental setup, the monkey is in a soundproof box. The researchers can see the computer is playing a sound but cannot hear it. What could have happened is that the computer, through a programming error, substituted a second test sound for the control sounds, and the researchers, unaware of the problem, wrote up their report assuming the control sounds had been played...

Even so, it is far from clear how the data on the video led to the reported results. This would be a devastating error, but not fraud. “It is conceivable that the data were not fabricated, but rather that the experiment was set up wrong, and that nobody realized this until after it was published,” Dr. Altmann wrote.

Wade also quoted two former students of Hauser's who praised his "unimpeachable scientific integrity” and who said his critics were “scholars known to be virulently opposed to his research program”, and quotes an anonymous Harvard academic as saying the investigation was "lawyer-driven", unnecessarily long, and unfair to Hauser.

But yesterday Gerry Altmann, the Editor of the journal Cognition which published the retracted paper, hit back against Wade in a blog post, saying that Wade "selectively quoted" him to give the impression that he'd backtracked from his earlier conclusion that Hauser falsified the data.
...there has been no stepping back. As I make very clear... the information I have received, when taken at face value, leads me to maintain my belief that the data that had been published in the journal Cognition was effectively a fiction - that is, there was no basis in the recorded data for those data. I concluded, and I continue to conclude, that the data were most likely fabricated...

It is true that I did write here that there existed an alternative explanation for what happened, based on a sequence of errors. However, for that interpretation to be correct ... the information I had been given, by Harvard’s Dean, would have to have been incorrect.
Essentially, Altmann says that while in theory Hauser could have made an innocent mistake, Harvard's investigation specifically ruled out this and concluded that no innocent explanation was possible.
So at the end of the day, it comes down to this: Do I believe what the Dean [of Harvard] told me were the results of a long, careful, and painstaking investigation, or do I simply make up a “Just So Story” instead?...

This entire saga is about the misrepresentation of truth. It is ironic that the journalists who profess to expose truth place such little value in it.
What are we to make of all this? The issue is extremely important - the "fabrication" of data in the Cognition paper was the most serious allegation against Hauser, and (to my knowledge) the only thing which proved that his misconduct was deliberate as opposed to sloppy.

The crucial question therefore is whether the Harvard investigation was right to rule out an innocent explanation of the Cognition data. Altmann correctly says that either Harvard are wrong, or Hauser falsified data.

But the problem is that the details of Harvard's judgement remain private. So we (including Altmann) seem to be left with a question of whether to trust Harvard University and their internal investigation.

Marc Hauser: Plot Thickens, Solidifies, Cracks?

By now everyone's heard of the story of Marc Hauser, a well-known Harvard psychologist who's been suspended for research misconduct involving monkeys.

Until a few days ago, the situation seemed fairly clear: Hauser was guilty of several counts of misconduct, according to a Harvard committee, and there was no reason to doubt that judgement. Although the details of the investigation were never made public, it was generally believed that he'd fabricated the data from at least one experiment, as I explained previously.

However, all that was thrown into question on Monday by an article in the New York Times: Difficulties in Defining Errors in Case Against Harvard Researcher. The author, respected science journalist Nicholas Wade, writes that there's more to the story than first appeared, and specifically, that Hauser may not have fabricated data, instead being the victim of an innocent (if serious) mistake:
[A paper Hauser recently retracted], published in 2002, reported that rhesus monkeys can distinguish a novel string of sounds from a control sequence, an issue which has important bearing on their capacity for language. The novel and control sound sequences must be alternated... But the video of the experiment contains only novel sequences.

Critics like Dr. Altmann at first charged that the controls had never been done, and that since control conditions are reported in the paper, they must have been concocted. But Altmann... now says his earlier accusation was “heavily dependent on the knowledge that Harvard found Professor Hauser guilty of misconduct.” When he gave the issue further thought, he saw an alternative explanation.

In the experimental setup, the monkey is in a soundproof box. The researchers can see the computer is playing a sound but cannot hear it. What could have happened is that the computer, through a programming error, substituted a second test sound for the control sounds, and the researchers, unaware of the problem, wrote up their report assuming the control sounds had been played...

Even so, it is far from clear how the data on the video led to the reported results. This would be a devastating error, but not fraud. “It is conceivable that the data were not fabricated, but rather that the experiment was set up wrong, and that nobody realized this until after it was published,” Dr. Altmann wrote.

Wade also quoted two former students of Hauser's who praised his "unimpeachable scientific integrity” and who said his critics were “scholars known to be virulently opposed to his research program”, and quotes an anonymous Harvard academic as saying the investigation was "lawyer-driven", unnecessarily long, and unfair to Hauser.

But yesterday Gerry Altmann, the Editor of the journal Cognition which published the retracted paper, hit back against Wade in a blog post, saying that Wade "selectively quoted" him to give the impression that he'd backtracked from his earlier conclusion that Hauser falsified the data.
...there has been no stepping back. As I make very clear... the information I have received, when taken at face value, leads me to maintain my belief that the data that had been published in the journal Cognition was effectively a fiction - that is, there was no basis in the recorded data for those data. I concluded, and I continue to conclude, that the data were most likely fabricated...

It is true that I did write here that there existed an alternative explanation for what happened, based on a sequence of errors. However, for that interpretation to be correct ... the information I had been given, by Harvard’s Dean, would have to have been incorrect.
Essentially, Altmann says that while in theory Hauser could have made an innocent mistake, Harvard's investigation specifically ruled out this and concluded that no innocent explanation was possible.
So at the end of the day, it comes down to this: Do I believe what the Dean [of Harvard] told me were the results of a long, careful, and painstaking investigation, or do I simply make up a “Just So Story” instead?...

This entire saga is about the misrepresentation of truth. It is ironic that the journalists who profess to expose truth place such little value in it.
What are we to make of all this? The issue is extremely important - the "fabrication" of data in the Cognition paper was the most serious allegation against Hauser, and (to my knowledge) the only thing which proved that his misconduct was deliberate as opposed to sloppy.

The crucial question therefore is whether the Harvard investigation was right to rule out an innocent explanation of the Cognition data. Altmann correctly says that either Harvard are wrong, or Hauser falsified data.

But the problem is that the details of Harvard's judgement remain private. So we (including Altmann) seem to be left with a question of whether to trust Harvard University and their internal investigation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Halloween Costume



I didn't know what I wanted to be this year. I thought about it a lot. And I decided on the Candy Corn Witch. I've never been anything too spooky or scary. I don't think this is a spooky costume. But I think it's fun! I can't wait to dress up on Sunday. :) C

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brain Scans Prove That The Brain Does Stuff

According to the BBC (and many others)...
Libido problems 'brain not mind'

Scans appear to show differences in brain functioning in women with persistently low sex drives, claim researchers.

The US scientists behind the study suggest it provides solid evidence that the problem can have a physical origin.

The research in question (which hasn't been published yet) has been covered very well over at The Neurocritic. Basically the authors took some women with a diagnosis of "Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder" (HSDD), and some normal women, put them in an fMRI scanner and showed them porn. Different areas of the brain lit up.

So what? For starters we have no idea if these differences are real or not because the study only had a tiny 7 normal women, although strangely, it included a full 19 women with HSDD. Maybe they had difficulty finding women with healthy appetites in Detroit?

Either way, a study is only as big as its smallest group so this was tiny. We're also not told anything about the stats they used so for all we know they could have used the kind that give you "results" if you use them on a dead fish.

But let's grant that the results are valid. This doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. We know the women differ in their sexual responses - because that's the whole point of the study. And we know that this must be something to do with their brain, because the brain is where sexual responses, and every other mental event, happ
en.

So we already know that HSDD "has a physical origin", but only in the sense that everything does; being a Democrat or a Republican has a physical origin; being Christian or Muslim has a physical origin; speaking French as opposed to English has a physical origin; etc. etc.
None of which is interesting or surprising in the slightest.

The point is that the fact that something is physical doesn't stop it being also psychological. Because psychology happens in the brain. Suppose you see a massive bear roaring and charging towards you, and as a result, you feel scared. The fear has a physical basis, and plenty of physical correlates like raised blood pressure, adrenaline release, etc.

But if someone asks "Why are you scared?", you would answer "Because there's a bear about to eat us", and you'd be right. Someone who came along and said, no, your anxiety is purely physical - I can measure all these physiological differences between you and a normal person - would be an idiot (and eaten).

Now sometimes anxiety is "purely physical" i.e. if you have a seizure which affects certain parts of the temporal lobe, you may experience panic and anxiety as a direct result of the abnormal brain activity. In that case the fear has a physiological cause, as well as a physiological basis.

Maybe "HSDD" has a physiological cause. I'm sure it sometimes does; it would be very weird if it didn't in some cases because physiology can cause all kinds of problems. But fMRI scans don't tell us anything about that.

Link: I've written about HSDD before in the context of flibanserin, a drug which was supposed to treat it (but didn't). Also, as always, British humour website The Daily Mash hit this one on the head.
..

Brain Scans Prove That The Brain Does Stuff

According to the BBC (and many others)...
Libido problems 'brain not mind'

Scans appear to show differences in brain functioning in women with persistently low sex drives, claim researchers.

The US scientists behind the study suggest it provides solid evidence that the problem can have a physical origin.

The research in question (which hasn't been published yet) has been covered very well over at The Neurocritic. Basically the authors took some women with a diagnosis of "Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder" (HSDD), and some normal women, put them in an fMRI scanner and showed them porn. Different areas of the brain lit up.

So what? For starters we have no idea if these differences are real or not because the study only had a tiny 7 normal women, although strangely, it included a full 19 women with HSDD. Maybe they had difficulty finding women with healthy appetites in Detroit?

Either way, a study is only as big as its smallest group so this was tiny. We're also not told anything about the stats they used so for all we know they could have used the kind that give you "results" if you use them on a dead fish.

But let's grant that the results are valid. This doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. We know the women differ in their sexual responses - because that's the whole point of the study. And we know that this must be something to do with their brain, because the brain is where sexual responses, and every other mental event, happ
en.

So we already know that HSDD "has a physical origin", but only in the sense that everything does; being a Democrat or a Republican has a physical origin; being Christian or Muslim has a physical origin; speaking French as opposed to English has a physical origin; etc. etc.
None of which is interesting or surprising in the slightest.

The point is that the fact that something is physical doesn't stop it being also psychological. Because psychology happens in the brain. Suppose you see a massive bear roaring and charging towards you, and as a result, you feel scared. The fear has a physical basis, and plenty of physical correlates like raised blood pressure, adrenaline release, etc.

But if someone asks "Why are you scared?", you would answer "Because there's a bear about to eat us", and you'd be right. Someone who came along and said, no, your anxiety is purely physical - I can measure all these physiological differences between you and a normal person - would be an idiot (and eaten).

Now sometimes anxiety is "purely physical" i.e. if you have a seizure which affects certain parts of the temporal lobe, you may experience panic and anxiety as a direct result of the abnormal brain activity. In that case the fear has a physiological cause, as well as a physiological basis.

Maybe "HSDD" has a physiological cause. I'm sure it sometimes does; it would be very weird if it didn't in some cases because physiology can cause all kinds of problems. But fMRI scans don't tell us anything about that.

Link: I've written about HSDD before in the context of flibanserin, a drug which was supposed to treat it (but didn't). Also, as always, British humour website The Daily Mash hit this one on the head.
..

VIAJANDO PARA O RIO DE JANEIRO

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sHqKgo/qCF7Zz3UqinGWc89DrUc6lFbqFgFEnKnMHZjqeMLu0GLTKqcZ8wpddgEnohIACQkkqAA46865vEseGSn4uB3NUClGNVRsTGGjcRo1aMNG+WMNBBRHljBESKBjEABoRGWjJEZaCAwY88ZaMRwS7LxieGadNDMA0xYYDQdLdDtsr7pigRLrCVpLATvyk7ueAOeN+bpa67uexsElnALcWto+vZfuicoRkqGjNpn0PInJWkLQoLSrRSSCk7rEWMeVYEksBqdw6y+gjhuA7Uz6NRMpQZXSQoOhXWQ4II4gg7tLRdxrH6yoARPnIyLHKAJVJCGY2JQ5Bu2RRcbxpGV4ZJ87F1kVD9jm3tNThQSoTpgcZUaZgWZS9Bfg5jn69t6wknl1By7AIAHUBlsIXiG+7w7uPhG2aNEcUUiTyNh1M8KnTVqmc51qHNCxMmBRPOCmBBLlmI1tuilWILqK3TMzEKRkSgAjqSwSXcZQkANEk9SgpYObMRl1Z0jcQ1wwQ3Zv3ZpZBEuZfKOTe2U2zBgdSHIGlxvs8TWw73LlJR5uTzTCAcjlS7XZhYEgWAHC3CIcTlJSsjOg9J2SCSUrIF7kKUzvzXeCNfQ5KQHmnmyrh7Bku5Zrv283c910mBDxbgulRosE6xtT0y5hyoSVFtAHLRvIp1TFBKBmUosAN54Xg3s5Q+/KtmIB5rX0UG5oJ1DW4w856Y2CMNTBM3CZyEuuWtI6x5W39XbGKbM3NSoguzAkc0OWYHQXPAQy1VK6C2RkZRrds4PNzb3Og67awrGaos6ju3n+twhIS1rcacdD2DNPtIUoAIdIOgUxLg6cLt3CDNT7pbJSmTTo5hCkqmqKyCM2iUhIF1Es5HUIUEUcxblKFrbUhKlN2sDEXJwr7Pik7aFeSXUIYxtPU1Px01RTuQGSgdiEsBAoxMERtPS6yWAubAMNdw3dkWilDaKpCt2V2jzRYTTk7o2TSmw0uznQX3toIbUJRVKY1yQVm4QpIcFChxSSeA4aORFYUpZ2tHKa6HUUzLjPJGCE7D1IbM1xmBcXHexfq17rxhdGWBsxPXbxDf7bo7Wg6WDymPLlkEi1rWII7iCQR1iDeF0iHOcJUCRqXZiQSWcgO3haKOJykiYoJAZzo/HrgKdujqooGLU3DFpUlLAlYTlCVJU+bTokgG4trESZTkAb4LImBGXLyRKQQVZEEZlWT0khwAHzc65OjmDKVcDxVlBOIzEkpUc24pmDMAQgywcqtFJSWB3MGZokw9aSMqkILOrMZalFk84glCgrK2YF9BfcCnRVFmSpdwRcjLZiQAXAYBzp1RZk4NyheVmCRryhloN9MpKhn0XoLNeA5RoPG5t6LmSJypSSFkgIlgoS4Jc80MGtzUjfdrPfpaCWv4vkkJSUZlLBLl3sVKCkpBUUllOwQ5LiB9XSz5KE6hPykKTvJFyhZ4tusYpGsmZcudWVmyuwZwWYW1APcITS5LZh1RCcqgKwJZlhYSVsqXkBBULZplxk1WAoOySxDkipMwoZVpBBmSySWznMmwPNKBkCSzksTnAAsWpyapaCClSgQxDEi4II8wPCL0jGplgs5gFhYzJSplDflNlfRNrAWEGprg5ODB8+iWjLnSpOYZk5kkOlyAQ4uLG44GNUyONhxL8dzC/wDIw0120UnMoJlcqAleRS1KZMxRBExEsp5gDXRd+JAEaSKBFShKUywmatVlg586hmOVSWdCjrzdQEuCS8HvHXiQNO/hAE1EkAZVTFFi7oSkOxbRanGj6b+F6h6obRsyFqloyKGXpqAF05mKlDlDyagAosWsnNoWACuo0hSuTLoSwupLl9cvymPyXbWDHJF7Alja5IpOJKQxQyFJIIWkZVggEWX0g73ALWFoim1ilAgnpEFXziNCTvIjQI/on741aKbCNmsZeMtEqaJZAIQshWbKQk3y3U3Fhq2kEBADG0eaN8sEA04jQy86lCdz85AAQQCLB+UKgRv/ACd0eo8IQuQshScyLD3xPOJUAGlm7NmuPANcwunlz0omBaRZRKVZhlyMFkk6AFQOvZawq4LjUikWJq2WzgpypVm5xTZCjuTdyWvbhHmKbapcmnVW9WaYzKCZBS5NpYA5QKykBJY205qrWv5iMHkp5R1lKQGOZQKgO0AgkO2hGusexfaZE2YtSJSQFFxoG/VSGHFgfGLezm3Ho/KpVTyZgmJZOcdBQNjmIJbiOy4i8ISjER5LdpG9JNlzp6EkpLkhlCzbmzu7kmwMFcFoymaoBJCcqyOakOQmaLHKCRoNTr2RYxDaTDRTJSiShUyaQtQYAoNiErmKSQpi+4hn0LRFV+6DTyZyhKo5C8oKUqSuYBoQTbpOSq/Xv1MJQk/Ckyiy2k6LlTRFTAlTFSAC6TqQL8LPbssIAbL0hEyYUkgpRYuxvMQk6dUCKjamYqeJyQEEMyUWSGHyRx17TBjZTaeTLmL5ZCmWEgZWVotJuFEMLcYKw5IwaB3qck6GOapSZmgDEgjNN4u12UN1nHXAmZgEuZfKlNz0HD6akuPVDVtFi9IgZpWmvNANsps5YPp4RW2Vr5dQDbLYqSCQSwLKJtZuOlozpTirQO9jIX8OwGWXC5YLFQcvdlFtLu3UItVWwqLrzKYjMEhCiCSpQyAuDoB3nheHfDKOQhK15gUMpToUGLgqF7u4G/jCOivevCQVFC7ZcwAAU5SXJ0dZLHLwvrD/AMmrkCkp9OAgjYtSFsmYUAKyoVlLnmlSiHXqFbr9LqixL2RUqnSJxJyGYyk5mSBLZD85hzgqztoLQyJqM1UZYLZbqSxchWYJcnyTu4QX9DGVPHnPwD9YL79zGOay8kXlW6OfzNipWoBSOTc85PSKyAd1mHnrxD49s0mTOKJebKxYKZWim1tHUF0O75rfvA63aKtbgKZq1KJZkluu7wqnO6sXWjnVPs2EkFWZwcwbLld3ZQcnQPa+j8YNYnhUsy545MOCWIQA3TYOU20Gh3DSGFeEMsWtc7uBAiavwzmLHyiTfrCzbK9r6M8I5ye7H1Js5rg2ChUwukB+iEE5i+Z0hy/G17PEWP7PBKgQhcvmvlmflF9AFBJdrt37nh5wrCQeVuMwGYoBSCylLSGGnSBHURcQLxukCgcoSRlXwUQRn0yluH8ofvWpWOmnsxcOx8sSwoqVdKl5glwMsvMUndq4Zw1u+KThSBNEhQSpKVTSVDmLUEZhlJBc5ikEtowsNVPYpwkAm5yrCDoQoILDUnIBwbdpFSv2dMmqExwCoTSGu4WtRNxoRm06/F+9kBSSAlZsxIKBkSqWCWClZiFDOlDgrJyhOcXSNNd8C5VMhIVkBAMwi5QLhmy5GCtRdk6hhrDbUyypMwsoEZgxF+nINwbDUbhbV7k0MAopy0KEoqGUrUcisliJed+4aWF4WMn6jOacWBK+hK5AATmVdjb/ABVjqGgPjFDDMLDkzpRVLSDmylIKX6JbMHLtZxDlU07pQS6gCt2UXd5wsSCBZPDxinS4eckxJSEq5gUAS7u4e+rEG3fDxyOhVJVYpfgxKkHm3cBwNHUngO3xijieGcivLqN3G2rw8TsDUhgtJBzJLEEWzJ/nF2qw66u02cvZhaxHi+ncW/5Dgd5mctaN5MxSSCkkEaEFiOwiDldgy5lTMShJUcxLJD9thFKow0osQR1Rq1p0FRfQpGpU7uXBcEm4OpIJ3k3O+wiOdNKi5buASOFgkACwEX1BLHmAEqdwV2DdEAqNt7lzbWNJdOSQACrq/wBrwyZ0r6lWlmJSsFaBMSDdBKkhQ4EpII7jGKmalWXKjIyQFHMpWZQ1Xfok8Ba0WPR+cbaG4JCbPo5L+F4sYdgZnKCQpKdcyl2Qhg4dQfW40F21ezakt2IlbKxqZQljJKUmaFA8oZuYW15mQDsv2vGanFpkzIHKRLDJys4dISs2AJKmDju4vFUUuVRAIUxIdJcG+oLC0QGXBtMPUkkSUqUoAKNjkukF92ZxcMDYMdO/RaGJBsRYg8YtYVTpM1IWVJQekzuzHRtTu7+2H2m2ew5aEqUpIUoAqHKGxIc6zH14wksmljUmc+qMQmzlJTMmEh2GdSilIJDlrsN5Ybt8eraMJHMmSpicxbKSFWYOUqSlQB1Djj1wbr0HKgBKU5k84hCefzyxJIta1m0gj7n2zkqqrJaJyM8s8oVJ0dpayLgghiB4QkZrlbDODExFESQCpCSSBzlBIFtSo2AHbEicPcsFpJsxSXS5exVYCw1uPZvU02VRtoeHbBvZzZpNRJq5irGnkhaQEgupS2u+5n/oRRzpXYukV0yyWa5JZvBuyJ5tApBXmKUlJYjMC5+az5gw1FtL3D26TDsykAgXUkFwdCb7+qIq6lZawBYKLNwBMHXvVjaHVlGDeHbMzJkpc10hKElQIXKuEllEpKxMSGdjkN+2BSqcjy47w8MeFYTLmSpLpdSjcuQ+aeZeovZKbX3k74E50tmJo9TWmKptXLl1FQtaFKCZilLfKCcpvMVlDMOc4GkQqoFcqv0VSlS82RKnRmKSbFaUKKk6i7NqH3Q2L2QkS8ZTICM0nlwjIVK6JIDZnc6+ULC8ISTMADstgSToM72/Z1/3nqQsUW5OEVkoGoIXLOZKeVUtKNeaxCjmU4bcQwMChRzVKDX5VQYAi5chOYAsku5aHjZnYaTOpJy5mcKlBak5VkDmoJDhtHbRoUcLw4rqZUvnc5aBYkFircd2phIy33KaeiHLYnBqilqpKuTE1UwFLAqUlIZmmKQQEkXsXZoMTfdJXKqZiJ8hFnSEpUSyhvzDMTu0B7LNBLZjAeRWlEufOCJnOKSpJ3P0il3dos7R7PLmS0pRUT2mZ0qCl5wQzMAoWBYuHYvEnltX0IuKIqPbmRyRM2WtMwglCUkKzJGpDElOo6VwxO6A8r3UpHOCZE1SmLJDHdqw0AjefsVMfMmsmpISoHKmWh+YQ3MSHBZi72gDQ+56oCoWJxCpUsrSQA5IVcEs4BD6eqJYo49TaYz06UUMO2+qM83lFrWllFylLy7MCnKBluQNbOSzwQodp0ow8yRPda1BCAJYK0hT58ySbJKiWKlElyw1aDA8OqjTVKkzzLSFozIADTSpC3zDewCWGmtt8RztiJiaSWrlikTVJCkqBAAygh2WQoDMWs+rakRok4LZsSktyhjVCqknIRKmrE4pQFDOpRJvvyAABg6FORpeCuD4DVy5alzQkJmBa8rywVEnMVEhQyvcML8BeLMrZAyalDVCyEIkKMwIdSDNSoDI5sEkBgBod0Ej6QJAUatVpWfKw3FgGKeriYGRxSrYS5dAZL2nrFAmVLlpSuxDgOL2VmXa5URp4XgrhmNGqUkKSJa2IBU4RzlAso9oIBHEdokpMKqFpUs1N0trJlEl1gat854km4NUicJaalLKTLUXkSh02LM2595iUdEq4OeoKVNHLl055RTKzFJLqylToIZRO/L64XKHEpSFmUkkAkjM7BRUQkM+iObr16QRxPB6lElMz0iUo51JZVNJYMQlwSIFSsKqZ4WTOlAoClAiRLeywlswIykuL3jpRjYEpcBbFkyyRLzIChqAQ6TzwygwZXOIvvfrMQSacpQeYU3DMQUnJqEEBmfrN3gPiGzk+VVB1S1K5rMnInnIKroz5Q193XbWDIpKqUgAppiHmW5NJYpLc332z9zMIRRitrDNTa2L4o5lQyilSlAA3vZIH9dsCMSxEIWUrRlS5cqKCLnc+u7wMNFFRVKHkhSAcq2WH+aqwd25zDg2ukJuLyZq0gTZOcHm5gsJV0joymJuOkD2axacIcMlDvE9jTZ/EZCJq54qEy1gqORxLUpJJ6JUAlVmsNWtEmLKoVhGU8pNmm5Ulwly3PdaQA/5QhZwbYufVOJZQlLqDqOqkhSiOaCXYHqtE2H4TW0qVGVkaYEu6UrfngJDLRYuQbW01IhJQineo9CMn6DNO2MpucApJbS0u+ot8JzP1Zd8DDidLh04mWpXLIsQmSqz2UkqM8gFni/MTjGVSyqWGLZQnmqL85wZbeY63swReFVtVVJTPlSZs0kkGaZqQpsylJeWRbU7rve8dibl/dfyiOSK4f5K9bVUc3PNyAuXJ99KiXu6BUIZ3B1axvwALypmWKpctX5RSMzFt2fstmjeuM9MwKSkSylIA5MNZuJAJtAn0eZNU3OWpid5LJClKN+CQT2CNcVtyTjF+p0nZYUkubmRkmLQhyMgJKSkEqCVFQ0N+BeFyqrPfipFHTFJCiMyVKsTY81QBNxuazXihQ7HzJ0qXyIUZijNzJVkSlkAK5pKgScpJLjseI8OnZFp94TNmBJAzLTkV0jzkEEEDtbmwigrtOxnFx6mmJbT8ojIKeklkEnlJUkIUbMzg9Hz64rI2jqQABUTwBYATZmn7UWMUlyUoSmXKKnfLPzlJXZJUDK5wGV8oYjV3OgEcmeB8I0RoemPi6SWZMwkqdEuUU2HSVMu/Vc3gl7kv4y/yUTD+4v74uVlO1HWEW5shI+iFadlh4RD7liGWs/MX9n+ceTgyXF+6+xvyLwv2FOppkklzvVu+Yrrhi2OlBNFiZBtyMkeKlQPVKHD5W/5pHCDuBobD8SbeJI+1FYzbTX0GyY0oJiXhiffJX0h6zGJUnMJq36IduOZTeTxYoZYExDbj7YmoJQ9Eqj9SPGYfuh5PxDeWC9/9ASqGv6v2DBnZNfvlOn58oeNQs+3ygNV6HtH2YLbHlqqmH6WT/FJ9sW6GefmY7Vk7+3h1VQ8lCE+Uu6usk+s+2GOfO/tsn/mT9sQsIDP3xC9qJQj9jomx0z+z6o8Jczj8lI9phH2bI9NSez7QaHLZA/2ZV3vkmf6PuMJGAEiqSeseDg+yEvZ/vVlEtzq+Az/AH6mHzCd/wApov1s33uSX3TT3Afzhd2fqPhVMP0Z/wBR9kXcRqgKenJP5ud170D2xnhL+JEcsfFRZ5UmXMUCGS48ULb1QDpa33qtJILSkb7XmjXS0XaevejqFDQLA/cX1QAwSr+D1y7HKiSe1p4JB8IbDG5P2YrVJEeGVYEmcLXmyN/6Kb90WdoKtqGXoOcfJKWPt74F05aiUveqplp/YkE/64k2tqfgsodZ3cAlPsgzT1xQzjdhGTVZpVVwagHG4QS3rgfiVYQhQ3cgf4qouZctPUfWUI/ywJ8zC1ilX0h+ib/zGKSj/JX0FhG439R6w6r95nHrH8SXFifOP4SCRpkpxr9XC/QVXwed2o85ifui9X1bYs3XIHlK+6Iw2/z/ALLSje30Cm0dQfQ5JG+Yp7/ORAbZuqJlzj+iWf8AMSxG21Nc1FSn5SlHwUiBezFQ9PPPCT66uXFNPX6fgTTswttHUtXI/wC3/A/nF+rq3l7tak+CzC3tNVn09LH/AAvOSke2LXppVJBO/wBJ/iqHtiFcP95KaLiPqqj4WsWsmb5cmI5/VVroHad/0j90NU6tatn/ADZU9XgtA4xzVWIkoR2q3fNV1xpzLVRHs8dUjomwSMtNuu6vGVPhcTNdMj53X8kyyLd/Zfqhi2Y5tMocJSfOnmn/AFGEmjqyUUu9gvUkaIl8Exllcop+5sjHeS+iHNNd7wv6xXgFEwN2brAvFkBtBO8kTIC0OKFUpQYXUs6n5JPyfbEGxNaVYo/AVB1/RzOrrinYsemUrM3a8dVIX59RmmK6kLPhLUYzSoarWPk003u+AK++B1JMda/qp38FYi/MVlrJn/SrH+RaN8/L8GfFHx0OWwSviz1VnlIT98IFHMaek6c1XqXDnsNO97R1Jrv/AK6YQpi8sxP0Ff8A6R2Pqvf7jzW5YzAy5O9hOPl/LygrNVlUU8CRpwtAGTO5qRwTM8838ov1lYOUXp0lb+s9cPxIvFeE6Nj0n4FV6XMnwEyZbt/nA/3Mvzh+ZM+yINYsAcPnjiB3sonyeBPubpYTfonzb7o8fsz8D9/waMvlYCV7FeqDOGFsOr+tUoQIa/jB/D0f2XV/OUO9sn840x2RbNtjXuhKpTz0/wBb4moj8CqetUgecw+yI5dlCJJa/gs4fKUjyzffFjprw/IBq9/b7ILbHH4ZTfWyvtwKqIM7Ej4dT9SwfAExdukY8vVhzlXxcn/mFeSz90Air1QWTOAxZatAJqz5GAfKXjNyw4/wPWy81sOq/oK8yn+cKeDH4QO2GrZlX9nVPWkizcIUMMmtMeJXtJfvUaO8n+9B72fm/DZHVLV5ImGN8crWpKcn/AmHxVKgZs5PerBvzZS/sEe2KO2FWU01KP0JHmj7oWEdoxIZn/IFaKtP4LqlfpUD9xXhqPGBuzc0mhxI/o5X8SJcOP8A6enKveenfvGQWiDZP+7q++qUguzWuPXGjBT110tf+C5VUUVEVXwAC/40SO6Ql/ZEW09UTJlDhm+1EMuYfRUDdyyz35UjdEWKrJSkFt/rMFq5ovGHhfuNVRM+D1H19J5UqYUK1ZJP0R9t4bqqa9JNLi85J14S0pA8GhVmFz3AecdbcrFwQuO/qG8Pmn0aaOKpXH5Z+6LuM1DYyfpyfVLijhq3QzG60eRPneMbTVLYkpd2CkHS9kp3d0TUd2WkqkvYl2srD6DQ31Ew+CwPZA/ZypakquqSjzqkRNtgWo6AcJa37SoHvED8EqEpo6sEgFSJQA4tNzHWLONQM6dxfv8Aks7Q1b1z9Un+FLi5SVj06OLT/OcWhXxquCqlSgoEc1iOpKU+yLmF1b8ihwbsQ/ypzl+4xPutl8GmPFe50Crr2q60/Jp6g/5gCObS6jmI7VfZMOhXmm4qtrJp1h+tU4rHiA/dHN0zbJ7/AFGLOFpP96mbsskjsmF1GWTOHCRLP+Wmfd5whYdUcyTfREz7CYYMMrfeagu/vHHcJBHtaEWmqSEovolXmBGTHjbhRrW2Wa+iDOF1PNN9yz/4432BqGxFR/R1B8ELgPQTyH+irzSBFzYJY9KmEvaRPPilj6zGnFHS5E+2/wBNAXDlXmfUTv4Sov1s74ZO+oWP8qBAuhLZ/qpg7ilj5Rery9TOJ1yEH9hKfVFmZscHrTGfYie0sdSK4/8Agl/fCViKvfP1T9pYhw2MSClQJIAk1P76UJJ7gIU8QT74SeB9v3wuPzv5+4zhu/gpSZlu4+2Lc+p5yu0+uKiR/X9dsbq1N/KLtJjcI6/WK+AzTwtA/YaY0mefmn1GLVd+IzIobF/ET/on2x4uHyy9zVm8rAgudYZJUxsJmfTbzF4WxB+V/dMz6XtEaWP2jyx90KCRfWNVvyRvZ/ZGFa+MYPxX63si4Z8A2aYM7Gk+mSwCASTqH3HdASdrB3Yn8dl9/qMVl5WYcvlZqqco1kw5r5pl2+k9n6ooAl9Yn/8AkTO2Z/qiojUxKh8fHwPWBzj+DKi7Nv7oUKIHNrDThP8AddR+r6xCxh/SMZ4/3DQ80vf8DJs8ffpnONpMw+AB++B+2czmyL/mgfOLmCfHTvql+qB22P5j6keuDBeJGfN/VGOTVts2XAvNy8PywX7bRBspNH4Lqrb27XAiKb/7bR/1HtXHtmP7qqfpD/TB7MqWT/tIGfhe6AafikfSVbw/rujSuJ5sbUvxafpH2R6s1EVXmNcfKHZs0+gnrm9XDWABJeDE78TT9YfVApX9eEFI7Fw/cLYXNICdDz0+LxBtRP8AhyzvcX/ViTCdUfSEUto/xyZ9I+qEj5hsnmXsXttpnwWiGhEs26ubArCajLS1AbXk/tRe23+JpPqR7IE4d+LTe1HrMWfkMmPy/P5BmITnmEmLOFVDTJVj0k/aEUazpGLGE/GI+kPXDteEo3yOtDVv+FVXvKIF2+Vv3RzoLuIfMN+JxL6HsVHP947YZcGPs/P+B2wSsIk1H1SvstCxLXYdkF8L+Km/Vn1QDGgiUFybm/5ZP6ItSV2PfBTYlbTpx/QzL+EBZOhgpsp+f+pX7Ib1F7TvjQIpd/ZFpanmLJ4RUpdYs/lL7IZjR5QzbHrZM190iZ5kP7IVa0849kMuzHxc76lX2hC1WdIxLH52c+X8fYqRkmPGIjGtE2f/2Q==

ESTOU INDO PARA O RIO DE JANEIRO HOJE A NO FINAL DE TARDE. DEIXO O MEU ABRAÇO A TODOS DE FINAL DE SEMANA E FERIADO. ASSIM QUE VOLTAR POSTAREI.
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AMIGOS PARA SEMPRE É O QUE NÓS IREMOS SER.
UM FORTE ABRAÇO.


AGRADEÇO A SUA COMPANHIA!!!Clique Aqui e veja mais imagens

Blog Coletivo-Uma Interação de Amigos- JÁ NOVO TEMA...COMPARTILHE.

MEUS MIMOS/SEUS PRESENTES- VOU TE ESPERAR POR LÁ.

Sinal de Liberdade-uma expressão de sentimento-



ASSIM QUE VOLTAR DO FERIADÃO, VOU TE VISITAR. AGORA FICA UM CARINHO SUPER ESPECIAL.
SANDRA

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SAUDADES!!!


ESTOU COM SAUDADES DE TODOS. INFELIZMENTE NÃO ESTOU CONSEGUINDO VIR MAIS TODOS OS DIAS. ESTOU ORGANIZANDO MUITAS COISAS EM MINHA VIDA.
ENTRE ELAS MEU TRABALHO, MINHAS VIAGENS. TUDO MUITO CORRIDO. ALÉM, DE IR FAZER FISIOTERAPIA TODOS OS DIAS NO FINAL DO DIA.
PEÇO A COMPREENSÃO DE TODOS. NÃO É ABANDONO...É SÓ UM TEMPO. A VIDA PROFISSIONAL EXIGE MUITO. A PARTICULAR TAMBÉM.
VOU FICAR UM POUCO AUSENTE. MAS ASSIM QUE PUDER RETORNAREI. HOJE AINDA FALEI DE TODOS. AMO VOCÊS MEUS AMIGOS VIRTUAIS.
SINTO SAUDADES. É SÓ MAIS UM TEMPINHO..
LOGO CONTAREI TODAS AS NOVIDADES.

MEU VISTO PARA O ESTADOS UNIDOS......
O CASAMENTO DE 50 ANOS DE MEUS PAIS.
MINHA VIAGEM PARA O RIO DE JANEIRO DIA 28.10.
E ALGO MAIS...

ESTOU MUITO FELIZ. A VIDA ESTÁ CONSPIRANDO A MEU FAVOR. AINDA BEM.
DEIXO UM FORTE ABRAÇO A TODOS. RESPONDO POR AQUI. ME PERDOE A AUSÊNCIA..
BEIJOS NO SEU CORAÇÃO.



MINHA NET ESTÁ LENTA DEMAIS. ATÉ PARECE TARTARUGA.
JÁ RECLAMAMOS. ESTA IMPOSSIVEL.


AGRADEÇO A SUA COMPANHIA!!!Clique Aqui e veja mais imagens

Blog Coletivo-Uma Interação de Amigos- JÁ NOVO TEMA...COMPARTILHE.

Sinal de Liberdade-uma expressão de sentimento-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Absolutely Confabulous

Confabulation is a striking symptom of some kinds of brain damage. Patients tell often fantastic stories about things that have happened to them, or that are going on now. It's a classic sign of Korsakoff's syndrome, a disorder caused by vitamin B1 deficiency due to chronic alcoholism.

Korsakoff's was memorably illustrated on House (Season 1 Episode 10, to be exact). Here's a clip; unfortunately, it's overdubbed in Russian, but you can hear the original if you pay attention.

Why does confabulation happen? An influential theory is that confabulation is caused by a failure to filter out irrelevant memories. Suppose I ask you to tell me what happened yesterday. As you reply, yesterday's memories will probably trigger all kinds of associations with other memories, but you'll able to recognize those as irrelevant: that wasn't yesterday, that was last week.

A confabulating patient can't do that, this theory says, so they end up with a huge jumble of memories; the confabulated stories are an attempt to make some sense of this mess. See above for my attempt to confabulate a story linking the three random concepts of a cat, a fire engine and a chair.

Now British neuroscientists Turner, Cipolotti and Shallice argue that this is only part of the truth: Spontaneous confabulation, temporal context confusion and reality monitoring. They discuss three patients, all of whom began to confabulate after suffering ruptured aneurysms of the anterior communicating artery, which destroyed parts of their ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

The patient's stories are tragic, although we can take solace in the fact that they presumably don't know that. The confabulations ranged from the mildly odd:
Patient HS was a 59-year-old man admitted after being found disoriented in the street. [he] had undergone clipping of an ACoA aneurysm 25 years previously. He had been left with a profound confusional state, memory impairment, and confabulation. As a result, HS had been unable to return to work and had spent at least part of the intervening period homeless...

He... continued to produce spontaneous confabulations involving temporal distortions (believing that he had undergone surgery only 18 months previously) and other source memory distortions (confusing memories of interactions with the examiner with interactions with other patients).
To the surreal:
GN was disoriented to place, situation, and time and produced consistent confabulations, for example, believing that the year was 1972 and that he was in a hospital in America after being shot. He regularly produced markedly bizarre confabulations, for example, reporting that he had attended a party the night before and met a woman with a bee’s head. He frequently attempted
to act upon his mistaken beliefs, for example, attempting to leave the hospital to attend meetings.
Anyway, in order to try to discover the mechanism of confabulation, they gave the patients some memory tests. The results were clear: the confabulating patients had no problems remembering stuff, but were unable to tell where they remembered it from.

For example, in one task, the subjects were shown a series of pictures, some of which appeared only once, and some of which were repeated. They had to say which ones were repeats.

The patients did normally the first time they did this task, but when they did the test again, this time with a different subset of pictures repeated, they ran into problems, saying pictures that appeared only once during the session were repeats. They were unable to tell the difference between repeats within the session and repeats from previous sessions. This replicates an earlier study of other confabulators.

But Turner et al found that this lack of awareness for the source of information, wasn't just limited to when things happened. The confabulating patients were also unable to tell the difference between things they'd actually heard, and things they'd only imagined.

Subjects were read a list of 15 words, and also told to silently imagine 15 other words (e.g. "imagine a fruit beginning with A" - apple). They were later asked to remember the words and to say whether they were heard or just imagined. Patients did well on the task except that they wrongly said that they'd actually heard many of the imagined words.

The authors conclude that confabulation is caused by a failure to recognize the source of memories, not just in terms of time, but in terms of whether they were real or fantasy. For a confabulator, all memories are of equal importance. Why this happens as a result of damage to certain parts of the brain remains, however, a mystery.

ResearchBlogging.orgTurner MS, Cipolotti L, & Shallice T (2010). Spontaneous confabulation, temporal context confusion and reality monitoring: A study of three patients with anterior communicating artery aneurysms. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 1-11 PMID: 20961471

Absolutely Confabulous

Confabulation is a striking symptom of some kinds of brain damage. Patients tell often fantastic stories about things that have happened to them, or that are going on now. It's a classic sign of Korsakoff's syndrome, a disorder caused by vitamin B1 deficiency due to chronic alcoholism.

Korsakoff's was memorably illustrated on House (Season 1 Episode 10, to be exact). Here's a clip; unfortunately, it's overdubbed in Russian, but you can hear the original if you pay attention.

Why does confabulation happen? An influential theory is that confabulation is caused by a failure to filter out irrelevant memories. Suppose I ask you to tell me what happened yesterday. As you reply, yesterday's memories will probably trigger all kinds of associations with other memories, but you'll able to recognize those as irrelevant: that wasn't yesterday, that was last week.

A confabulating patient can't do that, this theory says, so they end up with a huge jumble of memories; the confabulated stories are an attempt to make some sense of this mess. See above for my attempt to confabulate a story linking the three random concepts of a cat, a fire engine and a chair.

Now British neuroscientists Turner, Cipolotti and Shallice argue that this is only part of the truth: Spontaneous confabulation, temporal context confusion and reality monitoring. They discuss three patients, all of whom began to confabulate after suffering ruptured aneurysms of the anterior communicating artery, which destroyed parts of their ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

The patient's stories are tragic, although we can take solace in the fact that they presumably don't know that. The confabulations ranged from the mildly odd:
Patient HS was a 59-year-old man admitted after being found disoriented in the street. [he] had undergone clipping of an ACoA aneurysm 25 years previously. He had been left with a profound confusional state, memory impairment, and confabulation. As a result, HS had been unable to return to work and had spent at least part of the intervening period homeless...

He... continued to produce spontaneous confabulations involving temporal distortions (believing that he had undergone surgery only 18 months previously) and other source memory distortions (confusing memories of interactions with the examiner with interactions with other patients).
To the surreal:
GN was disoriented to place, situation, and time and produced consistent confabulations, for example, believing that the year was 1972 and that he was in a hospital in America after being shot. He regularly produced markedly bizarre confabulations, for example, reporting that he had attended a party the night before and met a woman with a bee’s head. He frequently attempted
to act upon his mistaken beliefs, for example, attempting to leave the hospital to attend meetings.
Anyway, in order to try to discover the mechanism of confabulation, they gave the patients some memory tests. The results were clear: the confabulating patients had no problems remembering stuff, but were unable to tell where they remembered it from.

For example, in one task, the subjects were shown a series of pictures, some of which appeared only once, and some of which were repeated. They had to say which ones were repeats.

The patients did normally the first time they did this task, but when they did the test again, this time with a different subset of pictures repeated, they ran into problems, saying pictures that appeared only once during the session were repeats. They were unable to tell the difference between repeats within the session and repeats from previous sessions. This replicates an earlier study of other confabulators.

But Turner et al found that this lack of awareness for the source of information, wasn't just limited to when things happened. The confabulating patients were also unable to tell the difference between things they'd actually heard, and things they'd only imagined.

Subjects were read a list of 15 words, and also told to silently imagine 15 other words (e.g. "imagine a fruit beginning with A" - apple). They were later asked to remember the words and to say whether they were heard or just imagined. Patients did well on the task except that they wrongly said that they'd actually heard many of the imagined words.

The authors conclude that confabulation is caused by a failure to recognize the source of memories, not just in terms of time, but in terms of whether they were real or fantasy. For a confabulator, all memories are of equal importance. Why this happens as a result of damage to certain parts of the brain remains, however, a mystery.

ResearchBlogging.orgTurner MS, Cipolotti L, & Shallice T (2010). Spontaneous confabulation, temporal context confusion and reality monitoring: A study of three patients with anterior communicating artery aneurysms. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 1-11 PMID: 20961471

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sex and Money on the Brain

Back in 1991, Mark Knopfler sang
"Sex and money are my major kicks
Get me in a fight I like the dirty tricks"
Now twenty years later a team of French neuroscientists have followed up on this observation with a neuroimaging study: The Architecture of Reward Value Coding in the Human Orbitofrontal Cortex.

Sescousse et al note that people like erotic stimuli, i.e. porn, and they also like money. However, there's a difference: porn is, probably, a more "primitive" kind of rewarding stimulus, given that naked people have been around for as long as there have been people, whereas money is a recent invention.

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is known to respond to all kinds of rewarding stimuli, but it's been suggested that the more primitive the reward, the more likely it is to activate the evolutionarily older posterior part of the OFC, whereas abstract stimuli, like money, activate more anterior parts of that area.

While this makes intuitive sense, it's never been directly tested. So Sescousse et al took 18 heterosexual guys, put them in an fMRI scanner, showed them porn, and gave them money. Specifically:
Two categories (high and low intensity) of erotic pictures and monetary gains were used. Nudity being the main criteria driving the reward value of erotic stimuli, we separated them into a “low intensity” group displaying women in underwear or bathing suits and a “high intensity” group displaying naked women in an inviting posture. Each erotic picture was presented only once to avoid habituation. A similar element of surprise was introduced for the monetary rewards by randomly varying the amounts at stake: the low amounts were €1-3 and the high amounts were €10-12.
You've gotta love neuroscience. Although the authors declined to provide any samples of the stimuli used.

Anyway, what happened?
As hypothesized, monetary rewards specifically recruited the anterior lateral OFC ... In contrast, erotic rewards elicited activity specifically in the posterior part of the lateral OFC straddling [fnaar fnaar] the posterior and lateral orbital gyri. These results demonstrate a double dissociation between monetary/erotic rewards and the anterior/posterior OFC ... Among erotic-specific areas, a large cluster was also present in the medial OFC, encompassing the medial orbital gyrus, the straight [how appropriate] gyrus, and the most ventral part of the superior frontal gyrus. [immature emphasis mine]
In other words, the posterior-primitive, anterior-abstract relationship did seem to hold, at least if you accept that money is more abstract than porn. (Many other areas were activated by both kinds of rewards, such as the ventral striatum, but these were less interesting as they've been identified in many previous studies.)

Overall, this is a good study, and a nice example of hypothesis-testing using fMRI, which is to be preferred to just putting people in a scanner and seeing which parts of the brain light up in a purely exploratory manner...

ResearchBlogging.orgSescousse G, Redouté J, & Dreher JC (2010). The architecture of reward value coding in the human orbitofrontal cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30 (39), 13095-104 PMID: 20881127

Sex and Money on the Brain

Back in 1991, Mark Knopfler sang
"Sex and money are my major kicks
Get me in a fight I like the dirty tricks"
Now twenty years later a team of French neuroscientists have followed up on this observation with a neuroimaging study: The Architecture of Reward Value Coding in the Human Orbitofrontal Cortex.

Sescousse et al note that people like erotic stimuli, i.e. porn, and they also like money. However, there's a difference: porn is, probably, a more "primitive" kind of rewarding stimulus, given that naked people have been around for as long as there have been people, whereas money is a recent invention.

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is known to respond to all kinds of rewarding stimuli, but it's been suggested that the more primitive the reward, the more likely it is to activate the evolutionarily older posterior part of the OFC, whereas abstract stimuli, like money, activate more anterior parts of that area.

While this makes intuitive sense, it's never been directly tested. So Sescousse et al took 18 heterosexual guys, put them in an fMRI scanner, showed them porn, and gave them money. Specifically:
Two categories (high and low intensity) of erotic pictures and monetary gains were used. Nudity being the main criteria driving the reward value of erotic stimuli, we separated them into a “low intensity” group displaying women in underwear or bathing suits and a “high intensity” group displaying naked women in an inviting posture. Each erotic picture was presented only once to avoid habituation. A similar element of surprise was introduced for the monetary rewards by randomly varying the amounts at stake: the low amounts were €1-3 and the high amounts were €10-12.
You've gotta love neuroscience. Although the authors declined to provide any samples of the stimuli used.

Anyway, what happened?
As hypothesized, monetary rewards specifically recruited the anterior lateral OFC ... In contrast, erotic rewards elicited activity specifically in the posterior part of the lateral OFC straddling [fnaar fnaar] the posterior and lateral orbital gyri. These results demonstrate a double dissociation between monetary/erotic rewards and the anterior/posterior OFC ... Among erotic-specific areas, a large cluster was also present in the medial OFC, encompassing the medial orbital gyrus, the straight [how appropriate] gyrus, and the most ventral part of the superior frontal gyrus. [immature emphasis mine]
In other words, the posterior-primitive, anterior-abstract relationship did seem to hold, at least if you accept that money is more abstract than porn. (Many other areas were activated by both kinds of rewards, such as the ventral striatum, but these were less interesting as they've been identified in many previous studies.)

Overall, this is a good study, and a nice example of hypothesis-testing using fMRI, which is to be preferred to just putting people in a scanner and seeing which parts of the brain light up in a purely exploratory manner...

ResearchBlogging.orgSescousse G, Redouté J, & Dreher JC (2010). The architecture of reward value coding in the human orbitofrontal cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30 (39), 13095-104 PMID: 20881127