Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Monday, 4 June 2012
A very noble and interesting experiment based clearly on brain's plasticity. Might also tell us more about why we need and invented art
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Friday, 3 February 2012
OK, new evidences in a respectable scientific journal.
PDF of the full article available athttp://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0030253
Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is currently becoming a serious mental health issue around the globe. Previous studies regarding IAD were mainly focused on associated psychological examinations. However, there are few studies on brain structure and function about IAD. In this study, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate white matter integrity in adolescents with IAD.
Seventeen IAD subjects and sixteen healthy controls without IAD participated in this study. Whole brain voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA) was performed by tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) to localize abnormal white matter regions between groups. TBSS demonstrated that IAD had significantly lower FA than controls throughout the brain, including the orbito-frontal white matter, corpus callosum, cingulum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and corona radiation, internal and external capsules, while exhibiting no areas of higher FA. Volume-of-interest (VOI) analysis was used to detect changes of diffusivity indices in the regions showing FA abnormalities. In most VOIs, FA reductions were caused by an increase in radial diffusivity while no changes in axial diffusivity. Correlation analysis was performed to assess the relationship between FA and behavioral measures within the IAD group. Significantly negative correlations were found between FA values in the left genu of the corpus callosum and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders, and between FA values in the left external capsule and the Young's Internet addiction scale.
Our findings suggest that IAD demonstrated widespread reductions of FA in major white matter pathways and such abnormal white matter structure may be linked to some behavioral impairments. In addition, white matter integrity may serve as a potential new treatment target and FA may be as a qualified biomarker to understand the underlying neural mechanisms of injury or to assess the effectiveness of specific early interventions in IAD.
(Thanks to Timothy Senior for the initial info)
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Neurons for peace: Take the pledge, brain scientists
08 February 2010 by Curtis Bell
NEUROSCIENTISTS can take pride in the many contributions that their work can make to enhancing human life. These include improved treatment of illness, better education, creation of sophisticated information-processing machines and new insights into ancient human mysteries such as the nature of the mind and the self.
But there is also a dark side to neuroscience. Like any body of knowledge, it can be used for good or ill. Yet neuroscientists often seem unaware of the potential of their field to threaten or damage human life.
Aggressive wars and coercive interrogation methods such as torture are two particularly egregious ways in which human life is damaged or threatened. Not only are both immoral, they are also illegal under national and international laws. At the Nuremberg trials following the defeat of Nazi Germany, aggressive war was judged to be not only an international crime, but the supreme international crime. Prevention of such wars was a major reason for the founding of the United Nations.
Neuroscience can be of service to both aggressive war and to coercive interrogation methods. Potential contributions to aggressive war include pharmaceutical agents that enhance the effectiveness of one nation's soldiers or damage the effectiveness of their enemy's. In addition, war is becoming more and more dependent on robots such as the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles now being used in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Autonomous robots that can move, perceive, decide and kill on their own are in the offing, as political scientist and military commentator Peter W. Singer describes in his book Wired for War. Neuroscientific work on motor control, perception, and cognition can be readily applied to the construction of such robots.
Neuroscience can be of service both to aggressive war and to coercive interrogation methods
Potential neuroscience contributions to torture are also clear. These include the creation of drugs that cause extreme pain, anxiety or unwarranted trust, as well as manipulations such as focused brain stimulation or inactivation.
A pledge is being circulated among neuroscientists around the world with the aim of creating greater awareness of the potential dark side of neuroscience. Those signing the pledge commit to two things. First, to make themselves aware of possible applications that would violate international law or human rights, and second, to act in accordance with national and international law by refusing to knowingly participate in the application of neuroscience to such violations. Thus signers of the pledge are committing to acting responsibly, morally and in obedience to the law.
Once signatures have been gathered, neuroscience organisations, such as the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and the Society for Neuroscience, will be asked to amend their ethics statements to forbid knowing participation in such applications.
Similar pledges and petitions have been signed by scientists from other disciplines. The majority of members of the American Psychological Association have signed a petition declaring that "psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g. the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva conventions) or the US Constitution". The governing bodies of the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have also condemned participation in torture.
Many anthropologists have signed a pledge issued by the Network of Concerned Anthropologists in relation to the US's "war on terror", declaring that "anthropologists should refrain from directly assisting the US military in combat, be it through torture, interrogation or tactical advice". The American Association of Anthropology's executive board has issued a statement in accord with the pledge.
Unlike psychologists, physicians or anthropologists, neuroscientists are unlikely to provide direct assistance to combat forces fighting an aggressive war or participate directly in torture. They could provide tools for such purposes, however, and thus act as accessories to the crime.
Opinions may vary as to whether a given application constitutes torture and whether a given war is an aggressive war. Here one can be guided by international law as embodied in the UN charter, the Geneva conventions and the Convention Against Torture. Aggressive war, for example, is defined as a war that is not in self-defence, with the corollary that all peaceful means of resolving a conflict must be pursued before a war is begun.
Opinions will be especially varied concerning aggressive war, but the pledge simply commits signers, once convinced that a war is aggressive, to refuse to provide the government conducting the war with additional tools.
Signing this pledge will not stop aggressive wars or human rights violations, or even the use of neuroscience for these purposes. But by signing, neuroscientists will help make such applications less acceptable.
The pledge gives neuroscience the opportunity to join with other professions in moving away from militarism and violence toward a culture of peace and respect for human life. Professionals and their organisations have a special responsibility in this regard, because they are members of a respected elite with knowledge and influence.
Our goal as neuroscientists and human beings should be to create a culture that encourages applications that enhance human life while discouraging those that damage it. If you are a neuroscientist and you agree, sign the pledge.
Curtis Bell is a neuroscientist and Senior Scientist Emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. The pledge can be signed at tinyurl.com/neuroscientistpledge
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
(published in proceedings)
Most of us at this meeting are users – sometimes heavy users – of electronic and digital technology. We use it to present information to people in particular ways and forms in order to achieve a variety of purposes: to inform, communicate, engage, excite, challenge, influence, educate, entertain, and more. In what we do, we naturally tend to focus on technological concerns, seeking out faster hardware, brighter projectors, smarter interfaces, new combinations of media, and so on. In this talk I want to look at a rather neglected component of the whole process, something we take for granted simply because of our intimate familiarity with it: the human brain. I will describe how the new science of neuroplasticity is teaching us that the brain can no longer be regarded as a fixed, closed, passive receiver of information from the senses – a mere processor for the information that is controlling our body through a kind of one-way communication. We are now seeing the recognition of growing scientific evidence that the brain is in fact almost nakedly open to external influences, and is capable of rapid and radical change by remodelling itself through learning and interaction with the environment. And what should concern us most is the peculiar vulnerability of our brain to the influence of electronic media.
The digital revolution is changing the nature of our perceptual processes, and this in turn is changing our conscious experience of the physical world, inducing changes in cognition on a scale that is still unknown. As inhabitants of the modern city we are in constant interaction, both active and passive, with digital technology. Even at home, we are surrounded by the sight and sound of screens and digital interfaces: DVD player, computer, television, cell phone, cooker, clock. But the majority of scientists investigating cognition still refer to the ‘real world’ as a constant, an axiom, unchanged through time, ignoring the fact that the present-day real world, saturated by the latest technologies, differs fundamentally from that of even a decade ago.
These facts concern all of us in different ways, but from my own perspective I want to ask: how does all this affect the artist? This new understanding of cognitive processes is warning us that experiencing art, and especially electronic or technology-enabled art, may be far from being an innocently entertaining or aesthetically pleasing experience extending for a limited period of time. The disturbing evidence of neuroplasticity raises the possibility that experiencing particular forms of art may itself affect and mark our cognition – perhaps with irreversible and unknown changes. But the news is not all bad; the dramatic shift in neuroscience also brings with it a fascinating opportunity to explore and analyse the effects of electronic media through scientifically informed art, which could give rise to an entirely new art form: neuroplastic art. It may be possible to structure art works according to this new scientific evidence, to fuse scientific knowledge with imagination to exploit the nature of electronic media to create platforms for experiences that have never existed before – and perhaps even to reshape our altered brains in benign and desirable ways.
full paper: Fugue and Variations on some Themes in Art and Science