henry copeland @hc

having fun with people and pixels, via racery, pullquote, twiangulate, improv, running

Recent quotes:

How a single binge drinking episode affects gene that regulates sleep: Discovery explains alcohol's link to brain activity, sleep disturbances -- ScienceDaily

Using a mouse model, Thakkar monitored the effect of binge drinking on sleep patterns. Thakkar found mice exposed to binge drinking experienced a significant increase in non-rapid eye movement sleep four hours post-binge, followed by increased wakefulness and reduced sleep during subsequent sleep periods. Thakkar also discovered post-binge mice did not experience an increase in a sleep promoting chemical, adenosine, in the brain nor increased sleep pressure during sleep deprivation. The research also revealed binge alcohol consumption affects the gene that regulates sleep, resulting in sleep disturbances. "What we have shown in this research is that a particular gene -- which is very important for sleep homeostasis -- is altered by just one session of binge drinking," Thakkar said. "We were not expecting this. We thought it would be affected after multiple sessions of binge drinking, not one. That tells you that as soon as you consume four drinks, it can alter your genes."

Scientists reveal how gut microbes 'recover' after antibiotic treatment -- ScienceDaily

We also saw that as antibiotics removed bacteria and reduced their metabolic rates in the mouse gut, there was an increase in oxidising agents called electron acceptors," Reese explains. "This new environmental state meant that the microbial community which recolonised after treatment looked very different from the original community." The bacteria that appeared immediately following treatment, including some potentially harmful species, were able to take advantage of the electron acceptors to grow quickly. As they grew, they used up the excess resources, causing the gut environment to return to its normal state. However, this did not guarantee recovery of the original microbial community. "Antibiotics may drive some microbe species extinct in a gut community, so new microbial immigrants from outside the mouse -- in this case from an untreated mouse in the same cage -- were likely needed to return the microbiota to its original state," says senior author Lawrence David, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University.

Good relationships with siblings may buffer the effects of family conflict -- ScienceDaily

Adolescents who witnessed conflict between their parents had greater distressed responses to conflicts a year later, and greater distressed responses, in turn, predicted mental health problems in the teens in the subsequent year, the study found. However, teens who had good bonds with their siblings were protected from experiencing these distressed responses when they witnessed their parents' conflict, and ultimately were protected from subsequent mental health problems. These protective effects were similar for siblings of different ages and combinations of genders.

Everything big data claims to know about you could be wrong: To understand human health and behavior, researchers would do better to study individuals, not groups -- ScienceDaily

"If you want to know what individuals feel or how they become sick, you have to conduct research on individuals, not on groups," said study lead author Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. "Diseases, mental disorders, emotions, and behaviors are expressed within individual people, over time. A snapshot of many people at one moment in time can't capture these phenomena." Moreover, the consequences of continuing to rely on group data in the medical, social and behavioral sciences include misdiagnoses, prescribing the wrong treatments and generally perpetuating scientific theory and experimentation that is not properly calibrated to the differences between individuals, Fisher said.

Binge drinking during youth may impact future offspring: Rat model finds parent's alcohol exposure limits offspring's growth, alters play behavior -- ScienceDaily

Researchers found that a rat model of binge-pattern drinking during puberty had several consequences for the animals' offspring, including smaller body weight, fewer play behaviors, and decreased circulating testosterone. In addition, the parents did not pass down to the offspring any adaptive traits that allowed them to better tolerate alcohol.

When muscles weaken with age -- ScienceDaily

Working with our colleagues from the University of Aachen, we first systematically surveyed the changes taking place in the peripheral nerves of people aged between 65 and 79," Rudolf Martini describes his team's approach. During this, the researchers encountered an increased number of macrophages in the samples. Macrophages are cells of our body's immune system that engulf, digest and dispose microbes, foreign substances, cellular debris, aging cells etc. They set inflammatory responses in motion, help heal wounds and cleanse the tissue. Unfortunately, however, they also cause damage in some diseases. To find out whether this also applies to age-related nerve degeneration, the scientists performed an experiment on mice. "For this purpose, we looked more closely at the nerves of 24-month-old mice which is an advanced age for mice," Rudolf Martini explains. It turned out that the age-related changes in the mice's peripheral nerves are very similar to those in humans. As in their human counterparts, the number of macrophages was increased in the mice. Also, the older animals had less strength than their younger siblings and their motor endplates, the synapses connecting nerves and muscle fibres, were also less intact.

Amazon Claims to Accurately Measure Pages Read in Kindle Unlimited, Neglects to Mention There's no Standard Page Size | The Digital Reader

The thing is, folks, if one page in Book A is equal to 1.2 pages in Book B and 0.8 pages in Book C then it really doesn't matter how carefully Amazon counts the pages. Any count reported by Amazon is fundamentally bullshit because there is no single standard page size. Let me phrase it another way: Amazon's accounting system in Kindle Unlimited is broken on a fundamental level.

Joyable for Anxiety

This San Francisco startup, which bills itself as the leading online solution for overcoming social anxiety, wants to help those who are time-strapped. The Joyable app offers brief, five-to-ten minute activities for users, ranging from checking in with your feelings at any given moment and examining 'personal values.' Individual plans cost $99 per month, and typically involve eight-to-twelve weeks of guided therapy, including check-ins with a regular coach. The activities are modeled after a psychotherapy method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, a heavily researched and widely-respected field. Joyable, which launched in 2013, has raised more than $15 million in funding and claims to have reached more than 500,000 users.

Absence epilepsy: When the brain is like 'an orchestra without a conductor' -- ScienceDaily

"Normally the human brain, like an orchestra, is playing beautiful music and every player can understand what the others are playing. We thought that when a seizure started, the 'orchestra of neurons' would play extremely loud and intense music. And when the seizure ended, the neurons would go back to playing monotonous music," Maheshwari said. "Instead, we found that during an absence seizure the volume of the music went down and the 'musicians' were playing music without coordinating with others. Most of them were not playing at all, as if the conductor was not there anymore. When the seizure ended, it was like the conductor had returned and organized the musicians to play harmoniously again."

Exercise makes the blood of obese people healthier -- ScienceDaily

The exercise program consisted of three bicycling or treadmill running sessions per week with each session lasting approximately one hour. Blood was collected before and after the exercise training intervention to quantify blood-forming stem cells. The results of the study demonstrated that exercise reduced the number of blood-forming stem cells associated with the production of the type of blood cells responsible for inflammation.

Liberals do drink more lattes, but maybe not for the reasons you think -- ScienceDaily

In fact, only 16% of liberals, 11% of moderates, and 9% of conservatives prefer lattes. In exploring why liberals show a stronger preference for lattes, the researchers considered numerous factors, including the availability of lattes in one's local area, household income, and gender. Although all of these were predictors of latte drinking, none of them explained the relationship between lattes and liberals. However, latte drinkers' attitudes toward globalization proved most meaningful in explaining why liberals are more likely to drink lattes.

How to listen: what's the core message

The statement I wrote is an example of the Disarming Technique, which is one of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. When you us the Disarming Technique, you find truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems totally untrue or unfair. And the moment you do this, if you do it skillfully, the other personal will nearly always stop believing their criticism. This is a paradox. In other words, you can usually put the lie to a criticism by genuinely agreeing with it, showing self-respect and respect for the other person.

This is why white evangelicals still support Donald Trump. (It’s not economic anxiety.) - The Washington Post

Rank-and-file white evangelicals have the most negative attitudes toward immigrants of all U.S. religious groups. That’s true despite the fact that conservative white evangelical leaders strongly favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. My research indicates white evangelical conservatism correlates strongly with their perceptions anti-white discrimination, even after taking into account economic status, party, age and region. Fully 50 percent of white evangelical respondents to our 2016 survey reported feeling they face discrimination that’s comparable to, or even higher than, the discrimination they believe Muslim Americans face. Those who hold this perception are more likely to hold conservative attitudes on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, tax policy and health-care reform.

How an obsession with right wing media spawned a booming newsletter

As far as de-platforming. I think I’m sort of two minds about how often Twitter should be getting rid of people. But I do think that it’s hugely successful in terms of reducing a right wing figure’s influence. Milo went from being hugely well known. Obviously there were other things that affected his credibility within the conservative movement. But he went from a guy who was very out front in terms of being in reporters’ minds to a guy who is reduced to posting on Instagram. And in the exact same thing with Chuck Johnson. He was a character that everyone was sick of, and a guy who gets his credibility and his influence basically from antagonizing people, well, if you kick him out, that goes away. And he’s sort of fuming on Facebook.

A Psychiatrist's Elegy for Anthony Bourdain

This is a very complicated issue without simple causes or solutions. We have Internet bullying. We have too much loneliness and isolation. We have families in dissolution. We have a preponderance of psychiatric treatments that now ignore the heart and soul of what it is to be human. Life is difficult and requires struggle, resilience, and caring to carry on.

Antidepressants don't work, or depression doesn't exist (as a meaningful category)

The real truth isn't found within the published paper but rather within a busy table on page 142 of the online appendix. It is here where the authors report what we want: the actual difference between drugs and placebo, before and after treatment, on the depression rating scales. Here we see that the Cohen's d standardized mean difference effect sizes range from a low of 0.19 to a high of 0.62 with amitriptyline. Thus, amitriptyline exceeds the clinically meaningful threshold of 0.50, with a traditional meta-analytic method. No other drug does so, with the closest second place being fluvoxamine, with a Cohen's d value of 0.44. Looking at all of the agents, 10 drugs have Cohen's d values less than 0.30, which is very small and clinically meaningless, whereas four have effect sizes from 0.30 to 0.34. Thus, 74% (14/19) of antidepressants clearly have little or no clinically important benefit in this analysis (for some reason, no data are provided in this table with two of the drugs). Four drugs have effect sizes of 0.37-0.44, and as noted, one agent exceeds the 0.50 threshold (amitriptyline). Perhaps a clearer conclusion than anything else is the well-proven fact that the tricyclic antidepressants are more effective than newer agents (there were no monoamine oxidase inhibitors in this meta-analysis).

Nature programs could put a spring in your step: New study shows that watching films set in a natural environment boosts body image -- ScienceDaily

This new study found that similar, immediate improvements in body appreciation could be achieved by watching a film depicting a natural environment. The film showing city streets had no effect, either positive or negative, on participants' body appreciation. Professor Swami said: "There are a number of possible explanations for our results, including the idea that natural environments promote 'soft fascination', which is a state of cognitive quiet that fosters self-kindness and helps individuals have a more compassionate view of their body. Views of rivers and trees are also devoid of any reminders of materialism, and so allows the viewer respite from thoughts of consumption and image. "However, more work still needs to be done to fully understand exactly how exposure to natural environments promotes improvements in body image, as well as how our findings here translate to how people view nature films outside the laboratory. For example, if we watch Springwatch on the sofa whilst at the same time checking our Twitter feed, it's possible the natural scenes might not have the same immersive effect.

Rare mutation of gene carried by Quebec family gives insight into how the brain is wired: Brain scans could further understanding of psychiatric disorders, brain's reward system -- ScienceDaily

By scanning the brain of 20 family members who share an altered copy of DCC, the researchers found less connectivity between the areas where dopamine neurons originate (the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area) and their target sites, such as the striatum and frontal cortex. One of these target sites -- the striatum -- was also smaller. "It's very interesting because we were able to show that this DCC gene alteration induces similar changes to the brain in both mice and humans," says Cecilia Flores. Because the brain systems affected by the gene influence responses to rewards, it was not surprising to see that the family members with the DCC mutation also have lower impulsivity traits and are less likely to smoke cigarettes. Indeed, an increasing number of studies, including those by Professor Flores' team, link DCC to psychiatric conditions. "Because the gene affects the brain's dopamine pathways, which are implicated in schizophrenia, addiction and depression, our study potentially helps us understand how these disorders arise.

Often overlooked glial cell is key to learning and memory: Biomedical scientists offer simple advice: Keep the brain active -- ScienceDaily

In the lab, the researchers artificially increased levels of ephrin-B1 in mice and then tested them for memory retention. They found that the mice could not remember a behavior they had just learned. In cell culture studies, they added neurons to astrocytes that overexpressed ephrin-B1 and were able to see synapse removal, with the astrocytes "eating up" the synapses. "Excessive loss of synapses is a problem," Ethell said. "The hippocampus, the region of the brain associated primarily with memory, is plastic. Here, new neuronal connections are formed when we learn something new. But the hippocampus has a limited capacity; some connections need to go to 'make space' for new connections -- new memories. To learn, we must first forget." In contrast to an ephrin-B1 increase, when this protein decreases (or is down-regulated) it results in more synapses -- and better learning. The astrocytes, in this case, are not able to attach to the synapses. "But you don't want to remember everything," said Amanda Q Nguyen, a Neuroscience Graduate Program student working in Ethell's lab, and a co-first author of the research paper. "It's all about maintaining a balance: being able to learn but also to forget." Advice the researchers have for the public is simple: keep the brain -- that is, the neurons -- active. "Reading and solving puzzles is a good start," Ethell said.

Why being left-handed matters for mental health treatment -- ScienceDaily

Since the 1970s, hundreds of studies have suggested that each hemisphere of the brain is home to a specific type of emotion. Emotions linked to approaching and engaging with the world -- like happiness, pride and anger -- lives in the left side of the brain, while emotions associated with avoidance -- like disgust and fear -- are housed in the right. But those studies were done almost exclusively on right-handed people. That simple fact has given us a skewed understanding of how emotion works in the brain, according to Daniel Casasanto, associate professor of human development and psychology at Cornell University. That longstanding model is, in fact, reversed in left-handed people, whose emotions like alertness and determination are housed in the right side of their brains, Casasanto suggests in a new study. Even more radical: The location of a person's neural systems for emotion depends on whether they are left-handed, right-handed or somewhere in between, the research shows. The study, "Approach motivation in human cerebral cortex," is published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. According to the new theory, called the "sword and shield hypothesis," the way we perform actions with our hands determines how emotions are organized in our brains. Sword fighters of old would wield their swords in their dominant hand to attack the enemy -- an approach action -- and raise their shields with their non-dominant hand to fend off attack -- an avoidance action

Poker Has a ‘Tell’ About Strategic Thinkers - Neuroscience News

The game offers many mechanisms by which players can strategically misinform each other about the value of their cards. Players with strong hands may signal weak hands with small bets to keep the pot growing, and players with weak hands may signal strong hands with large bets to intimidate their opponents into folding before “showdown,” when all players remaining in the game must reveal their hands. Often there is one player left who collects the pot of money. The online version of the game eliminates in-person knowledge of other players, including cues such as eye contact and body language, which could be a disadvantage. However, most online experts take advantage of software and other resources, making up for lack of in-person knowledge by building behavioral dossiers on their opponents and even collecting or buying records of other players’ “hand histories,” Frey said.

Risk of Burnout Can Be Estimated by Analyzing Saliva Samples - Neuroscience News

According to the researchers, compared with the previously used early-morning samples – taken three times after waking at fifteen-minute intervals – the midday and evening saliva samples also provided a much better and more reliable result: “Our current data indicate that people at risk of burnout can be identified from a single saliva sample with almost 100% accuracy, whereas the multiple early-morning sampling involved more laborious methods and produced a much larger range of variation.” Reliable analysis is now possible just four hours after providing the sample and this method even produced better results than analysing stress-related blood parameters. “We will use these results to further reinforce our efforts to prevent stress-related illnesses in collaboration with the stress clinic of the KFA Health and Prevention Center.

Pay to play

Exercise-based cardiac rehab programs have proven to reduce mortality in ischemic heart disease patients by 30 percent, but buy-in to excersise regiments has been historically low, according to the study's authors. They also noted that there has been a robust discussion around wearables’ ability to remotely monitor health behaviors, but little evidence that the devices lead to an improved behavior over a long period of time. However, past studies have showed that money does motivate behaviors.

Narcissistic elites

Previous elites poured themselves into institutions and were pretty good at maintaining existing institutions, like the U.S. Congress, and building new ones, like the postwar global order. The current generation sees institutions as things they pass through on the way to individual success.

The Neuroscientific Case for Facing Your Fears – The Atlantic – Medium

When someone encounters a new experience — say, a terrifying rabbit — groups of neurons in their brain fire together, the connections between them become stronger, and molecules accumulate at the places where neurons meet. Many scientists believe that these preserved patterns of strengthened connections are the literal stuff of memories — the physical representations of the things we remember. These connected neuron groups are called engrams. When people bring up old memories, the engram neurons fire up again. They also enter a brief period of instability, when the molecules that preserved the connections between them disappear and must be remade. This process, known as reconsolidation, means that humans are partly reconstructing our memories every time they bring them to mind. And it means that the act of recollection creates a window of time in which memories can be updated, and fears can be unlearned.

Early source of irritable bowel syndrome discovered -- ScienceDaily

"The gut has its own brain and that has more neurons in the intestines than in the spinal cord. Within your intestines lies a 'second brain' called the enteric nervous system," said Brian Gulbransen, MSU neuroscientist and the study's senior author. "The enteric nervous system is an exceedingly complex network of neural circuits that programs a diverse array of gut patterns and is responsible for controlling most gastrointestinal functions." Accompanying the neurons in this second brain are enteric glia, which are responsible for regulating inflammation. The disruption of neural circuits in the gut by inflammation is considered an important factor in the development of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.