Success and setbacks for cocaine vaccine


Cocaine addicts take cocaine vaccine, then go broke – “After the vaccine, doing cocaine was a very disappointing experience for them,” said Kosten, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Nobody overdosed, but some of them had 10 times more cocaine coursing through their systems than researchers had encountered before, according to Kosten. He said some of the addicts reported to researchers that they had gone broke buying cocaine from multiple drug dealers, hoping to find a variety that would get them high. “

I’m way more entertained than I probably should be.


Characteristics of Hallucinated Voices in Deaf People


What do hallucinated voices sound like… to deaf people? This post on Mind Hacks was just the right combination of funky weird, and insightful, here’s the blurb:

Mind Hacks: More on hallucinated “voices” in deaf people – “Voices were reported to be nonauditory, clear, and easy to understand. Participants were certain that they did not hear any sound when voices were present. They did not consider questions about pitch, volume, and loudness relevant to their experiences. [...] All participants had experienced seeing an image of the voice signing or lips moving in their mind. Imagery of fingerspelling was also seen but was less common. These images appeared to be subvisual in nature and distinct from true visual hallucinations. They were clearly understood as originating internally and several participants stated that the image could still be perceived with their eyes closed.”


Humor as an act of “aggression”


From Telegraph.co.uk

The research, which was published in the Journal of Pragmatics, suggest that the role of humour is not to make other people laugh as much as it is to make others know who is in charge.

The theory explains why until recently it has been extremely rare for women to tell jokes in front of men, according to Helga Kotthoff of the Frieburg University of Education.

Tickled my fancy.


CognitiveFun.net – Free Brain Games


I recently ran across this brain training game website that is… free! And it has all of the basic features every paid for service I’ve used has (including “brainbuilder” and “lumosity).

Some of the included games are notably ones used in scientific studies for measures of working memory, etc. These included: auditory and textual digit span testing, forward and backwards, stroop, and dual n-back tasks.

Check it out at http://www.cognitivefun.net

And big props to the guys that put this together.


Mnemosyne – Spaced Repetition Memorization



So, I’m back in school as a biology major. I’ve got a lot of hardwork ahead of me, and one of the methods I’m using to attempt to make sure I remember what I’ve studied, and test well is I’m using a “spaced repetition” flash card program.

Mnemosyne is open source, and thus free, but it is based off of the supermemo algorithm which Piotr Wozniak built off of legitimate memory research, which essentially found that the most efficient way to study is to rehearse things just before we forget them. So, based off of his research, he created an algorithm and memory card program to do just this.  You may learn more about Piotr, and supermemo in his wired article:

Want to Remember Everything You Learn? Surrender to this Algorithm.

So my goal this year? To be able to know my classes well enough to not even have to study for my finals. Wish me luck, I’m signed up for some hard ones.


A Little Photoshop Will Change Your Beliefs


I’m continuously amazed by the human mind’s capacity for self-deception. Our memories are fallible, and because of this we fill in the blanks with approximations that make sense.

Doctored photos of past public events can influence what people think they remember of the incident, as well as altering their attitudes and any subsequent responses, according to research published today in the journal ‘Applied Cognitive Psychology’.

Three researchers (two in Italy and one in the USA) came to this conclusion after showing either original or digitally doctored images to 299 people aged 19-84. The images were of two different protests, one in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, the other 2003 in Rome. After seeing the images, participants were asked questions about the events, without telling them that the research project was interested in the effect that the photo would have on their responses.

They were asked questions about the numbers of people they thought had been involved, the response of law enforcement authorities and the level of violence.

Clear differences in responses came from people who had seen the original and doctored photos.

“One major result was that viewing modified images affected not only the way people remember past public events, but also their attitudes and behavioural intentions,” says Franca Agnoli, from the University of Padova, who supervised the experiments.

For example, people who were influenced to think that the event had been more violent than was the actual case, reported that they were less likely to take part in similar demonstrations in the future.

“Any media that employ digitally doctored photographs will have a stronger effect than merely influencing our opinion – by tampering with our malleable memory, they may ultimately change the way we recall history,” (From: Eurekalert)


A Simulation of the Universe vs A Brain Cell


One image is a simulation of how the universe grew and evolved. The other is a real an image of how three brain cells connect.

Brain Cell and Universe

Within us resides a seemingly infinite universe. Outside of us resides a seemingly infinite universe. We’re mere observers between infinity stretching in two directions: internally and externally.

Image originally comes from: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/08/14/science/20060815_SCILL_GRAPHIC.html


Scientists Analyze Life Stories to Learn


Scientists have taken to a new and interesting study, according to an article from the New York Times. The study of the life stories of people. They claim while everyone has a very diverse background from person to person they are able to find significant similarities between the way people *perceive* the world around them, and how they react to it. While this comes as no big surprise, it is interesting to find that these traits are being analyzed and compared.

 In analyzing the texts, the researchers found strong correlations between the content of people’s current lives and the stories they tell. Those with mood problems have many good memories, but these scenes are usually tainted by some dark detail. The pride of college graduation is spoiled when a friend makes a cutting remark. The wedding party was wonderful until the best man collapsed from drink. A note of disappointment seems to close each narrative phrase.

Perhaps some of you, like me, have changed the way you used to view the past. While I can relate to those who do seem to interpret every life event with some disappointment because I at one time felt that way, I no longer do. I view the bad events of my life in a different way than I have in years past. I view the good in my life as something altogether glorious and a gift, while I view the bad in my life as the toll I must pay for living. It is out of my control, and thus, not to be upset by.

By contrast, so-called generative adults — those who score highly on tests measuring civic-mindedness, and who are likely to be energetic and involved — tend to see many of the events in their life in the reverse order, as linked by themes of redemption. [...] Often, too, they say they felt singled out from very early in life — protected, even as others nearby suffered.

While I can say that my well being has improved from the very significant change in mindset — one significant enough that few who have known me over the years can deny that I’m a different person — I find it interesting, though unsurprising, that the way I view the nature of reality is similar to others who have found improvements in THEIR wellbeing.

Those in the study who scored lower on measures of psychological well-being were more likely to see their moods and behavior problems as a part of their own character, rather than as a villain to be defeated. To them, therapy was part of a continuing adaptation, not a decisive battle.

In other words, they took their own personal problems to be part of who they are. They took things too personally. The cutting remark from a friend destroyed the pride of their graduation, because they not only saw their graduation as a personal victory, but they reviewed the outside (of themselves) remark from a friend as a personal defeat.

I’ll end this with a quote from Lifehack which I recently ran across and enjoyed:

“Don’t worry about about your personality. You don’t really have one. Personality, like ego, is a concept invented by your mind. It doesn’t exist in the real world. Personality is a word for the general impression that you give through your words and actions. [...] What fixes someone’s personality in one place is a determined effort on their part—usually through continually telling themselves they’re this or that kind of person and acting on what they say.” – Lifehack

How then, can anything be taken… personally?


Ladies Dig That Sweaty Scent


Pheromones play an active role in the courtship processes that span the animal kingdom, and presuming that humanity is a part of that kingdom, it would only make sense that it could play some role — even if miniscule — in human mating as well.

It seems that recent research agrees with this assertion.

The study conducted last year involved 48 undergraduate women who took 20 sniffs from a bottle containing androstadienone, a compound found in male perspiration and other bodily secretions.The researchers measured the women’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol and compared them to the women’s responses to a control odor. Cortisol levels in the women rose within about 15 minutes of inhaling the androstadienone scent and remained elevated for more than an hour, UC Berkeley researchers found.

They also discovered that blood pressure, heart rate and breathing increased, mood improved and sexual arousal was boosted. (Read more at: SFGate)

While previously I’d assumed the idea behind purchasing pheromones was foolish, perhaps the idea deserves some merit (any of you out there want to share your experiences?).  Androstadienone is, in fact, available commercially. In the event that you need a little more.