Posts Tagged ‘brain’

Brain Science: Does Being Left-Handed Make You Angry?

But I know plenty of right-handed people who are not balanced.  Whatever. – Ilene 

Brain Science: Does Being Left-Handed Make You Angry?

By JOHN CLOUD, courtesy of TIME

TIME - brain picture


We used to think that the left brain controlled your thinking and that the right brain controlled your heart. But neuroscientists have learned that it’s a lot more complicated.

In 2007, an influential paper in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions found that while most of us process emotions through the right hemisphere of the brain, about 35% of people — especially victims of trauma — process their hurt and anger through their left brain, where logic and language sit. That may be because they had worked so hard to explain, logically, why they were suffering. But pushing emotions through the left brain taxed it: these people performed significantly worse on memory tests.

Now a new paper — out in the September issue of The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease — further complicates the picture with a surprising finding: whether you are right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous (which the authors call, rather delightfully, “inconsistently handed”) seems to be an important clue in understanding how you use your brain to process emotions.

It’s been known for some time that lefties and the ambidextrous are more prone to negative emotions. The new study shows that they also have a greater imbalance in activity between the left and right brains when they process emotions. Of course, you can’t be sure which comes first: maybe angry people are more out of balance, or maybe the inability to find equilibrium makes you angry. As for the left-handed: maybe they’re more angry because the world is designed for the right-handed majority.

The study also used an interesting method to find that angry people are, literally, hot-headed: the authors of the paper — led by Ruth Propper, a psychology professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts — measured brain-hemisphere activation with a relatively old method called tympanic membrane temperature, which is essentially how hot it is in your inner ear. If you get angry a lot, your head tends to be warmer.

One problem is that the study was small — just 55 undergraduates participated (they were paid $20 each for having to endure ear-temperature tests and psychological questioning). Also, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, while peer-reviewed, is one of less-respected psychology journals. Still, I like…
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Omega-3 lesson: Not so much brain boost as fishy research

This is a good article highlighting how scientific research gets misrepresented in the media, making it important to go to the original source.  Moreover, often an experiment measures one thing (a surrogate) but makes conclusions that go well beyond what was actually measured. (E.g. high cholesterol levels being used as a surrogate for heart attack risk.) – Ilene 

Omega-3 lesson: Not so much brain boost as fishy research

By Ben

Fish oil helps schoolchildren to concentrate ran a headline in the Observer. Regular readers will remember the omega-3 fish oil pill issue. The entire British news media has been claiming for several years now that there are trials showing that the pill improves school performance and behaviour in mainstream children, despite the fact that no such trial has ever been published.

There is something very attractive about the idea that solutions to complex problems in education lie in a pill.


This paper showed no difference in performance at all. Since it was a brain imaging study, not a trial, the results of the children’s actual performance in the attention task was only reported in a single paragraph. But these results were clear: "There were no significant group differences in percentage correct, commission errors, discriminability, or reaction time."

So this is all looking pretty wrong. Are we even talking about the same academic paper? I’ve a long-standing campaign to get mainstream media to link to original academic papers when they write about them, at least online, with some limited success on the BBC website. I asked the writer Campbell which academic paper he was referring to, but he declined to answer, and passed me on the Stephen Pritchard, the readers’ editor for the Observer, who answered a couple of days later to say he did not understand why he was being involved. Eventually Campbell confirmed, but through Pritchard, that it was indeed a paper from the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Similarly, drug reps and researchers will often announce that their intervention has some kind of effect on some kind of elaborate measure of some kind of surrogate outcome: maybe a molecule in the blood goes up in concentration, or down, in a way that suggests the intervention might be effective.

This is all very well. But it’s not the same as showing that something really does actually work back here in

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How your brain remembers the future

Déjà vu, all over again.

How your brain remembers the future

Image Of Thinking Man's Brain Through Bowler Hat

By NewScientist

IT’S like remembering the future. Our brain generates predictions of likely visual inputs so it can focus on dealing with the unexpected.

Predictable sights trigger less brain activity than unfamiliar stimuli, bolstering the view that the brain is not merely reactive, but generates predictions based on the recent past. "The brain expects to see things and really just wants to confirm it now and again," says Lars Muckli at the University of Glasgow, UK.


The finding supports the "Bayesian brain" theory, which sees the brain as making predictions about the world which it updates when new information comes in.

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Driven toward reward without regard for consequence

This is interesting. However, the conclusion that "individuals with antisocial personality disorder may not be unaware of… consequences… but instead that their intense reward-seeking motivation consumes their attention wholly until they have fulfilled their desire for reward" seems overstated, and only a small piece of the psychopath puzzle.

For a different perspective, that of a financial writer, and an even farther-fetched conclusion, read the second article below. The same data can be interpreted to show that a trader taking on excessive risk is "hopped up on dopamine" so they can’t see negative consequences, making them "kind of a psychopath." Take all this with a grain of salt haloperidol. - Ilene 

Driven toward reward without regard for consequence

Courtesy of TIME, by Tiffany O’Callaghan

TIMEAn overactive dopamine reward system in the brain may help explain why psychopaths pursue rewards without regard for consequences, according to new research published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Previous research has found that individuals who suffer from antisocial personality disorder—often referred to as sociopathology or psychopathology, despite debate over whether these are distinct conditions—lack empathy and fear. Yet this new study, from researchers at Vanderbilt University examines what these individuals may have in excess. According to the study, led by Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in psychology at Vanderbilt, individuals with antisocial personality disorder traits show signs of dysfunction in dopamine reward systems—suggesting that, in psychopaths, the drive toward reward can overwhelm all else.

Prior to participating in two different experiments, study subjects completed personality tests to identify presence and severity of psychopathic characteristic—including aggression, lack of empathy, and capacity for manipulation, among other things. Drawing on previous research that has established a strong link between substance abuse and psychopathology, in the first experiment researchers gave participants amphetamine, then used functional Magentic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scans to monitor how dopamine release was affected by the stimulant. In a second experiment, study participants were told that they would be paid for performing a simple task, and researchers conducted brain scans while they completed the tasks.

In both experiments, researchers found that participants who had psychopathic characteristics according to the personality test, were more likely than those without those traits to have greater activity in the nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain associated with dopamine reward processing—whether in response to the chemical stimulant, or the suggestion of monetary reward.

The findings suggest that individuals

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The Neuroeconomics Revolution

Fascinating article by Psy-Fi’s Tim.  (My yellow highlighting.) – Ilene

The Neuroeconomics Revolution

Courtesy of Tim at The Psy-Fi Blog

Blond Bride and a Half-dressed Punk Groom Getting Married in a Church

Marriage Made in Heaven – or Hell?

A recent development in economics sees the combining of neurology, psychology and economics in an attempt to reduce economic behaviour to brain function and to predict market behaviour from observable brain patterns. Its aim is to glue together a subject that can’t predict human behaviour from analysis of the brain with a subject that can’t predict human behaviour from analysis of people to a subject that can’t predict human behaviour from analysis of economic data.

Welcome to the Neuroeconomics Revolution.

The Busted Flushes of Psychology and Economics

Psychology spent a large part of the last century stuck in a behaviourist dead-end, carrying out endless experiments on animals in an attempt to explain all human behaviour in terms of externally observable responses to equally observable stimuli: think ringing bells causing salivating dogs or rising markets causing manic investors. The net result of this was that the subject ended up befuddled by mice running the wrong way around mazes and found itself generally regarded as the extreme paramilitary wing of the pigeon fanciers association.

Meanwhile economics, the study of how human financial systems operate, also proceeded on the basis that how humans actually behave was irrelevant and arrived at a set of explanations that defied both logic and the evidence of real markets. Yet even as economics has reluctantly faced up to the need to involve psychology in its models so psychology is beginning to recognise that understanding people requires a more detailed look at the way the brain actually works. Taken together we’re witnessing the creation of a new subject.


Neuroeconomics is nothing more or less than the attempt to relate the now observable functioning of the brain, as provided by neuroscientific techniques, with the various models of economics. Advances in brain scanning techniques permit researchers to subject innocent participants to endless pointless questions while inspecting how their brains grapple with the problems. There is no escape.

As you might imagine, the marketeers of the world have leapt on this idea. Martin Lindstrom relates in Buyology how the inspection of people’s brains reveals what more…
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Can Dopamine Make Your Future Look Brighter?

Our choices are dramatically influenced by the chemicals circulating through our bodies – so how much free choice do we really have? Is free will just an illusion?  - Ilene

Can Dopamine Make Your Future Look Brighter?

By John Cloud, courtesy of TIME

Tourism In Florida Falls Almost 10 Percent During Second Quarter

Humans have expended a great deal of intellectual energy over the past few thousand years trying to understand the morality (or amorality) of seeking pleasure. Most of philosophy begins with the question of what defines the (or a) good life. But what if the answer to what makes us happy comes down to how much of a particular chemical is circulating in our brain at any particular moment?

(As with risk taking, romantic love, religousness…. – Ilene)

The neurotransmitter dopamine isn’t quite that powerful, but evidence has been mounting for the past 40 years that its activity is key to helping the brain recognize experiences that cause pleasure. The more dopamine a certain event (having sex or eating ice cream, say) triggers, the more strongly that event gets hard-wired in the brain, and the more intensely your brain drives you to revisit it.

That knowledge also helps the brain figure out how much pleasure it can expect from future experiences and, therefore, influences virtually any decision you make about what you might like or not like: whether you should buy the red shirt or black one, whether you’ll enjoy watching Top Chef over Mad Men, whether you should leave your job or whether you should move in with your boyfriend.

Now a new paper in the journal Current Biology shows for the first time that by tinkering with levels of dopamine in the brain, researchers were be able to influence people’s future decisions in a reliable, predictable way. Led by Tali Sharot and Tamara Shiner of the the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London, scientists presented 61 healthy volunteers with 80 different vacation locations, such as Brazil, Thailand and Greece, and asked the volunteers to rate how happy they thought they would be visiting each place. Later, 29 of the participants were given 100 mg of levodopa (or L-DOPA), a drug that increases dopamine in the brain; the other 32 were unwittingly given a sugar pill. Forty minutes later, each participant was given a questionnaire about their emotional state, then a list…
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Disorderly genius: How chaos drives the brain

Here’s a fascinating New Scientist article on how your brain works, swinging back and forth between order and chaos, neurons firing away in a blizzard of random activity. – Ilene

Disorderly genius: How chaos drives the brain 

chaotic brain, geniusBy David Robson

HAVE you ever experienced that eerie feeling of a thought popping into your head as if from nowhere, with no clue as to why you had that particular idea at that particular time? You may think that such fleeting thoughts, however random they seem, must be the product of predictable and rational processes. After all, the brain cannot be random, can it? Surely it processes information using ordered, logical operations, like a powerful computer?

Actually, no. In reality, your brain operates on the edge of chaos. Though much of the time it runs in an orderly and stable way, every now and again it suddenly and unpredictably lurches into a blizzard of noise.

Neuroscientists have long suspected as much. Only recently, however, have they come up with proof that brains work this way. Now they are trying to work out why. Some believe that near-chaotic states may be crucial to memory, and could explain why some people are smarter than others.

In technical terms, systems on the edge of chaos are said to be in a state of "self-organised criticality". These systems are right on the boundary between stable, orderly behaviour – such as a swinging pendulum – and the unpredictable world of chaos, as exemplified by turbulence…

 Full article here.


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Zero Hedge

Martin Armstrong Warns "QE Has Failed... Central Banks Are Simply Trapped"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Martin Armstrong via,

The central banks are simply trapped. They have bought in bonds under the theory that this will stimulate the economy by injecting cash. But there are several problems with this entire concept. This is an elitist view to say the least for the money injected does not stimulate the economy for it never reaches the consumer. This attempt to stimulate by increasing the money supply assumes that it does not matter who has ...

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Phil's Favorites

Lee Adler's Composite Liquidity Indicator

Lee Adler at Wall Street Examiner shows that the stock market continues to mirror his composite liquidity indicator, with both the S&P and the liquidity indicator moving higher. Here is Lee's composite liquidity indicator chart:

Lee writes,

Macroliquidity increased slightly last week. The trend is still positive, although at a much shallower angle than during the years when the Fed was doing QE. The growth rate this year has only been around 2%. 


I was expecting a Wile E. Coyote moment if the market did not buckle in the wake of the $100 billion in Treasury supply settling on November 27 and 30. It hasn’t happened yet. Instead the market rallied on December 1. It forces us to consider the idea that the money printing by the ECB and BoJ is sufficient to keep the pot boiling in the US. The same worldwide dealers and institutions are drinking from the worldwide trough of cent...

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Chart School

Strong Gains

Courtesy of Declan.

Yesterday's modest losses were undone by today's swoop by buyers. This will have forced many shorts to cover, particularly those who decided to take advantage of yesterday's weakness.  The seasonally positive 'Santa rally' may be perfectly timed here if the November high can be taken out.

The S&P reversed the move lower after it failed to crack support of the tight range. Bulls look to be making a better fist of this, and there is a good chance for some follow through higher. On the negative side, the index's relative performance remains a problem as it sharply underperforms against both Tech and Small Cap Indices. It also have negative technicals in the form of On-Balance-Volume and MACD, although the latter is just shy of a 'strong buy' signal.


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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

Morgan Stanley Calls 2016 the Year of the Yen With BOJ on Hold (Bloomberg)

The yen will outshine the dollar as next year’s star performer in the $5.3 trillion-a-day global currency market, according to Morgan Stanley.

A top Wall Street strategist believes the global bull market will end in 2017 (Business Insider)

Societe Generale is out with a call for the end of the global stock bull market: 2017. 

In its year-ahead outlook for 2016, SocGen expects that aside from the US, next year ...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bull market depends on what this stock does (Update), says Joe

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Could one stock really tell you where the broad market heads? Joe Friday shared he thought so on November the 13th in the chart below. Bio-tech stock Valeant Pharma (VRX) had been slammed the prior few months and the broad market dipped along with it.

The chart below reflected the VRX was testing five support lines at one time at (3), along with oversold momentum at (1) and volume was sky high at (2), which could have reflected panic selling. All of these conditions would suggest this price point was key for the stock and maybe the broad markets.

Since the Joe Friday post, VRX is up over 28% in less than 3-weeks


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Insider Scoop

Aduro Biotech Downgraded By Oppenheimer On Listeriosis Disclosure

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related ADRO Aduro Biotech Receives Orphan Drug Designation in the European Union for CRS-207 for the Treatment of Mesothelioma Benzinga's Top Initiations
  • Aduro BioTech Inc (NASDAQ: ADRO) shares have climbed 51 percent in the last three months, even after hitting a low of $19.03 on September 29.
  • Oppenheimer’s Wendy Lam downgraded the rating on the company to Perform.
  • Al... more from Insider


Swing trading portfolio - week of November 30th, 2015

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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Digital Currencies

The Bitcoin Universe Explained

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

As evidenced by the Greek, Chinese, and now Argentine 'jumps', the world remains increasingly aware of the inevitable worth of fiat currencies and fears the desperate acts of governments as the react to that reality (and is looking for alternatives).

This infographic explains the wide ranges of the Bitcoin universe, accompanied with quotes from some of its best-known business leaders.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist ...

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Sector Detector: Bulls wrest back control of market direction, despite global adversity

Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Some weeks when I write this article there is little new to talk about from the prior week. It’s always the Fed, global QE, China growth, election chatter, oil prices, etc. And then there are times like this in which there is so much happening that I don’t know where to start. Of course, the biggest market-moving news came the weekend before last when Paris was put face-to-face with the depths of human depravity and savagery. And yet the stock market responded with its best week of the year. As a result, the key issues dominating the front page and election chatter have moved from the economy and jobs to national security and a real war (rather than police ...

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PSW is more than just stock talk!


We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more! features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...

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Whitney Tilson On LL, EXACT, And Martin Shkreli


Whitney Tilson On LL, EXACT, And Martin Shkreli

Courtesy of Value Walk

1) The shares of one of my largest short positions (~3%), Exact Sciences, crashed by more than 46% yesterday. Below is the article I published this morning on SeekingAlpha, explaining why I think it’s still a great short and thus shorted more yesterday. Here’s a summary:

  • The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Draft Recommendation issued yesterday is devastating for Exact Sciences’ only product, Cologuard.
  • I think this is the beginning of the end for the company.
  • My price target for the stock a year from now is $3, so I shorted more yes...

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Baxter's Spinoff

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).

The Baxalta Spinoff

By Ilene with Trevor of Lowenthal Capital Partners and Paul Price

In its recent filing with the SEC, Baxter provides:

“This information statement is being ...

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Mapping The Market

An update on oil proxies

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Saillard

Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself. 


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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

Thank you for you time!

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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