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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

INGRAM PUBLISHING / GETTY IMAGES

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 Goldacreguardian.co.uk

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

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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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 jennifersurovy@yahoo.com 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.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!

 
 

Zero Hedge

Why America Ranks 26th In The Developed World For Math (In 1 Common Core Question)

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Among the 34 OECD countries, the US performed below average in mathematics and is ranked 27th, according to The Program For International Student Assessment (PISA).

 

While the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this does not translate into better performance (e.g. the Slovak Republic, which spends around $53k per student, performs at the same level as the US, which spends over $115k per student).

PISA adds that students in...



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Phil's Favorites

Home Prices Drop in 69 of 70 Chinese Cities; Did the Pool of Greater Fools Run Out?

Courtesy of Mish.

China eased purchase restrictions last month ending its four-year campaign to contain home prices. And what a ridiculous campaign it was. Prices are down less than 1% this month and less then 1% year-over-year.

Bloomberg reports China Home-Price Drop Spreads as Easing Doesn’t Halt Fall.

Prices dropped in 69 of the 70 cities in September from August, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data. They fell in 68 cities in August.

The central bank on Sept. 30 eased mortgage rules for homebuyers that have paid off existing loans, reversing course after a four-year camp...



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Chart School

World Markets Weekend Update: Selloff Ends, Rally Begins

Courtesy of Doug Short.

In last weekend's update, only one the eight indexes on my watchlist posted a weekly gain. This weekend's numbers have reversed. Seven indexes closed the week with a gain and there were some substantial ones at that. Japan's Nikkei erased the previous week's -5.02% plunge with a 5.22% surge. The S&P 500 finished second with a 4.12% advance. China's Shanghai Composite was the sole loser, down 1.66%.

In fact, the Shanghai Composite remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. The index is down 33.68% from its August 2009 peak. See the table inset (lower right) in the chart below.

Here is a look at 2014 so far....



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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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Insider Scoop

UPDATE: Morgan Stanley Reiterates On ResMed Following 1Q15 Earnings Report

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related RMD Morning Market Movers Qualcomm Announces New Connected Health Collaborations at Connect 2014

In a report published Friday, Morgan Stanley analyst Sean Laaman reiterated an Equal-Weight rating on ResMed (NYSE: RMD), and raised the price target from $46.19 to $49.57.

In the report, Morgan Stanley noted, “Currency headwinds and part quarter release of the S10 downplayed expectations ahead of the result. Despite this, RMD beat on US revenue driv...



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Market Shadows

Bill Ackman's Big Pharma Trade Is Making Wall Street A Super Awkward Place

 

#452525522 / gettyimages.com

Intro by Ilene

If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article. 

Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...



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Option Review

LUV Options Active Ahead Of Earnings

There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...



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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Sharp selloff in stocks sets up long-awaiting buying opportunity

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.

Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...



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Digital Currencies

Goodbye War On Drugs, Hello Libertarian Utopia. Dominic Frisby's Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

Courtesy of John Rubino.

Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?

With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of October 20th, 2014

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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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly. Just sign in with your PSW user name and password. (Or take a free trial.)

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...

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Pharmboy

Biotechs & Bubbles

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

Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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