• Both he and Zimbardo (prison stimulation study) were classmates.
  • The man who played the learner in Milgram’s original study suffered a heart attack 3 years later and was resucitated by someone who had been a teacher in the study.
  • Milgram found an identical obedience rate of 65% between both men and women.
  • Milgram originally studied Political Science, and later changed so Social Psychology, which he was originally rejected for as he had no psychological background.
  • His study was originally put on hold by the APA (American Psychological Association) due to raised ethical issues, but was later passed.

 

 

thought-cafe:

Crash Course Psychology #11: How To Train Your Brain. http://youtu.be/qG2SwE_6uVM


 

neurosciencestuff:

Training brain patterns of empathy using functional brain imaging

An unprecedented research conducted by a group of neuroscientists has demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to train brain patterns associated with empathic feelings – more specifically, tenderness. The research showed that volunteers who received neurofeedback about their own brain activity patterns whilst being scanned inside a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine were able to change brain network function of areas related to tenderness and affection felt toward loved ones. These significant findings could open new possibilities for treatment of clinical situations, such as antisocial personality disorder and postpartum depression.

In Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner”, based on the science fiction book ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick, empathy-detection devices are employed to measure tenderness or affection emotions felt toward others (called “affiliative” emotions). Despite recent advances in neurobiology and neurotechnology, it is unknown whether brain signatures of affiliative emotions can be decoded and voluntarily modulated.

The article entitled “Voluntary enhancement of neural signatures of affiliative emotion using fMRI neurofeedback” published in PLOS ONE is the first study to demonstrate through a neurotechnology tool, real-time neurofeedback using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the possibility to help the induction of empathic brain states.

The authors conducted this research at the D’Or Institute for Research and Education where a sophisticated computational tool was designed and used to allow the participants to modulate their own brain activity related to affiliative emotions and enhance this activity. This method employed pattern-detection algorithms, called “support vector machines” to classify complex activity patterns arising simultaneously from tenths of thousands of voxels (the 3-D equivalent of pixels) inside the participants’ brains.

Volunteers who received real time information of their ongoing neural activity could change brain network function among connected areas related to tenderness and affection felt toward loved ones, while the control group who performed the same fMRI task without neurofeedback did not show such improvement.

Thus, it was demonstrated that those who received a “real” feedback were able to “train” specific brain areas related to the experience of affiliative emotions that are key for empathy. These findings can lead the way to new opportunities to investigate the use of neurofeedback in conditions associated with reduced empathy and affiliative feelings, such as antisocial personality disorders and post-partum depression.

The authors point out that this study may represent a step towards the construction of the ‘empathy box’, an empathy-enhancing machine described by Philip K. Dick’s novel.


 

 

neurosciencestuff:

Brain Scans Show We Take Risks Because We Can’t Stop Ourselves

A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving or unsafe sex, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough.

This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA and elsewhere analyzed data from 108 subjects who sat in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner — a machine that allows researchers to pinpoint brain activity in vivid, three-dimensional images — while playing a video game that simulates risk-taking.

The researchers used specialized software to look for patterns of activity across the whole brain that preceded a person’s making a risky choice or a safe choice in one set of subjects. Then they asked the software to predict what other subjects would choose during the game based solely on their brain activity. The software accurately predicted people’s choices 71 percent of the time.

“These patterns are reliable enough that not only can we predict what will happen in an additional test on the same person, but on people we haven’t seen before,” said Russell Poldrack, director of UT Austin’s Imaging Research Center and professor of psychology and neuroscience.

When the researchers trained their software on much smaller regions of the brain, they found that just analyzing the regions typically involved in executive functions such as control, working memory and attention was enough to predict a person’s future choices. Therefore, the researchers concluded, when we make risky choices, it is primarily because of the failure of our control systems to stop us.

“We all have these desires, but whether we act on them is a function of control,” said Sarah Helfinstein, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin and lead author of the study that appears online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Helfinstein said that additional research could focus on how external factors, such as peer pressure, lack of sleep or hunger, weaken the activity of our brains’ control systems when we contemplate risky decisions.

“If we can figure out the factors in the world that influence the brain, we can draw conclusions about what actions are best at helping people resist risks,” said Helfinstein.

To simulate features of real-world risk-taking, the researchers used a video game called the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) that past research has shown correlates well with self-reported risk-taking such as drug and alcohol use, smoking, gambling, driving without a seatbelt, stealing and engaging in unprotected sex.

While playing the BART, the subject sees a balloon on the screen and is asked to make either a risky choice (inflate the balloon a little and earn a few cents) or a safe choice (stop the round and “cash out,” keeping whatever money was earned up to that point). Sometimes inflating the balloon causes it to burst and the player loses all the cash earned from that round. After each successful balloon inflation, the game continues with the chance of earning another standard-sized reward or losing an increasingly large amount. Many health-relevant risky decisions share this same structure, such as when deciding how many alcoholic beverages to drink before driving home or how much one can experiment with drugs or cigarettes before developing an addiction.

The data for this study came from the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics at UCLA, which recruited adults from the Los Angeles area for researchers to examine differences in response inhibition and working memory between healthy adults and patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Only data collected from healthy participants were included in the present analyses.


 

thought-cafe:

endpages:

Crash Course Psychology has been released!

Let us know what you thought!


 

thought-cafe:

Moments from Crash Course Psychology: Intro to Psychology. http://youtu.be/vo4pMVb0R6M

This is great! Look forward to seeing the rest!


 

Internal Validity - Whether the study has tested what it set out to test. If the observed effect was due to experimental manipulation rather than other factors. Controlling extraneous variables and ensuring that you are testing what you intended to.

External Validity - Research findings can be generalised by other settings, other groups of people, or over a period of time.

Mundane Realism - How the study mirrors the real world. The task environment is realistic to experiences that would occur in the real world.

Generalisability  - Point of realism where psychological research can be used to understand behaviour in real life.

Extraneous Variables - If they are not controlled then results from a study are meaningless. The independent variable didn’t cause a change in the dependent variable, but changes in the dependent variable were caused by something else.