By Robert Core on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

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By Cynthia Fox from Bioscience Technology

A new study finds psychopaths do not lack empathy. They just possess the ability to turn it on and off—perhaps making some curable.

Critics say psychopaths only lack a certain form of empathy. Their ability to understand it is part of what makes them so dangerous.

“The findings are fascinating,” says Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door. The UK and Germany apparently agree, recently making a book by the new study’s author a Der Spiegel bestseller.

Psychopaths can be alternately charming and brutal. There is something real in both their “faces.”

For the new Brain study, psychopathic criminals, lying in MRI’s, watched videos of a person being hurt by someone else. Only when asked to imagine the receiver’s pain did appropriate areas in psychopaths’ brains—involving pain response—ignite in a way mirroring controls’.

Without instruction, psychopaths displayed reduced activity in brain regions associated with both pain and pleasure. “The vicarious activation of motor, somatosensory, and emotional brain regions was much lower in the patients with psychopathy… The (standard) theory seemed right: their empathy was reduced, and this could explain why they committed such terrible crimes without feeling guilt,” wrote Groningen University neuroscientist Christian Keysers in a Psychology Today article about his new Brain study. (Keysers’ new book is The Empathic Brain.)

But when the team showed movies after mandating empathy, “this simple instruction sufficed to boost the empathic activation in their brain to a level that was hard to distinguish from that of the healthy controls. Suddenly, the psychopaths seemed as empathic as the next guy. Their empathy was switched on.”

The finding may bring hope, Keysers added by email. “There is a fundamental difference between the capacity for empathy, which psychopaths have, and the propensity to always be empathic by default. If we can turn capacity into propensity, we could really help them.”

Some supporters note many therapists try this with psychopathic children. They tell kids how “mirror neurons” light up in the same brain areas of people watching others—and those being watched. (Keysers’ team pioneered mirror neuron research.) Such therapists tell patients that brain synchrony indicates they can empathize.

Others are less sure.

“It’s very important people not misunderstand,” says Stout. “Sadly, I don’t think the results speak to a cure. “

Studies of “disorders of consciencelessness,” she says, show that “psychopaths/sociopaths are often exceedingly charming, can ‘read’ people when it suits their purposes, and can learn (with calculated effort) to recognize and imitate overt signs of emotion in others. I find it interesting but not surprising that functional mirror neurons are present. Psychopaths can read other people if they choose.”

But, says Stout, “They just don’t usually choose to, because the tragic deficit appears to be the maldevelopment of the paralimbic system (the brain’s emotional area). This more general deficit prevents psychopaths from forming bonds to others, prevents them from loving or caring. Where emotion is concerned, psychopaths can see it in others when they make a concerted conscious effort. They just don’t care to do so unless they can use it to their own advantage.”


Read the full article at: biosciencetechnology.com

— By Robert Core on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This is great, non? Hot diggity, some of those ole Cure fans are gonna be upset. Never mind that though, this might be the best Smith performance I’ve heard since Apart. Not that I heard the last album or anything. But still.

Via RWD.

— By Akira The Don on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

By Akira The Don on Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Scientists have identified a gene that causes short-sightedness, a discovery which paves the way for treatment to prevent one of the world’s most common eye disorders. So could this mean the end of spectacles?

A pair of glasses used to come with its own brand of humiliation in the classroom.

“Four-eyes”, “Specky-git” and “Goggles” were some of the names that rang out in the playground and scarred many a childhood.

Short-sightedness, or myopia, which makes distant objects appear blurred, often begins in childhood, and it appears to be growing in the UK – now affecting about one in three British adults. But a scientific breakthrough announced this week could start to reduce that number within a decade.

Scientists based in London have identified a gene that causes myopia and are confident that drugs could be developed to halt the distorted growth of the eye that brings about the condition. In about 10 years, shortsightedness could be cured through eye drops, says Dr Chris Hammond, who led the research at King’s College London.

“We’ve known for many years that the most important risk factor to short-sightedness as you get older is family history,” he says.

Dare a man dream? Read the rest here. Cheers ZP for the link.

— By Akira The Don on Thursday, September 16th, 2010

By Akira The Don on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

These are from Mila’s Daydreams, a site wherein a lady posts photots of what her daughter might be dreaming about. With her sleeping daughter in them.

“I used to introduce myself as a copywriter & concept designer in advertising, but that’s not that relevant anymore,” says the site’s creator. “Right now I am a mother and a housewife, and loving it! This blog is my maternity leave hobby. While my baby is taking her nap, I create scene around her and take quick snap photos. I use only few minutes per picture, including creating idea, implementation and editing, ’cause I don’t want to disturb her sleeping and most of my time is for my family. My camera is small and inexpensive Canon IXUS 750.”

— By Akira The Don on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010