Here are the most popular of the 65 posts I’ve made so far in 2018, starting from the earliest:
This 2018 UK review subject was colored-hearing experiences from music:
“Music-colour synaesthesia has a broad scope encompassing not only tone-colour synaesthesia elicited on hearing individual tones, but a complex and idiosyncratic mixture of phenomenological experiences often mediated by timbre, tempo, emotion and differing musical style.
Possession of synaesthesia or absolute pitch was shown to have very little effect on the actual colours chosen for each of the musical excerpts. But it might be reasonable to expect that music that elicits a strong emotional response may be more likely to induce synaesthesia than music that does not.
Examination of eight neuroimaging studies were found to be largely inconclusive in respect of confirming the perceptual nature of music-colour synaesthesia. Neither the hyperconnectivity nor the disinhibited feedback theory currently holds as a single categorical explanation for synaesthesia.
Theories promoting the notion of ‘ideaesthesia’ have highlighted the importance of role of concept and meaning in understanding of synaesthesia..and a replacement definition: Synaesthesia is a phenomenon in which a mental activation of a certain concept or idea is associated consistently with a certain perception-like experience.”
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810017305883 “Music-colour synaesthesia: Concept, context and qualia” (not freely available)
Much of the review was philosophizing and casting around for clues. The review cited interesting studies and reviews, including The Merit of Synesthesia for Consciousness Research.
One relevant element missed by the underlying research and review was critical periods of human development. A cited reference in How brains mature during critical periods was Sensitive periods in human development: Evidence from musical training (not freely available) illuminated some aspects:
“In contrast to a critical period, where a function cannot be acquired outside the specific developmental window, a sensitive period denotes a time where sensory experience has a relatively greater influence on behavioral and cortical development. Sensitive periods may also be times when exposure to specific stimuli stimulates plasticity, enhancing changes at neuronal and behavioral levels.
The developmental window for absolute pitch may be more similar to a critical than a sensitive period.
The auditory cortex appears to have an unusually long period of developmental plasticity compared with other sensory systems; changes in its cellular organization and connectivity continue into late childhood.
Effects of musical training have been shown to impact auditory processing in the brainstem as well.”
Let’s say that a researcher wanted – as one cited study did – to examine absolute pitch, a rare trait, present in a subset of synesthetes – music-color, another rare trait. The study as designed would probably be underpowered due to an insufficient number of subjects, and it would subsequently find “very little effect.”
Let’s say another researcher focused on cerebral brain areas – and like eight cited studies – ignored brainstem pons nuclei which are the first brain recipients of sound and equilibrium information from the inner ear via the eighth cranial nerve. Like those studies, the researcher was also biased against including limbic brain areas that would indicate “a strong emotional response.”
A study design that combined leaving out important brain-area participants in the synesthesia process with a few number of synesthetes would be unlikely to find conclusive evidence.
The reviewer viewed a lack of evidence from “eight neuroimaging studies” as indicating something about the “perceptual nature of music-colour synaesthesia.” An alternative view is that “inconclusive” evidence had more to do with study designs that:
- Had a small number of subjects;
- Omitted brain areas relevant to the music-color synesthesia process;
- Didn’t investigate likely music-color synesthesia development periods; and
- Didn’t investigate associations of music-color synesthesia with epigenetic states.
Consider the magnitude of omitting the thalamus brain area from synesthesia studies as one “perceptual nature of music-colour synaesthesia” example. Just background information of Thalamus gating and control of the limbic system and cerebrum is a form of memory indicated its relevance to synesthesia:
“Despite fundamental differences between visual, auditory and somatosensory signals, basic layouts of thalamocortical systems for each modality are quite similar.
For a given stimulus, output neural response will not be static, but will depend on recent stimulus and response history.
Sensory signals en route to the cortex undergo profound signal transformations in the thalamus. A key thalamic transformation is sensory adaptation in which neural output adjusts to statistics and dynamics of past stimuli.”
One of this study’s researchers described ways that an individual’s “stimulus and response history” became unconscious memories with the thalamus. Including the thalamus in synesthesia studies may also have findings that involve reliving or re-experiencing a memory, possibly an emotional memory.
In such future research, it could be a design element to ask synesthetes before and after an experiment to identify feelings and memories accompanying synesthesia experiences.
It shouldn’t be a requirement, however, to insist that memories and emotions be consciously identified in order to be included in findings. Human studies such as Unconscious stimuli have a pervasive effect on our brain function and behavior have found:
“Pain responses can be shaped by learning that takes place outside conscious awareness.
Our results support the notion that nonconscious stimuli have a pervasive effect on human brain function and behavior and may affect learning of complex cognitive processes such as psychologically mediated analgesic and hyperalgesic responses.”
Does an orangey twilight of aging sunflowers help you feel?
Ponder this drone photo of “a flying human tethered to a monkey” ground drawing made over 1,000 years ago as reported by National Geographic and excerpted by the Daily Star:
1. Aren’t the geoglyph and its description pretty good expressions of our evolved condition? Especially since it’s the interpretation of people who lived more a millennium ago?
With so many information sources freely available now, though, one couldn’t successfully argue that the ancients understood the world better than we do. Our understanding comes from our “flying human” time and efforts, without which we’re as ignorant as our “monkey.”
2. A few aspects of the current comprehension of the differences between our two pictured primates are in Genetic imprinting, sleep, and parent-offspring conflict:
“I remain skeptical of a tendency to ascribe most modern woes to incongruence between our evolved nature and western cultural practices. We did not evolve to be happy or healthy but to leave genetic descendants, and an undue emphasis on mismatch risks conflating health and fitness [genetic rather than physical fitness].”
Our “flying human” can make happiness and health choices that our “monkey” can’t:
“Our genetic adaptations often try to fool us into doing things that enhance fitness at costs to our happiness.
Our genes do not care about us and we should have no compunction about fooling them to deliver benefits without serving their ends.
Contraception, to take one obvious example, allows those who choose childlessness to enjoy the pleasures of sexual activity without the fitness-enhancing risk of conception.”
3. Another aspect of our two primates’ differences is illuminated in a reference to A study of DNA methylation and age:
“Aging is not and cannot be programmed. Instead, aging is a continuation of developmental growth, driven by genetic pathways.
Genetic programs determine developmental growth and the onset of reproduction. When these programs are completed, they are not switched off.
Aging has no purpose (neither for individuals nor for group), no intention. Nature does not select for quasi-programs. It selects for robust developmental growth.”
The epigenetic clock theory of aging cited the same author, and modified his point to say:
Aging decisions are examples of our “flying human” making choices that aren’t available to our “monkey” concerning the structure, direction, and duration of our one precious life.
This 2018 UC Davis anthropology study was on dice changes over two centuries:
“In Roman times, many dice were visibly lopsided..It did not matter what the objects were made of (metal, clay, bone, antler and ivory), or whether they were precisely symmetrical or consistent in size or shape, because, like the weather, rolls were predetermined by gods or other supernatural elements.
Dice, like many material objects, reflect a lot about people’s changing worldviews, Eerkens said. In this case, we believe it follows changing ideas about chance and fate.”
Think of a significant event in your life. Was it brought about by:
- Karma, divine intervention?
- A prayer, belief, placebo-effect process?
- A coin-flip, card-draw, dice-roll decision process?
- A weighted-probability decision process?
- Chosen behavior, thoughts, and feelings?
- Unconscious behavior, thoughts, and feelings?
- Culturally-guided motivations?
- Non-arbitrary influences of other parties?
Which one or more of these factors would you now prefer to have been involved?
https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/it-not-how-you-play-game-how-dice-were-made “It’s Not How You Play the Game, but How the Dice Were Made”
Yesterday’s team meeting at work provided one display after another of a person’s need to feel important. These eye-openers were the reason the scheduled 30-minute meeting lasted 45 minutes.
Although half of the forty or so attendees are under the age of 40, curiously, only two of them spoke during the meeting. I wasn’t among the older people who had something to say.
Not that I wasn’t tempted by the team-building exercise with its Skittles prompts:
- Red – Tell us something you do well
- Orange – Tell us something about your childhood
- Purple – What could you live without?
- Yellow – What couldn’t you live without?
Participation in the exercise was voluntary. Yes, I drew an orange Skittle.
Everyone knew there wasn’t enough time for each of us to speak and have the exercise become team-building, yet a dozen people piped up. Every one of the self-selected responses could have been prefaced with “I’m important because..”
I started with How do we assess “importance” in our lives? An example from scientists’ research choices and highlighted it on the Welcome page:
“Do you agree that an individual’s need to feel important is NOT a basic human need on the same level as nourishment, protection, and socialization? How does this need arise in our lives?”
I supported an explanation of the need to feel important with evidence and arguments on the Scientific evidence page and said:
“If the explanation is true yet someone rejected it, they at least wouldn’t have suffered from exposure to it. They’ll just remain in our world’s default mode of existence:
- Unaware of their own unconscious act-outs to feel important;
- Unaware of what’s driving such personal behavior; and
- Uninformed of other people’s behavioral origins as a consequence of 1 and 2.”
Other examples of substitute needs include:
- Do the impacts of early experiences of hunger affect our behavior, thoughts, and feelings today? “The painful impacts of our unfulfilled needs impel us to be constantly vigilant for some way to fulfill them.”
- What’s a good substitute for feeling loved? “What I saw expressed in the TED talk was an exhausting pursuit of substitutes for feeling loved.”
- Are 50 Shades of Grey behaviors learned in infancy? “Ever wonder how someone could become attached to their early childhood abuser?”
- Beyond Belief: What we do instead of getting well “Why isn’t the internet flooded with 10+ million similar stories of people who have faced their realities, and effectively addressed the real causes of what’s wrong in their lives? Said another way: Why is the internet instead flooded with stories of 10+ million people
- NOT facing their realities,
- Doing things to prolong their conditions, and
- Avoiding getting well?“
What do you think? Any arguments for or against interrupting our default mode of existence?
I’m an avid reader of science articles, abstracts, studies, and reviews. I tried a free subscription to Singularity Hub for a few weeks last month because it seemed to be a suitable source of articles on both science and technology.
I unsubscribed after being disappointed by aspects of science and technology hijacked almost on a daily basis into the realm of woo. Discovering scientific truths and realizing technologies is inspiring enough to stand on its own. It’s sufficiently interesting to publish well-written articles on the process and results.
I was dismayed that the website didn’t host a feedback mechanism for the authors’ articles. We shield ourselves from information incongruent with our beliefs. It’s a problem when a publisher of science and technology articles similarly disallows non-confirming evidence as a matter of policy.
An article may or may not advance knowledge of the subject, and Singularity Hub enables author hubris in presenting their views as the final word on the subject. Directing readers elsewhere for discussion is self-defeating in that every publisher’s goals include keeping visitors on their website as long as possible.
Here’s my feedback on two articles that inappropriately bent reality.
Regarding What Is It That Makes Humans Unique?:
“This trait [symbolic abstract thinking] not only gives us the ability to communicate symbolically, it also allows us to think symbolically, by allowing us to represent all kinds of symbols (including physical and social relationships) in our minds, independent of their presence in the physical world. As a result, internal associations of novel kinds become possible.”
Why limit discussion of our capability for symbolic representations? Other features to explore are:
- Aren’t beliefs also products of symbolic abstract thinking?
- What attributes of human behavior provide evidence for hopes and beliefs as symbolic representations?
- What’s the evolved functional significance that benefits humans of using symbolic abstract thinking to develop hopes and beliefs?
“Our revolutionary traits stand out even more when we take a cosmic perspective. We are not only in the universe, but the universe is also within us. Our brains, as an extension of the universe, are now being used to understand themselves.”
This article should be written well enough to inspire without resorting to unevidenced assertions about revolutions, the cosmos, and the timing of brain functionality.
“Some of us possess higher consciousness than others. The question that we now have to ask ourselves is, how do we cultivate higher consciousness, structural building, and symbolic abstract thinking among the masses?”
What’s the purpose of steering an evolution topic into elitism?
How a Machine That Can Make Anything Would Change Everything received >53,000 views compared with <5,000 views of the above article. This was an indicator that readers of Singularity Hub are relatively more interested in the possible implications of future technology than those of our past biological evolution. Why?
“If nanofabricators are ever built, the systems and structure of the world as we know them were built to solve a problem that will no longer exist.”
We are to believe that we’ll soon have the worldwide solution to problems in food supply, energy supply, medicine availability, income, knowledge – all that’s needed for survival? Should we develop hopes that technology will be our all-providing savior? Hope sells, without a doubt, but why would Singularity Hub mix that in with science?
This article reminded me of the chip-in-the-brain article referenced in Differing approaches to a life wasted on beliefs. Both articles seemingly appealed to future prospects, but the hope aspect showed that the appeals were actually reactions to the past.
If we individually address the impacts of past threats to survival – that include beliefs about future survival – each of us can break out of these self-reinforcing, life-wasting loops. Otherwise, an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior are stuck in reacting to their history, with hopes and beliefs being among the many symptoms.
“Human history will be forever divided in two. We may well be living in the Dark Age before this great dawn. Or it may never happen. But James Burke, just as he did over forty years ago, has faith.”
Is it inspiring that the person mentioned has had a forty-year career of selling beliefs in technology?
Yes, future technologies have promise. Authors can write articles that provide developments without soiling the promise with woo.
This post has somehow become a target for spammers, and I’ve disabled comments. Readers can comment on other posts and indicate that they want their comment to apply here, and I’ll re-enable comments.
Here’s an Amazon book review I wrote six years ago when I regularly read 2-3 books a week while on the train to and from work. The book served as an example of how behavioral researchers couldn’t reach their stated goals by using standard scientific methods.
Everybody would benefit from reading this collection of experiments with human behavior.
It would be fair to compare the book’s accomplishments with its declared goals. The author stated the book’s primary goal early on when he wrote:
“We need to first figure out what forces really cause people to cheat and then apply this improved understanding to curb dishonesty. That’s exactly what this book is about.
Once we more clearly understand the forces that really drive us, we discover that we are not helpless in the face of our human follies (dishonesty included), that we can restructure our environment, and that by doing so we can achieve better behaviors and outcomes.”
I appreciated the author’s research that described and delineated what his experiments chose to observe. For example, in one series of experiments, people lied in order to get tokens that a few seconds later were exchanged into money. These subjects cheated to an extent that was almost twice the amount of people who lied in order to directly get money.
Another series of experiments showed that when people were tired or stressed, they were more likely to cheat. The amount that mentally exhausted subjects cheated was almost three times the amount of non-stressed subjects.
There was also a series of experiments that tested the “what the hell” effect. The researchers found that the amount of cheating was not linear. A point was frequently reached where the subjects apparently decided to abandon a little bit of cheating, and started to cheat at every opportunity.
The author proposed that a “fake it until you make it” approach doesn’t ultimately lead to honest behavior. He suggested that it would probably start a chain of events that proceeded through the “what the hell” context, where a little bit of cheating became a lot, and ended up with suffering when the truth was eventually revealed.
What these experiments examined wasn’t the origins of dishonest behavior, but rather the middle and ending parts of dishonest behaviors. As such, I didn’t see how the book’s primary goal could be achieved.
Without exploring the precedents to dishonest behavior, we’re also left with a patchwork approach to achieving the secondary goal of changing outcomes by influencing the salient aspects of behavior.
Understanding that I’m not an expert or a researcher, let me offer an approach that could be more conducive to achieving the primary and secondary goals of the book. The necessary but unexplored research area would be along the lines of “What do I feel just before I act dishonestly?”
The subjects’ probable answers to this unasked question would indicate that the person’s unfulfilled needs were in play. These needs are for the most part unconscious, and are the sources of automatic behavior that seeks to fulfill these needs. The outward manifestations of this automatic behavior will lead the subjects to symbolic fulfillment of their old needs.
The subjects in the experiments may not be able to make the connection between their behaviors of say, cheating on a pledge to quit smoking, and their driving forces. This is probably because the subjects weren’t consciously aware of the feelings they had just before they acted.
The researchers may be able to bridge this gap with information obtained from measurements done by fMRIs and other instruments. They can integrate these measurements with the subjects’ reports of their feelings.
To meet the goals of the book, it’s important that the researchers uncover the subjects’ underlying feelings. This is necessary because feelings are usually closer to the causes of a person’s behavior.
The subjects’ behaviors were symptoms of their problems, not the problems themselves. The researchers would be better served to study the entire situation as best they can.
All of us anticipate while we read a book that there will be prescriptions and answers to the circumstances and troubles presented. But because The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty didn’t identify “what forces really cause people to cheat,” the primary goal, to “clearly understand the forces that really drive us” wasn’t attained.
Realization of the secondary goal is undecided. The author presented several examples of how environments affect people’s dishonesty, such as conflicts of interests. He showed how people’s rationalizations allow them to permit a level of dishonesty that doesn’t harm their ideas about their own morality.
But how can effective and enduring solutions arise “so we can achieve better behaviors and outcomes” when the roots of the behaviors aren’t examined?
Continuing with Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief:
“p. 17 When someone insults us, we immediately create reasons and rationales for it. We cover the pain. Now imagine a whole early childhood of insults and assaults and how that leaves a legacy that must be dealt with.
The mind of ideas and philosophies doesn’t know it is being used; doesn’t know it serves as a barricade against the danger of feeling. It is why no one can convince the person out of her ideas. They serve a key purpose and should not be tampered with. We are tampering with a survival function.
p. 19 It seems like a miracle that something as intangible and invisible as an idea has the power to transform our biologic system. It makes us see what doesn’t exist and sometimes not see what does. What greater power exists than that? To be fooled is not only to convince someone to believe the false, but also to convince others to not believe the truth.
The unloved child who cannot bear the terrible feelings of hopelessness shuts down his own feeling centers and grows insensitive, not only to his pain, but to that of others. So he commits the same error on his child that was visited upon him, and he does so because of the way he was unloved early on. He cannot see his own hopelessness or that of his child.
p. 56 All defensive beliefs must have a kernel of hope inside of them. It is the embedded hopelessness that gives rise to its opposite – hope – and its accompanying biochemistry of inhibition or gating.
To be even more precise, it is the advent of pain surrounding hopelessness that produces the belief entwined with hope. All defensive belief serves the same function – repression, absorbing the energy of pain.
p. 57 An unloved child is a potential future believer.
p. 58 NO ONE HAS THE ANSWER TO LIFE’S QUESTIONS BUT YOU. How you should lead your life depends on you, not outside counsel.
We do not direct patients, nor dispense wisdom upon them. We have only to put them in touch with themselves; the rest is up to them.
Everything the patient has to learn already resides inside. The patient can make herself conscious. No one else can.”
“p. 29 The personal experience stories throughout the book are written by my patients and, with the exception of a few grammatical corrections, they are presented here exactly as they were given to me.”
All of the Primal Therapy patients’ stories started with HORRENDOUS childhoods that produced correspondingly strong beliefs!
I came across a public figure example today in 10 Defining Moments In The Childhood Of Martin Luther King Jr. The author included two items germane to an understanding of how beliefs may develop from adverse childhood experiences:
- 8. King Sr. “Would beat Martin and his brother, Alfred, senseless for any infraction, usually with a belt.”
- 6. “By the time King was 13, he’d tried to kill himself twice.”
Every reference I found tied King Jr.’s suicide attempts to his grandmother’s death. What an implausible narrative!
“A whole early childhood of insults and assaults” certainly had more to do with the causes for his preteen suicide attempts.
Consider a child’s feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, pain, and betrayal when the people who are supposed to love them are cruel to them instead. Feelings like what I expressed in Reflections on my four-year anniversary of spine surgery.
Consider the appeal of escaping from this life when “The unloved child cannot bear the terrible feelings of hopelessness.”
Granted that it’s only the patient who can put together what happened in their life so that it’s therapeutic. Beyond Belief and Dr. Janov’s other publications outline the framework.
Experiential feeling therapy addressing the pain of the lack of love.
“Truth needs no defense except when that truth is more than the system can integrate; then it requires defenses.
Our merciful brain has found back-up ways to protect us. It keeps the truth from us even when we go on searching for the truth.
After patients have deep feelings they come up with many truths about their lives. It is buried and defended along with the pain. Thus no one has to give anyone insights; they are already there just waiting for the exit.”
http://cigognenews.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-act-out-and-more_29.html “The Act-out and More”
Neuroskeptic’s blog post Genetic Testing for Autism as an Existential Question related the story of “A Sister, a Father and a Son: Autism, Genetic Testing, and Impossible Decisions.”
“I decided to put the question to my sister, Maria. Although she is autistic, she is of high intelligence.
Maria was excited to be an aunt soon, and was willing to do what she could to help my baby – even if what she was helping with was to avoid her own condition.
She is high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life, and has longed her entire life to be “normal.” If she could save her niece or nephew some of the pain and awkwardness her condition had caused her, she was willing to help.”
In the concluding paragraph:
“What struck me about this story is the way in which the prospect of the genetic test confronted Maria with a very personal decision: will you do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you?
Isn’t this very close to the ultimate existential question: all things considered, would you wish to live your life over again?”
Aren’t the majority of humans also “high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life?”
Aren’t our feelings of what we’re missing one of the impetuses for us to have also “longed her entire life to be normal?”
This feeling was aired in Dr. Arthur Janov’s blog post What a Waste:
“What it was, was the feeling of great loss, something missing that could never again be duplicated.
It was no love where it could have been the opposite if the parent’s gates could have been open. But it could not be because that would have meant terrible pain and suffering for them; and their whole neurologic system militated against any conscious-awareness.”
We long for what was and is impossible:
- For many of us, the impossibilities of having normal lives started with prenatal epigenetic changes.
- Our experiences of our postnatal environment prompted us into adapting to its people, places, and contents. These neurological, biological, and behavioral adaptations were sometimes long-lasting deviations from developmental norms.
- Other genetic factors combined with the above to largely make us who we were and are.
Our longing for an impossible-to-reconstruct life doesn’t go away.
We often may not be aware of our longing for what “could not be” and of its extensive impacts. Such feelings impel us into many hundreds of ideas, hundreds of beliefs, and hundreds of behaviors, a sample of which were referred to above:
- Behaviors to “do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you;”
- Ideas such as existential philosophy; and
- Beliefs that manifest the “wish to live your life over again.”
Spending our time on these ideas, beliefs, and behaviors won’t ameliorate their motivating causes. Our efforts distance us from our truths, with real consequences: a wasted life.
What keeps us from understanding our reality? I invite readers to investigate Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy for effective therapeutic approaches.
This 2015 US/Canadian human study of people ages 6 to 22 years found:
“Testosterone-specific associations between amygdala volume and key prefrontal areas involved in emotional regulation and impulse control:
- Testosterone-specific modulation of the covariance between the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC);
- A significant relationship between amygdala-mPFC covariance and levels of aggression; and
- Mediation effects of amygdala-mPFC covariance on the relationship between testosterone and aggression.
These effects were independent of sex, age, pubertal stage, estradiol levels and anxious-depressed symptoms.
For the great majority of individuals in this sample, higher thickness of the mPFC was associated with lower aggression levels at a given amygdala volume. This effect diminished greatly and disappeared at more extreme amygdala values.”
The study provided noncausal associations among the effects (behavioral, hormonal, and brain measurements).
From the Limitations section:
“No umbilical cord or amniotic measurements were available in this study and we therefore cannot control for testosterone levels in utero, a period during which significant testosterone-related changes in brain structure are thought to occur.”
There’s evidence that too much testosterone for a female fetus and too little testosterone for a male fetus both have lifelong adverse effects. The researchers dismissed this etiologic line of inquiry with a “supporting the notion” referral to noncausal studies.
The researchers were keen to establish:
“A very specific, aggression-related structural brain phenotype.”
This putative phenotype hinged on:
- Older subjects’ behavioral self-reports, and
- Parental assessments of younger subjects’ behavior
exhibited during the previous six months, and within six months of their fMRI scan.
These self-reports and interested-party observations were the entire bases for the “aggressive behavior” and “anxious–depressed” associations! The researchers disingenuously provided multiple references and models for the reliability of these assessments.
Experimental behavioral measurements – such as those done to measure performance in decision studies – may have been more accurate and informative than what the older subjects chose to self-report about their own behavior over the previous six months.
People of all ages have an imperative to NOT be completely honest about their own behavior. One motivation for this condition is that some of our historical realities are too painful to enter our conscious awareness and inform us about our own behavior. As a result, our feelings, thoughts, and behavior are sometimes driven by our histories without us being aware of it.
For example, would a teenager/young adult subject self-report an impulsive act, even if they didn’t fully understand why they acted that way? Maybe they would if the act could be viewed as prosocial, but what if it was antisocial?
What are the chances that the lives of these teenager/young adult subjects were NOT filled with impulsive actions during the six months before their fMRI scans? Could complete and accurate self-reports of such behaviors be expected?
Experimental behavioral measurements may have also been more accurate and informative than second-hand, interested-party observations of the younger subjects. Could a parent who provided half of the genes and who was responsible for many of their child’s epigenetic changes make anything other than subjective observations of their handiwork’s behavior?
Epigenetic studies have shown that adaptations to environments are among the long-lasting causes for effects that include behavior, hormones, and brain measurements. Why, in 2015, did researchers spend public funds developing what they knew or should have known would be noncausal associations, while not investigating possible causes for these effects?
Why weren’t the researchers interested enough to gather and assess etiologic genetic and epigenetic evidence? Was it that difficult to get blood samples at the same time the subjects gave saliva samples, and perform selected genetic and DNA methylation analyses?
What did the study contribute towards advancing science? Who did the study really help?
My judgment: less than nothing; and nobody. The researchers only wasted public funds advancing a meme, giving it an imprimatur of science.
http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530%2815%2900924-5/fulltext “A testosterone-related structural brain phenotype predicts aggressive behavior from childhood to adulthood”
How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations
“The purpose of epigenetic changes, I think, is simply to increase the repertoire of possible responses.
So let’s say, for some reason, your parents transmitted to you biologic changes that are very appropriate to starvation, but you don’t live in a culture where food is not plentiful.
You’re just not optimized, but I think that if we develop an awareness of what the biologic changes from stress and trauma are meant to do, then I think we can develop a better way of explaining to ourselves what our true capabilities and potentials are.
What I hear from trauma survivors — what I’m always struck with is how upsetting it is when other people don’t help, or don’t acknowledge, or respond very poorly to needs or distress.
Feel it instead of running to someone to give you a sleeping pill.”
In this 2014 review, a social scientist first presented an interpretive history of what he found to be important in the emergence of epigenetics. He proceeded into his ideas of “a possible agenda of the social studies of the life-sciences” in the “postgenomic age” with headings such as “Postgenomic biopolitics: “upgrade yourself” or born damaged for ever?”
This perspective included:
“The upgradable epigenome may become the basis for a new motivation to intervene, control and improve it through pharmacological agents or social interventions.
An important trend is the use of epigenetic and developmental findings in the so-called early-intervention programmes.
It is possible that epigenetic findings will become increasingly relevant in social policy strategies.”
In this blog I often highlight research that may help us understand details of how each of us is a unique individual. It’s my view that insofar as research helps each of us understand our unique, real self, we may be able to empathetically understand others’ unique qualities.
Click individual differences for a sample of how researchers explain away uniqueness in order to converge on a study’s desired objectives. There’s seldom an attempt to further understand what caused each subject to develop their unique qualities.
Why would this reviewer advocate that
- People working in the social sciences,
- People employed or involved in social services, and
- Their sponsors and employers
intentionally disregard another individual’s unique qualities?
I’ll answer this question from a perspective that explains how this common, reflexive action derives from a person being unable to face the facts of their own life. Pertinent fundamentals of Dr Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy are:
- Pain motivates a person’s unconscious act-outs of their underlying problems.
- The behavior that caused a problem is sometimes also the act-out behavior.
- Act-outs enable a person to re-experience the feelings of their historical struggles, in a vain attempt to resolve them.
- Due to pain barriers, people seldom become consciously aware of and – more importantly – address the causes for their own problematic behavior.
- “The patient has the power to heal himself.”
A consequent hypothesis is that a person will often glorify their unconscious act-outs and surround themself with justifications for these actions. For example, a person who can’t sit still may refer to their incessant activity with socially acceptable phrases such as “I’m always busy” or “I love to travel.” They’ll structure their life to enable their unconscious behavior, never questioning how they were attracted to an always-on-the-go occupation such as flight attendant, only vaguely feeling that they were made for it.
The behavior relevant to the current review may be exhibited by a person with a history of having no control over their own life. Following the above first two fundamentals, the pain of historically not having control over their life may motivate them to control other people’s lives.
Unfortunately for everyone who’s affected, such unconscious act-outs don’t resolve anything:
- The initiator may achieve some symbolic satisfaction by controlling others’ lives.
- This temporary satisfaction doesn’t make the initiator’s underlying problems less painful.
- The motivation impelling these unconscious act-outs isn’t thereby reduced.
- So the initiator soon repeats their controlling behavior, stuck in a loop of unresolved feelings.
- Since the self-chosen interests of someone who’s being controlled are lesser concerns to the initiator than exercising control, the controlled person may or may not be helped by the controller’s act-outs.
Research provides abundant evidence that we are unique individuals.
This is a strong indicator of who is best qualified to direct each of our unique lives.
A person who is driven to control others’ lives won’t accept epigenetic research as instructive for understanding, honoring, and respecting others as unique individuals. They’ll use research as a way to enable their own unconscious act-outs, and view it as offering opportunities for interventions into the lives of others.
This is the way that “pharmacological agents or social interventions” are often the intended “use of epigenetic and developmental findings.” Interventions receive justifications with “a possible agenda of the social studies of the life-sciences.”
Becoming aware of one’s own act-outs – and then individually addressing one’s own underlying problems – often take backseats to employment and other concerns to keep enabling one’s own behavior. That makes it likely that interventions justified by “epigenetic findings..in social policy” will continue, whether or not the subjects agree that they’re being helped.
For examples, take a look at a few of the YouTube presentations by people employed in the social sciences and social services on a topic of epigenetics. Compare them with the current state of epigenetic research in Grokking an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score.
What did you notice? How many presentations emphasized disrupted prenatal development – a period when problems can be prevented? Did you instead see that many more of the presentations emphasized controlling behavior?
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00309/full “The social brain meets the reactive genome: neuroscience, epigenetics and the new social biology“
This 2015 French rodent study found:
“Memories can be established and maintained without de novo protein synthesis and that experimental amnesia may not result from a disruption of memory consolidation/reconsolidation.
Posttraining/postreactivation treatments induce an internal state, which becomes encoded with the memory, and should be present at the time of testing to ensure a successful retrieval.
This integration concept includes most of the previous explanations of memory recovery after retrograde amnesia and critically challenges the traditional memory consolidation/reconsolidation hypothesis, providing a more dynamic and flexible view of memory.”
From Neuroskeptic’s analysis of the study:
“A different drug, lithium chloride, produces the same pattern of effects – it blocks ‘reconsolidation’, but this can be reversed by a second dose at the time of recall. However, lithium chloride is not an amnestic [a drug that blocks memory formation] – it doesn’t block protein synthesis. Rather, it causes nausea.
The implication of the lithium experiment is that any drug that causes an ‘internal state change’, even if it’s just nausea, can trigger state-dependent memory and behave just like an ‘amnestic’.”
As this study may apply to humans, a drug wouldn’t necessarily be required to “induce an internal state.” If the findings of studies such as Are 50 Shades of Grey behaviors learned in infancy? extend to humans, an emotional or physical experience may be sufficient to produce a state-dependent memory. For example, A study that provided evidence for basic principles of Primal Therapy found, albeit with rodents and use of a drug:
“Fear-inducing memories can be state dependent, meaning that they can best be retrieved if the brain states at encoding and retrieval are similar.”
Memories triggered while in a brain state reentered through an emotion or a physical reaction are experienced by Primal Therapy patients and observed by therapists every day. However, as mentioned in What scientific evidence can be offered for Primal Therapy’s capability to benefit people’s lives? there’s a difficulty in developing human evidence for such state-dependent emotional memories.
Standard procedures would use human subjects and control groups in a way that retrieved memories according to the researchers’ schedule and experimental parameters. In order for the retrieval of an emotional memory to be therapeutic, though, the methods of an experiential therapy such as Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy leave the timing of entering a triggering brain state up to the patient.
When a brain state protects a human emotional memory from being accessed, it probably wouldn’t be therapeutic to:
- Force a return to that brain state, and thereby
- Remove the memory’s protection, then
- Retrieve and re-experience the memory
just for the sake of research.
The evidence for retrieving and re-experiencing a state-dependent memory lies mainly within the individual’s experiences.
A challenge is to find innovative ways to document human evidence for state-dependent emotional memories while ensuring a therapeutic process.
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/33/11623 “Integration of New Information with Active Memory Accounts for Retrograde Amnesia: A Challenge to the Consolidation/Reconsolidation Hypothesis?”