Archive for 'News about research'

Spiraling difficulty of reliably interpreting scans of people’s brains

Monday, August 25th, 2014

This new study suggests that some people’s personalities make it more difficult to get accurate MRI (and fMRI) pictures of their heads:

Individual Differences in Impulsivity Predict Head Motion during Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” Kong X-z, Zhen Z, Li X, Lu H-h, Wang R, et al., (2014) PLoS ONE, 9(8): e104989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104989. The authors are at Beijing Normal University and Hangzhou Normal University.

WHY THIS MIGHT MATTER: Many psychologists enjoy using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to correlate (a favorite word among many researchers!) electrochemical activity in particular brains with the personalities of the particular people whose heads contain those brains.

Taking the MRI pictures is the straightforward, press-a-button part of this research. Understanding what the pictures mean is not so straightforward.

WHAT THIS MIGHT MEAN:  If this new study is correct, then many of those fMRI studies from the past may have produced misleading results. The researchers announce this with a grandly worded phrase: “in-scanner head motion introduces systematic and spurious biases.” This new possible complication adds to the long list of ways in which fMRI studies can produce misleading (or, in non-technical language: “crappy”) results.

WHY PHILOSOPHERS MIGHT ENJOY THIS: If people with some kinds of personalities are especially unreliable to fMRI-analyze, then… fMRI studies that try to identify personality-related brain activity are, or may be, toast. Technologically speaking, the whole effort may be, kinda sorta, in a spiraling decay.

BONUS (possibly related, in a quasi-parallel way): The Ig Nobel Prize-winning fMRI study that found brain activity in a dead salmon.

German veterinary scientists deploy sauerkraut

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

This study explores the effects of saurkraut juice, and other substances, on cows:

Oral Application of Charcoal and Humic acids to Dairy Cows Influences Clostridium botulinum Blood Serum Antibody Level and Glyphosate Excretion in Urine,” H.A. Gerlach, Gerlach, W. Schrödl, B. Schottdorf, and S. Haufe, Journal of Clinical Toxicology, vol. 4, no. 186 (2014): 2161-0495. (Thanks to investigator Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at several institutions in Germany and Egypt, report:

The present study was initiated to investigate the influence of oral application of charcoal, sauerkraut juice and humic acids on chronic botulism in dairy cows. A total of 380 Schleswig Holstein cows suffering from chronic botulism were fed daily with 400 g/animal charcoal for 4 weeks (1-4 weeks of study), 200 g/animal charcoal (5-10 weeks of study), 120 g/animal humic acid (11-14s week of study), 200g charcoal and 500 ml Sauerkraut juice/animal (13-16 weeks of study), 200 g charcoal and 100 mL Aquahumin/animal (15-18s week of study), 100 g charcoal and 50 mL Aquahumin (19-22 weeks of study) followed by 4 weeks without any supplementation…. In conclusion, a charcoal-sauerkraut juice combination and humic acids could be used to control chronic botulism and glyphosate damage in cattle.

BACKGROUND READING: Here is a history of sauerkraut, written by Olaf Peters, disseminated by the Goethe Institute.

It’s a long story… (from the Archives of Sexual Behavior)

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Behold the start (or perhaps the middle) of a twisted tale:

Be Careful that Your Snark Is Not a Boojum,” Kim Wallen, Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 36, no. 3, 2007, pp. 335-336. The author begins:

“I write to correct a striking inaccuracy in Puts’(2006) response to my critique (Wallen, 2006) of his review of Lloyd’s (2005) book, The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, regarding the incidence of female orgasm during intercourse without…”

BONUS: Questions, questions, questions

Lloyd, author of the book that is at the center (or perhaps some other location) of the argument

Elizabeth A. Lloyd, author of the book at the center (or perhaps other location) of the argument

A pilot study for coffee enema enthusiasts

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Coffee enemas are endlessly fascinating to people who are fascinated, endlessly, by coffee enemas. Here’s a new study on the topic:

Coffee Enema for Preparation for Small Bowel Video Capsule Endoscopy: A Pilot Study,” Eun Sun Kim, Hoon Jai Chun, Bora Keum, Yeon Seok Seo, Yoon Tae Jeen, Hong Sik Lee, Soon Ho Um, Chang Duck Kim and Ho Sang Ryu, Clinical Nutrition Research, vol. 3, 2014, pp. 134-141. The authors are at Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Further insights on coffee enemas and the people who partake of or dispense them:

Cessation of Rumination. Say: “I? Aye!”

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

One needn’t ruminate more than one wants or need to, suggests this study:

The Cessation of Rumination Through Self-Affirmation,” Sander L. Koole, Karianne Smeets, Ad van Knippenberg, and Ap Dijksterhuis, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 77, No. 1, 111-25. The authors affirm that they are at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.