Archive for the ‘mason jar’ Category

What? How could that be?… Here are some more dazzling examples of “putz-on-a-page” concerning fMRI and neuroscience:

First, here’s the good news…

Brain’s blood surge doesn’t match activity

  • Based on the 28 January 2009 article by the same name by David Robson
  • All [….. ] are comments and edits of jhb

CONTRARY to popular belief, a rush of blood to a certain brain region [as seen in an fMRI study] is not always linked to neural activity there, a finding that may guide future brain scan experiments.

Functional MRI scans measure blood flow in the brain. Neuroscientists interpret this as a sign that neurons are firing, usually as someone performs a task, [observes or senses the environment in some way] or experiences an emotion [implied due to reports and periphery recordings]. This enables them to link the emotion to the brain region where there was [a change in the area’s] blood flow.

Now, Aniruddha Das from Columbia University in New York and colleagues have shown that blood flow can occur without accompanying neural activity. Das used separate techniques to measure blood flow and neural activity in the visual cortex of two macaques trained to carry out a visual task.

Sitting in darkness except for a light that switched on at regular intervals, the monkeys were trained to look away if it was red, and fix their gaze on the light if it shone green.

When the timing [interval] of the pauses between the light flashes [were] changed, blood flow still increased when the macaque expected [would have normally received the timed] flash, but [without a colored light cue] there was no [‘escape’ or orientation movement] or subsequent increase in electrical activity from firing neurons [in those neural areas that were shown to be involved] (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature07664). Das suspects that the brain sent the rush of blood in anticipation of the neurons’ firing.

Christian Keysers from the BCN Neuroimaging Centre in Groningen, the Netherlands, does not believe the result is relevant to the design of previous fMRI experiments and so is unlikely to have an impact on their results. But Das says care needs to be taken in future to ensure that this misinterpretation does not lead to errors.


The Journal of Neuroscience, December 31, 2008, 28(53)

BOLD (blood oxygenation level-dependent) Signals Do Not Always Reflect Neural Activity

Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive (see pages 14347–14357)

Anna Devor, Elizabeth M. C. Hillman, Peifang Tian, Christian Waeber, Ivan C. Teng, Lana Ruvinskaya, Mark H. Shalinsky, Haihao Zhu, Robert H. Haslinger, Suresh N. Narayanan, Istvan Ulbert, Andrew K. Dunn, Eng H. Lo, Bruce R. Rosen, Anders M. Dale, David Kleinfeld, and David A. Boas

Each year, thousands of publications present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data that suggest that a particular brain region is active during a particular cognitive task. Casual readers [casual readers and some less casual readers] of such papers might forget [presume or not attend to the fact] that this technique does not actually measure neural activity, but rather blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrasts.

Synaptic transmissions require large energy expenditures, and increased energy metabolism has been hypothesized to act directly on blood vessels to increase blood flow and alter BOLD signals.

This week (Feb-09), however, Devor et al. report that this hypothesis is not always the correct one. [One can only imagain that new neural pathways being laid down show somewhat different blood flow than neural activity from repetitive or redundant activities as measured by neural activity.]

As expected, stimulating the forepaw of rats increased blood oxygenation, vessel diameter, glucose uptake, spiking, and synaptic release in the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex [associated with sense reception on the forepaw]. In the ipsilateral cortex, however, neural activity and glucose uptake increased, but blood oxygenation and blood flow did not.

These results indicate that blood flow is not directly tied to metabolism, and BOLD signals do not always reflect neural activity as recorded by various fMRI devices.


Conditioning works even if you don’t know about it…

The brain, as a physical organ, has shown classical conditioning without an agent, autonomous man or the need for an interpreted purpose.

Some other experiments have shown that monkeys fire “anticipation” neurons in different areas before they perform a movement itself. There must be some neural circuits that cause vasodilation in these areas of the brain in anticipation of the light. Reducing things down to cell membrane transport to find the ‘cause’ starts to get a little like trying to find the soul or the personality when those things are mere metaphors that allow us to communicate and, after use and misuse, come to be personified and be the thing we are trying to understand rather than the behavior of the organism.

All in all this type of reduction approach has led us to some strange interpretations for headlines in magazines and pop science-shizzle articles to attract readers but not many have the cohunes of NewScientist, a normally damn good resource who boldly stated on their recent cover: Darwin Was Wrong!

More examples of “putz-on-a-page” concerning fMRI and neuroscience:



To Trust or Not to Trust: Ask Oxytocin

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan 49 participants who were given…
July 15, 2008 – Mind Matters – By Mauricio Delgado

Monkey Mating Requires Lots of Brainpower

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the brains of male marmoset…
February 02, 2004 – News – By Sarah Graham

Is Your Brain Thinking on its Feet?

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor their subjects’ brain…
November 09, 2000 – News – By Harald Franzen

Escape from the Insipid: Our Brains May Be Wired for Daydreaming

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). While the subjects were not performing…
January 18, 2007 – News – By Nikhil Swaminathan

Why the Brain Follows the Rules

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to see what parts of the brain…
June 10, 2008 – Mind Matters – By Caroline Zink

Scientists Identify Brain Region Responsible for Calculating Risk versus Reward

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how 14 healthy subjects…
June 15, 2006 – News – By David Biello

Right Brain May Be Wrong

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As a first step, psychologist Markus…
March 24, 2005 – Scientific American Mind – By Steve J. Ayan

MRI Study Shows Lying Brains Look Different

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of volunteers…
November 14, 2001 – News – By Sarah Graham

Politically Correct: Why Great (and Not So Great) Minds Think Alike

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Researchers focused their examination…
March 19, 2008 – News – By Nikhil Swaminathan

The Dope on Dopamine’s Central Role in the Brain’s Motivation and Reward

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to examine the normal human brain…
September 15, 2008 – News – By Tabitha M. Powledge

The Political Brain

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study shows where in the brain the…
June 26, 2006 – Scientific American Magazine – By Michael Shermer

Can You Believe Your Shifty Eyes?

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), if the behavior she had observed was…
April 19, 2007 – News – By Nikhil Swaminathan

Your iBrain: How Technology Changes the Way We Think

…placed. To make sure that the fMRI scanner was measuring the neural…
October 08, 2008 – Scientific American Mind – By Gary Small, Gigi Vorgan

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Thinking about Morality

…a hypothesis stemming from previous fMRI investigations into the neural…
July 29, 2008 – Mind Matters – By Adina Roskies, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Searching for God in the Brain

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Beauregard seeks to pinpoint the brain…
October 03, 2007 – Scientific American Mind – By David Biello

Neuroscientists Take Important Step toward Mind Reading

…on functional MRI data. By analyzing fMRI scans of viewers as they looked…
May 29, 2008 – Scientific American Mind – By Christopher Intagliata

Saying no to yourself: The neural mechanisms of self-control

…button press). On each trial of the fMRI study, subjects were given three…
September 11, 2007 – 60-Second Science Blog

Five Ways Brain Scans Mislead Us

…at the capabilities and operation of fMRI, perhaps the most commonly…
November 05, 2008 – Scientific American Mind – By Michael Shermer

Brain-Scan Cell Mystery Solved

…until now the mechanism underlying fMRI’s robust success has been a…
October 06, 2008 – Scientific American Mind – By Nikhil Swaminathan


…resonance imaging (fMRI). Unlike other imaging methods, fMRI allows…
March 21, 2000 – Scientific American Magazine – By Carol Ezzell

Fact or Phrenology?

…magnetic resonance imaging–or fMRI–has made quite a splash since its…
March 24, 2005 – Scientific American Mind – By David Dobbs

Freeing a Locked-In Mind

…with the advent of functional MRI (fMRI) scans, it became possible to…
April 04, 2007 – Scientific American Mind – By Karen Schrock

Are You a Liar? Ask Your Brain

…Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology to determine whether someone…
November 15, 2007 – News – By Larry Greenemeier

Hypnosis, Memory and the Brain

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They carefully selected 25 people to…
October 07, 2008 – Mind Matters – By Amanda J. Barnier, Rochelle E. Cox, Greg Savage

Can brain scans read our minds?

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze changes in the flow of blood…
December 12, 2008 – 60-Second Science Blog

Does fMRI See the Future?

…magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to chronicle the brain in action….
January 22, 2009 – 60-Second Science

Can fMRI Really Tell If You’re Lying?

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) purports to detect mendacity by seeing…
August 13, 2008 – Scientific American Magazine – By Gary Stix

The Brain Is Not Modular: What fMRI Really Tells Us

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We have all seen scans with…
May 13, 2008 – Scientific American Magazine – By Michael Shermer

The Sound Track of Our Minds

…headphones while lying in an fMRI machine; each of the musical tapestries…
August 03, 2007 – News – By Nikhil Swaminathan

Brain Images Make Inaccurate Science News Trustworthy

…magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI)—the tool that creates a…
April 07, 2008 – 60-Second Psych

Partial Recall: Why Memory Fades with Age

…imaging magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine whether those…
December 05, 2007 – News – By Nikhil Swaminathan

When Craving Is Better Than Getting

In a recent article about brain cells, Joshua Freedman a U.C.L.A. neuroscientist, noted that a monkey feels maximal reward not when he eats a grape but rather when he gets it in his possession, anticipating he can eat it. Reward anticipation is very strong and can have a negative impact, (think: addiction), according to researchers from Rutgers and New York universities. They studied the effect of cognitive therapy on the physiological reactions to anticipating positive reward, and the results are published in Nature Neuroscience this week. To get a handle on these cravings, researchers presented human subjects with cues for a monetary gift. For each presentation, they were asked to either think of the reward or think of something calming  that was the same color as the cue (which was blue).   The calming strategy cut the physiological arousal (measured by skin conductance response) nearly in half. Additionally, they found marked reductions in the activity of the left and …
June 30, 2008 – 60-Second Psych

Magnetic Revelations

…magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become the leading research tool…
October 16, 2001 – Scientific American Magazine

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Lets consider a dying star. Any dying star. 

They are out there you know… dying, forming and changing as assuredly as Earth’s season’s change only their timeline is highly skewed toward the million year epoch.

On a gross level, all those stars out there dying do pretty much similar things when they die.   Eventually they turn into ‘white dwarfs’ and, as they cool from exhausting their nuclear fuel, they gain mass and become very dense cinders in the sky.  The consensus is that white dwarfs are the end stages of the evolution of low or medium-mass stars – like our Sun, which is why dying stars are interesting.

Once the hydrogen content of our Sun is exhausted, the Sun will balloon into a ‘red giant’ on the way to becoming a ‘white dwarf.’  Besides colorful and taking a long time, the Sun will slough off its outer layers for a couple million light years and in so doing will destroy the balance that used to exist in our space time continuum.  The dying star’s planetary nebula that forms will engulf everything in our solar system as far out as Mars.  Long before that happens of course, it will completely and irrevocably change everything in our solar system for a couple of million light years out. More to the point, it will envelope Earth.  That’s right.  Earth get’s zapped millions of years prior to the Sun’s end and there is ‘zip’ one can do about it.  It’s over. 

Long before the planetary nebula is sloughed off and changes our solar system, Earth will be destroyed along with all life and McDonalds.  Even cockroaches will be zapped back to energy stuff.

While we are all content today on watching the unfolding of the latest hockey standings or Brittany Spears’ faux pas, there are some things out there that are even more important than world peace and redistribution of wealth. 

Which brings up some interesting questions...

The first question I have is, “Whose god is going to intervene and prevent this from happening?”  I mean you can’t have it both ways… you can’t have subjects of your faith if you mess them up that badly.  If you call this end to everything ‘your’ omnipotent doing then you are some weird deity to what that to happen.  If you say it that is due to misbehavior mankind, then why zap my gardenias?   Why put an end to anteaters?  What I am suggesting to the gods out there, if you want a bunch of followers come up with a different solution than the Big Zap.  You may want to advocate a less drastic set of consequences. If you do you’ll get a lot of followers.   Just a thought.

If this is an Armageddon promised by some gods, I’d like to know which one because I am pretty sure me and my friends want to invest in a different one; one with a different value system or one that doesn’t view all everything (life and non-life) as cataclysmally irrelevant. Until the end is here or near I’ll put my efforts in that one and see if I can’t steer him or her or it to come to some middle ground.  So, find me that deity and I’ll become a priest. 

The next question I need an answer to is, “Who is going to discuss whose mystical work this is and what justification it has?”  I’d like to know. Today it would seem to be Islam vs. Christianity but that may not be the players in the future.  Maybe the players in the future will be some minor deities like minor gospels in Christianity that were passed over for various reasons.  If that is the case, now is your time to shine and speak up.  Then again, it seems like if you are going to start a new religion or overtake an existing one you’d have to do some planning on this topic.

Let’s move on…

I’d like to know what the actions are available to those that think empiricism and science can get us off Earth to a youthful and vital planet in another solar system related to a newer or younger star that will support my lifestyle.  So here is the question:  “Should I study religion or physics to make that happen?”  I mean, if there is a chance of a solution without solving some transporter problems to exoplanets that will support life, I’d like to take a shot at that or tell my tetra-giga-grandchildren to forsake nano-polymer mica-physics and take up numerology or Poly. Sci. courses so that we can talk this over somewhere down the road.

So, “If talk will not work then what courses do you suggest?”   “Should I go the way of philosophy and semantics of S. I. Hayakawanot the actor – or a minor scholar at a major university?”

Another question… “If things were to get really ecumenical, how will I approach it if I am here in the Northern Hemisphere and the deity or transporter headquarters is in Rio de Janeiro?” 

And a follow-up question or two…

“Will there be subjects or delegates if there is immigration to another planet?” 

“Is biotelemetry going to be involved or some other form of information transfer?”

“Will my lineage be a factor or is there going to be some other criteria?”


I think that anyone’s answers to these questions will help a lot and get me headed in the right direction so feel free to share what you know.



Mason Ross

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Web Coder’s Congressional Testimony

Hired Code Slinger: You want answers?
Congressman: I think I’m entitled to them.
Hired Code Slinger: You want answers?
Congressman: I want the truth!

Hired Code Slinger: You can’t handle the truth!  Son, we live in a world that has web sites. And those web sites have products and services that must be refreshed with code every damn second.  Who’s gonna do it?  You?!  You, Congressman?   I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for news updates and you curse porn. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that porn traffic, while illegal, out-sells everything else I try to do on the Internet.  And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, makes everything on the Internet happen… You don’t want the truth because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that keyboard. You need me on that keyboard. We use words like bomb, socket, mash-up…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent providing you with content. You use ’em in a punch line!  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain my work ethic to a man who rises and falls asleep to the sound bites of Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith clips I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it!  I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a laptop and code-up. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

Congressman: Did you order the code released?
Hired Code Slinger: (quietly) I did the job you need me to do.
Congressman: Did you order the code released!?
Hired Code Slinger: You’re goddamn right I did!!

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