Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews Find LSD “Harmonizing” on Brain, Changes Personality for Years, Studies Show from Scientific Reports 

The study found that taking LSD is ‘harmonizing’ because it helps connect different parts of your brain in new ways while “reorganizing” it.

Josh Magness writes: Your brain on LSD is kind of like jazz improvisation.

That’s according to Selen Atasoy, a research fellow at the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain. She was among the authors of a study published in the journal Scientific Reports that found the psychedelic drug can reorganize your brain in a “harmonizing” way.

“Just like improvising jazz musicians use many more musical notes in a spontaneous and non-random fashion,” she told PsyPost in an interview, “your brain combines many more of the harmonic waves (connectome harmonics) spontaneously yet in a structured way.”

Twelve people were examined for the study, with some taking LSD and some a placebo drug. Researchers examined their brain with an MRI scan both during and after the subjects listened to music.

Researchers said they wanted to study the combined effect of music and LSD because “music is also known for its capacity to elicit emotions, which is found to be emphasized by the effect of psychedelics.

“Exploring the combined effects of music and the psychedelic state induced by LSD provided us an opportunity to reveal not only the LSD-induced dynamical changes in the brain,” they wrote, “but also how these dynamics are affected by the presence of a complex, natural stimuli like music.”

The study found that taking LSD is “harmonizing” because it helps connect different parts of your brain in new ways while “reorganizing” it. The effects were temporary, but Newsweek reports that it’s a positive sign for people with some psychological conditions.

The brain could more efficiently make those new connections while a person listened to music, the study also found.

Atasoy told PsyPost that because changes in a brain with LSD were “structured” instead of random, this “suggests a reorganisation of brain dynamics and the emergence of new type of order in the brain.” Read the rest of this entry »


Scientists Discover Neural Mechanism—and Possible Fix—for Chronic Pain

Study in mice reveals how brain circuitry goes haywire after peripheral nerve damage.

 reports: Chronic, aching pain after an injury or operation may be all in your head. Researchers now think they’ve figured out exactly how brain wiring goes haywire to cause persistent pain—and how to fix it.

In mice with peripheral nerve damage and chronic pain from a leg surgery, a broken circuit in a pain-processing region of mammalian brains caused hyperactive pain signals that persisted for more than a month. Specifically, the peripheral nerve damage seemed to deactivate a type of interconnected brain cells, called somatostatin (SOM) interneurons, which normally dampen pain signals. Without the restraints, neurons that fire off pain signals—cortical pyramidal neurons—went wild, researchers report in Nature Neuroscience.

But the circuitry could be repaired, the researchers found. Just by manually activating those pain-stifling SOM interneurons, the researchers could shut down the rodents’ chronic pain and keep the system working properly—preventing centralized, chronic pain from ever developing.

“Our findings suggest that manipulating interneuron activity after peripheral nerve injury could be an important avenue for the prevention of pyramidal neuron over-excitation and the transition from acute postoperative pain to chronic centralized pain,” the authors, led by neuroscientist Guang Yang at New York University School of Medicine, conclude. Yang and his colleagues envision future drugs or therapies, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, to tweak the activity of the interneurons to prevent malfunctioning pain signaling.

The study is just in mice, so it needs repeating and verifying before the line of research can move forward. That said, the work is backed by and in-line with a series of human and animal studies on chronic pain. Read the rest of this entry »

Princeton’s Surreal ‘Diversity Training’ for Students


 writes: We live in the age of inclusion where we are to be welcomed and treated equally, but, paradoxically, we are all to be labeled clearly so that everyone knows what status we may embody. Take college campuses, the incubator of liberalism gone amok. So-called “diversity training” has attempted to make students painfully aware of all of their differences (well, all differences but ones of opinion, since diversity of thought has become intolerable in academia).

“know your kind and stick to it. Don’t risk offending people from other backgrounds by trying to understand their worldviews.”

Student Carrie Pritt recently wrote of her experience as an incoming freshman at Princeton University, where different labels (white, male, wealthy) were rattled off and students were asked to stand if they identified with that group. “But what did it really accomplish?” she asked. “In compressing us into isolated communities based on our race, religion or gender, the minister belittled every other piece of our identities.” He faced a crowd of singular young adults and essentially told them that their heritage outweighed their humanity.


The message was clear: “know your kind and stick to it. Don’t risk offending people from other backgrounds by trying to understand their worldviews.” Although she understands that the university was trying to do something good, Carrie wonders, “Why were the university administrators, who speak so highly of diversity, choosing to strip us of our individuality?” It’s a good question. Read the rest of this entry »

John Tierney: The Real War on Science 


The Left has done far more than the Right to set back progress.

John Tierney writes: My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don’t devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It’s fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren’t you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives’ threat to science?

“Democrats outnumber Republicans at least 12 to 1 (perhaps 40 to 1) in social psychology.”

My friends don’t like my answer: because there isn’t much to write about. Conservatives just don’t have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the “party of science.” But I’ve done my homework. I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties?

“The narrative that Republicans are antiscience has been fed by well-publicized studies reporting that conservatives are more close-minded and dogmatic than liberals are. But these conclusions have been based on questions asking people how strongly they cling to traditional morality and religion—dogmas that matter a lot more to conservatives than to liberals.”

Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced? Yes, the book reveals that Republican creationists exist, but they don’t affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution. Yes, George W. Bush refused federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but that hardly put a stop to it (and not much changed after Barack Obama reversed the policy). Mooney rails at scientists and politicians who oppose government policies favored by progressives like himself, but if you’re looking for serious damage to the enterprise of science, he offers only three examples.


“A few other studies—not well-publicized—have shown that liberals can be just as close-minded when their own beliefs, such as their feelings about the environment or Barack Obama, are challenged.”

All three are in his first chapter, during Mooney’s brief acknowledgment that leftists “here and there” have been guilty of “science abuse.” First, there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation.


Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.

[Read the full story here at City Journal]

The danger from the Left does not arise from stupidity or dishonesty; those failings are bipartisan. Some surveys show that Republicans, particularly libertarians, are more scientifically literate than Democrats, but there’s plenty of ignorance all around. Both sides cherry-pick research and misrepresent evidence to support their agendas. Whoever’s in power, the White House plays politics in appointing advisory commissions and editing the executive summaries of their reports. Scientists of all ideologies exaggerate the importance of their own research and seek results that will bring them more attention and funding.

But two huge threats to science are peculiar to the Left—and they’re getting worse. Read the rest of this entry »

Report Shows No Group of Americans Is More Law-abiding Than Concealed Carry Holders



Cortney O’Brien reports: “Indeed, it is impossible to think of any other group in the U.S. that is anywhere near as law-abiding” as concealed carry permit holders. So concluded the Crime Prevention Research Center following its new report, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States 2016.”

“With about 685,464 full-time police officers in the U.S. from 2005 to 2007, we find that there were about 103 crimes per hundred thousand officers. For the U.S. population as a whole, the crime rate was 37 times higher—3,813 per hundred thousand people.”

The center studied the rate of criminal offenses among concealed carry holders in Florida and Texas when coming to its conclusion.

The findings speak for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Heterodox Academy Combats Academic Uniformity, Leftist Bias


Fed Up with Peers’ Blind Devotion to Leftist Tenets, Freethinking Professors Launch their Own Website.

Kate Hardiman writes: In January, a mere five months after the launch of Heterodox Academy, the scholarly blog was cited by professor and columnist Paul Krugman in the New York Times as an example of educators who are “conservative” and “outraged” at “what they see as a sharp leftward movement in the academy.”


“Krugman is wrong—we are neither conservative nor outraged. We are concerned about the loss of viewpoint diversity in the academy because it means that we lose ‘institutionalized disconfirmation.’”

— Jonathan Haidt

But Krugman – like so many of his left-leaning peers – appeared blind to the truth.

“The quality of research produced by politically orthodox disciplines deteriorates. We are working within the academy to try to improve it.”

“Krugman is wrong—we are neither conservative nor outraged,” responded Jonathan Haidt, a professor of business ethics at New York University and co-founder of the website. “We are concerned about the loss of viewpoint diversity in the academy because it means that we lose ‘institutionalized disconfirmation.’”


…speakers and writers are often vilified for presenting contrary opinions to the common narrative. Here’s some of what can get scholars in trouble:

Suggest some or many aspects of modern feminism are misguided.”

“Claim that affirmative action is dysfunctional.”

“Argue that some psychological and behavioral differences between some groups might have derived from the different evolutionary adaptation pressures on different continents.

“Present evidence that many stereotypes are accurate.”

“Present evidence that children of gay or lesbian parents are not necessarily as psychologically well adjusted as parents of heterosexual parents.”

“Criticize Islam, as a religion and/or set of cultural values and/or political ideology.”

“The quality of research produced by politically orthodox disciplines deteriorates. We are working within the academy to try to improve it.”


[Read the full story here, at The College Fix]

Heterodox Academy was founded in September 2015 by eleven professors of liberal, conservative, libertarian and centrist bents who hail from various disciplines and universities and who have taken up the mission to combat the lack of “viewpoint diversity” in academia, with a special focus on the social sciences. Read the rest of this entry »

Groundbreaking Study Finds Gratification Can Be Deliberately Postponed


MEDFORD, MA—In a finding that upends longstanding assumptions about human mental capabilities, a Tufts University study published Monday has determined that gratification can actually be deliberately postponed. “We now have sound scientific evidence that suggests one can intentionally enjoy something at a point in time beyond this very moment,” said study co-author Bennett Sims…(read more)


Finally: Networked Monkey Brains


Neurobiologists have shown that brain signals from multiple animals can be combined to perform certain tasks better than a single brain

Mike Orcutt reports: New research proves that two heads are indeed better than one, at least at performing certain simple computational tasks.

The work demonstrates for the first time that multiple animal brains can be networked and harnessed to perform a specific behavior, says Miguel Nicolelis, a professor of neurobiology and biomedical engineering at Duke University and an expert in brain-machine interfaces.


“Even though the monkeys didn’t know they were collaborating, their brains became synchronized very quickly, and over time they got better and better at moving the arm.”

He says this type of “shared brain-machine interface” could potentially be useful for patients with brain damage, in addition to shedding light on how animal brains work together to perform collective behaviors.


Networked Monkey Brains Could Help Disabled Humans

Nicolelis and his colleagues published two separate studies today, one involving rats and the other involving monkeys, that describe experiments on networks of brains and illustrate how such “brainets” could be used to combine electrical outputs from the neurons of multiple animals to perform tasks. The rat brain networks often performed better than a BRAINS-BLENDsingle brain can, they report, and in the monkey experiment the brains of three individuals “collaborated” to complete a virtual reality-based task too complicated for a single one to perform.

“In the monkey experiment, the researchers combined two or three brains to perform a virtual motor task in three dimensions. After implanting electrodes, they used rewards to train individual monkeys to move a virtual arm to a target on a screen.”

To build a brain network, the researchers first implant microwire electrode arrays that can record signals as well as deliver pulses of electrical stimulation to neurons in the same region in multiple rat brains.

“An individual monkey brain does not have the capacity to move the arm in three dimensions, says Nicolelis, so each monkey learned to manipulate the arm within a certain ‘subspace’ of the virtual 3-D space.”

In the case of the rat experiment, they then physically linked pairs of rat brains via a “brain-to-brain interface” (see “Rats Communicate Through Brain Chips”). Once groups of three or four rats were interconnected, the researchers delivered prescribed electrical pulses to individual rats, portions of the group, or the whole group, and recorded the outputs.

[Read the full text here, at MIT Technology Review]

The researchers tested the ability of rat brain networks to perform basic computing tasks. For example, by delivering electrical pulse patterns derived from a digital image, they recorded the electrical outputs and measured how well the network of neurons processed that image. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Why Did NASA Drop This Plane?

Research for giving rescuers a better chance at locating plane wrecks.

Scientists are Developing Smart Contact Lenses that Can Magnify Your Vision by Almost 3X


The Innovation 15: Our Most Science and Tech-Friendly Members of Congress


The Innovation 15: Our Most Science- and Tech-Friendly Members of Congress
So maybe things aren’t that great. The 113th Congress of the United States is on track to enact just 251 laws in its two-year session, the least productive Congress since 1973. If a bill attempts to do anything more than rename a post office, it’s likely to languish in committee, ignored, while lawmakers sling partisan dung over budgets and borders. Not a great environment for innovation-minded legislation trying to become law. But it’s midterm- election time in America, and 33 Senate seats and every seat in the House of Representatives are up for grabs. Read the rest of this entry »

Historians Denied: China’s Archives Increasingly Off-Limits

The original document of Japanese war criminals in Jinan, Shandong Province.The Shandong Provincial Archives would reveal archives of ten Japanese war criminals since Aug. 15. Zuma Press

The original document of Japanese war criminals in Jinan, Shandong Province.The Shandong Provincial Archives would reveal archives of ten Japanese war criminals since Aug. 15. Zuma Press

“China has long complained about an anti-Beijing bias among Western scholars of the country, and has a clear interest in encouraging narratives its sees as correctives to foreign historians who are critical of the Communist Party.”

For WSJMaura Cunningham writes: At last week’s meeting of the Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China in Taipei, roughly 200 historians from Asia, the United States and Europe gathered to share their latest research. But during lunch hours and coffee breaks, the china-censoredone question that kept popping up wasn’t about any given paper or project. Instead it was: “How’s your archival access been lately?”

This wasn’t just idle conference chitchat.

“As one commenter at H-PRC noted, the mandate of archives now seems to be “wei dang shou dang; wei guo shou shi” (为党守档,为国守史), or “Defend the archives for the Party; defend history for the nation.”

Over the past few years, historians of China have grown increasingly worried about changes they’ve seen at Chinese archives that threaten to impede understanding of China at a time when such understanding is taking on a growing importance. Many archives in mainland China have been tightening access and imposing new restrictions on scholars, which can make conducting academic research in China a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

“By restricting access, will China get the history it wants? That’s doubtful…”

At the Dissertation Reviews website, which provides information about archival access in countries around the world, students of Chinese history have written in to warn fellow scholars about new regulations that make navigating the archives trickier than before. Read the rest of this entry »

New Manufacturing Methods Needed for Soft Machines, Robots


For phys.orgEmil Venere writes: Researchers have developed a technique that might be used to produce “soft machines” made of elastic materials and liquid metals for potential applications in robotics, medical devices and consumer electronics.

“Once you print it you can flip it over or turn it on its side, because the liquid is encased by this oxide skin. We use this finding to embed our electronics in elastomer without ruining or altering the printed structures during the processing steps…”

Such an elastic technology could make possible robots that have sensory skin and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

Purdue researchers have developed a technique to embed a liquid-alloy pattern inside a rubber-like polymer to form a network of sensors. The approach might be used to produce "soft machines" made of elastic materials and liquid metals for potential applications in robotics, medical devices and consumer electronics. Credit: Rebecca Kramer/Purdue University

Purdue researchers have developed a technique to embed a liquid-alloy pattern inside a rubber-like polymer to form a network of sensors. The approach might be used to produce “soft machines” made of elastic materials and liquid metals for potential applications in robotics, medical devices and consumer electronics. Credit: Rebecca Kramer/Purdue University

“We use this finding to embed our electronics in elastomer without ruining or altering the printed structures during the processing steps.”

However, new manufacturing techniques must be developed before soft machines become commercially practical, said Rebecca Kramer, an assistant professor of  at Purdue University.

She and her students are working to develop the fabrication technique, which uses a custom-built 3D printer. Recent findings show how to use the technique to create devices called strain gauges, which are commonly found in many commercial applications to measure how much something is stretching. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make Glowing Nanoparticles from Coal

Coal could be a source of cheap, nontoxic fluorescent nanoparticles useful for biomedicine.

quantum.dotsx299Mike Orcutt writes:  Glowing graphene: An electron microscope image shows fluorescent carbon nanoparticles extracted from anthracite coal.

Coal can be turned into large volumes of glowing quantum dots, according to Rice University researchers.

The new method could represent a very cheap way to produce fluorescent carbon nanoparticles that could be useful in biomedicine, and especially in the imaging of living human cells and tissues, says James Tour, a chemistry professor at Rice. Tour, who led the research, says early tests suggest that the particles are nontoxic, and says his group is working on developing the particles into fluorescent probes and drug-delivery vehicles.

The researchers used sound waves to agitate three types of coal—bituminous, anthracite, and coke—each treated with acid. They then heated the samples for 24 hours. The resulting particles, which range in size from two to 40 nanometers, were made of several layers of graphene oxide, an atom-thick carbon compound with a highly ordered structure. The size of the particles made from each type of coal was distinct, and each size emitted a different color of fluorescence.

Tour and his colleagues say there is enough evidence to call the carbon particles quantum dots. Quantum dots are nanoparticles in which electrons are confined to a space smaller than their wavelength, a phenomenon which gives rise to fluorescence; different-sized dots glow different colors when excited by a light source. Tour acknowledges that future research might reveal the particles to be fluorescent due to factors other than this phenomenon, but he says that wouldn’t change the potential technological applications.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Cold War Among Women

One of these outfits worn in Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt's study on female aggression provoked a sort of "mean girl" form of indirect aggression. The other attracted little notice at all. Tracy Vaillancourt

One of these outfits worn in Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt’s study on female aggression provoked a sort of “mean girl” form of indirect aggression. The other attracted little notice at all.     Tracy Vaillancourt

 writes: How aggressive is the human female? When the anthropologist Sarah B. Hrdy surveyed the research literature three decades ago, she concluded that “the competitive component in the nature of women remains anecdotal, intuitively sensed, but not confirmed by science.”

Science has come a long way since then, as Dr. Hrdy notes in her introduction to a recent issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society devoted entirely to the topic of female aggression. She credits the “stunning” amount of new evidence partly to better research techniques and partly to the entry of so many women into scientific fields once dominated by men.

The existence of female competition may seem obvious to anyone who has been in a high-school cafeteria or a singles bar, but analyzing it has been difficult because it tends be more subtle and indirect (and a lot less violent) than the male variety. Now that researchers have been looking more closely, they say that this “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Scientific Process Broken?


Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself

A simple idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.

But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.

Read the rest of this entry »

Put Away Your Phone and Just Eat Your Food

The Experts Have Spoken: Instagram Pictures of Food Will Ruin Your Meal
A man takes a picture with his mobile of foods in his plate as he is having lunch on July 19, 2012 in Paris.  AFP PHOTO / ANA AREVALO        (Photo credit should read ANA AREVALO/AFP/GettyImages)


 reports: When your friend stops you from digging into your delicious meal so that she can Instagram the food, it spoils the eating experience. And there’s science to prove that.

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology says that over-exposure to food photos on Instagram ruins your meal. Marketing professors at Brigham Young University asked 232 people to look at and rate pictures of food.

Half of the participants looked a pictures of sweet food (cakes, pastries), half at pictures of salty food (pretzels, chips). Both groups were then asked to have a salty food snack. Those who had looked at pictures of salty food enjoyed their snack less. Read the rest of this entry »

Next Out of the Printer, Living Tissue

Next Out of the Printer, Living Tissue -

Darryl D’Lima, an orthopedic specialist, worked with a bioprinter in his research on cartilage at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.


SAN DIEGO — Someday, perhaps, printers will revolutionize the world of medicine, churning out hearts, livers and other organs to ease transplantation shortages. For now, though, Darryl D’Lima would settle for a little bit of knee cartilage.

Dr. D’Lima, who heads an orthopedic research lab at the Scripps Clinic here, has already made bioartificial cartilage in cow tissue, modifying an old inkjet printer to put down layer after layer of a gel containing living cells. He has also printed cartilage in tissue removed from patients who have undergoneknee replacement surgery.

There is much work to do to perfect the process, get regulatory approvals and conduct clinical trials, but his eventual goal sounds like something from science fiction: to have a printer in the operating room that could custom-print new cartilage directly in the body to repair or replace tissue that is missing because of injury or arthritis.

Read the rest of this entry »