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Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices

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  • Mayank Shekhar
    Given this, it will be funny to watch the mind controlled robot the Japanese company developed - was in news last week.   Mayank ... From: Ravishankar V.
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 3, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      Given this, it will be funny to watch the mind controlled robot the Japanese company developed - was in news last week.
       
      Mayank

      --- On Fri, 3/27/09, Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...> wrote:


      From: Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...>
      Subject: Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices
      To: TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, March 27, 2009, 12:28 PM


      In this connection it may be worthwhile to look at an alternate view point
      of how such neuroscience researches are done.
      http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/that_voodoo_that_scientists_do/

      Some excerpts:
      That area of research is the burgeoning subfield of social neuroscience,
      which seeks to understand the neurobiological basis of social behavior.
      Using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, researchers correlate neural
      activity with social and behavioral measures in order to pinpoint areas of
      the brain associated with social decision making or emotional reactivity.

      Late last year, Ed Vul, a graduate student at MIT working with
      neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher and UCSD psychologist Hal Pashler,
      prereleased “Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience” on his website. The
      journal *Perspectives in Psychological Science* accepted the paper but will
      not formally publish it until May.

      The paper argues that the way many social neuroimaging researchers are
      analyzing their data is so deeply flawed that it calls into question much of
      their methodology. Specifically, Vul and his coauthors claim that many, if
      not most, social neuroscientists commit a nonindependence error in their
      research in which the final measure (say, a correlation between behavior and
      brain activity in a certain region) is not independent of the selection
      criteria (how the researchers chose which brain region to study), thus
      allowing noise to inflate their correlation estimates. Further, the
      researchers found that the methods sections that were clearing peer review
      boards were woefully inadequate, often lacking basic information about how
      data was analyzed so that others could evaluate their methods. (Read Vul et
      al.‘s entire in-press paper
      here<http://www.pashler.com/Articles/Vul_etal_2008inpress.pdf>
      .)

      ________________________________

      For the rest, maybe two pages worth article, please go to the linked page in
      Seed magazine.

      Ravishankar




      On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:43 PM, Mayank Shekhar <shekharmayank@...>wrote:

      >   Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices
      >
      > "They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
      > know what they are."
      >
      >
      > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5047452/Scientists-identify-brain-region-that-helps-us-make-choices.html
      >
      >
      > Choosing a holiday can be a headache – and now scientists know precisely
      > which bit of the head it affects.
      >
      > Last Updated: 7:46AM GMT 25 Mar 2009
      >
      > They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
      > know what they are.
      >
      > The caudate nucleus, part of a structure called the striatum, is involved
      > in anticipating rewards.
      >
      > Scientists conducted an experiment in which volunteers imagined taking a
      > holiday in 80 different destinations around the world. At the same time
      > their brain activity was monitored.
      >
      > After rating how much they would like to travel to each location,
      > participants were asked to decide between similarly rated options, for
      > instance Greece or Thailand. They then imagined and rated each location
      > again during a second brain scan.
      >
      > Volunteers tended to choose the destination that most activated the caudate
      > nucleus.
      > In fact, activity in the brain region predicted which destination would
      > eventually be chosen from a selection of similarly rated alternatives.
      >
      > After making a decision, ratings were changed to reflect the choice that
      > had been made. If Greece was chosen over Thailand, it was subsequently rated
      > higher while Thailand was rated lower.
      >
      > Activation in the caudate nucleus changed in parallel with this
      > re-evaluation. In the Greece-Thailand example, activity increased for Greece
      > and lowered for Thailand.
      >
      > Study leader Dr Tali Sharot, from University College London, said:
      > "Re-evaluating our options post-choice may serve an adaptive purpose by
      > increasing an individual's commitment to the action taken. In the absence of
      > a rapid update of value that concurs with choice, we are likely to
      > second-guess our decisions and actions."
      >
      > The research is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >

      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



      ------------------------------------

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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ravishankar V.
      I am not aware of how they map the control regions. But I know of some of Vilayanur Ramachandran s research on brain and cognition. His mirror neurons idea
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 3, 2009
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        I am not aware of how they map the control regions. But I know of some of
        Vilayanur Ramachandran's research on brain and cognition. His mirror
        neurons idea has helped in dealing with Autism to an extent. It also helps
        in dealing with phantom limb pains. So there is the possibility that brain
        areas can be mapped with functions. But mapping origins of ideas, values
        and choices could be trickier. For example this footnote no. 7 explains
        some of the logic of the paper well I think.
        Quote:
        7 There are several reasons why a true correlation of 1.0 seems highly
        unrealistic. First, for any behavioral trait, it is far-fetched to suppose
        that only one brain area influences this trait. Second, even if the neural
        underpinnings of a trait were confined to one particular region, it would
        seem to require an extraordinarily favorable set of coincidences for the
        BOLD signal (basically a blood flow measure) assessed in one particular
        stimulus or task contrast to capture all function relevant to the behavioral
        trait, which after all reflects the organization of complex neural circuitry
        residing in that brain area.
        unquote

        I am not a wizard at Statistical methodology, but I can follow some of the
        arguments in this paper. In social sciences, which is my background, we are
        taught how difficult it is to use stochastic reasoning for much of the
        data. Often the sampling problems were insurmountable, then the observer
        bias was also not easily eliminated, unless of course that could be
        randomized and experiments could be controlled a lot.
        I assume many in this forum know about all these problems in data gathering
        and analysis as well.

        The paper does not suggest that all observed relationship between brain
        areas and cognition of specific things is spurious. Merely that there is a
        lot of overstatement in results due to a) inadequacy of control in
        experiments and b) a certain amount of lack of sophistication (or
        understanding) in statistical techniques used to gather and analyze data.
        Both problems could be dealt with I assume. Meanwhile in a field like
        economics, Deidre McClosky and another person, are already raising some
        stink about analysis becoming a prisoner to statistical significance. That
        seems to me to be more of a political/ ideological attack on established
        methodology than a well thought out criticism. In a review of their book,
        Aris Spanos of Virginia Tech, basically scolds the authors for preferring
        slieght of hand tricks as proofs than offering credible evidence for the
        utility of their proffered alternative method.
        The review is here: http://ejpe.org/pdf/1-1-br-2.pdf
        I haven't yet laid my hands on McClosky's book.

        I think though that Vul ,,,, &Pashler paper here isn't the kind of
        ideological attack Deidre McClosky is mounting.
        I hope I haven't muddied the thread here.
        Ravishankar


        Ra.sa


        On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 7:21 AM, Mayank Shekhar <shekharmayank@...>wrote:

        > Given this, it will be funny to watch the mind controlled robot the
        > Japanese company developed - was in news last week.
        >
        > Mayank
        >
        > --- On Fri, 3/27/09, Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...<mannumvinnum%40gmail.com>>
        > wrote:
        >
        > From: Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@... <mannumvinnum%40gmail.com>>
        > Subject: Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Scientists identify brain region
        > that helps us make choices
        > To: TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com<TheHeathenInHisBlindness%40yahoogroups.com>
        > Date: Friday, March 27, 2009, 12:28 PM
        >
        >
        > In this connection it may be worthwhile to look at an alternate view point
        > of how such neuroscience researches are done.
        > http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/that_voodoo_that_scientists_do/
        >
        > Some excerpts:
        > That area of research is the burgeoning subfield of social neuroscience,
        > which seeks to understand the neurobiological basis of social behavior.
        > Using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, researchers correlate neural
        > activity with social and behavioral measures in order to pinpoint areas of
        > the brain associated with social decision making or emotional reactivity.
        >
        > Late last year, Ed Vul, a graduate student at MIT working with
        > neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher and UCSD psychologist Hal Pashler,
        > prereleased �Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience� on his website.
        > The
        > journal *Perspectives in Psychological Science* accepted the paper but will
        > not formally publish it until May.
        >
        > The paper argues that the way many social neuroimaging researchers are
        > analyzing their data is so deeply flawed that it calls into question much
        > of
        > their methodology. Specifically, Vul and his coauthors claim that many, if
        > not most, social neuroscientists commit a nonindependence error in their
        > research in which the final measure (say, a correlation between behavior
        > and
        > brain activity in a certain region) is not independent of the selection
        > criteria (how the researchers chose which brain region to study), thus
        > allowing noise to inflate their correlation estimates. Further, the
        > researchers found that the methods sections that were clearing peer review
        > boards were woefully inadequate, often lacking basic information about how
        > data was analyzed so that others could evaluate their methods. (Read Vul et
        > al.�s entire in-press paper
        > here<http://www.pashler.com/Articles/Vul_etal_2008inpress.pdf>
        >
        > .)
        >
        > ________________________________
        >
        > For the rest, maybe two pages worth article, please go to the linked page
        > in
        > Seed magazine.
        >
        > Ravishankar
        >
        > On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:43 PM, Mayank Shekhar <shekharmayank@...<shekharmayank%40yahoo.com>
        > >wrote:
        >
        > > Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices
        > >
        > > "They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
        > > know what they are."
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5047452/Scientists-identify-brain-region-that-helps-us-make-choices.html
        > >
        > >
        > > Choosing a holiday can be a headache � and now scientists know precisely
        > > which bit of the head it affects.
        > >
        > > Last Updated: 7:46AM GMT 25 Mar 2009
        > >
        > > They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
        > > know what they are.
        > >
        > > The caudate nucleus, part of a structure called the striatum, is involved
        > > in anticipating rewards.
        > >
        > > Scientists conducted an experiment in which volunteers imagined taking a
        > > holiday in 80 different destinations around the world. At the same time
        > > their brain activity was monitored.
        > >
        > > After rating how much they would like to travel to each location,
        > > participants were asked to decide between similarly rated options, for
        > > instance Greece or Thailand. They then imagined and rated each location
        > > again during a second brain scan.
        > >
        > > Volunteers tended to choose the destination that most activated the
        > caudate
        > > nucleus.
        > > In fact, activity in the brain region predicted which destination would
        > > eventually be chosen from a selection of similarly rated alternatives.
        > >
        > > After making a decision, ratings were changed to reflect the choice that
        > > had been made. If Greece was chosen over Thailand, it was subsequently
        > rated
        > > higher while Thailand was rated lower.
        > >
        > > Activation in the caudate nucleus changed in parallel with this
        > > re-evaluation. In the Greece-Thailand example, activity increased for
        > Greece
        > > and lowered for Thailand.
        > >
        > > Study leader Dr Tali Sharot, from University College London, said:
        > > "Re-evaluating our options post-choice may serve an adaptive purpose by
        > > increasing an individual's commitment to the action taken. In the absence
        > of
        > > a rapid update of value that concurs with choice, we are likely to
        > > second-guess our decisions and actions."
        > >
        > > The research is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.
        > >
        > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Mayank Shekhar
        I dont think that V Ramachandran s phantom limb treatment depends upon identifying the regions. It rather involves relearning, which stops one region from
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 3, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          I dont think that V Ramachandran's phantom limb treatment depends upon identifying the regions. It rather involves relearning, which stops one region from encroching into the neighboring region which mapped to the lost limb (or in other words processed signals from the lost limb). In the phantom pain in hand example, the region that processed input from hand was next to the region that processed facial input and was encroached upon by the facial inputs. Establishing the neighboring regions helped only in understanding the problem - why would one feel pain in a limb that does not exist. However, solution essentially was in relearning, which he did through a mirror in a box. I am afraid I am using the term relearning loosely here, it simply means that the brain learnt through this mirror in a box - what it did neurologically is not known, but the phantom pain was certainly gone.
           
          By mentioning lost limb, I do not want to preclude limbs that one is not born with. He also argues that these regions may be fixed for individuals as in before birth independant of the fact that the individual will have the limb or not when born, because he also had an example of a person who was born without hands, not much beyond a potrusion from the shoulder joint, and yet it would move as if gesturing while talking.
           
          For behaviorial traits, they will be better off thinking in terms of Indian traditions rather than specific behaviour - this is my gut feeling. Like vritti, and I don't know that it will provide an answer, but in my reading and understanding of vritti, chitta and manas, it explains a lot of things. Wish I were researching this area (both the Indian traditions as well as the neuro-socio-psychology or whatever is the term) and not just a curious reader. My attempt to identify any brain regions for these have not been successful yet but I haven't read enough.
           
          On statistics, even if they get a farely large sample, given what little we know of brain, one cannot say much with certainty. This methodology helps predict the chances or degree of certainty. I don't know but suspect that wiring of the brain is diverse and may even be as diverse as the finger print.
           
          All they have done is associated, rightly or wrongly, some neuronic activity to some observed things like behavior or action or something. Untill one finds out the neronic language, if I can call it a language, these associations will only remain observed and inferred associations; no telling how far or close they are from the reality. 
           
          In my experience, I have observed people breaking sometimes when they approach a traffic light and at others, they go by their estimation of the state of the light (green, yellow and red) rather than just the presence of the poles and lights. The times when I have observed them to break are the ones when they are distracted as in talking to someone in car or on phone. I consider this as a defensive mechanism where when one is distracted, one breaks no matter what is the color of the light on (green, red or yellow) and instead go by the fact that there is a traffic light, let me slow down. And these seem to work like instinct, which means there is some level of repeatability and does not involve conscious thinking or processing. A little change in circumstances changes the behavior, everything else remaining the same.
           
          Mayank


          --- On Fri, 4/3/09, Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...> wrote:


          From: Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...>
          Subject: Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices
          To: TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Friday, April 3, 2009, 8:29 AM


          I am not aware of how they map the control regions. But I know of some of
          Vilayanur Ramachandran's research on brain and cognition.  His mirror
          neurons idea has helped in dealing with Autism to an extent.  It also helps
          in dealing with phantom limb pains.  So there is the possibility that brain
          areas can be mapped with functions.  But mapping origins of ideas, values
          and choices could be trickier.  For example this footnote no. 7 explains
          some of the logic of the paper well I think.
          Quote:
          7 There are several reasons why a true correlation of 1.0 seems highly
          unrealistic. First, for any behavioral trait, it is far-fetched to suppose
          that only one brain area influences this trait. Second, even if the neural
          underpinnings of a trait were confined to one particular region, it would
          seem to require an extraordinarily favorable set of coincidences for the
          BOLD signal (basically a blood flow measure) assessed in one particular
          stimulus or task contrast to capture all function relevant to the behavioral
          trait, which after all reflects the organization of complex neural circuitry
          residing in that brain area.
          unquote

          I am not a wizard at Statistical methodology, but I can follow some of the
          arguments in this paper. In social sciences, which is my background, we are
          taught how difficult it is to use stochastic reasoning for much of the
          data.  Often the sampling problems were insurmountable, then the observer
          bias was also not easily eliminated, unless of course that could be
          randomized and experiments could be controlled a lot.
          I assume many in this forum know about all these problems in data gathering
          and analysis as well.

          The paper does not suggest that all observed relationship between brain
          areas and cognition of specific things is spurious.  Merely that there is a
          lot of overstatement in results due to a) inadequacy of control in
          experiments and b) a certain amount of lack of sophistication (or
          understanding) in statistical techniques used to gather and analyze data.
          Both problems could be dealt with I assume.  Meanwhile in a field like
          economics, Deidre McClosky and another person, are already raising some
          stink about analysis becoming a prisoner to statistical significance.  That
          seems to me to be more of a political/ ideological attack on established
          methodology than a well thought out criticism.  In a review of their book,
          Aris Spanos of Virginia Tech, basically scolds the authors for preferring
          slieght of hand tricks as proofs than offering credible evidence for the
          utility of their proffered alternative method.
          The review is here: http://ejpe.org/pdf/1-1-br-2.pdf
          I haven't yet laid my hands on McClosky's book.

          I think though that Vul ,,,, &Pashler paper here isn't the kind of
          ideological attack Deidre McClosky is mounting.
          I hope I haven't muddied the thread here.
          Ravishankar


          Ra.sa


          On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 7:21 AM, Mayank Shekhar <shekharmayank@...>wrote:

          >   Given this, it will be funny to watch the mind controlled robot the
          > Japanese company developed - was in news last week.
          >
          > Mayank
          >
          > --- On Fri, 3/27/09, Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@...<mannumvinnum%40gmail.com>>
          > wrote:
          >
          > From: Ravishankar V. <mannumvinnum@... <mannumvinnum%40gmail.com>>
          > Subject: Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Scientists identify brain region
          > that helps us make choices
          > To: TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com<TheHeathenInHisBlindness%40yahoogroups.com>
          > Date: Friday, March 27, 2009, 12:28 PM
          >
          >
          > In this connection it may be worthwhile to look at an alternate view point
          > of how such neuroscience researches are done.
          > http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/that_voodoo_that_scientists_do/
          >
          > Some excerpts:
          > That area of research is the burgeoning subfield of social neuroscience,
          > which seeks to understand the neurobiological basis of social behavior.
          > Using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, researchers correlate neural
          > activity with social and behavioral measures in order to pinpoint areas of
          > the brain associated with social decision making or emotional reactivity.
          >
          > Late last year, Ed Vul, a graduate student at MIT working with
          > neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher and UCSD psychologist Hal Pashler,
          > prereleased “Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience” on his website.
          > The
          > journal *Perspectives in Psychological Science* accepted the paper but will
          > not formally publish it until May.
          >
          > The paper argues that the way many social neuroimaging researchers are
          > analyzing their data is so deeply flawed that it calls into question much
          > of
          > their methodology. Specifically, Vul and his coauthors claim that many, if
          > not most, social neuroscientists commit a nonindependence error in their
          > research in which the final measure (say, a correlation between behavior
          > and
          > brain activity in a certain region) is not independent of the selection
          > criteria (how the researchers chose which brain region to study), thus
          > allowing noise to inflate their correlation estimates. Further, the
          > researchers found that the methods sections that were clearing peer review
          > boards were woefully inadequate, often lacking basic information about how
          > data was analyzed so that others could evaluate their methods. (Read Vul et
          > al.‘s entire in-press paper
          > here<http://www.pashler.com/Articles/Vul_etal_2008inpress.pdf>
          >
          > .)
          >
          > ________________________________
          >
          > For the rest, maybe two pages worth article, please go to the linked page
          > in
          > Seed magazine.
          >
          > Ravishankar
          >
          > On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:43 PM, Mayank Shekhar <shekharmayank@...<shekharmayank%40yahoo.com>
          > >wrote:
          >
          > >   Scientists identify brain region that helps us make choices
          > >
          > > "They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
          > > know what they are."
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5047452/Scientists-identify-brain-region-that-helps-us-make-choices.html
          > >
          > >
          > > Choosing a holiday can be a headache – and now scientists know precisely
          > > which bit of the head it affects.
          > >
          > > Last Updated: 7:46AM GMT 25 Mar 2009
          > >
          > > They have identified a brain region that predicts choices before we even
          > > know what they are.
          > >
          > > The caudate nucleus, part of a structure called the striatum, is involved
          > > in anticipating rewards.
          > >
          > > Scientists conducted an experiment in which volunteers imagined taking a
          > > holiday in 80 different destinations around the world. At the same time
          > > their brain activity was monitored.
          > >
          > > After rating how much they would like to travel to each location,
          > > participants were asked to decide between similarly rated options, for
          > > instance Greece or Thailand. They then imagined and rated each location
          > > again during a second brain scan.
          > >
          > > Volunteers tended to choose the destination that most activated the
          > caudate
          > > nucleus.
          > > In fact, activity in the brain region predicted which destination would
          > > eventually be chosen from a selection of similarly rated alternatives.
          > >
          > > After making a decision, ratings were changed to reflect the choice that
          > > had been made. If Greece was chosen over Thailand, it was subsequently
          > rated
          > > higher while Thailand was rated lower.
          > >
          > > Activation in the caudate nucleus changed in parallel with this
          > > re-evaluation. In the Greece-Thailand example, activity increased for
          > Greece
          > > and lowered for Thailand.
          > >
          > > Study leader Dr Tali Sharot, from University College London, said:
          > > "Re-evaluating our options post-choice may serve an adaptive purpose by
          > > increasing an individual's commitment to the action taken. In the absence
          > of
          > > a rapid update of value that concurs with choice, we are likely to
          > > second-guess our decisions and actions."
          > >
          > > The research is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.
          > >
          > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >

          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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