Dartmouth researcher discovers ‘brain signature’ that predicts human emotions

first_imgShare on Twitter Email LinkedIn Share on Facebook “It’s an impressive demonstration of imaging our feelings, of decoding our emotions from brain activity,” says lead author Luke Chang, an assistant professor in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth. “Emotions are central to our daily lives and emotional dysregulation is at the heart of many brain- and body-related disorders, but we don’t have a clear understanding of how emotions are processed in the brain. Thus, understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that generate and reduce negative emotional experiences is paramount.”The quest to understand the “emotional brain” has motivated hundreds of neuroimaging studies in recent years. But for neuroimaging to be useful, sensitive and specific “brain signatures” must be developed that can be applied to individual people to yield information about their emotional experiences, neuropathology or treatment prognosis. Thus far, the neuroscience of emotion has yielded many important results but no such indicators for emotional experiences.In their new study, the researchers’ goals were to develop a brain signature that predicts the intensity of negative emotional responses to evocative images; to test the signature in generalizing across individual participants and images; to examine the signature’s specificity related to pain; and to explore the neural circuitry necessary to predict negative emotional experience.Chang and his colleagues studied 182 participants who were shown negative photos (bodily injuries, acts of aggression, hate groups, car wrecks, human feces) and neutral photos. Thirty additional participants were also subjected to painful heat. Using brain imaging and machine learning techniques, the researchers identified a neural signature of negative emotion — a single neural activation pattern distributed across the entire brain that accurately predicts how negative a person will feel after viewing unpleasant images.“This means that brain imaging has the potential to accurately uncover how someone is feeling without knowing anything about them other than their brain activity,” Chang says. “This has enormous implications for improving our understanding of how emotions are generated and regulated, which have been notoriously difficult to define and measure. In addition, these new types of neural measures may prove to be important in identifying when people are having abnormal emotional responses – for example, too much or too little — which might indicate broader issues with health and mental functioning.”Unlike most previous research, the new study included a large sample size that reflects the general adult population and not just young college students; used machine learning and statistics to develop a predictive model of emotion; and, most importantly, tested participants across multiple psychological states, which allowed researchers to assess the sensitivity and specificity of their brain model.“We were particularly surprised by how well our pattern performed in predicting the magnitude and type of aversive experience,” Chang says. “As skepticism for neuroimaging grows based on over-sold and -interpreted findings and failures to replicate based on small sizes, many neuroscientists might be surprised by how well our signature performed. Another surprising finding is that our emotion brain signature using lots of people performed better at predicting how a person was feeling than their own brain data. There is an intuition that feelings are very idiosyncratic and vary across people. However, because we trained the pattern using so many participants – for example, four to 10 times the standard fMRI experiment — we were able to uncover responses that generalized beyond the training sample to new participants remarkably well.”center_img Pinterest Share A Dartmouth researcher and his colleagues have discovered a way to predict human emotions based on brain activity.The study is unusual because of its accuracy — more than 90 percent — and the large number of participants who reflect the general adult population rather than just college students. The findings could help in diagnosing and treating a range of mental and physical health conditions.The study appears in the journal PLOS Biology.last_img read more

Harvard admissions investigation prompts mixed reactions from Asian-American students

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) —  To achieve an exceptional college application has become seemingly more and more difficult — at least for certain groups of students. Ben Huynh, a Vietnamese-American born to immigrant parents and raised in Chicago, received a 2400 on his SAT, had perfect grades, held leadership positions and was very involved in his passion for music, all elements of an impeccable application by most standards. With his outstanding résumé, one would expect him to get into at least one of his top schools, but was rejected from most of them, including Harvard. “I was a little disappointed,” Huynh said, adding he never once blamed under-represented minorities as part of the problem. Despite his initial frustration, he said he remains a firm advocate of affirmative action. Though flawed, he said, the policy provides a level of balance that plays only a part in what is a complex and multifaceted admissions process. Huynh ended up accepting a full ride to University of Chicago and is happy with how things turned out. “I don’t think I’d do anything differently,” he said. “I didn’t see the point to racialize myself, there are other more important factors to address.” Huynh’s response is one of many mixed reactions from the Asian-American community to the ongoing debate about college admission practices, an issue brought back to light when the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University’s admissions practices. In November, the DOJ demanded Harvard to turn over admissions records as part of its investigation to examine whether Harvard is in violation of Title VI, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin” in Federal funded programs. The investigation began as the national conversation about the controversial practice of affirmative action continues. The concern that top universities like Harvard may be limiting the numbers of Asian-Americans it admits in favor of other minorities as a way to create a diverse student body is mirrored by other lawsuits like the one filed by the Student for Fair Admissions in 2014. That suit alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. Edward Blum, president of Student for Fair Admissions and the legal strategist behind the 2014 lawsuit, formed the non-profit organization with the goal to eliminate racial preferences in college admissions. Blum praised the investigation as a “welcomed development,” in a statement. “In order to create true diversity there are far better ways to go about it without raising the bar for some and lowering for others,” Blum told ABC News. However, some Asian-American students don’t see it that way. As a Chinese-American student at Harvard, Raymond Tang said he understood the need for policies like affirmative action and the innate selectivity in elite colleges, especially Ivy League schools. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t get into Harvard, because I expect it to be hard to get in,” Tang told ABC News. With a 2340 SAT score, six Hong Kong national medals in figure skating and numerous other successes in academia and the arts, Tiffany Lau is also a student with impeccable qualifications. Now a 20-year-old History & Literature and Theater, Dance & Media major at Harvard, she too, emphasized the expected competitiveness in college admissions. Lau said she believes any applicant, regardless of race, should be expected to have “more than just great scores and impressive resume.” In order to examine a person as a whole, she said, one must evaluate the components that make up the person’s identity. And that’s why she would not support a race-blind admissions process, “as an individual’s race is a central part of how they navigate the world, how they grew up and who they are,” said Lau. Similarly, Tang said he believes schools are justified to accept students for different reasons. “If there wasn’t a way to accommodate different experiences, they’ll end up with a homogeneous pool of students,” he said. Others hold similar opinions to Blum and accept the current system as an ugly truth. Michael Paik, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who scored over 2300 on the SAT and was a straight A student, remembered consciously shaping his application to differentiate himself from other applicants who may be perceived as more “traditional” Asian-American students. Paik said it’s a “commonly known thing” among Asian American households, since as a group, children tend to be raised in a culture where academic excellence is prioritized, making their application pool more competitive. Even his non-Asian friends, some who are at the opposite end of the affirmative action spectrum, admitted that his applications will have to be much stronger to be considered, Paik added. Between the myriad of variables at play and the limited spots available he recognized the complexity the issue warrants; however, he said although the process “is difficult and unpredictable” he still felt like “it’s unfair” at times. His mother, Michelle Paik, felt more strongly about what she saw as “an unjust system,” especially having five children with two of her eldest sons in college and three more on their way. “I was absolutely shocked when both of my sons got into their top choices, even though they were both top of their class,” said Mrs. Paik. She said it wasn’t for the lack of confidence in their abilities, but the unfortunate reality she and all of her children were acutely aware of — that Asian Americans are held to a higher standard. She didn’t want to discourage her children but she did warn them, “you may have all the qualifications but you are an Asian boy so there’s a big possibility you’ll be denied.” Instead of what is in place now, Mrs. Paik supports preferential policies based on socio-economic background. When a group of students of similar backgrounds and received the same private education “why should someone receive so much more benefits just because of their last name and skin color?” she questioned. As a mother of five, she often discussed the issue with other parents in the community who she said “share the same sentiments.” When they see certain unexpected college acceptances or rejections “they just roll their eyes, it’s an understood norm, which is sad,” Mrs. Paik told ABC News. “At this point there’s nothing you can do, this is the system in place, in a way you do have to accept it and just try your best,” a mentality she has tried to instill in her children’s minds. A Gallup poll taken in 2016 reflects the viewpoints of Mrs. Paik and that of many others, showing 65% of Americans are opposed to the consideration of race in admissions and support decisions that are based solely on merit. Citing the poll as one of the evidence of Americans’ desire to end racial preference, Blum said the students and families involved in the lawsuit were replete with relief and gratification when they realized they had a channel to voice their frustration in a significant way. The families were hopeful that the younger generation “will not be subject to the same kinds of discrimination,” the kind of quota system Harvard imposed on Jewish students back in the 1920s, Blum added. Policies akin to affirmative action has been on the nation’s center stage for decades and as the Justice Department’s investigation and pending lawsuits move forward, the country is certain to continue to debate the merits behind admission practices that take race into consideration. “It’s like a lottery,” Mrs. Paik said. “You may have everything, but it’s not a guarantee at all.” Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Relatedlast_img read more

Cubs’ Joe Maddon set to learn fate in postgame meeting with Theo Epstein

first_img“Right now, you know what I’m excited about?” Maddon said before Friday’s series opener. “I’m going to get in that car and drive to our pad in Hazelton (Pa.), which is on this really cool little golf course, the Valley Country Club. My buddy Frankie’s the golf pro, And I do need some work, so he’ll be there to straighten my stuff out. My mom’s right down the street, so is my sister. Of course, (Maddon’s wife) Jaye’s going to be there. My buddy Willie’s going to stop by. I mean, come on, what’s better than that?”And if he is let go, as seems inevitable, he’ll have plenty of options to choose from this offseason.The Padres, Giants and Royals jobs are already open, and as many as five or six more managers could be let go at the end of the season. And it’s here, where Jack Buck became a broadcasting legend and broadcasting legend Harry Caray found his voice, that Maddon will learn his fate. The Cubs opted against extending Maddon’s contract after the 2018 season, despite the fact the franchise had made the playoffs in each of the deal’s first four years, had reached the NLCS three times and had won the 2016 World Series, the first one for the franchise since 1908. BERNSTEIN: Maddon should have good laugh if deluded Cubs let him walk”I mean, three trips into the CS,” Maddon said pregame Friday. “If you would have been guaranteed that in ’14 going into ’15 when we walked in the door, how would you feel about that? As a fan of the Cubs, how would you feel about that?”He continued, in typical Maddon fashion: “The mind, when stretched, has a difficult time going back to its original form. We’ve stretched the minds a bit, so now, fans are expecting more. Groovy, man. Go and expect it all.”But Epstein wanted to see how the 2019 season would play out before committing to Maddon, and, well, 2019 wasn’t great. Injuries and inconsistency and a down-the-stretch collapse all conspired to keep the Cubs out of the postseason for the first time in Maddon’s tenure.And so Maddon and Epstein will have a meeting somewhere in St. Louis to discuss the future. Maddon informed reporters of the meeting during his pregame interview session Saturday and Epstein confirmed it shortly after. “We’ll discuss everything moving forward, that kind of stuff,” Maddon said. “We haven’t had any kind of a talk about any of this. I mean that sincerely. We will tonight.” Maddon was asked if he thought there would be a resolution. “I hope so, yeah,” he said. “I’d like to believe so, yes.” Then he was asked if that resolution might be announced before Sunday’s game: “I have no idea,” he replied.MORE: Epstein shoots down talk of return to Red SoxWhat he does know, at least, is what he plans to do when he leaves St. Louis, whether that’s before the game Sunday or after.  ST. LOUIS — Chances are, when Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein meet after Saturday evening’s Cubs-Cardinals contest at Busch Stadium, they won’t split an Imo’s pizza, and a couple orders of toasted ravioli probably isn’t likely, either. Maybe a couple of ice-cold Budweisers would be appropriate, though, considering the agenda for the get-together. There is something symbolic about the most fateful meeting of Maddon’s tenure as the Cubs’ manager happening in St. Louis. When he was a young lad growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he became a Cardinals fan, listening to the games on KMOX’s powerful signal. last_img read more

Harley’s on the double: Two more winners for Trentagh jockey

first_imgMARTIN HARLEY’S good form continued this afternoon at Lingfield, where the Trentagh jockey rode two winners.Harley had success on 7/1 Miss Dusky Diva and the 13/8 Petite Jack.In the Betway Stayers Handicap, Harley scored his first win of the day on the David Drinkwater-trained Miss Dusky Diva. Set off at 7/1, Miss Dusky Diva was held up early on before coming into contention 5 furlongs from home. After making good headway under Harley, the five-year-old stayed on and pulled clear to win from the 25/1 shot Grand Facile.Harley, who was second in the next race on the Ed Dunlop-prepared Dutch Uncle, was back in the winner’s enclosure after a win in the Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Handicap.Aboard Petite Jack, the 13/8 favourite trained by Neil King, Harley quickened to lead well and moved well in command over the last furlong to take the win from Dolphin Village.  Harley’s on the double: Two more winners for Trentagh jockey was last modified: January 4th, 2017 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more