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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.21)
    "These sorts of studies always hit news (Subclass A has something different about THIS part of the brain! Must be fixed!) -- but the reality is that there are many many differences between a "baseline" brain and that of a functioning (or non) psychopath."

    There was an article a few months back in New Scientist which critiqued pretty much the whole field of linking behavior to fMRI scans and the like.

    Many studies that say "Brain Part X is the centre of Activity Y" are simply based on inadequate data and tend to lack statistical validity. Scientists seldom seek to repeat and validate their studies and the results when they do attempt are often disappointing.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.22)
    If I were to run a scan of my car from the outside, it would be apparent that the radio is played more loudly as the car goes faster. Thus, it is evident that the radio is the center of speed behavior control in the automobile.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.23)
    @boodoffstage - explaining bio principles isn't my forte but I'll have a go. Genes encode for the creation of proteins (for the most part). Proteins are what do the actual work, they create the observable characteristic (the phenotype). Genetic expression is the creation of this product; if a gene is expressed strongly, more of the product/protein is created. If a gene is expressed weakly, less of the product/protein is created. Your environment can affect the expression of a particular gene, or even just your behavior can affect the expression of a gene. So while your genes are expressing themselves and creating an observable characteristic as they've been encoded, you can be exposed to an environmental factor or adopt an observable characteristic not encoded by DNA that also affects this expression/protein output. So it's a two-way street, called Genotype-Phenotype interaction (phenotype is the observable characteristic). It applies to psychological traits like psychopathy because things like psychopathy can be heritable (you received the genetic code for it from parents/grandparents/etc) or otherwise encoded and thus your brain begins to develop pathologically, or you can be exposed to environmental factors that actually affect the expression (brain insult or injury, toxic exposure, faulty immunologic response) or engage in behaviors that affect the expression (psychopathic father makes you do things like kill small animals, your favorite pet, for instance) and so even without the genetic code your brain still develops pathologically along those lines. Wikipedia has an extensive article on expression.

    Reading that over, it's probably the worst explanation of genotype-phenotype interaction I've ever seen, but that's why I stick to fiction I suppose. I don't quite have the necessary skills for textbook writing!
  1.  (6570.24)
    Well it explained something new to me.
    • CommentAuthorColby
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6570.25)
    You know when dealing with this particularyly subject, it reminded me of an article I saw from the recent TED article, who had another theory in mind, it was pretty interesting.

    http://blog.ted.com/2009/07/psychopathic_ki.php

    But like a lot of things, this is just a theory dealing with people who really aren't people. These individuals don't care about anything or anyone, they only care about themselves, and they can't function in society, and they do horrible things to people because it makes them feel good. Unlike alot of the very interesting on subtle chemical imbalances of the brain, leading to homicidal behavior, these are constants. It's my personal opinion that these psychologists are trying to humanize something that really can't be humanized, that they could be decent human beings with some drug or chemical injected into their blood streams when what we're dealing with are monsters, plain and simple.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009 edited
     (6570.26)
    @Brendan McGinley - Glad to hear it. It's one of two factors that have really shaken up psycho-genetic research (the other factor being the massively complicated nature of genomic interaction...in other words, how the whole system works together, and how traits like psychological and developmental disorders often involved more than one genetic "switch" and often dozens, possibly hundreds).

    @Bagoth - Psychopaths aren't necessarily monsters. Ones with particularly acute social awareness tend to be more "psychotypical" and don't froth at the mouth quite as much as you'd expect. And even psychopaths without acute social awareness can be led, in some cases and with some therapies, towards much more socially acceptable behavior. Granted, not all can; psychotherapy with psychopathic patients is notoriously difficult. In particular, successful therapies have been derived from Buddhist-based mindfulness and compassion practices that can have startling results. In terms of prisoner populations, direct encounter programs (where a prisoner has encounter sessions with a therapist and with the victims of his or her crime) also bring about significant changes. However, it should be noted that prison/parole/probation program participation and observations need to be taken with a grain of salt due to the psychopath's manipulative skill (see above-linked study about psychopaths being more likely to gain release from prison).

    I think pretty much everyone is deserving of humanization, though, with a few notable exceptions. So take what I say with a grain of salt, too.

    Edit: As regards fMRI, The International Journal of Psychophysiology recently devoted an entire issue to the subject: clicky.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009
     (6570.27)
    Just to follow up on what Atavistian said - around 1% of the population meet the psychiatric criteria for psychopathy.

    Most of them aren't monsters - just arseholes.

    Apart from anything else, the average psychopath might not care about hurting people but they do care about avoiding punishment.

    So that guy who moved in with your housemate then fucked her sister while she was drunk, stole your dope; didn't pay his share of the bills and adopted a cat from the local pound and left it behind when he took off followed by a crowd of debt collectors and warrant servers - probably a psychopath.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009
     (6570.28)
    A while ago I was checking out some mental health forum, and they had a sub forum for anti-social personality disorder, which psychopathy is considered to be a form of. Provided some interesting reading. It was bizarre seeing people starting a thread to ask whether they were psychopaths and getting answers like, "NO YOU'RE NOT BUT I AM YOU F^%CKIN &ZZHOLE**!!"

    Imagine the trolls they must get on that forum...poor moderators.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009
     (6570.29)
    @Verus

    Oh for sure. And not just trolls, but people recognizing themselves in what they read and then trying to argue in comments how they couldn't possibly be X-personality type or have Y disorder.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009
     (6570.30)
    @Verus I have extensive experience babysitting a heavily-moderated political forum (meant to sequester all political banter on an otherwise non-political message board), but I wouldn't touch a moderator job at a mental health forum with a ten foot pole. Too many hooks and snags regarding personal responsibility. Much respect to those that do the job, though.
  2.  (6570.31)
    @atavistian. Reading that over, it's probably the worst explanation of genotype-phenotype interaction I've ever seen

    Well, my tiny brain wouldn't know the difference:) I thank you for the attempt.

    It was a very detailed way of saying what many of us have already suspected and that you said yourself. That nature and nurture go hand in hand. One can have all the genetic/chemical components of a violent psychopath but brought up in a peaceful loving environment can grow up to be a productive member of society. While a person who has none of these genes can be brought up in a violent, and hateful environment and grow up to be a serial killer.

    What really fascinates me about genetic expression being affected by environment is that it is potential proof for such, at this point, fictional or supernatural term like "bio-feedback" The idea that through constant meditation, fasting and focusing of ones will, one can achieve complete control of one's body.

    Yes, I know. I turned something scientific and real and interpreted into something fanciful. It's one of my many faults.:)
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009 edited
     (6570.32)
    @boodoffstage

    Not fanciful as all, as far as I'm concerned. I've been a meditator for years and know its benefits firsthand, and my father is a private practice psychologist that specialized in biofeedback (among other things) during its heyday in the nineties!

    Cheers, mate, you're in good company.


    My apologies to Warren, Ariana and whoever else if it seems like I'm spamming this thread a bit. I geek out over psychology, especially abnormal psychology, and get a little too excited/fixated.
  3.  (6570.33)
    @Atavistian
    -Belated thanks for the abs/synopsis. Thought about going into psych for a 2nd bachelors for a bit but have decided to lay off courses for a bit instead. Abnormal Psych is amazingly interesting (I've got a book somewhere that describes a case of 'moral insanity' or something of the sort from around Freud's time (I *THINK*). Having been on the patient side of things I've seen good, bad, and stupid things occur, inc. issues with getting treatment around class scheduling because 'mental illness isn't a Real Sickness', or the perception of others that pills cure things immediately (Even before you get the prescription filled! Amazing!-alas if it was only that simple) .

    I think a combination of medication (when needed) + other therapies and a social support system would help in a lot of cases of various 'mental illnesses', but as far as ASPD... I haven't heard of any treatments that have had a high success rate if they aren't given to the child at a very young age/before the teen years.

    The pothole cure sounds like a nice idea, and I won't deny they probably exist but I think the study may have been a bit flawed; I suspect a very small sample size for it; and I'll chime in the usual "Correlation does not equal Causation" warning, too. There's a lot of brain crud we just don't know quite how it works, and I'm going to remain a skeptic for the "If we fix these potholes, all will be well" theory until more studies have been done.
  4.  (6570.34)
    @atavistian I've been a meditator for years and know its benefits firsthand, and my father is a private practice psychologist that specialized in biofeedback (among other things)

    How did he apply biofeedback in his practice? and what do you mean by "and other things"

    This is interesting.

    Biofeedback data and biofeedback technology are used by Massimiliano Peretti in a contemporary art environment, the Amigdalae project. This project explores the way in which emotional reactions filter and distort human perception and observation. During the performance, biofeedback medical technology, such as the EEG, body temperature variations, heart rate, and galvanic responses, are used to analyze an audience's emotions while they watch the video art. Using these signals, the music changes so that the consequent sound environment simultaneously mirrors and distorts the viewer's emotional state

    Got fro wikipedia, so take it as you will
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2009
     (6570.35)
    @rootfireember - right there with you on the patient side of things too. Clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Been off meds for over two years thanks to the fact that they do nothing but make me sleep, and meditation does more than they ever did. That's not to say that I don't agree with you about meds being a valuable tool concommitant with other therapies and, if possible, social support.

    @bood - biofeedback is great for dealing with panic attacks, one of his specialties, as well as other anxiety-related issues. his other specialty that I know about is grief work; beyond that, you'd have to ask him.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2009
     (6570.36)
    Recent example/study of nurture affecting nature came across my desk and figured I'd share it with the class (and I hope I'm not beating a dead horse, but some of y'all seem interested:

    A new study reveals that changes in the gene expression of the honey bee are in response to an immediate threat. These changes, it turns out, have a lot in common with more long-term and even evolutionary differences in honey-bee aggression.


    http://www.sciencecodex.com/honeybee_aggression_study_suggests_nurture_alters_nature