Sunday, March 28, 2010

Botox provides a teachable moment

They found that there was no change in the time needed to understand the happy sentences, which aligned with their hypotheses, since the Botox did not prevent the participants from smiling. But the subjects did take slightly but significantly more time to read the angry and sad sentences after Botox treatment. These data suggest that preventing the participants from frowning actually made it harder for them to interpret sadness and anger.

The scientist believe that by preventing frowns in their participants, they have blocked a feedback pathway between the brain and the face. Under normal circumstances, the brain sends the signal to frown, and in turn, once the face frowns, it sends signals back which reaffirm or enhance the brain's interpretation. Without the feedback, the brain gets a little confused or simply doesn't process the depth of the emotion as well.

I have to say that I find the implications of this to be impressive. Not only does this say that altering the faces ability to make an expression impacts your brain's ability to appropriately process the data, it strongly implies that our brain is reliant on our bodies to interpret. Sadness is not just serotonin uptake, sadness exists because the face tells the brain to uptake some serotonin. So our bodies are part and parcel of our brain. There was an author on the Daily Show, I can't remember his name, but he spoke to the blind side of neuroscience research. That analyzing and studying everything from a framework where the brain is just a processor of external stimuli fails to account for both what our brain projects into our environment and how a responding environment reacts to a projecting brain. Essentially, you can not reduce the system to its parts and gain true insight, you must try to see the whole system. We as a species seem particularly lacking in our ability to see the whole system and gain insight therein.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not sure how I feel about this...

but it is fascinating to see it detailed out:

Human Rights begin at home. Clean up own backyard China urges U.S.

China's Information Office of the State Council published a report titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009"yesterday. The full text of China's State Council assessment of U.S. human rights violations as published in Xinhuanews follow:

There are several sections to it, but this was one was particularly disturbing.

The country's police frequently impose violence on the people. Chicago Defender reported on July 8, 2009 that a total of 315 police officers in New York were subject to internal supervision due to unrestrained use of violence during law enforcement. The figure was only 210 in 2007. Over the past two years, the number of New York police officers under review for garnering too many complaints was up 50 percent ( According to a New York Police Department firearms discharge report released on Nov. 17, 2009, the city' s police fired 588 bullets in 2007, killing 10 people, and 354 bullets in 2008, killing 13 people (, November 17, 2009). On September 3, 2009, a student of the San Jose State University was hit repeatedly by four San Jose police officers with batons and a Taser gun for more than ten times (, October 27, 2009). On September 22, 2009, a Chinese student in Eugene, Oregon was beaten by a local police officer for no reason (The Oregonian, October 23, 2009, According to the Amnesty International, in the first ten months of 2009, police officers in the U.S. killed 45 people due to unrestrained use of Taser guns. The youngest of the victims was only 15. From 2001 to October, 2009, 389 people died of Taser guns used by police officers (