2. "The conversation that @steenfox facilitated last night was one of healing and solidarity. It was about women, (and yes, mainly black women) sharing stories of assault and laying down the burdens of shame they have carried for years. There will never be a need to callously turn that experience into a listicle for Buzzfeed."
  3. brutereason:

    No sense of irony.


  4. "Twilight has problems with misogyny and with abusive relationships. I don’t want to sugar-coat that. But if you, dear reader, are going around saying that Twilight is proof that girls are all stupid-heads who want a brooding vampire to stalk and abuse them, then you are being misogynistic.

    In all my years of life, I have never heard anyone seriously speculate that the popularity of femme fatales in fiction means that all men secretly yearn for an abusive relationship; yet in the time since Twilight was released, I have heard the meme that all girls wish to be abused more times than I can count. This is a failure of understanding the difference between fantasy and reality, and it is a “failure” that conveniently props up existing misogynistic narratives about how women who stay with abusers stay because they secretly want to be abused rather than because they are groomed (by both their abuser and the larger society) to stay with their abuser, and because society does not empower them to leave. This is a comforting lie we tell ourselves because it’s easier to blame abuse victims than acknowledge that we are failing them."

  5. neuroticthought:

    by Deric Bownds

    Perhaps the most plausible suggestion for why music is universal in human societies is that it plays a central role in emotional social signaling that could have promoted group cohesion. Clark et al.comment on new work by Mas-Herrero et al. who have now documented a group of healthy people who, while responding to typical rewarding stimuli, appear to have a specific musical anhedonia, deriving no pleasure from music even though perceiving it normally. They cannot experience the intensely pleasurable shivers down the spine or ‘chills’ that are specific to and reliably triggered by particular musical features like the resolution of tonal ambiguity. These active a distributed brain network including phylogenetically ancient limbic, stratal and midbrain structures also engaged by cocaine and sex. Clips from Clark et al.:

    The musical anhedonia found by Mas-Herreo et al. is specific for musical reward assignment, rather than attributable to any deficiency in perceiving or recognising music or musical emotions. It is rooted in reduced autonomic reactivity rather than simply cognitive mislabelling. Moreover, it is not attributable to more general hedonic blunting, because musically anhedonic individuals show typical responses to other sources of biological and non-biological (monetary) reward. The most parsimonious interpretation of the new findings is that there are music-specific brain reward systems to which individuals show different levels of access….specific brain substrates for music coding … implies that these evolved in response to some biological imperative. But what might that have been?
    The answer may lie in the kinds of puzzles that music helped our hominid ancestors to solve. Arguably the most complex, ambiguous and puzzling patterns we are routinely required to analyse are the mental states and motivations of other people, with clear implications for individual success in the social milieu. Music can model emotional mental states and failure to deduce such musical mental states correlates with catastrophic inter-personal disintegration in the paradigmatic acquired disorder of the human social brain, frontotemporal dementia …Furthermore, this music cognition deficit implicates cortical areas engaged in processing both musical reward and ‘theory of mind’ (our ability to infer the mental states of other people). Our hominid ancestors may have coded surrogate mental states in the socially relevant form of vocal sound patterns. By allowing social routines to be abstracted, rehearsed and potentially modified without the substantial cost of enacting the corresponding scenarios, such coding may have provided an evolutionary mechanism by which specific brain linkages assigned biological reward value to precursors of music.
    These new insights into musical anhedonia raise many intriguing further questions. What is its neuroanatomical basis? The strong prediction would lie with mesolimbic dopaminergic circuitry, but functional neuroimaging support is sorely needed.

    Here is the summary from the Mas-Herrero paper:

    Music has been present in all human cultures since prehistory, although it is not associated with any apparent biological advantages (such as food, sex, etc.) or utility value (such as money). Nevertheless, music is ranked among the highest sources of pleasure, and its important role in our society and culture has led to the assumption that the ability of music to induce pleasure is universal. However, this assumption has never been empirically tested. In the present report, we identified a group of healthy individuals without depression or generalized anhedonia who showed reduced behavioral pleasure ratings and no autonomic responses to pleasurable music, despite having normal musical perception capacities. These persons showed preserved behavioral and physiological responses to monetary reward, indicating that the low sensitivity to music was not due to a global hypofunction of the reward network. These results point to the existence of specific musical anhedonia and suggest that there may be individual differences in access to the reward system.

  6. "Being a critical fan means that you love a famous human being, knowing fully well they are flawed and can make mistakes due to their privilege-blindness or outright ignorance (whether knowingly or unknowingly practicing misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, racism, etc.). When they fuck up, it is your duty as a critical fan to make them better, call them out and educate them. Your job is not to create excuses and adamantly defend their mistakes because they are so fierce in your eyes."
  7. neurosciencestuff:

    Movies synchronize brains

    When we watch a movie, our brains react to it immediately in a way similar to other people’s brains.

    Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have succeeded in developing a method fast enough to observe immediate changes in the function of the brain even when watching a movie. By employing movies it was possible to investigate the function of the human brain in experimental conditions that are close to natural. Traditionally, in neuroscience research, simple stimuli, such as checkerboard patterns or single images, have been used.

    Viewing a movie creates multilevel changes in the brain function. Despite the complexity of the stimulus, the elicited brain activity patterns show remarkable similarities across different people – even at the time scale of fractions of seconds.

    The analysis revealed important similarities between brain signals of different people during movie viewing. These similar kinds or synchronized signals were found in brain areas that are connected with the early-stage processing of visual stimuli, detection of movement and persons, motor coordination and cognitive functions. The results imply that the contents of the movie affected certain brain functions of the subjects in a similar manner, explains Kaisu Lankinen the findings of her doctoral research.

    So far, studies in this field have mainly been based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). However, given the superior temporal resolution, within milliseconds, magnetoencephalography (MEG) is able to provide more complete picture of the fast brain processes. With the help of MEG and new analysis methods, investigation of significantly faster brain processes is possible and it enables detection of brain activity in frequencies higher than before.

    In the novel analysis, brain imaging was combined with machine-learning methodology, with which signals of a similar form were mined from the brain data.

    The research result was recently published in the NeuroImage journal.


  8. "Make sure you marry someone who laughs at the same things you do."
    — J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (via nooralogy)

    (Source: winedrunkenness, via wilwheaton)

  9. neurosciencestuff:

    Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

    Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    The new method involves adding critical signaling molecules to precursor cells a few days earlier than previous methods specified. This increases the proportion of healthy motor neurons derived from stem cells (from 30 to 70 percent) and cuts in half the time required to do so.

    “We would argue that whatever happens in the human body is going to be quite efficient, quite rapid,” said University of Illinois cell and developmental biology professor Fei Wang, who led the study with visiting scholar Qiuhao Qu and materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng. “Previous approaches took 40 to 50 days, and then the efficiency was very low – 20 to 30 percent. So it’s unlikely that those methods recreate human motor neuron development.”

    Qu’s method produced a much larger population of mature, functional motor neurons in 20 days.

    The new approach will allow scientists to induce mature human motor neuron development in cell culture, and to identify the factors that are vital to that process, Wang said.

    Stem cells are unique in that they can adopt the shape and function of a variety of cell types. Generating neurons from stem cells (either embryonic stem cells or those “induced” to revert back to an embryo-like state) requires adding signaling molecules to the cells at critical moments in their development.

    Wang and other colleagues previously discovered a molecule (called compound C) that converts stem cells into “neural progenitor cells,” an early stage in the cells’ development into neurons. But further coaxing these cells to become motor neurons presented unusual challenges.

    Previous studies added two important signaling molecules at Day 6 (six days after exposure to compound C), but with limited success in generating motor neurons. In the new study, Qu discovered that adding the signaling molecules at Day 3 worked much better: The neural progenitor cells quickly and efficiently differentiated into motor neurons.

    This indicates that Day 3 represents a previously unrecognized neural progenitor cell stage, Wang said.

    The new approach has immediate applications in the lab. Watching how stem cells (derived from ALS patients’ own skin cells, for example) develop into motor neurons will offer new insights into disease processes, and any method that improves the speed and efficiency of generating the motor neurons will aid scientists. The cells can also be used to screen for drugs to treat motor neuron diseases, and may one day be used therapeutically to restore lost function.

    “To have a rapid, efficient way to generate motor neurons will undoubtedly be crucial to studying – and potentially also treating – spinal cord injuries and diseases like ALS,” Wang said.

  10. femfreq:

    I’m honored to be the recipient of the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award. The Ambassador Award honors an individual or individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games and help further our art. The award was presented to me by Neil Druckmann, creative director on the 2014 GDC Game of the Year, The Last of Us.

    Full transcript available on my website.