Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Encephalon 19 at Peripersonal Space

Encephalon 19: Emotion vs. Reason (a false dichotomy) and a hidden emotion quote embedded in the text appear at Peripersonal Space. Can you solve the mystery?

Among the included posts are two from Neurophilosophy and (of course) The Phineas Gage Fan Club about the widely-covered Nature paper, Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements (Koenigs et al., 2007). Can I say anything new about it? [Can I ever finish reading the paper without getting too annoyed? Stay tuned...] Now everyone knows about the "trolley problem" and the "fat man" thought experiments in ethics.

Oh, and don't forget this fun one, "smother for dollars" (Greene et al., 2001):
You are in hospital lounge waiting to visit a sick friend. A young man sitting next to you explains that his father is very ill. The doctors believe that he has a week to live at most. He explains further that his father has a substantial life insurance policy that expires at midnight.

If his father dies before midnight, this young man will receive a very large sum of money. He says that the money would mean a great deal to him and that no good will come from his father's living a few more days. He offers you half a million dollars to go up to his father's room and smother his father with a pillow.

Is it appropriate for you to kill this man's father in order to get money for yourself and this young man?
In unrelated news, the figure below is from a cool article that presents four alternative hypotheses regarding the effects of tool-use on the visuotactile representation of peripersonal space (Fig 1., Holmes et al. 2004).

Holmes NP, Calvert GA, Spence C. (2004). Extending or projecting peripersonal space with tools? Multisensory interactions highlight only the distal and proximal ends of tools. Neurosci Lett. 372:62-7.

The effects of tool-use on the brain’s representation of the body and of the space surrounding the body (‘peripersonal space’) has recently been studied within a number of disciplines in cognitive neuroscience, and is also of great interest to philosophers and behavioural ecologists. To date, most experimental findings suggest that tool-use extends the boundary of peripersonal space – visual stimuli presented at the tips of tools interact more with simultaneous tactile stimuli presented at the hands than visual stimuli presented at the same distance, but not associated with the tools. We studied the proposed extension of peripersonal space by tool-use by measuring the effects of three different tool-use tasks on the integration of visual and tactile stimuli at three distances from participants’ hands along two hand-held tools. When the tool-use task required using the shafts or the tips of the tools, visuotactile interactions were stronger at the tips of the tools than in the middle of the shaft. When the handles of the tools were used, however, visuotactile interactions were strongest near the hands and decreased with distance along the tools. These results suggest that tools do not simply ‘extend’ peripersonal space, but that just the tips of tools actively manipulated in extrapersonal space are incorporated into the brain’s visuotactile representations of the body and of peripersonal space.

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At March 28, 2007 12:51 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Am I the only one who a.) wonders whether anyone would ever buy the idea that a fat guy can stop a train, and b.) thinks that if you believe a person can stop a train, you should throw yourself, and not the poor fat guy?

At March 28, 2007 2:01 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

No, you're not the only one who's skeptical of a.)!! Probably fewer people contemplate b.)

You brought up a lot of good points about the patients' performance in your post.

At March 29, 2007 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus! The shrinks have really got you by the balls pal. You can tell you've bought it all, hook, line and sinker. Well, they did get you young. Your very identity is based on thier 'science' now and there is no turning back, you're gone. But then again why do I care, you're a walking birth defect are you not?

At March 29, 2007 8:47 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Indeed. Why do you care? Go back to your insane attempt to clear the body thetans implanted "95,000,000 yrs ago, very space opera" (L. Ron Hubbard) by the evil head of the Galactic Confederation.

At March 30, 2007 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a scientologist. But I don't complain that thier money is helping the psychiatric survivor cause, they have lots of money. But on your reply, is that best you can do, put a label on me? You know the truth deep down, your identity has been hijacked and you struggle on filling your mind with a merry go round of research articles, without ever even being brave enough to break new ground within your own self. Your answers won't come from outside pal. It's sad watching you on the treadmill like a rat, like programmed slave, your IQ might be high, but your creative thought is clearly zero, you're astounded by science moving forward, you can grapple with the facts, but for you its merely a distraction from the nightmare inside you lament after handing your very essence over to a false label, and a pseudoscience. You even advocate deep brain stimulation for depression somewhere on your blog. You're fucking lost pal, and you need to reconnect.

At March 30, 2007 8:28 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

And you know me, you're watching me? Do the implants in your brain give you those "special" powers and those delusions of grandeur? Time for your meds...

But here's a more helpful response for one suffering from delusions: "I guess you feel really special & different today. Maybe it's all the excitement around here. Let's try a very low key routine for the next few days."

At March 30, 2007 5:45 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

Anonymous, why is it not a problem for your ilk to use DBS for Parkinson's and Tourette's syndrome, but not treatment-resistent depression? Are there no illnesses in the brain? How do you decide which ones are and aren't (especially not being a neuroscientist)? Are all psychiatric illnesses fiction or do you accept that some have neurological underpinnings? Read T.N.'s post on the topic of the neurological/psychiatric divide.

At April 08, 2007 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the neurocritic,

once again the childlike response from you, thats twice now, you defective fuck, and thanks for linking to the big pharma sponsored schizophrenia.com, like there is anything that isn't totally fucking biased on that.

And Sandra,

They are called biomarkers. Depression as a "disease" unlike all others, was voted into existence by the APA. "Treatment Resistant Depression" is a the most clear example that there is no tangible and known biological imbalance to treat. To butcher people's brains permanently with surgery for depression is utterly disgusting. You say "Are all psychiatric illnesses fiction or do you accept that some have neurological underpinnings?" I say all are fiction except psychosis, and the pathology is unknown. Hence it not justifiable to throw darts at a board and use a shotgun where laser precision is required, and psychiatry throws darts at boards with blindfolds on. And thats a fucking fact, and as for "not being a neuroscientist", well if a neuroscientist thinks cutting brains open for depression is ok than I not only not want to be a neuroscientist, I don't want to know one.


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