Tag Archives: Science

How to spot a murderer’s brain

Do your genes, rather than upbringing, determine whether you will become a criminal? Adrian Raine believed so – and breaking that taboo put him on collision course with the world of science

The Observer,

murderer brain scans

Scans of a normal brain, left, beside that of murderer Antonio Bustamante, who was spared the death penalty after a jury was shown these pictures. Photograph: Public domain

When Raine started doing brain scans of murderers in American prisons, he was among the first researchers to apply the evolving science of brain imaging to violent criminality. His most comprehensive study, in 1994, was still, necessarily, a small sample. He conducted PET [positron emission tomography] scans of 41 convicted killers and paired them with a “normal” control group of 41 people of similar age and profile. However limited the control, the colour images, which showed metabolic activity in different parts of the brain, appeared striking in comparison. In particular, the murderers’ brains showed what appeared to be a significant reduction in the development of the prefrontal cortex, “the executive function” of the brain, compared with the control group.

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The advancing understanding of neuroscience suggested that such a deficiency would result in an increased likelihood of a number of behaviours: less control over the limbic system that generates primal emotions such as anger and rage; a greater addiction to risk; a reduction in self-control; and poor problem-solving skills, all traits that might predispose a person to violence.

Raine cites two very recent brain-imaging studies to back this up. One is a study in New Mexico in which prisoners are scanned on release. “What they are discovering is that if the functioning of the anterior cingulate, part of the limbic system, is lower than normal before release, they are twice as likely to be reconvicted in the next three years. And that marker is more accurate a guide than all other social factors,” Raine says. A second study apparently shows if a released prisoner has a significantly smaller volume in the amygdala, the almond-shaped part of the brain crucial for processing memory and emotion, he or she is three times more likely to reoffend. “Now, this is only two studies, but what they are beginning to show is proof of concept, that if we added neurological factors into the equation we could do a better job at predicting future behaviour.”

Full article HERE

Read more about neuroscience, brain structure and criminality:


 


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Sciency News 12-19-2012

Links to some fascinating stories in science this week.

Father-daughter duo have the world’s first brain-to-brain ‘telepathic’ conversation

It should be fairly obvious why, all technological considerations aside, there has been much more research into letting machines extract our thoughts, rather than insert them. Mind reading is a scary-enough concept all on its own — but mind writing? It calls to mind the hacker deities of cyber punk novels; skinny, trench-swathed Neos projecting e-thoughts into the skulls of passing civilians. With such basic issues of privacy on the line, it took the trusting relationship between UK scientist Christopher James and his adventurous young daughter to give us our first stab at developing real telepathic, brain-to-brain communication technology. See the full article HERE.

early attempts

Early experiment in brain-to-brain communication

 

The Machine That Will Help End TB

Nearly 1.5 million people die from tuberculosis every year, even though most cases can be cured with routine antibiotic treatments. One country’s fight to get the ancient scourge under control has an unlikely hero: a simple diagnostic test. Check out the whole article here.

TB test

TB bacteria in a GeneXpert cartridge (blue, foreground) can be detected in under two hours. Sputum samples (purple and green caps) take weeks to culture.

How Your Brain Corrupts Your Shopping Choices

We’ve talked about the stupid things you do when shopping before, but those are just part of the problem. The other big issue? You have cognitive biases that sabotage your decisions, cause you to waste money, and buy things you ay not even really want. Let’s dig into a few of the worst ways your brain corrupts your choices when when you’re shopping. Read the whole article here.

shopping

Effects of marketing and your brain on shopping behavior

 

Hubble Space Telescope achieves deepest cosmic view yet

Jonathan Amos By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News

UDFj-39546284 Objects like UDFj-39546284 are at the limit of the Hubble telescope’s vision

Hubble astronomers have observed deeper into space than ever before.

In doing so, they have identified six new galaxies of stars that formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang itself.

The study also updates a distance estimate for a seventh galaxy, placing it further back in time than any object previously identified.

Called UDFj-39546284, this is seen when the cosmos was less than 3% of its current age.

The new Hubble telescope investigation was led by Richard Ellis from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and colleagues at Edinburgh University, Jim Dunlop and Ross McLure.

Read the whole article here. It is fascinating.

 





Once You Know, You Newegg

 

 

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Mars Curiosity, Robots, Space Colonization 12/2/2012

12/1/2012
Do Robots Rule the Galaxy?
Today on Discovery News. From the article “The idea of malevolent robots subjugating and killing off humans has been the staple of numerous science fiction books and movies. The half-torn off android face of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator film series, and the unblinking fisheye lens of the HAL 9000 computer in the film classic 2001 A Space Odyssey have become iconic of this fear of evil machines.”

Check it out.

2001-Space Odessy

HAL 9000, from the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey

11/29/2012: I’ll admit to an unhealthy obsession with space travel, colonization and exploration. Coupled with an utter lack of skill in the Sciences, this means I am Earthbound but always interested in new space news. I am also blessed to have a friend from school, Nagin Ahmed Cox, who is a scientist on the Mars Curiousity project with JPL. She occasionally posts on Facebook about getting her turn to drive Curiousity, etc. She was visible throughout the broadcast of the Curiousity landing, and she travels the country and the world teaching about space science, the various Mars missions she has worked on, and building enthusiasm for the programs. I am jealous of her in the best of ways – I celebrate her success, as I do for the entire Curiousity team, and wish desperately I had made different choices many years ago. However, I still want it known that when middle aged pudgy women are needed for space travel and colonization, I will gladly volunteer at whatever capacity I am needed. Space janitor (sorry, maintenance engineer), Mars Colony Starbucks dishwasher, whatever.

Today, MSNBC published an articlewith updates on the Curiousity mission, including an awesome photo or two.

Mars Curiosity Photo msnbc


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to snap a set of 55 high-resolution images on Oct. 31. Researchers stitched the pictures together to create this full-color self-portrait.

 

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Amazingly Cool Stuffs 12/2/2012

Earth Science Picture of the Day is one of my favorite sites on the Web for great pix of nature, space, sky, and people on the planet. I highly recommend bookmarking it.

NASA also has amazing pictures of the day, along with all the latest NASA news.

Worldwide Aerosols

Portrait of worldwide aerosols by NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS). Image credit – William Putnam at NASA/Goddard

Portrait of Global Aerosols

High-resolution global atmospheric modeling run on the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., provides a unique tool to study the role of weather in Earth’s climate system. The Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) is capable of simulating worldwide weather at resolutions of 10 to 3.5 kilometers (km).

This portrait of global aerosols was produced by a GEOS-5 simulation at a 10-kilometer resolution. Dust (red) is lifted from the surface, sea salt (blue) swirls inside cyclones, smoke (green) rises from fires, and sulfate particles (white) stream from volcanoes and fossil fuel emissions.

Image credit: William Putman, NASA/Goddard. Text courtesy NASA Image of the Day.

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Mars News

11/29/2012:  I’ll admit to an unhealthy obsession with space travel, colonization and exploration. Coupled with an utter lack of skill in the Sciences, this means I am Earthbound but always interested in new space news.  I am also blessed to have a friend from school, Nagin Ahmed Cox, who is a scientist on the Mars Curiousity project with JPL.  She occasionally posts on Facebook about getting her turn to drive Curiousity, etc. She was visible throughout the broadcast of the Curiousity landing, and she travels the country and the world teaching about space science, the various Mars missions she has worked on, and building enthusiasm for the programs.  I am jealous of her in the best of ways – I celebrate her success, as I do for the entire Curiousity team, and wish desperately I had made different choices many years ago.  However, I still want it known that when middle aged pudgy women are needed for space travel and colonization, I will gladly volunteer at whatever capacity I am needed.  Space janitor (sorry, maintenance engineer), Mars Colony Starbucks dishwasher, whatever.

Today, MSNBC published an articlewith updates on the Curiousity mission, including an awesome photo or two.

Mars Curiosity Photo msnbc


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to snap a set of 55 high-resolution images on Oct. 31. Researchers stitched the pictures together to create this full-color self-portrait.

 

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