Friday, August 1, 2014

Brains and Pedophilic Behaviors, 3

Studies into the cognitive wiring of sex offenders have long been a source of debate. Recent research led by Jorge Ponseti at the University of Kiel in Germany, however, offers some fairly conclusive proof that there is a neural pattern behind pedophilic behaviors. According to the paper, published in ‘Biology Letters,’ the human brain contains networks that are tuned to face processing, and these networks appear to activate different processing streams of the reproductive domain selectively: nurturing processing in the case of child faces and sexual processing in the case of sexually preferred adult faces. This implies that the brain extracts age-related face cues of the preferred sex that inform appropriate response selection in the reproductive domains: nurturing in the case of child faces and mating in the case of adult faces. Ponseti said that he hoped to investigate this area further by examining whether findings could be emulated when images of children’s faces are the only ones used. This could lead to gauging a person’s predisposition to pedophilia far more simply than any means currently in place. “We could start to look at the onset of pedophilia, which is probably in puberty at about 12 or 14 years [old],” he said. Following the horrors of the Sandusky scandal and the endless conveyor belt of children kidnapped as sex slaves, finding the root of the problem and stopping it in any way possible has never been more important.

Human face processing is tuned to sexual age preferences Biol. Lett. May, 2014 10 5 20140200; doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0200 1744-957X    Access requires subscription to Biology Letters.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Plate Color and Appetite

Do you need to drop a few pounds? What color are your dishes? The UK's Daily Telegraph recently reported on a study published in the journal Appetite Researchers have reported that eating food off red-colored plates and drinking from red cups can cut consumption by approximately 40 percent. This may be because "red" is often associated with stop signals and danger (as in red fire engines). Red dishes may trigger stop associations in the brain. Researchers initially took 41 male students, and asked them to drink tea from cups with both red and blue labels. The participants drank 44 percent less from the red-labeled vessels. Part two of the study involved 109 people, who were instructed to eat pretzels laid out on either a red, blue, or white plate. Again, participants who were given the red plates reportedly consumed less. Some have suggested that using red cups in pubs and bars might help limit patrons’ alcohol consumption, and that using red packaging in supermarkets might serve as a deterrent for purchasing unhealthy foods.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brains and Pedophilic Behaviors, 2

Results of a study related to the brains of people who exhibit pedophilic behaviors were recently released. The research was led by Jorge Ponseti at the University of Kiel in Germany. His team analyzed the MRI scans of 56 male participants, including 13 homosexual paedophiles and 11 heterosexual paedohiles, while they were exposed to ‘highly arousing’ images of men, women, boys, and girls. Participants were asked to rate the images in terms of attractiveness. Dr. James Cantor, associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and expert on the subject pedophilia told The Daily Beast, “I have previously described pedophilia as a ‘cross-wiring’ of sexual and nurturing instincts, and this data neatly verifies that interpretation.” This study may pave the way for future work into how this knowledge can be used to test for, and hopefully rehabilitate, paedophiles before they abuse. Part 3 tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brain and Pedophilic Behaviors, 1

Is the brain of someone who exhibits pedophilic behaviors different from the brains of those who do not? Results of a research project let by Jorge Ponseti at the University of Kiel in Germany, was recently published in the scientific journal Biology Letters. Typically, seeing the faces of children elicit feelings of caregiving from both males and females. Ponseti’s studies showed that this trend appears to be skewed in the brains of pedophiles. Their brains appear to be “abnormally tuned” to find young children sexually attractive, children’s faces eliciting sexual feelings as opposed to nurturing feelings. Is it possible that the brains of pedophiles are wired to find children sexually attractive rather than adults? Charlotte Lytton reported in The Daily Beast that the brains of “paedophiles react to images they find attractive in the same way as most people—but for some reason this reaction happens when they see images of children, rather than other adults.” Their perceptions appear to be turned upside down. Part 2 tomorrow

Monday, July 28, 2014

Memory and Belly Fat

How's your memory? How much belly fat do you have? Researchers at Rush University have reported that individuals who have high amounts of belly fat are more than three times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in life. t's linked to the liver's hankering for a protein that's also relished by the brain. The study, which appeared in the journal Cell Reports, reported that the liver burns belly fat with the help of a protein known as PPARalpha. Who knew? It turns out that the brain uses this same protein for memory. The liver works extra hard in individuals who have a large amount of belly fat, using up the PPARalpha. And if the liver doesn't have enough PPARalpha around it to use, it turns to other parts of the body to find more--the brain! The hippocampus, the brain's search engine, which plays a role in memory and learning, is essentially starved of PPARalpha. More research is needed to find a way to maintain normal PPARalpha levels in the brain to potentially prevent memory loss. In the meantime, exercise and eat healthy to keep belly fat in check and stay sharp mentally.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 6

Enter something called implicit prejudice. It can be defined as prejudice that arises far below one’s level of consciousness; although not expressed it is capable of being understood from something else. According to an article by Chris de Morsella entitled “Implicit Prejudice Unconsciously Colors Our World, Implicit prejudice is a real and still poorly addressed problem in the workplace and society. He writes, “While the incidence of overt explicit prejudice and racism has plummeted in American society over the last decades, implicit prejudice, which is prejudice that is harbored subconsciously and is expressed inadvertently, is still widespread. Unconsciously arrived at attitudes towards race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc. have a profound impact on the conscious opinions we form and attitudes we adopt towards other individuals we encounter within our work and social lives.” Studies have shown that human beings can only deal effectively with what they can bring to conscious awareness, label, and describe. Therefore, it might be beneficial if every human being spent some time trying to bring implicit prejudices to conscious awareness. It reminds me of the words from the old song: “When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?”  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 5

Prejudice plays a part in many areas of life. A study by a Vanderbilt University professor of law and economics found legal immigrants in the United States with a lighter skin tone made more money than those with darker skin. Researcher Joni Hersch used data from 2,084 men and women who participated in the 2003 New Immigrant Survey. An interviewer reported the person’s skin color using an 11-point scale where 0 represented the absence of color and 10 represented the darkest possible skin color. Even when taking into consideration characteristics that might affect wages (e.g., English language proficiency, work experience and education), Hersch found immigrants with the lightest skin color earned, on average, 8 percent to 15 percent more than immigrants with the darkest skin tone. The effect of skin color even persisted among workers with the same ethnicity, race, and country of origin. After I considering a whole series of alternative interpretations and explanations, Hersh was both surprised and dismayed at how strong and persistent the skin-color effect was. She also found height played a part in salary. Taller immigrants earned more, with every inch adding an additional one percent to wages. I am an immigrant from Canada and barely five feet tall. And my skin color partly depends on how much I’ve been out in the sun. . .  Hmm-m-m.  Part 6 tomorrow.