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Snake oil salesmen selling torture

Excellent critique of the CIA torture program from a scientific point of view.

Mind Hacks

The US Government has just released its report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, aptly branded the “torture report”, which is available online as a pdf.

It makes for appalling reading but sheds light on the role of two psychologists in the creation and running of what turned out to be genuinely counter-productive ‘enhanced interrogations’ that were used in preference to already productive non-abusive interrogations.

In the report the psychologists are given the codenames Grayson SWIGERT and Hammond DUNBAR but these refer to James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who have been widely identified byothersources in the preceding years.

Mitchell and Jessen were both contractors, who, according to the new report, arrived at detention centres to direct CIA interrogations, despite having no interrogation experience, and in face of sometimes severe reservations of regular CIA staff.

Later, Mitchell and Jessen formed a company, Mitchell Jessen and Associates –…

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Does too much TV damage the brain?

Via Whitedot Board:

http://whitedotboard.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=11092&sid=3e4f21aa181f28857d30094b9bd355a3

Scientists at  Tohoku University in Japan decided to look at the brains of children (ages 5 to 18) and look for any differences between those who watched lots of TV and those who watched much less.

MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex – the area at the front of the frontal lobe. But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai. They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2537240/Children-watch-TV-damaged-brain-structures.html

 

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Dopamine and Addiction

Dopamine-Levels

 

 

via:  Gamer Therapist

Drug addiction, addiction to gambling, and food and video games and TV, all have dopamine as the common denominator:

The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex (see illustration). Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.

All drugs of abuse, from nicotine to heroin, cause a particularly powerful surge of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The likelihood that the use of a drug or participation in a rewarding activity will lead to addiction is directly linked to the speed with which it promotes dopamine release, the intensity of that release, and the reliability of that release.”

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/addiction_hijacks_brain.htm

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Media, Children & Novelty Seekers

Neuro Research Project has a very interesting post on risk-taking, dopamine, and Dr. Christakis’s mouse study.

Note Neuro Research Project ‘s post is based on Dr. Sheikh Arshad Saeed‘s ideas:

http://neuroresearchproject.com/2012/03/14/tv-brain-development-in-children-2/

 

NeuroNotes

Dopamine addiction is an overlooked problem..  Dopamine is the most addictive substance on the planet, a neurotransmitter produced in our own body.

This TEDx video (Media and Children), by Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician, parent, and researcher,  shows young mice taking risks after being exposed to TV,  6 hours a day,  for 42 days. The mice continued to take more (potentially life threatening) risks the longer they were exposed to TV.

Long term exposure to specific types of media, especially in young developing brains, appears to corrupt the reward system;  fewer dopamine receptors.  Over-stimulation from media may produce the same effects on the brain as drugs, i.e. heroin and cocaine.  These drugs artificially extracts more dopamine from nerve cells in the brain, requiring more to get high or satisfied over time.   An abundance of dopamine, due to a low density of dopamine receptors, appears to lead to unhealthy risk-taking.  Risk-taking comes in…

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Of Mice and TV

Mouse1

Until now, animal studies have never been done on the effects of television. I guess for the obvious reason that animals just aren’t interested in watching TV. This has been a huge disadvantage as animal studies have been essential for establishing that a whole host of things, from abuse, to cigarettes, to lead poisoning, to malnutrition are all bad for the developing brain.

But then, Dr. Dimitri Christakis made a brilliant leap, and thought why not look at the effects of background TV on young mice. Since 2008 a handful of studies have shown that even background TV has at least short-term negative effect on young children. But what about the long term effects of background TV? It would be unethical to do experiments on young human children looking the effects of large amounts of background TV throughout their early years. And yet, in real life there is a substantial subset of young children who are being exposed to 4 to 8 hours of background TV every day.

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/07/15/parents.should.limit.young.childrens.exposure.background.tv

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Kids-in-U-S-Exposed-to-4-Hours-of-Daily-Background-TV.aspx

Correlational studies and longitudinal studies have found that children exposed to large amounts of television do worse academically, emotionally and academically. But critics have dismissed these studies as not taking into proper consideration other potential causes (such as poor parenting and/or genetics), with large TV exposure being a symptom rather than a cause.

A mouse study has the potential to discover exactly what the effects are background TV really are and prove that these effects are caused by background TV and not by something else.

So what did Dr. Christakis and his mouse study actually find out?

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How Background TV Undermines Well-Being

Background TV

Background TV

 

As Linda Wasmer Andrews points out in her excellent article “How Background TV Undermines Well-Being”, there are two main ways that background TV is bad for you, it makes it harder to communicate, and it makes it harder to concentrate.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201305/how-background-tv-undermines-well-being

Harder to Communication

The importance of parents and caregivers talking to, and interacting with their young children has been well documented:

After four years these differences in parent-child interactions produced significant discrepancies in not only children’s knowledge, but also their skills and experiences with children from high-income families being exposed to 30 million more words than children from families on welfare. Follow-up studies showed that these differences in language and interaction experiences have lasting effects on a child’s performance later in life.”

http://centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/LS/30MillionWordGap.html

And it turns out that background TV reduces and interferes with these all important interactions:

“A new study looks for the first time at the effect of background TV on interactions between parents and young children. Using an experimental design, researchers found that when a TV was on, both the quantity and quality of interactions between parents and children dropped. This study challenges the common assumption that background TV doesn’t affect very young children if they don’t look at the screen.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090915100951.htm

“For every hour in front of the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children, according to a study of 329 children, ages 2 months to 4 years, in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Adults usually speak about 941 words an hour… Parents may not realize how little they interact with children when a TV is on, Christakis says. A mother may think she’s engaged with a baby because they’re both on the floor playing blocks. But if a TV is on in the background, the two of them talk much less, he says.”

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-06-01-TVandkids_N.htm

“These findings suggest that TV co-viewing produces a relatively detrimental communication environment for young children, while shared book reading encourages effective mother–child exchanges.”

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2958.2011.01413.x/abstract

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