henry copeland @hc

having fun with people and pixels, via racery, pullquote, twiangulate, improv, running

Recent quotes:

UV Sense

I’ll make a bold claim: one hundred years from now, the UV Sense and its peers may be celebrated for being as important to health in the 21st century as insulin and penicillin were in the 20th century. UV Sense is one of a whole new class of consumer-targetted devices/services like FitBit, Spire, 23andme, home-built EEGs, and various microbiome sensors and assays that are as powerful as could be found a decade ago in cutting-edge research labs. Combined with crowdsourcing and cheap big data tools, these people-empowering devices will help individuals pursue hypotheses that no profit-driven business cares (or dares) to examine.

The real reason why women drink — Quartz

That’s the summer I realize that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker. This isn’t a new idea — just ask the Sex and the City girls (or the flappers). A woman with a single malt scotch is bold and discerning and might fire you from her life if you fuck with her. A woman with a PBR is a Cool Girl who will not be shamed for belching. A woman drinking MommyJuice wine is saying she’s more than the unpaid labor she gave birth to. The things women drink are signifiers for free time and self-care and conversation — you know, luxuries we can’t afford. How did you not see this before? I ask myself. You were too hammered, I answer back. That summer I see, though. I see that booze is the oil in our motors, the thing that keeps us purring when we should be making other kinds of noise.

Patients react better when doctors imply uncertainty, rather than state it directly -- ScienceDaily

Diagnostic uncertainty is widespread in clinical practice and physician guidelines generally recommend that doctors explain the degree of uncertainty associated with their diagnosis. However, how exactly doctors should communicate uncertainty is a matter of debate. This communication can lower visit satisfaction, decrease adherence to doctor instructions, lessen trust, and decrease confidence in the doctor. The researchers here surveyed parents of pediatric patients who hypothetically received a diagnosis with an element of uncertainty. The uncertainty in the diagnosis was communicated in one of three ways; either with an explicit expression of uncertainty (such as "I'm not sure which disease this is"), an implicit expression of uncertainty using broad differential diagnoses (such as "it could be this disease or this other disease"), or another implicit expression of uncertainty (such as "it is most likely this disease"). Researchers found that explicit expressions of uncertainty were associated with lower perceived technical competence of the doctor, less trust and confidence, and a less willingness to adhere to doctors' advice. "Misdiagnosis is common in medical practice and to enable improvements, uncertainty of diagnosis is something both doctors and patients will need to embrace" said Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, senior author and researcher at the Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety and Baylor College of Medicine. "Our study provides a foundation for future development of evidence-based guidance on how doctors can best communicate diagnostic uncertainty to patients to improve diagnosis and care outcomes."

Higher-ranked colleges don't necessarily provide a better educational experience: Ranking schemes not related to overall student engagement -- ScienceDaily

"Our results demonstrate that, contrary to conventional wisdom, higher-ranked institutions do not necessarily provide a superior educational experience." wrote the researchers. "In fact, educational quality, as indicated by engagement, seems to have little to do with institutional rank." "Beyond a few isolated cases, ranking schemes are not related to overall student engagement, behaviors related to learning, collaboration and support," said Zilvinskis. In fact, a modest but consistent finding across ranking schemes and class level was a negative relationship with student-faculty interaction, indicating that students at higher-ranked institutions reported fewer interactions with faculty.

The brain's GPS has a buddy system -- ScienceDaily

It has been known for some time that the hippocampus maintains a mental map of space -- in fact, the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded precisely for this research. 'Place cells' and 'grid cells' in the hippocampus register the location of the brain's owner in its environment, but until now, little was known about how the movements of others are tracked in the brain. Researchers put this to the test by observing the activity of hippocampal neurons in one rat (the 'self') watching another rat (the 'other') go through a simple T-maze. The self's neurons registered what the other was doing and changed their responses based on the self's location and subsequent actions. This study was published on January 11 in Science, which also contains a report of similar location awareness in the brains of bats.

Jeans made with child labor? People choose willful ignorance: Consumers 'forget' when products have ethical issues -- ScienceDaily

"It's not necessarily a conscious decision by consumers to forget what they don't want to know," said Rebecca Reczek, co-author of the study and associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. "It is a learned coping mechanism to tune out uncomfortable information because it makes their lives easier."

irregular sleep screws you

the researchers were able to assess the timing of circadian rhythms. On average, melatonin was released 2.6 hours later in students with the most irregular sleep patterns, compared with students with more regular sleep patterns.

Female night shift workers may have increased risk of common cancers -- ScienceDaily

Overall, long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19 percent. When analyzing specific cancers, the researchers found that this population had an increased risk of skin (41 percent), breast (32 percent), and gastrointestinal cancer (18 percent) compared with women who did not perform long-term night shift work. After stratifying the participants by location, Ma found that an increased risk of breast cancer was only found among female night shift workers in North America and Europe. "We were surprised to see the association

Monthly brain cycles predict seizures in patients with epilepsy: Implanted electrodes reveal long-term patterns of seizure risk -- ScienceDaily

The new study, based on recordings from the brains of 37 patients fitted with NeuroPace implants, confirmed previous clinical and research observations of daily cycles in patients' seizure risk, explaining why many patients tend to experience seizures at the same time of day. But the study also revealed that brain irritability rises and falls in much longer cycles lasting weeks or even months, and that seizures are more likely to occur during the rising phase of these longer cycles, just before the peak. The lengths of these long cycles differ from person to person but are highly stable over many years in individual patients, the researchers found.

Feel anxious? Have trouble sleeping? You may be traveling for business too often -- ScienceDaily

People who travel for business two weeks or more a month report more symptoms of anxiety and depression and are more likely to smoke, be sedentary and report trouble sleeping than those who travel one to six nights a month, according to a latest study conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York. Among those who consume alcohol, extensive business travel is associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence. Poor behavioral and mental health outcomes significantly increased as the number of nights away from home for business travel rose. This is one of the first studies to report the effects of business travel on non-infectious disease health risks. The results are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Swallowable sensors reveal mysteries of human gut health: First human trials of gas-sensing capsule reveal potential new immune system -- ScienceDaily

Findings from the first human trials of a breakthrough gas-sensing swallowable capsule could revolutionise the way that gut disorders and diseases are prevented and diagnosed.

Fasting mitigates immediate hypersensitivity: a pivotal role of endogenous D-beta-hydroxybutyrate

The results of the present study demonstrates that fasting suppress hypersensitivity reaction, and indicate that increased level of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate by fasting plays an important role, via the stabilization of mast cells, in suppression of hypersensitivity reaction.

Pong paddles and perception: Our actions influence what we see: A new study faces head-on the notion that previous experimental subjects have been victims of response bias -- ScienceDaily

Response bias happens when subjects guess or infer the purpose of an experiment, so they adjust their behaviors or answers - consciously or subconsciously. For example, a Psychology 101 student, familiar with how scientists run experiments, might volunteer as a study subject in which they are asked to wear a backpack, and guess the incline of a hill. They might infer, "I bet the hypothesis is that the backpack will affect how I see the slant of the hill," so they might say the slant is 25 degrees, rather than 20.

Manufacturing the truth: from designing clinical trials to publishing trial data (PDF Download Available)

During the development of a new drug, manufacturers sponsor (or act as authors of ) articles on the clinical trials of the new drug, and these articles are submitted to medical journals. Publication of these articles acts as an essential tool for advertising to the medical community who will be the future prescribers of the new drug. Richard Smith, a former editor of The BMJ, considered that medical journals are “an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies” (4). To illustrate, at an estimated cost of up to US$ 836,000, Merck & Co. purchased 900,000 reprints of the VIGOR trial article from the NEJM to circulate to doctors to promote Vioxx® (5,6). Wilson (7) argues that in the public interest, the potential for capture of medical journals represented by this commercial role must be acknowledged and addressed.

When Your Patient Is on Too Many Psych Meds

Despite years of treatment and a lot of medications, Mr A continued to have significant depressive and anxiety symptoms—specifically a lot of lethargy and hypersomnolence, and then alternating with anxiety and restlessness that he found very troubling. He wasn't making progress with his psychiatrist. In fact, when Mr A showed up in my office, he was on nearly a dozen medications that included lorazepam up to 4 mg daily, amphetamine mixed salts (Adderall®) 40 mg daily, buspirone 30 mg daily, lithium 900 mg daily, topiramate 300 mg daily, escitalopram (Lexapro®) 30 mg daily, temazepam 60 mg daily at bedtime, ziprasidone (Geodon®) 80 mg a day, paliperidone (Invega®) 6 mg daily, and metformin 1000 mg daily. He actually hadn't had a lithium level checked in quite some time.

Excerpts From Trump’s Interview With The Times - The New York Times

Which I did and then won Wisconsin and Michigan. [Inaudible.] So the Democrats. … [Inaudible.] … They thought there was no way for a Republican, not me, a Republican, to win the Electoral College. Well, they’re [inaudible].

Brain is strobing, not constant, neuroscience research shows: First sight, now sound: New discoveries show perception is cyclical -- ScienceDaily

The key findings are: 1. auditory perception oscillates over time and peak perception alternates between the ears -- which is important for locating events in the environment; 2. auditory decision-making also oscillates; and 3. oscillations are a general feature of perception, not specific to vision. The work is the result of an Italian-Australian collaboration, involving Professor David Alais, Johahn Leung and Tam Ho of the schools of Psychology and Medical Science, University of Sydney; Professor David Burr from the Department of Neuroscience, University of Florence; and Professor Maria Concetta Morrone of the Department of Translational Medicine, University of Pisa. With a simple experiment, they showed that sensitivity for detecting weak sounds is not constant, but fluctuates rhythmically over time. It has been known for some years that our sight perception is cyclical but this is the first time it has been demonstrated that hearing is as well. "These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles," said Professor Alais from the University of Sydney. "We have suspected for some time that the senses are not constant but are processed via cyclical, or rhythmic functions; these findings lend new weight to that theory." These auditory cycles happen at the rate of about six per second. This may seem fast, but not in neuroscience, given that brain oscillations can occur at up to 100 times per second.

Medium – Read, write and share stories that matter

In layman’s terms, neuroscientists at NorthWestern University determined that breathing in through your nose lights up brain centers that govern positive and negative emotions. Further, nasal inhalation coordinates those centers with other neural systems that are central to memory and cognition. Exhaling through your nose or mouth-breathing accomplish none of these things.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Boosting Work Morale - WSJ

As one of three women on a team of 60, and the boss, she struggled to feel like “one of the guys.” When she discovered that many of the men used the lunch hour to exercise, she asked to join. They use the Culver City Stairs, 282 steps that form a steep climb, as a gym. “I started working out at lunch, because I didn’t want to waste an hour doing nothing,” says Victor Mancia, a 45-year-old in the glass department. “When Elizabeth joined, I think it motivated others.” Ms. Kaplan says she noticed a few of her colleagues struggled with health issues, such as diabetes. “I’m a working mother, so I get it’s hard to carve out time to exercise. But I also realize your habits—diet, activity level—rub off on your family,” she says. Her children are 23, 22 and 18. “I hoped that if people saw me joining the workouts, they’d feel more inclined to join.”

Swimming rats

More troubling, these screens occasionally became imposters for disease models in the academic literature as well as in industry, despite scant corroborative evidence. In the widely used forced-swim and tail-suspension tests, for example, a compound is considered to be an antidepressant when, compared with a control, it causes a rat or mouse to continue swimming or actively struggling longer. Forced-swim and tail-suspension tests do not even model the therapeutic action of antidepressants, because in these rodent screens, a single dose of antidepressant is active, whereas in depressed patients, antidepressant drugs require weeks of administration to exert a therapeutic effect.

Is This the End of Couple's Therapy?

Incredibly, one in four couples cite temperature control as a primary source of arguments, with 42 percent of men admitting to having turned down the temperature without consulting their partner. “By the time we reach our late 20s, we’ve already figured out for the most part who we are and what we are or are not willing to put up with, which in turn makes it harder to adjust to others’ likes and dislikes and preferences," says Vijayeta Sinh, a New York City-based clinical psychologist. That’s why the best home technologies are the ones that do the compromising for you. “The value of a connected home is you have the simple convenience of, ‘Hey, I don't want to be thinking about how I'm taking care of my building. I want my building to take better care of me,’” says Ben Bixby, general manager of energy and safety at Nest, which recently launched the Nest Thermostat E, an affordable and easy-to-use smart thermostat, which requires zero programming, thanks to its “simple schedule,” blends into the background of your home, and can pay for itself—and then some—with energy savings.* Adds Bixby, “You're not an expert in knowing what temperature it should be when—let the thermostat figure that out!”

Neuroscience Has a Lot To Learn from Buddhism - The Atlantic

Ricard: That is what a study conducted by Julie Brefczynski and Antoine Lutz at Richard Davidson’s lab seems to indicate. Brefczynski and Lutz studied the brain activity of novice, relatively experienced, and very experienced meditators when they engage in focused attention. Different patterns of activity were observed depending on the practitioners’ level of experience. Relatively experienced meditators (with an average of 19,000 hours of practice) showed more activity in attention-related brain regions compared with novices. Paradoxically, the most experienced meditators (with an average of 44,000 hours of practice) demonstrated less activation than the ones without as much experience. These highly advanced meditators appear to acquire a level of skill that enables them to achieve a focused state of mind with less effort. These effects resemble the skill of expert musicians and athletes capable of immersing themselves in the “flow” of their performances with a minimal sense of effortful control. This observation accords with other studies demonstrating that when someone has mastered a task, the cerebral structures put into play during the execution of this task are generally less active than they were when the brain was still in the learning phase. Singer: This suggests that the neuronal codes become sparser, perhaps involving fewer but more specialized neurons, once skills become highly familiar and are executed with great expertise. To become a real expert seems to require then at least as much training as is required to become a world-class violin or piano player. With four hours of practice a day, it would take you 30 years of daily meditation to attain 44,000 hours. Remarkable!

Withdrawing -- and what helped

Maybe dealing with life’s distresses has its own chemistry. I know I hated every second of it. I don’t know if the medication helped. But I do know that I’m very glad I’m off.

The negative side of negativity

In fact, researchers have long documented how certain emotional reactions from family members correlate with higher relapse rates for people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Collectively referred to as “high expressed emotion,” these reactions include criticism, hostility and emotional overinvolvement (like overprotectiveness or constant intrusiveness in the patient’s life). In one study, 67 percent of white American families with a schizophrenic family member were rated as “high EE.” (Among British families, 48 percent were high EE; among Mexican families the figure was 41 percent and for Indian families 23 percent.)

Non medical treatment succeeds in third world

The research showed that patients outside the United States and Europe had significantly lower relapse rates — as much as two-thirds lower in one follow-up study. These findings have been widely discussed and debated in part because of their obvious incongruity: the regions of the world with the most resources to devote to the illness — the best technology, the cutting-edge medicines and the best-financed academic and private-research institutions — had the most troubled and socially marginalized patients. Trying to unravel this mystery, the anthropologist Juli McGruder from the University of Puget Sound spent years in Zanzibar studying families of schizophrenics. Though the population is predominantly Muslim, Swahili spirit-possession beliefs are still prevalent in the archipelago and commonly evoked to explain the actions of anyone violating social norms — from a sister lashing out at her brother to someone beset by psychotic delusions. McGruder found that far from being stigmatizing, these beliefs served certain useful functions. The beliefs prescribed a variety of socially accepted interventions and ministrations that kept the ill person bound to the family and kinship group. “Muslim and Swahili spirits are not exorcised in the Christian sense of casting out demons,” McGruder determined. “Rather they are coaxed with food and goods, feted with song and dance. They are placated, settled, reduced in malfeasance.” McGruder saw this approach in many small acts of kindness. She watched family members use saffron paste to write phrases from the Koran on the rims of drinking bowls so the ill person could literally imbibe the holy words. The spirit-possession beliefs had other unexpected benefits. Critically, the story allowed the person with schizophrenia a cleaner bill of health when the illness went into remission. An ill individual enjoying a time of relative mental health could, at least temporarily, retake his or her responsibilities in the kinship group. Since the illness was seen as the work of outside forces, it was understood as an affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity.

Chemical imbalance boosts negative viewsof mentally ill

“The results of the current study suggest that we may actually treat people more harshly when their problem is described in disease terms,” Mehta wrote. “We say we are being kind, but our actions suggest otherwise.” The problem, it appears, is that the biomedical narrative about an illness like schizophrenia carries with it the subtle assumption that a brain made ill through biomedical or genetic abnormalities is more thoroughly broken and permanently abnormal than one made ill though life events. “Viewing those with mental disorders as diseased sets them apart and may lead to our perceiving them as physically distinct. Biochemical aberrations make them almost a different species.”