Sunday, September 21, 2014

Random links 21.9.14

1. Marsh et al (2014), Neural and cognitive characteristics of extraordinary altruists, PNAS
Abstract: In this study, we used structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess a population of extraordinary altruists: altruistic kidney donors who volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger... Functional imaging and behavioral tasks included face-emotion processing paradigms that reliably distinguish psychopathic individuals from controls. Here we show that extraordinary altruists can be distinguished from controls by their enhanced volume in right amygdala and enhanced responsiveness of this structure to fearful facial expressions, an effect that predicts superior perceptual sensitivity to these expressions. These results mirror the reduced amygdala volume and reduced responsiveness to fearful facial expressions observed in psychopathic individuals. Our results support the possibility of a neural basis for extraordinary altruism.

2. Why behavioural economics is cool and I'm not

3. Atul Gawande is giving the BBC Reith lectures this year

4. Johnson et al. (2014), Pilot study of the 5-HT2AR agonist psilocybin in the treatment of tobacco addiction, J Psychopharmacol
Abstract: To determine the safety and feasibility of psilocybin as an adjunct to tobacco smoking cessation treatment we conducted an open-label pilot study administering moderate (20 mg/70 kg) and high (30 mg/70 kg) doses of psilocybin within a structured 15-week smoking cessation treatment protocol. Participants were 15 psychiatrically healthy nicotine-dependent smokers (10 males; mean age of 51 years), with a mean of six previous lifetime quit attempts, and smoking a mean of 19 cigarettes per day for a mean of 31 years at intake. Biomarkers assessing smoking status, and self-report measures of smoking behavior demonstrated that 12 of 15 participants (80%) showed seven-day point prevalence abstinence at 6-month follow-up.

5. NYT: How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down? 

6. Data Colada on testing for quadratics
"When testing inverted u-shapes we want to assess whether:
At first more x leads to more y, but eventually more x leads to less y.
If that’s what we want to assess, maybe that’s what we should test.Here is an easy way to do that that builds on the quadratic regression everyone is already running.
1)      Run the quadratic regression
2)      Find the point where the resulting u-shape maxes out.
3)      Now run a linear regression up to that point, and another from that point onwards.
4)      Test whether the second line is negative and significant."

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