Psychopath-ish: How “healthy” brains can look and function like those of psychopaths

A recent study used fMRI to compare the brains of psychopathic criminals with a group of 100 well-functioning individuals, finding striking similarities.

Obscure freaky smiling psycho man

  • The study used psychological inventories to assess a group of violent criminals and healthy volunteers for psychopathy, and then examined how their brains responded to watching violent movie scenes.
  • The fMRI results showed that the brains of healthy subjects who scored high in psychopathic traits reacted similarly as the psychopathic criminal group. Both of these groups also showed atrophy in brain regions involved in regulating emotion.
  • The study adds complexity to common conceptions of what differentiates a psychopath from a "healthy" individual.
Keep reading Show less

Self-awareness is what makes us human

Because of our ability to think about thinking, "the gap between ape and man is immeasurably greater than the one between amoeba and ape."

Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK via Getty Images
  • Self-awareness — namely, our capacity to think about our thoughts — is central to how we perceive the world.
  • Without self-awareness, education, literature, and other human endeavors would not be possible.
  • Striving toward greater self-awareness is the spiritual goal of many religions and philosophies.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Tripping might not be required for psychedelic therapy

Two different studies provide further evidence of the efficacy of psychedelics in treating depression.

Photo: agsandrew / Adobe Stock
  • A phase 2 clinical trial by Imperial College London found psilocybin to be as effective at treating depression as escitalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant.
  • A different study by the University of Maryland showed that blocking the hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms in mice did not reduce the antidepressant effect.
  • Combined, these studies could lead to new ways of applying psychedelics to patient populations that don't want to trip.
Keep reading Show less

Neuroplasticity can be turned on and off in the brain of a fruit fly

Neuroplasticity is a major driver of learning and memory in humans.

Jack Dykinga, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mind & Brain

Neuroplasticity – the ability of neurons to change their structure and function in response to experiences – can be turned off and on by the cells that surround neurons in the brain, according to a new study on fruit flies that I co-authored.

Keep reading Show less

Brain mapping: explained

How can researchers map something as complex as the human brain?

Credit: Brian Jackson / Adobe Stock
Mind & Brain
  • Brain mapping is an attempt to identify the location of everything in the brain.
  • An accurate map of the brain would immeasurably enhance our ability to understand how it works.
  • The project is massive, involving multiple fields of biomedical research and expensive cutting-edge technology.
Keep reading Show less

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Stoicism can help overcome anxiety

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast