Tag Archives | Pain

Computer Knows When You’re Faking Pain

PIC: cryteria (CC)

PIC: cryteria (CC)

It looks like taking a sick day may get a lot harder. A UC San Diego research team says computer programs can tell the difference between genuine pain and fake pain a lot better than human beings:

Via Medical News Today:

They note that in social species like humans, faces have evolved to show valuable information in social contexts, and this includes expressions of emotions and pain.

However, “humans can simulate facial expressions and fake emotions well enough to deceive most observers,” says Prof. Kang Lee, senior author from the University of Toronto.

According to the study, there are two motor pathways in the brain that control facial movement:

  • Subcortical extrapyramidal motor system – which drives spontaneous facial expressions of felt emotions
  • Cortical pyramidal motor system – which controls voluntary (faked) facial expressions.

While humans are unable to consistently spot the subtle differences between the two, the team says a computer can.

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Why Should We Try?

Pic: Ashok Prabhu (CC)

Pic: Ashok Prabhu (CC)

What follows is a bit of my own internal dialogue that’s been built into why it would even be worth the effort to launch an international tour to speak about how gnosis is a term that we should all have a good grasp of.

In the discussions of what our real ends are, some ideas have come up that have sent me into a back and forth about the actual value of any of it.

Have you ever felt yourself slip into an existential funk in which ask, “Why the fuck should I even care? Why the fuck should I try?” I mean what’s the point? Many of us have been long disenchanted with Religion, Politics, Love and pretty much every other institution of this mad consensus reality that we call life.

Take for instance the viewpoint of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Spiritual teacher in the Advaita Vedanta tradition in his exchange with an interviewer:

Q: There is suffering and bloodshed in East Pakistan at the present moment.Read the rest

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Torture Permanently Damages Perception of Pain

Goya_-_La_seguridad_de_un_reo_no_exige_tormento_(The_Custody_of_a_Criminal_Does_Not_Call_for_Torture)A study of Israeli soldiers captured and tortured during the 1973 Yom Kippur war revealed that their perception of pain has been changed permanently.

Via NeuroScience News:

Forty years later, research by Prof. Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University shows that the ex-prisoners of war (POWs), continue to suffer from dysfunctional pain perception and regulation, likely as a result of their torture. The study — conducted in collaboration with Prof. Zahava Solomon and Prof. Karni Ginzburg of TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work and Prof. Mario Mikulincer of the School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya — was published in the European Journal of Pain.

“The human body’s pain system can either inhibit or excite pain. It’s two sides of the same coin,” says Prof. Defrin. “Usually, when it does more of one, it does less of the other.

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Existential Despair? Take Two of These and Call Me in the Morning

Please don't give Tylenol to your existentially-challenged cat.

Please don’t give Tylenol to your existentially-challenged cat.

Interesting research from the University of British Columbia: Apparently Tylenol can also ease aches and pains of the existential kind. Look for new Sartre strength in the “Ennui” aisle of your local drug store:

New research this week found that Tylenol altered the way subjects passed moral judgements. Psychologists used that as a proxy measure for personal distress, a relationship that has been previously demonstrated. Daniel Randles and colleagues at the University of British Columbia write in the journal Psychological Science, “The meaning-maintenance model posits that any violation of expectations leads to an affective experience that motivates compensatory affirmation. We explore whether the neural mechanism that responds to meaning threats can be inhibited by acetaminophen.” Totally. More plainly, “Physical pain and social rejection share a neural process and subjective component that are experienced as distress.” That neural process has been traced to the same part of the brain.

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“They” Told Me to Write This (Continued)

Who are they? Insectile hive mind derivative entities? Beings from the Sirius conglomerate of planetary intelligence systems? Holy Guardian Angels? Unholy Protector Daemons? They can be all of these things, and for the second time since I’ve been writing for Disinfo they reached into my psychic life, compelling me to blog about a specific subject matter. The problem is that unlike the last time, I honestly couldn’t understand the message entirely as it wasn’t as neatly succinct. Okay, it’s not like I didn’t understand the message, I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it for means of convenient articulation.

In fact, I’m honestly just managing to put it all together, sort of. For a while, I’d been contemplating creating what in magick circles is referred to as a servitor. The basic idea behind this concept is that it’s sort of like a software program you install into the interlocking grid of human consciousness.… Read the rest

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The Snake Venom That’s Better Than Morphine

Black mamba (1)One wonders what a Black Mamba high might be like (although the story seems to suggest there might not be one) … from BBC News:

A painkiller as powerful as morphine, but without most of the side-effects, has been found in the deadly venom of the black mamba, say French scientists.

The predator, which uses neurotoxins to paralyse and kill small animals, is one of the fastest and most dangerous snakes in Africa.

However, tests on mice, reported in the journal Nature, showed its venom also contained a potent painkiller.

They admit to being completely baffled about why the mamba would produce it.

The researchers looked at venom from 50 species before they found the black mamba’s pain-killing proteins – called mambalgins.

Dr Eric Lingueglia, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology near Nice, told the BBC: “When it was tested in mice, the analgesia was as strong as morphine, but you don’t have most of the side-effects.”

Morphine acts on the opioid pathway in the brain.

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What It’s Like Living Without The Ability To Feel Pain

A reminder that suffering has its purpose? 31-year-old Steven Pete was born with congenital analgesia – a rare genetic disorder rendering him unable to experience pain, though he has a sense of touch. Via the BBC, he explains that life without pain is a curse:

Steven Pete and his brother were born with the rare genetic disorder congenital analgesia. They grew up – in Washington state – with a sense of touch but, as he explains in his own words, without ever feeling pain.

It first became apparent to my parents that something was wrong when I was four or five months old. I began chewing on my tongue while teething. They took me to a paediatrician where I underwent a series of tests.

During my early childhood I was absent from school a lot due to injury and illness. There was one time, at the roller-skating rink. I can’t recall all of the details, but I know that I broke my leg.

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Gene Found That Controls Chronic Pain

800px-Back-decompressionPopping pain killers may not be the answer, not if you can isolate and alter the gene which regulates chronic pain. Via Reuters:

British scientists have identified a gene responsible for regulating chronic pain, called HCN2, and say their discovery should help drug researchers in their search for more effective, targeted pain-killing medicines.

“Our research lays the groundwork for the development of new drugs to treat chronic pain by blocking HCN2.”

Scientists from Cambridge University said that if drugs could be designed to block the protein produced by the gene, they could treat a type of pain known as neuropathic pain, which is linked to nerve damage and often very difficult to control with currently available drugs.

“Individuals suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications,” said Peter McNaughton of Cambridge’s pharmacology department, who led the study.

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Sex On The Brain: Orgasms Unlock Altered Consciousness

BrainKayt Sukel writes in New Scientist:

With a click and a whirr, I am pulled into the scanner. My head is strapped down and I have been draped with a blanket so that I may touch my nether regions — my clitoris in particular — with a certain degree of modesty. I am here neither for a medical procedure nor an adult movie. Rather, I am about to stimulate myself to orgasm while an fMRI scanner tracks the blood flow in my brain.

My actions are helping Barry Komisaruk at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and colleagues to tease apart the mechanisms underlying sexual arousal. In doing so, not only have they discovered that there is more than one route to orgasm, but they may also have revealed a novel type of consciousness — an understanding of which could lead to new treatments for pain.

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Swearing Helps Ease The F*!#ing Pain

ProfanityFrom Tiffany Sharples via TIME:

There is a certain four-letter word that evokes much emotion, is often uttered by mothers giving birth, and whose usage by humans is thought to be evolutionarily adaptive: f___!

According to a new study by British researchers, saying the F word or any other commonly used expletive can work to reduce physical pain — and it seems that people may use curse words by instinct. Indeed, as any owner of a banged shin, whacked funny bone or stubbed toe knows, dancing the agony jig — and shouting its profane theme tune — are about as automatic as the response to a doctor’s reflex hammer. (See 20 ways to get healthy and stay that way.)

To figure out why, psychologists at Britain’s Keele University recruited 64 college students and asked them to stick their hands in a bucket of ice water and endure the pain for several minutes.

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