Tag Archives | RE/SEARCH

Yes, androids do dream of electric sheep

Alex Hern at The Guardian:

Google sets up feedback loop in its image recognition neural network – which looks for patterns in pictures – creating hallucinatory images of animals, buildings and landscapes which veer from beautiful to terrifying.

What do machines dream of? New images released by Google give us one potential answer: hypnotic landscapes of buildings, fountains and bridges merging into one.

The pictures, which veer from beautiful to terrifying, were created by the company’s image recognition neural network, which has been “taught” to identify features such as buildings, animals and objects in photographs.

They were created by feeding a picture into the network, asking it to recognise a feature of it, and modify the picture to emphasise the feature it recognises. That modified picture is then fed back into the network, which is again tasked to recognise features and emphasise them, and so on. Eventually, the feedback loop modifies the picture beyond all recognition.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How we make emotional decisions

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Craig Sunter (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via EurekAlert:

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a city far from family and friends, versus choosing to stay put with less pay.

MIT researchers have now identified a neural circuit that appears to underlie decision-making in this type of situation, which is known as approach-avoidance conflict. The findings could help researchers to discover new ways to treat psychiatric disorders that feature impaired decision-making, such as depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.

“In order to create a treatment for these types of disorders, we need to understand how the decision-making process is working,” says Alexander Friedman, a research scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the lead author of a paper describing the findings in the May 28 issue of Cell.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Vines and Minds — The DMT-Nexus at Aya2014

Via The Nexian:

This presentation was given by Raph Borges and David Nickles at the Aya2014 conference in Ibiza, Spain.

Despite numerous published scientific papers and anecdotal reports indicating the presence of DMT in a wide variety of plants, there is much ambiguity, contradiction, and speculation regarding the actual chemical composition of many of these plants. Discussions of indigenous preparations, which include DMT-containing plants, often treat the phytochemistry of the β-carboline-containing plants as fairly uniform. However, new examinations of these plants, utilizing modern analytical techniques, have shown them to contain a variety of compounds in differing ratios.

The DMT-Nexus has carried out unique chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses of specimens reported to contain DMT and β-carbolines, from both novel and previously examined species complexes. Thus far, we have tested species within the Acacia, Phalaris, Psychotria, Banisteriopsis and related genera, as well as Mimosa tenuiflora and Diplopterys cabrerana.

This research has elucidated questions and hypotheses regarding: indigenous botanical preparations; identities of plants found in the global market of entheogenic vendors; and the phytochemistry of plants that ethnobotanical researchers encounter in their own geographic regions.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

An Odder Science

Laboratory specimens for Morgellons Research. Photo by Nicole Lupardus

Laboratory specimens for Morgellons Research. Photo by Nicole Lupardus

This article was originally published on This Land Press.

I pulled up behind Dr. Randy Wymore’s pickup right as he pulled up in front of Sidney Presley’s house.

“Sorry I don’t look like a journalist,” I apologized, explaining I’d smeared bike grease on the button-up I’d laid out for the evening.

“Oh, that’s okay,” Wymore half-laughed. “Do you think I look like a scientist?” In slim-fit denim jeans, a sleeve-rolled dress shirt, and pierced ears, the shaggy-headed doctor wasn’t advertising his occupation. “I’ve been growing my hair out for a while,” he said as we walked up the cobbled path. “I’m going as Woody Harrelson’s character from The Hunger Games this weekend.”

Tall, twisting, dark trees lined both sides of the walkway, their leaves the color of the ripe jack-o-lanterns dotting the neighborhood. The front door of the broad, two-story home opened just up the trail from us.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Scientists unknowingly tweak experiments

Surprise, scientists make errors especially when it’s their bread and butter. The real question is if they are errors?


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A new study has found some scientists are unknowingly tweaking experiments and analysis methods to increase their chances of getting results that are easily published.

The study conducted by ANU scientists is the most comprehensive investigation into a type of called p-hacking.


P-hacking happens when researchers either consciously or unconsciously analyse their data multiple times or in multiple ways until they get a desired result. If p-hacking is common, the exaggerated results could lead to misleading conclusions, even when evidence comes from multiple studies.

“We found evidence that p-hacking is happening throughout the life sciences,” said lead author Dr Megan Head from the ANU Research School of Biology.

The study used text mining to extract p-values – a number that indicates how likely it is that a result occurs by chance – from more than 100,000 research papers published around the world, spanning many scientific disciplines, including medicine, biology and psychology.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Vancouver, Montreal researchers use magic to explore consciousness

Pablo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pablo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bethany Lindsay at the Vancouver Sun:

Can questions about something as fundamental as the existence of free will be answered with a simple magic trick?

It may sound strange, but a new study from researchers in Vancouver and Montreal uses magicians’ mind tricks as a gateway to exploring human consciousness and decision-making.

In a street magic experiment, lead author Jay Olson asked 118 strangers to pick a random card as he riffled through the pack, intentionally showing one card for longer than the rest.

The results were remarkable. Ninety-eight per cent of people picked the target card, and an impressive 91 per cent believed that they had made that choice freely, without any influence from the magician.

“It was pretty cool,” said co-author Ronald Rensink, a psychology and computer science professor at UBC. “This would seem to be supporting the view that your conscious mind doesn’t really decide.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Nine Myths About Schizophrenia


Despite investment in research and treatment, the outcomes of patients diagnosed with the most severe psychiatric disorders have not improved since the Victorian period. Where are the flaws in our understanding? Mental health treatment needs a radical overhaul to bring it into the 21st century – but what needs to change?

… get up to speed with what’s fact and what’s fiction about schizophrenia with Professor and Clinical Psychologist Richard Bentall as he debunk the common myths in this free online course: Nine Myths About Schizophrenia.

The details of the course can be found here – or see the whole list of IAI Academy courses here.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Psilocybin: The Science behind a Magical Molecule

Excellent summary of some of the recent scientific research on the main constituent of psychedelic fungi via The Nexian:

Liberty CapsPsilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in many species of mushrooms. In this form it has a long history of use by humanity in the context of healing and divination, and it is still employed in this manner today by indigenous groups such as the Mazatec. Since the 1960’s awareness of psilocybin and the fungi within which it resides has spread into the Western world. Following the legal clamp down that resulted from widespread use of this and other psychedelics like LSD and mescaline at this time, scientific research into this compound and other psychedelics all but drew to a halt. In the last few years regulatory red tape has been loosening to some degree, and scientists have began studying psilocybin for a number of reasons. It appears that psilocybin is a highly multifaceted compound and has the capacity to act as a profound tool in the study of the brain and consciousness, as well as act as a treatment for a variety of psychological conditions.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Compilation of Cannabis Studies and Documentaries

HansRoht (CC)

A useful and comprehensive compilation of what we know so far about the most widely used illegal flower in the world…A plant that purportedly has “no currently accepted medical use”, despite the endless stream of studies and individual cases heavily suggesting otherwise. Now that two states have legalized it, with many more on the way, it won’t be long before the rest of the [police] States follow suit.

Via The Nexian:

“If cannabis were discovered in an Amazon rainforests today, people would be clambering to make as much use as they could out of the potential benefits of the plant”….”Unfortunately, it carries with it a long and not so long history of being a persecuted plant.” Donald L. Abrams, MD

Cannabis is one of the most thoroughly studied, yet misunderstood, medicinal psychedelic plants. Owing mainly to the propaganda of the “War on [Some People Who Use Certain] Drugs,” Cannabis’ potential for self-development, exploration, and therapy is largely ignored, discounted, and stigmatized. … Read the rest

Continue Reading