Neurobiological Substrates of DreadThere's good discussion of the article at BRAINETHICS, here, and uh... metadiscussion at The Neurocritic, here and here.
Given the choice of waiting for an adverse outcome or getting it over with quickly, many people choose the latter. Theoretical models of decision-making have assumed that this occurs because there is a cost to waiting—i.e., dread. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we measured the neural responses to waiting for a cutaneous electric shock. Some individuals dreaded the outcome so much that, when given a choice, they preferred to receive more voltage rather than wait. Even when no decision was required, these extreme dreaders were distinguishable from those who dreaded mildly by the rate of increase of neural activity in the posterior elements of the cortical pain matrix. This suggests that dread derives, in part, from the attention devoted to the expected physical response and not simply from fear or anxiety. Although these differences were observed during a passive waiting procedure, they correlated with individual behavior in a subsequent choice paradigm, providing evidence for a neurobiological link between the experienced disutility of dread and subsequent decisions about unpleasant outcomes.
And while we're on the subject of pain, you might enjoy this post at Eide Neurolearning Blog (via Omni Brain), on the role of "sensory-motor incongruence" in certain types of pain. Here's an excerpt:
"In 66% of health volunteers, abnormal sensations of pain (“numbness, pins and needles, moderate aching and/or a definite pain”) or other sensations (“perceived changes in temperature, limb weight, altered body image, disorientation”) were reported following artificially-induced sensory-motor incongruence."Reading about their methodology, I can't help but be reminded of the famous rubber hand experiment ("Rubber hands 'feel' touch that the eye sees"), though that had nothing to do with pain.
And while we're on the subject of Omni Brain, check out this post on research demonstrating (un)importance of neurogenesis. From the post:
Hen's team zapped mice with a focused dose of radiation to halt neurogenesis in a portion of the animals' hippocampuses. They then placed half the animals in regular cages and half in enhanced environments for 6 weeks before testing their anxiety and spatial memory. To the researchers' surprise, the animals with better accommodations had improved spatial memory skills and were less anxious than mice in smaller confines, despite not having any new neurons in their hippocampuses. "We thought we would see a dependence on neurogenesis in some of the behaviors we saw in the enriched environment, but that's not what we found," says Hen.By the way, isn't it hoppocampi?
And while we're on the subject of a bunch of blogs by neuroscientists, where are the cognitive psychologists? Are Cognitive Daily and Mixing Memory alone in the blogosophere?