Tag Archives: news

Neurologist explains why it’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s creepy ‘unsettling’ face


As he has risen in the polls, more attention is being paid to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s overall electability as a man who looks, as one fellow Princeton classmate described him: “about as telegenic as an undertaker.”

The answer as to why so many people dislike the Texas Republican instinctively is one that intrigued Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, a professor of neurology at George Washington University.

Writing in Psychology Today,  Cytowic noted that Cruz’s “atypical expressions” left him “uneasy,” and that he was not alone among people who have watched Cruz up-close and from afar.

“Note how many colleagues and former associates ‘loathe’ him. A Bush alumnus told the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, ‘Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time.’ Former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole says, ‘Nobody likes him,’ while Rep. Peter King sees ‘malice.’” Cytowic wrote. “According to The Washington Post, screenwriter Craig Mazin, Cruz’s former Princeton roommate, has called him a ‘huge asshole,’ and ‘creepy.’ He’s Tweeted, ‘Getting emails blaming me for not smothering Ted Cruz in his sleep in 1988.’ The distaste for Cruz even extends beyond the US: Germans say Backpfeifengesicht, meaning a face in need of a good punch.”

According to Cytowic, the distaste for Cruz’s face starts with his smile.

Source: Neurologist explains why it’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s creepy ‘unsettling’ face


The #Neuroscience of the Virginia Shooting – YouTube

Chicago Council on Science and Technology (c2st.org) Artist in Residence Aaron Freeman muses on the neurobiology underpinning the murders of Virginia newspeople Allison Parker and Adam Ward by should-have-been mental patient Vester Lee Flannagan (aka Bryce Williams) via the introductory lecture of Professor Robert Sapolsky’s Stanford University course Human Behavioral Biology.

“Visceral disgust” at #allisonbechtel “Fun Home” prob involves the brain’s insula – Insula and Disgust


The disgust emotion [which some experience at the very THOUGHT homosexuality, the so-called “ik factor”] is elicited by a variety of stimuli ranging from rotten food to immoral persons. When we encounter such disgusting stimuli, whether they are physical or social, we commonly experience rejection responses by the body such as nausea and revolt. In fact, since the time of Darwin, it has been argued that disgust has its origins in a rejection response to offensive food, and that the sensations of tastes and odors play a crucial role in the experience of disgust. This view predicts that the insula is closely related to disgust because it serves both gustatory and visceral motor functions including the control of vomiting. Indeed, the insula is activated by a broad range of disgust-related stimuli such as disgusted facial expressions, unpleasant odors, pictures of rotten food, and unfair acts. However, increasing evidence indicates that the insula plays an important role in the experience of not only unpleasant but also pleasant bodily feelings. In brief, the insula seems to be involved in the conscious perception of emotional bodily feelings in general, or somatic markers, and assist in our decisions as to approach vs. avoidance. READ MORE @ NCBI

To rebuild takes optimism – How Dopamine Enhances an Optimism Bias in Humans #katrina #neuroscience


When predicting financial profits [1], relationship outcomes [2], longevity [3], or professional success [4], people habitually underestimate the likelihood of future negative events (for review see [5]). This well-known bias, termed unrealistic optimism [6], is observed across age [7], culture [8], and species [9] and has a significant societal impact on domains ranging from financial markets to health and well being

How Dopamine Enhances an Optimism Bias in Humans.

Prof Robert Sapolsky on the neurobio of sudden, inexeplicable violence #germanwings

Just watch the first 93 seconds.  He begins with a description of a neurologically-base sudden onset act of “inexplicable aggression.

I’m reasonably sure he is describing Huntington’s disease.  Some quick googling turned up…


Although some people suffering from HD may remain even tempered, others may lose the ability to control their emotions. Emotional volatility may be evident in increased irritability or episodes of explosiveness. A study on mice with the HD allele of the Huntington gene found that mice portrayed abnormal social behavior, particularlychronic aggressive behavior. For others, rigidity of thinking causes the individual to focus on one particular request. This individual may become irritable, frustrated or aggressive if demands are not met. To read more about the study on mice with the HD allele, click here.

When the caudate nucleus has deteriorated, emotions are improperly regulated, causing an increase in feelings of frustration and irritability. These feelings are often legitimate and triggered by something in the environment. The brain, however, cannot control the intensity of the emotion. Several factors may contribute to the feelings of intense frustration, etc: – The Behavioral Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease – stanford.edu

I also found:

Psychiatric and behavioural manifestations of HD are varied both in nature and time of occurrence in the course of the disease, often evolving in the same individual [7,1113]. Personality changes are the most common behavioural manifestation and probably will occur, eventually, in every patient [1,2,1215]. Apathy, irritability, aggressive and violent behaviour are the most reported conduct problems. Depression is the second most common psychiatric disorder among HD patients, with a lifetime prevalence of 39%, and most studies report a four- to six fold increase in suicide [1,1216]. Schizophrenia-like psychosis occurs in HD disease with an estimated frequency of 6% to 25%, the paranoid form being apparently the most common type [1,2,1214,16]. Patients with an early age at onset of HD seem to have a greater risk of developing psychosis [14,16]. In this report we are especially interested in the association between HD and schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms and how this may prove relevant to our understanding of the complex genetics of schizophrenia. We describe a family where all known cases of HD developed schizophrenia-like psychosis several years before other manifestations became evident. – Association of Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia-like psychosis in a Huntington’s disease pedigree NCBI

You’ve Reversed a Long Way, Baby | Foreign Policy


“Nobody has a clue about how many vulnerable women and girls are at risk. Some experts say an estimated 550 Western females are believed to have migrated to Islamic State-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq. This figure, however, does not include women from neighboring Arab countries. It would be safe to say that the number of women across the world at risk of being swayed by the Islamic State’s message — whether or not they plan to make their way to the “caliphate” — is in the thousands.”