Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is not only necessary but also sufficient for pain-related negative emotion; it preferentially encodes the emotional-affective component of pain rather than sensory-discriminative component

A new perspective on the anterior cingulate cortex and affective pain. Xiao Xiao, Yu-Qiu Zhang. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.03.022

•    The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is not only necessary but also sufficient for pain-related negative emotion.
•    The ACC preferentially encodes the emotional-affective component of pain rather than sensory-discriminative component.
•    The neural network of the ACC with amygdala, BNST, PFC, IC, VLO, and some other limbic structures contributes to the negative emotion of pain.

Abstract: Pain is a complex experience including sensory-discriminative and emotional-affective components. Base on the intensity and chronification of pain, pain is divided into physiological and pathological pain. Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is activated by noxious and contextual stimuli, is involved in pain processing, especially affective pain, the neural mechanisms of the ACC involvement in affective pain have yet to be elaborated. This review summarizes the main progresses and recent findings from our and other laboratories regarding the ACC and affective pain. Most evidence provided new insights into the neural mechanisms underlying affective pain. Excitation of ACC pyramidal neurons is necessary and sufficient for the pain-related negative emotion. We also sketched other brain regions associated with the ACC and discussed the role of these brain regions in affective pain. Actually, it is likely that the neural network between these brain regions is critical for the negative affect of pain. In particular, the important advances within the optogenetic filed provide new opportunities to deepen and expand our understanding of the affective pain.

When both the original study and its failed replication are correct

Noah, T., Schul, Y., & Mayo, R. (2018). When both the original study and its failed replication are correct: Feeling observed eliminates the facial-feedback effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(5), 657-664. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000121

Abstract: This article suggests a theoretically driven explanation for a replication failure of one of the basic findings in psychology: the facial-feedback effect. According to the facial-feedback hypothesis, the facial activity associated with particular emotional expressions can influence people’s affective experiences. Recently, a replication attempt of this effect in 17 laboratories around the world failed to find any support for the effect. We hypothesize that the reason for the failure of replication is that the replication protocol deviated from that of the original experiment in a critical factor. In all of the replication studies, participants were alerted that they would be monitored by a video camera, whereas the participants in the original study were not monitored, observed, or recorded. Previous findings indicate that feeling monitored or observed reduces reliance on internal cues in making judgments. Therefore, we hypothesize that recording the participants in the replication experiments reduced their reliance on the facial-feedback. To test the hypothesis, we replicated the facial-feedback experiment in 2 conditions: one with a video-camera and one without it. The results revealed a significant facial-feedback effect in the absence of a camera, which was eliminated in the camera’s presence. These findings suggest that minute differences in the experimental protocol might lead to theoretically meaningful changes in the outcomes. In our view, the theoretical and methodological approach advocated by our study changes failed replications from being the “end of the road” regarding entire fields of study into a new road for growth regarding our understanding of human nature.

An ambient coffee-like scent improved performance on an analytical reasoning task because it created higher performance expectations. Kind of placebo effect.

The impact of coffee-like scent on expectations and performance. Adriana Madzharo, Ning Ye, Maureen Morrin, Lauren Block. Journal of Environmental Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.04.001

•    An ambient coffee-like scent improved performance on an analytical reasoning task.
•    The scent created higher performance expectations.
•    Expectations about alertness are also associated with the scent.
•    An ambient coffee-like scent had a placebo effect on behavior.

ABSTRACT: The present research explores the effect of an ambient coffee-like scent (versus no scent) on expectations regarding performance on an analytical reasoning task as well as on actual performance. We show that people in a coffee-scented (versus unscented) environment perform better on an analytical reasoning task due to heightened performance expectations (Study 1). We further show that people expect that being in a coffee-scented environment will increase their performance because they expect it will increase their physiological arousal level (Study 2). Our results thus demonstrate that a coffee-like scent (which actually contains no caffeine) can elicit a placebo effect.

Keywords: olfaction; performance; coffee-like scent; placebo effects

India's liberalization cannot be explained with wealth-maximization alone; the prevalent ideology in India changed dramatically before the liberalization; commerce was looked upon as anti-social, now it is celebrated

The role of ideological change in India's economic liberalization. Nimish Adhia. The Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 44, June 2013, Pages 103-111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2013.02.015

Abstract: The paper describes the role of ideological change in India's economic liberalization and provides evidence for it. Since the 1980s the most prevalent ideology has changed from condemning commerce and profit as anti-social, to tolerating—even applauding—commercial success. The paper reports on a content analysis of the most popular Hindi film each year since 1955, and finds that characters of rich merchants have changed from being portrayed as villains to being portrayed as heroes.

► I argue that India's liberalization cannot be explained with wealth-maximization alone. ► The prevalent ideology in India changed dramatically before the liberalization. ► Commerce was looked upon as anti-social, now it is celebrated. ► Content and narrative analysis of Indian films reveals the change in ideology.

The injunction of performing one’s duty without regard to outcomes has been the basis of much of the Indian philosophical and religious discourse.

The dilemma is recurrent in Indian films.... From the 1950s to the 1980s, the dilemmas invariably resolve in favor of duty. The mother in Mother India (1956) shoots and kills her wayward son as he attempts to kidnap a woman—an action that would have been shameful for the village. “I am the mother of the entire village,” she says as she picks up the gun. As the son collapses to the ground, she wails and rushes to his side, and is shown to lament his death for the rest of her life, but the film valorizes her as “Mother India.”

But then starting with Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1986) there is a spate of films that celebrate the assertion of one’s desire. The assertion commonly takes the form of falling in love—an audacious act in a society where the sexual mores are conservative and a majority of marriages are arranged on basis of familial and community criteria. The young lovers in the big hit Qayamat se Qayamat tak (Doomsday to Doomsday, 1988) elope and endure enormous hardships on account of their families’ opposition. The families had a falling out in the past when they were neighboring landlords in the country. The demands of familial loyalty, shown to arise in this way from a feudal setup and concluding in the death of the young lovers, are condemned by the film as savage and outdated. “We are not the property of our parents,” the young man once counsels his beloved. “We need not be carriers of their legacy of hate.”

Perceived mental health from men’s facial appearance reflected actual mental health; results held for subclinical autistic quotient, depressive symptoms, and schizotypy; and accuracy was not explained by attractiveness or other appearance variables

Cues to mental health from men’s facial appearance. Robert Ward, , Naomi Jane Scott. Journal of Research in Personality, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2018.04.007

•    Perceived mental health from men’s facial appearance reflected actual mental health.
•    Results held for subclinical autistic quotient, depressive symptoms, and schizotypy.
•    Accuracy was not explained by attractiveness or other appearance variables.
•    Mental health vulnerability could lead to negative social evaluation.

Abstract: Previous work shows that mental health can be evident from neutral facial appearance. We assessed the accuracy of mental health perceptions from facial appearance, and how perceived mental health related to other appearance cues, specifically attractiveness, perceived physical health, and masculinity. We constructed composite images from men scoring high and low on autistic quotient, depressive symptoms, and schizotypy inventories, and asked observers to rate these images for mental health. We found perceived mental health reflected actual mental health in all cases. Furthermore, the accuracy of mental health inference was not fully explained by other appearance cues. We consider implications of accurate mental health detection from appearance, and the possibility that appearance could be a risk factor for mental health issues.

Keywords: facial appearance; mental health; attractiveness; masculinity

China’s Mistress-Dispellers

China’s Mistress-Dispellers. By Jiayang Fan. The New Yorker, June 26, 2017 Issue
How the economic boom and deep gender inequality have created a new industry.

Yu Ruojian was pleased to learn that his target ran a sex shop. Someone who worked in retail would be used to talking to strangers, and it would be easy, posing as a customer in such an intimate store, to bring the conversation around to personal matters. In March last year, he visited the store, in Wuxi, a city about seventy miles from Shanghai, where he lives. He told the proprietor, a gregarious woman in her forties whom I’ll call Wang, that he was looking for herbal remedies to help a friend whose marital relations were hampered by shyness. They chatted for half an hour before exchanging contact details. “I’ll be back to pester you soon enough,” Yu said as he left. “You’d better!” Wang responded, unaware that she’d walked into the first in a series of carefully laid traps.

A month earlier, Yu had heard from a woman in her fifties, the wife of a factory manager in Wuxi, who explained that her husband was having an affair with Wang. She had tolerated it for years, but now she’d found that he had spent more than two hundred thousand yuan—thirty thousand dollars—on her, savings that should have been going toward their old age and a house for their son.

Yu, a gentle-looking man in his early forties, with the placid demeanor of a yoga instructor, works as a mistress dispeller, a job that barely existed a decade ago but is becoming common in major Chinese cities. His clients are women who hope to preserve their marriages by fending off what is known in Chinese as a xiao san, or “Little Third”—a term that encompasses everything from a partner in a casual affair to a long-term “kept woman.” Mistress dispellers use a variety of methods. Some Little Thirds can be paid off or discouraged by hearing unwelcome details of their lovers’ lives—debts, say, or responsibility for an elderly parent—or shamed with notes sent to friends and family. If the dispeller or the client is well connected, a Little Third may suddenly find that her job requires her to move to another city. A female dispeller sometimes seeks to become a confidante, in order to advise the targeted woman that the liaison will inevitably crumble. In certain cases, a male mistress dispeller may even seduce the woman. Like all the mistress dispellers I spoke to, Yu said that he never resorts to this tactic, but he acknowledged that there are those who do.

A week after his first visit, Yu went back to the store. He had heard that Wang had recently purchased property nearby, and he let drop that he was looking to buy an apartment in the neighborhood. She offered to take him on a tour and introduce him to agents with properties to sell. In the course of several weeks, Yu and Wang started getting meals together, and eventually Yu invited her to Shanghai for a weekend sightseeing trip. She demurred at first but later accepted, on the condition that she could bring a girlfriend along.

Using his client’s money, Yu put the pair up at a hotel, showed them the city, and took them to sample its culinary specialties. On Shanghai’s famous river promenade, Yu took pictures of the two women and then got the friend to take several of him and Wang with their arms around each other. Once the weekend was over, these pictures found their way to Wang’s boyfriend. “A picture speaks louder than a thousand words, and, in a jealous man’s imagination, it can speak ten thousand,” Yu told me. The man ended the relationship, and returned to his wife, appreciative, if nothing else, of her loyalty. The mission had taken around four months in all.

As Yu spoke, it was hard to gauge his attitude to what he or anyone else had done. He seemed neither proud nor defensive, and offered no judgments on the behavior of those he encountered. He’d had all kinds of jobs, he told me, working in computer sales, right out of college, and then learning about psychology, Buddhism, and traditional Chinese arts. The emotional turmoil he’d caused seemed remote to him, as if his studies had enabled him to regard it with Zen composure. Things had been messy and painful before his involvement, and though the treatment he administered was painful, too, he’d been able to bring about a situation that was, on the whole, better.

Yu told me that he was on his second marriage and had one daughter from each. When I asked why his Wuxi client hadn’t considered divorce, he was incredulous. For a woman, divorce was rarely a sensible choice. “In today’s world, a secondhand woman is like a secondhand car,” he said. “Once it’s been driven, it’s not worth a fraction of its original selling price.” A secondhand man, on the other hand, Yu explained, is like renovated property in China’s real-estate market: “The value only appreciates.”

A volatile mixture of rapid social change, legal reforms, and traditional attitudes has created something approaching a crisis in Chinese marriage. In the past decade, the divorce rate has doubled. Adultery is the most prevalent cause, accounting for about a third of the cases, and men are more than thirteen times as likely to stray as women are. These trends are seen as troubling in a country that places a high social value on matrimony. Media outlets with close ties to the state frequently run stories with titles like “The Five-Year Itch” and “DNA Testing in China: Eroding Wedlock?” The government has signalled that it takes public morality seriously, in part by exposing the sexual misdeeds of high officials who fall afoul of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade. According to Xinhua, the state news agency, Zhou Yongkang, a former security chief who was arrested and expelled from the Communist Party in 2014, “committed adultery with a number of women in power-for-sex and money-for-sex trades.” Wild rumors spread on Chinese media that he had had more than four hundred lovers.

In divorces, women suffer disproportionately. Yu’s view of a woman’s poor chance at remarriage is widely shared, but there are more concrete issues, arising from economic disparity within marriages. Mistress dispellers are only one part of a broader industry that has sprung up to help wives rescue their unions, but their work has aroused particular fascination, as has the figure of the mistress herself, often portrayed in films and TV dramas as a predatory but irresistible homewrecker. While I was in a taxi in Shanghai, a song came on the radio that the driver mentioned was a favorite of his. Titled “Little Third,” it was the breakout single by a Henanese singer called Leng Mo, who sings to a woman about his bitter realization that he could never make her happy, given that “finally you have become someone else’s Little Third.” In another hit—“Di San Zhe” (“Third Party”), by the Malaysian-born superstar Fish Leong—a woman is magnanimous toward her rival, taking responsibility for the loss of her man and insisting that the third party shouldn’t be blamed: “Although your choice has destroyed me, I will take it positively.” It is an attitude that few wives in China can afford to share.

Yu is one of about three hundred employees of Weiqing Group, which bills itself as China’s “first professional transnational love hospital.” Weiqing—the name translates as “preserve feeling”—was founded sixteen years ago and provides an array of services, designed to save a marriage at all costs [...]

This article appears in the print edition of the June 26, 2017, issue, with the headline “The Third Person.”

    Jiayang Fan became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 2016.

Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry: People who are short on relatives can hire a husband, a mother, a grandson. The resulting relationships can be more real than you’d expect

Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry. By Elif Batuman. The New Yorker, April 30, 2018 Issue
People who are short on relatives can hire a husband, a mother, a grandson. The resulting relationships can be more real than you’d expect.https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/30/japans-rent-a-family-industry

image: The head of one rental-relative company described the service as “human affection expressed through the form of the family.”

Two years ago, Kazushige Nishida, a Tokyo salaryman in his sixties, started renting a part-time wife and daughter. His real wife had recently died. Six months before that, their daughter, who was twenty-two, had left home after an argument and never returned.

“I thought I was a strong person,” Nishida told me, when we met one night in February, at a restaurant near a train station in the suburbs. “But when you end up alone you feel very lonely.” Tall and slightly stooped, Nishida was wearing a suit and a gray tie. He had a deep voice and a gentle, self-deprecating demeanor.

Of course, he said, he still went to work every day, in the sales division of a manufacturing company, and he had friends with whom he could go out for drinks or play golf. But at night he was completely alone. He thought he would feel better over time. Instead, he felt worse. He tried going to hostess clubs. Talking to the ladies was fun, but at the end of the night you were alone again, feeling stupid for having spent so much money.

Then he remembered a television program he had seen, about a company called Family Romance, one of a number of agencies in Japan that rent out replacement relatives. One client, an elderly woman, had spoken enthusiastically about going shopping with her rental grandchild. “The grandchild was just a rental, but the woman was still really happy,” Nishida recalled.

Nishida contacted Family Romance and placed an order for a wife and a daughter to join him for dinner. On the order form, he noted his daughter’s age, and his wife’s physique: five feet tall and a little plump. The cost was forty thousand yen, about three hundred and seventy dollars. The first meeting took place at a café. The rental daughter was more fashionable than Nishida’s real daughter—he used the English word “sharp”—but the wife immediately impressed him as “an ordinary, generic middle-aged woman.” He added, “Unlike, for example, Ms. Matsumoto”—he nodded toward my interpreter, Chie Matsumoto—“who might look like a career woman.” Chie, a journalist, teacher, and activist, who has spiky salt-and-pepper hair and wears plastic-framed glasses, laughed as she translated this qualification.

The wife asked Nishida for details about how she and the daughter should act. Nishida demonstrated the characteristic toss of the head with which his late wife had rearranged her hair, and his daughter’s playful way of poking him in the ribs. Then the women started acting. The rental wife called him Kazu, just as his real wife had, and tossed her head to shake back her hair. The rental daughter playfully poked him in the ribs. An observer would have taken them for a real family.

Nishida booked a second meeting. This time, the wife and daughter came to his house. The wife cooked okonomiyaki, a kind of pancake that Nishida’s late wife had made, while Nishida chatted with the daughter. Then they ate dinner together and watched television.

More family dinners followed, usually at Nishida’s house, though one time they went out for monjayaki, another variety of pancake beloved by the late Mrs. Nishida. It hadn’t been a fancy meal, and Nishida wondered whether he should have taken the women, who were, after all, his guests, to a nicer place. Then again, in real life, the Nishidas hadn’t gone to any of those nicer places.

Before another meeting, it occurred to Nishida to send Family Romance a copy of his house key. When he came home from work that night, the lights were on, the house was warm, and a wife and daughter were there to say, “Welcome home.”

“That was very nice,” Nishida recalled, smiling slightly. He said he didn’t miss the women when they left—not with any sense of urgency or longing. But he did think, “It would be nice to spend some time like that with them again.”

Nishida said that, although he still calls them by the names of his wife and daughter, and the meetings still take the form of family dinners, the women have, to some extent, stopped acting and “turned into their own selves.” The rental wife sometimes “breaks out of the shell of the rental family” enough to complain about her real husband, and Nishida gives her advice. With this loosening of the roles, he realized that he, too, had been acting, playing the part of “a good husband and father,” trying not to seem too miserable, telling his daughter how to hold her rice bowl. Now he felt lighter, able for the first time to talk about his real daughter, about how shocked he had been when she announced her decision to move in with a boyfriend he had never met, and how they had argued and broken off contact.

On the subject of the real daughter, the rental daughter had a lot to say: as someone in her early twenties, she could tell that Nishida hadn’t spoken correctly, or expressed himself in the right way. He’d made it hard for his daughter to apologize and it was up to him to create an opening. “Your daughter is waiting for you to call her,” she told him. To me, this sentence had the eerie ring of something uttered at a séance. Nishida himself seemed uncertain about how and for whom the rental daughter had spoken. “She was acting as a rental daughter, but at the same time she was telling me how she felt as a real daughter,” he said. “And yet, if it was a real father-daughter relationship, maybe she wouldn’t have spoken this honestly.”


Hypersexuality, Gender, and Sexual Orientation: LGTBQ males had the highest scores of hypersexuality indicators

Hypersexuality, Gender, and Sexual Orientation: A Large-scale Psychometric Survey Study. Beata Bothe et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior, March 2018, DOI 10.1007/s10508-018-1201-z

Abstract: Criteria for hypersexual disorder (HD) were proposed for consideration in the DSM-5 but ultimately excluded for a variety of reasons. Regardless, research continues to investigate hypersexual behavior (HB). The Hypersexual Behavior Inventory (HBI) is one of the most robust scales assessing HB, but further examination is needed to explore its psychometric properties among different groups. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine the generalizability of the HBI in a large, diverse, non-clinical sample (N = 18,034 participants; females = 6132; 34.0%; Mage = 33.6 years, SDage = 11.1) across both gender and sexual orientation. Measurement invariance testing was carried out to ensure gender- and sexual orientation-based comparisons were meaningful. Results demonstrated when both gender and sexual orientation were considered (i.e., heterosexual males vs. LGBTQ males vs. heterosexual females vs. LGBTQ females), LGBTQ males had significantly higher latent means on the HBI factors. Results also demonstrated LGBTQ males had the highest scores on other possible indicators of hypersexuality (e.g., frequency of masturbation, number of sexual partners, or frequency of pornography viewing). These indings suggest LGBTQ males may be a group most at risk of engaging in hypersexual behavior, and LGBTQ females are at a higher risk of engaging in hypersexual activities due to coping problems. Given the large-scale nature of the study, the indings signiicantly contribute to the currently growing body of the literature on hypersexuality.