Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Male Urogenital System Mapped Onto the Sensory Cortex Thru Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: The nipple was found to project to the same cortical region as the genitals

Allen K, Wise N, Frangos E, et al. Male Urogenital System Mapped Onto the Sensory Cortex: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evidence. J Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX–XXX.

Introduction The projection of the human male urogenital system onto the paracentral lobule has not previously been mapped comprehensively.

Aim To map specific urogenital structures onto the primary somatosensory cortex toward a better understanding of sexual response in men.

Methods Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we mapped primary somatosensory cortical responses to self-stimulation of the penis shaft, glans, testicles, scrotum, rectum, urethra, prostate, perineum, and nipple. We further compared neural response with erotic and prosaic touch of the penile shaft.

Main Outcome Measure We identified the primary mapping site of urogenital structures on the paracentral lobule and identified networks involved in perceiving touch as erotic.

Results We mapped sites on the primary somatosensory cortex to which components of the urogenital structures project in men. Evidence is provided that penile cutaneous projection is different from deep penile projection. Similar to a prior report in women, we show that the nipple projects to the same somatosensory cortical region as the genitals. Evidence of differential representation of erotic and nonerotic genital self-stimulation is also provided, the former activating sensory networks other than the primary sensory cortex, indicating a role of “top-down” activity in erotic response.

Clinical Implications We map primary sites of projection of urogenital structures to the primary somatosensory cortex and differentiate cortical sites of erotic from nonerotic genital self-stimulation.

Strength & Limitations To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive mapping onto the primary somatosensory cortex of the projection of the components of the urogenital system in men and the difference in cortical activation in response to erotic vs nonerotic self-stimulation. The nipple was found to project to the same cortical region as the genitals. Evidence is provided that superficial and deep penile stimulation project differentially to the cortex, suggesting that sensory innervation of the penis is provided by more than the (pudendal) dorsal nerve.

Conclusion This study reconciles prior apparently conflicting findings and offers a comprehensive mapping of male genital components to the paracentral lobule. We provide evidence of differential projection of light touch vs pressure applied to the penile shaft, suggesting differential innervation of its superficial, vs deep structure. Similar to the response in women, we found nipple projection to genital areas of the paracentral lobule. We also provide evidence of differential representation of erotic and nonerotic genital self-stimulation, the former activating sensory networks other than the primary sensory cortex, indicating a role of top-down activity in erotic response.

Rolf Degen summarizing: People with a nice personality were more ready to fall for mundane bullshit

Expanding the bullshit research out of pseudo-transcendental domain. Vladimíra Čavojová, Ivan Brezina, Marek Jurkovič. Current Psychology, January 15 2020.

Abstract: The ability to distinguish bullshit from factual, but less appealing, information is becoming a crucial skill in present-day society. The aim of this paper was to extend the research conducted by Pennycook et al. (Judgment and Decision Making, 10(6), 549–563, 2015) by developing and validating the General Bullshit Receptivity Scale (GBRS), designed to measure bullshit in more general and non-transcendental context, than the Bullshit Receptivity Scale (BSR). In this paper we assessed the psychometric properties of the GBRS on representative sample of Slovak participants (N = 458) and explored the relation between the GBRS and original BSR scale, epistemically suspect beliefs, ontological confusion, spirituality, personality and analytical thinking. People who thought the randomly generated transcendental statements were more profound were more susceptible to accepting more general bullshit and other epistemically suspect beliefs, and this tendency was accompanied with a low level of analytical thinking. Non-cognitive factors (agreeableness, spirituality) also contributed to perceptions the bullshit was profound and truthful. The most “impressive” bullshit was bullshit that did not contain obscure vocabulary but seemingly provided recipients with intuitive, though untruthful insights. We believe we have succeeded in constructing and refining a new measure for detecting other kind of bullshit that enables us to better understand the underlying cognitive mechanisms and personality variables.

Keywords: Bullshit receptivity General bullshit receptivity scale Epistemically suspect beliefs Ontological confusion Analytical thinking

Women who reported to have sex weekly during the study period were 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who had sex less than monthly

Sexual frequency is associated with age of natural menopause: results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Megan Arnot and Ruth Mace. Royal Society Open Science, Volume 7, Issue 1, January 15 2020.

Abstract: It is often observed that married women have a later age of natural menopause (ANM) than unmarried women; however, the reason for this association is unknown. We test an original hypothesis that sexual frequency acts as a bio-behavioural mediator between marital status and ANM. We hypothesize that there is a trade-off between continued ovulation and menopause based on the woman's chances of becoming pregnant. If a woman is sexually inactive, then pregnancy is impossible, and continued investment in ovulation would not be adaptive. In addition, we test an existing hypothesis that the observed relationship is because of the exposure to male pheromones. Data from 2936 women were drawn from 11 waves of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, which is a longitudinal study conducted in the United States. Using time-varying Cox regression, we found no evidence for the pheromone hypothesis. However, we did observe that women who reported to have sex weekly during the study period were 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who had sex less than monthly. This is an indication that ANM may be somewhat facultative in response to the likelihood of pregnancy.

4. Discussion

While women often stop reproducing many years prior to the menopause [63], the permanent reproductive cessation resulting from the menopause means a woman is no longer physically able to increase her direct fitness. Many lifestyle factors have been found to associate with ANM, and these are seldom discussed from an evolutionary perspective. Here, we have focused specifically on the relationship between marital status and ANM, testing an original hypothesis that sexual frequency acts as a bio-behavioural mediator between ANM and marital status, in addition to the existing hypothesis that married women enter menopause later owing to male pheromones [7]. To test the latter hypothesis, three measures of male–female cohabitation were used as a proxy of exposure to male pheromones, and we found no evidence to suggest that menopause timing was responsive to living with a male, and therefore possibly male pheromones. It should be noted that this hypothesis could be fundamentally flawed, as there is no conclusive evidence either that humans produce pheromones, or that they are capable of detecting them [64]. Nonetheless, this is, to our knowledge, the first study addressing the pheromonal hypothesis since it was originally proposed, and while male household presence is merely a proxy of pheromones—and it may be that the hypothesis is moot owing to the absence of evidence for human pheromones—it is an indication that the relationship between marital status and ANM is not capturing the effect of male pheromones on the menstrual cycle.
This study did not replicate findings from previous research that married women enter menopause later. In fact, following complete adjustment, the converse was found, with women who were married or in a relationship having an increased risk of entering menopause compared to divorced, separated and single women. Conflicting results regarding marital status' effect on ANM have been found elsewhere (e.g. [65]), and one reason for this may be the way in which the researcher chooses to code the variable. In this analysis, romantic partnerships that may not have been acknowledged in previous studies owing to having not been formalized by a marriage ceremony (e.g. cohabiting but unmarried) were taken into account. In addition, some prior studies have not included marital status as time-variant and dichotomized the variable as ‘ever married’ or ‘never married’ (e.g. [66]). Hence, the responsive way in which this study coded marital status may account for the difference in results.
Another reason for this difference may be the cultural setting of previous studies. For example, research originating from Iran found that ever married women experience a later menopause than those who never married [8]. However, in the case of Iran where dowry is still common practice, it means marriage is contingent upon family wealth [67]. Therefore, the effect of marital status on ANM would be confounded by a woman's socioeconomic position, which itself would relate to other aspects of her health and life history that have been associated with menopause timing—such as BMI and age of menarche—therefore resulting in a significant difference in ANM between those who have and have not been married. Within Iran, sex outside of marriage is prohibited both legally and socially, meaning marital status would be highly correlated with sexual behaviour [68]. Hence, it may be that previous studies identifying married women enter menopause later are simply capturing the effect of health and lifestyle patterns that themselves associate with both marital status and menopause timing, rather than demonstrating that marital status itself is a cross-cultural correlate of ANM. Future research should aim to address the cultural setting in which the data were collected when interpreting the results.
Evidence supporting the notion that ANM associated with sexual frequency during the pre- and peri-menopause was found. Even following complete adjustment, results still indicated that women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause relative to those who report having some form of sex less than monthly. If we interpret these results from a fitness-maximizing framework, it may be the physical cues of sex signal to the body that there is a possibility of becoming pregnant, and therefore an adaptive trade-off may occur between continued energetic investment in ovulation and reproductive cessation. During ovulation, the woman's immune function is impaired making the body more susceptible to disease [28,29]. Hence, if a pregnancy is unlikely owing to a lack of sexual activity, then it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to a costly process, especially if there is the option to invest resources into existing kin [30,31]. The idea that women cease fertility in order to invest in kin is known as the Grandmother Hypothesis, which predicts that the menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, and allow women to increase their inclusive fitness through investing in their grandchildren [30,69,70]. It may be costly for a woman to cease ovulatory function if the chances of her becoming pregnant are still high. In other words, if she is still able to increase her direct fitness, then it may be better to maintain the function of her menstrual cycle for slightly longer.
It should be noted that there may be a bidirectional relationship between the physical condition of the woman when approaching the menopause and sexual engagement. As oestrogen levels decline, women are more likely to experience vaginal dryness and discomfort, making them less inclined to engage in sex [71]. This study has attempted to control for this factor through adjusting for both oestradiol levels and the woman's self-perceived overall health, with the association between sexual frequency and ANM still persisting following this adjustment. This suggests that—even when controlling for the complicated relationship between health, hormonal fluctuations and desire for sex—the menopause may be somewhat facultative in response to sexual behaviour, rather than being solely the result of a physiological constraint (e.g. degrading oocyte quality).

Firms with higher H-1B visa lottery win rates are more likely to receive additional venture capital funding, to have a successful exit via an IPO or acquisition, & to receive more patents & patent citations

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your High-Skilled Labor: H-1B Lottery Outcomes and Entrepreneurial Success. Stephen G. Dimmock, Jiekun Huang, Scott J. Weisbenner. NBER Working Paper No. 26392, October 2019.

Abstract: We study how access to high-skill labor affects the outcomes of start-up firms. We obtain exogenous variation in firms’ ability to access skilled labor by using win rates in H-1B visa lotteries. Relative to other firms that also applied for H-1B visas, firms with higher lottery win rates are more likely to receive additional venture capital funding and to have a successful exit via an IPO or acquisition. H-1B visa lottery winners also subsequently receive more patents and patent citations. Overall, our results show that access to high-skill labor is a critical determinant of success for start-up firms.

Approval & regulation processes for pharmaceutical agents have increased in complexity; FDA review times have shortened, but total time from the authorization of clinical testing to approval has remained at approx 8 years

FDA Approval and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, 1983-2018. Jonathan J. Darrow, Jerry Avorn, Aaron S. Kesselheim. JAMA. 2020;323(2):164-176. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20288

Key Points
Question  How has the regulation of prescription drugs evolved from the 1980s to 2018, and what trends have occurred in drug approvals?

Findings  Approvals of new generic drugs have increased over time, leading to greater competition. Technological advances have been reflected in increased approvals of biologics over time. The number of expedited development and approval programs has expanded greatly since 1983, reducing the amount of evidence available at the time of approval and increasing uncertainty about the existence or amount of clinical benefit. These regulatory innovations have not clearly led to an increase in new drug approvals or to reduced total development times.

Meaning  While retaining policies that encourage efficient review, Congress and other government officials should also consider the implications of less rigorous clinical outcome requirements and whether the current complex array of regulatory programs should be simplified.

Importance  US law requires testing of new drugs before approval to ensure that they provide a well-defined benefit that is commensurate with their risks. A major challenge for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to achieve an appropriate balance between rigorous testing and the need for timely approval of drugs that have benefits that outweigh their risks.

Objective  To describe the evolution of laws and standards affecting drug testing, the use of new approval programs and standards, expansions of the role and authority of the FDA, and changes in the number of drugs approved from the 1980s to 2018.

Evidence  Sources of evidence included principal federal laws and FDA regulations (1962-2018) and FDA databases of approved new drugs (1984-2018), generic drugs (1970-2018), biologics (1984-2018), and vaccines (1998-2018); special development and approval programs (Orphan drug [1984-2018], Fast-Track [1988-2018], Priority Review and its predecessors [1984-2018], Accelerated Approval [1992-2018], and Breakthrough Therapy [2012-2018]); expanded access (2010-2017) and Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (2008-2018); and user fees paid to the FDA by industry (1993-2018).

Findings  From 1983 to 2018, legislation and regulatory initiatives have substantially changed drug approval at the FDA. The mean annual number of new drug approvals, including biologics, was 34 from 1990-1999, 25 from 2000-2009, and 41 from 2010-2018. New biologic product approvals increased from a median of 2.5 from 1990-1999, to 5 from 2000-2013, to 12 from 2014-2018. The median annual number of generic drugs approved was 136 from 1970 to the enactment of the Hatch-Waxman Act in 1984; 284 from 1985 to the enactment of the Generic Drug User Fee Act in 2012; and 588 from 2013-2018. Prescription drug user fee funding expanded from new drugs and biologics in 1992 to generic and biosimilar drugs in 2012. The amount of Prescription Drug User Fee Act fees collected from industry increased from an annual mean of $66 million in 1993-1997 to $820 million in 2013-2017, and in 2018, user fees accounted for approximately 80% of the salaries of review personnel responsible for the approval of new drugs. The proportion of drugs approved with an Orphan Drug Act designation increased from 18% (55/304) in 1984-1995, to 22% (82/379) in 1996-2007, to 41% (154/380) in 2008-2018. Use of Accelerated Approval, Fast-Track, and Priority Review for new drugs has increased over time, with 81% (48/59) of new drugs benefiting from at least 1 such expedited program in 2018. The proportion of new approvals supported by at least 2 pivotal trials decreased from 80.6% in 1995-1997 to 52.8% in 2015-2017, based on 124 and 106 approvals, respectively, while the median number of patients studied did not change significantly (774 vs 816). FDA drug review times declined from more than 3 years in 1983 to less than 1 year in 2017, but total time from the authorization of clinical testing to approval has remained at approximately 8 years over that period.

Conclusions and Relevance  Over the last 4 decades, the approval and regulation processes for pharmaceutical agents have evolved and increased in complexity as special programs have been added and as the use of surrogate measures has been encouraged. The FDA funding needed to implement and manage these programs has been addressed by expanding industry-paid user fees. The FDA has increasingly accepted less data and more surrogate measures, and has shortened its review times.

Just How Important Is Breast Size in Attraction? Across cultures, men do not consistently prefer large breasts

Just How Important Is Breast Size in Attraction? Across cultures, men do not consistently prefer large breasts. Robert D. Martin, Jan 14, 2020.

As the previous blog piece reported, a woman’s capacity for milk production has no connection with breast size before pregnancy. What matters is the increase in size during pregnancy. Any evolutionary explanation for men’s responses to a woman’s breasts in terms of reproductive capacity must hence lie elsewhere.

However, one key finding from a host of studies of female breast size is that men predominantly prefer medium size, not large. This bears directly on the widespread demand for cosmetic breast augmentation. The major motivation seems to be a woman’s own perception of her body image rather than male preferences.

Various attempts have been made to link male preferences for female breast size to fertility indicators with some evolutionary function. But such preferences are too inconsistent across cultures to permit clear recognition of an evolutionary basis. Moreover, multiple complicating factors, such as BMI, breast firmness and shape, features of the nipple and surrounding areola, and men’s marital status, preclude any simple explanation.

Check also Waist to hip ratio and breast size modulate the processing of female body silhouettes: An EEG study. Farid Pazhoohi, Joana Arantes, Alan Kingstone, Diego Pinal. Evolution and Human Behavior, January 7 2020.

Psychological impact of positive & negative information in memory: Positive content is often favored & the affect prompted is more temporally persistent than the affect prompted by memories of negative events

In Human Memory, Good Can Be Stronger Than Bad. Constantine Sedikides, John J. Skowronski. Current Directions in Psychological Science, January 14, 2020.

Abstract: Some researchers assert that the psychological impact of negative information is more powerful than that of positive information. This assertion is qualified in the domain of human memory, in which (a) positive content is often favored (in the strength of memories for real stimuli or events and in false-memory generation) over negative content and (b) the affect prompted by memories of positive events is more temporally persistent than the affect prompted by memories of negative events. We suggest that both of these phenomena reflect the actions of self-motives (i.e., self-protection and self-enhancement), which instigate self-regulatory activity and self-relevant processes.

Keywords: memory, self, self-motives, self-enhancement, self-protection

Check also The evaluative information ecology: On the frequency and diversity of “good” and “bad”. Christian Unkelbach, Alex Koch & Hans Alves. European Review of Social Psychology, Volume 30, 2019 - Issue 1, Pages 216-270. Nov 24 2019.