Quackademics / Abuse of Authority

People with Asperger’s syndrome ‘lack brain signal linked to sense of self’

From Volume 4 Number 11, Looking Up Magazine / Editor: Adam Feinstein

The SHEER INCOMPETENCE of this study is breathtaking in it’s arrogance – and use of quackademics to dismiss the range of human experience as narrowly confined to the “researchers” own limits of thinking and behaving. This garbage passes as science in the popular press and academia. What a travesty!  

One HUGE problem: Neurotypicals confuse being “normal” -a social judgement that has been perverted into, and presented as, an absolute scientific fact of human existence – with being SOCIAL.

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HOUSTON, Texas, USA: A new brain-imaging study shows that people with a high-functioning form of autism lack a particular brain signal  linked to a sense of self. Wow! How close to a “lie” can you get?

By imaging the brains of adolescents with a high-functioning form of autism (conflating of HF autism with Asperger’s)  as they played a social-interaction game, scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, have identified a physiological deficit specific to the disorder. (a lie) The researchers believe (belief does not constitute scientific proof) that the change is linked to a diminished sense of self. Define “self” as a “real” object that can be measured? You can’t: it’s not a quantifiable “thing”. We could just stop here; does anyone who has read my blog believe that this Asperger has a diminished sense of self? LOL! The findings, recently published in the journal Neuron, could help to guide future research into the nature of autism and potentially lead to new ways to diagnose and treat the disorder.
Autism is a complicated and heterogeneous developmental disorder marked by problems in language and social behaviour. No medical tests exist to detect the disorder, (what does that tell you?) so children are typically diagnosed based on doctors’ (subjective) observations. Scientists are avidly searching for more objective markers of autism, but identifying specific brain abnormalities has been a challenge.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine believe that they have now identified a specific physiological marker of the disorder. Dr Read Montague, Dr Pearl Chiu and their colleagues scanned the brains of adolescents with Asperger’s syndrome, widely regarded as a high-functioning form of autism, (another unworthy claim based on popular belief)  while they played an interactive trust game. In the game, one person, designated the investor, chooses an amount of money to send to a second player, the trustee. The money is tripled en route, and the trustee must then decide how much to give back to the investor. When played by normal volunteers, the game unfolds in a very characteristic fashion: generous gestures are met with generous responses, while selfish ones inspire selfishness in return. Define “normal” – you can’t! It’s a default category granted to anyone who isn’t judged to be “abnormal”)  Brain activity also follows a stereotyped pattern.

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The “magical thinking” that follows is utter quackery: it has no logical or even “common sense basis. A study by Dr Montague and his colleagues. published in 2006, imaged the brains of both the investor and the trustee as they played the game. The researchers discovered a specific signal in the cingulate cortex, part of the brain that integrates information from both the cortex and the body, that was detected only when the investor thought about how much money to give the trustee. A second signal was seen only when the investor received his or her return from the trustee. “We see a ‘self, other, self, other’ pattern,” says Dr Montague, director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab at Baylor. “We think that’s an unconscious assessment of who the actions should be attributed to.” The previous paragraph has no logical or common sense basis: it’s quackery.

According to the new findings, people with Asperger’s play the game just as a non-autistic person would, but they lack the characteristic “self” signal in the brain. Normal people lack the signal only when they think that they are playing against a computer, suggesting that autistic people  (no, you just said that Asperger individuals play the game like non-autistic people!) suggesting that autistic people (NO ASPERGERS) supposedly view interactions with other people similarly to the way that normal people think about interacting with a computer. Wow! We’re totally frickin’ defective!

“This approach allows a somewhat objective look at something hopelessly subjective – sense of self,” says Dr John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then how can you assume that YOU KNOW what constitutes an individual’s SELF? Yeah – make it up as you go along to fit your bias.
While the findings are clearly intriguing, it is not yet clear what they mean. One popular theory  (popular does not imply accurate or scientifically derived nor proven) of autism is that people with the disorder lack a normal theory of mind – the ability to imagine the thoughts and actions of others. Identifying a specific deficit linked to thoughts of self could help narrow down what has gone wrong in that process.

“People (which people?) think autism is linked to a lack of understanding of what a partner is doing,” says Dr Chiu. “But maybe they don’t understand their own role in the social exchange.”  Other scientists interpret the results further, suggesting that this signal is linked to a sort of internal reputation assessment in the brain. Wow! Magic words again! Does anyone really believe these “self-serving concepts? Sure – neurotypicals do.

“If you are a normal person, when you invest money in the game, you are thinking about how you will look in the eyes of your partner,” says Dr Frith. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how these people think they know what “normal” thought processes and behavior are for 7 BILLION Homo sapiens  “That’s precisely what the theory of mind hypothesis would project is wrong with people with autism.” Or maybe it’s what’s wrong with Autism researchers. They can’t grasp that anyone whose “way of perceiving” is different to theirs can be a human being!

Other autism experts are unwilling to make such a leap. “I’m sceptical about how much [the Baylor College study] tells us about which capacities are intact and engaged in autism,” says Dr Matthew Belmonte, a scientist at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. “I’m not convinced they have a deficit at all. Maybe they have adopted a different cognitive strategy.” Hooray for sanity. Asperger’s are BORN WITH “different” cognitive strategies…
Regardless of the deeper meaning of their findings, Dr Montague and his team ultimately hope to develop the brain-imaging results into a diagnostic test. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$ profitable) They have converted the activity signal from the cingulate cortex into a simple numerical score, which correlates well with a clinical test for the severity of autism. Eventually, they hope to be able to show, for example, “that if you get a 3 rather than a 14, you are 80 per cent more likely to be a high-functioning autistic,” says Dr Montague. MUMBO-JUMBO – Such a tool could potentially also be used to test the  effectiveness of new behavioural treatments, ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ profit) he says.

However, much work remains to be done before such a test could be used in a doctor’s office. “We need to make it simpler and test people with a wider range of IQs,” says Dr Montague. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Expand the profit base.)  The Asperger’s volunteers in the current study had an above-average IQ.

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Alert! What the above researchers are claiming to be an Asperger “lack of self,” which is a crude and fantastical conclusion, may be explained by the following: (See today’s post. What Asperger Individuals  Already Know)

Brain-scanning experiments by Rafael Malach and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, for instance, have shown that when subjects are absorbed in an experience, the parts of the brain associated with self-consciousness are not merely quiet, they’re actually shut down (“inhibited”) by the rest of the brain. The self seems simply to disappear.

Asperger’s are using a “rational” thinking process – our supposedly “abnormal” (superior) ability to focus and to think logically “inhibits” self-awareness for as long as we are absorbed in the experience.  

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