Posts Tagged ‘PLOS ONE’

Placebos Can Enhance Creativity

November 14, 2017

There have been many posts on the benefits of placebos, so it should be no surprised that they can enhance creativity. The research report can be found at PLOS One, doi.org/gbwkrd. The article was written by Liron Rosenkratz, Avraham E. Mayo, Tomer IIan, Yuval Hart, Lior Noy, and Uri Alon and published 11 September 2017.

The research participants were randomly assigned to a control group (n=45),that rated an odorant, or a placebo group (n=45) who were treated identically but who were also told that the odorant increases creativity and reduces inhibition. Participants completed a recently developed automated test for creativity, the creative foraging game (CFG), and a randomly chosen subset (n=57), also completed two manual standardized creativity tests, the alternate uses test (AUT) and the Torance Test (TTCT). In all three tests participants were asked to create as many original solutions and were scored for originality, flexibility, and fluency.

The placebo group showed higher originality than the control group both in the CFG and in the AUT, but not in the Torrance Test. The placebo also found more shapes outside the standard categories by a set of 100 CFG in a previous study.

The authors concluded that the findings indicate that a placebo can enhance the originality aspect of creativity. This strengthens the view that placebos can be used not only to reduce negative clinical symptoms, but also to enhance positive aspects of cognition. Furthermore, they found that the impact of placebo can be tested by CFG, which can quantify the multiple aspects of creative search without need for manual coding. This approach opens the way to explore the behavioral and neural mechanisms by which placebo might amplify creativity.

So these results encourage much more research into creativity. Placebos should also be used in the workplace, in the schools, and in individual pursuits. Placebo pills can be purchased on Amazon. And placebos are effective, even when people are aware that they are placebos. Research has shown that placebo pills improve symptoms in people with irritative bowel syndrome and chronic pain, even when the people know they are shams.

The placebo effect argues for a positive outlook and a can-do attitude.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Progress in Developing a Way to Diagnose CTE

October 1, 2017

Much of this post is based on an article by Rick Maese titled “Breakthrough may lead to ability to diagnose CTE in living football players in the Sports section of the 27 September 2017 issue of the Washington Post.

There have been many previous posts, including the immediately preceding one, on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE by researchers from Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System studied the brains of 23 former football players who were diagnosed with CTE, in addition to those of 50 non-athletes who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and 18 non-athlete controls. They found significantly elevated levels of a protein related to inflammation called CCL11 in the group of ex-players compared with non-athletes. Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist credited with some of the most high-profile CTE diagnoses was encouraged but cautioned that more research is needed. Until this discovery the diagnosis needed to be performed on cadavers. Now the diagnosis can be made on the living. The hope is that research into the prevention and treatment of the disease can begin to move forward.

Let us indulge in the fantasy that CTE can be cured and consider what the ramifications of that might be. The NFL might be encouraged to continue playing the game as it is currently played and treat players who developed CTE. Their fear is that changing the game could reduce fans and revenues.

But for everyone else, the basic problem would remain. The immediately preceding post discussed children. Why we would ever consider putting them at risk? The same goes for players in secondary schools. Then there is the college game. The college game is also concerned with revenues. It is ironic that institutions whose goal is to foster the development of brains and minds engages in activities the puts the brain and mind at risk. However, one gets the impression that at some schools the brain and mind might well take second place to football. At the University of Alabama, for example, the outside linebacker coach earns more than the president of the university.

The immediately preceding post suggested that the game could be modified to reduce or eliminate head injuries. Football is a fast game that can involve sophisticated offenses and defenses. It seems that the game could be changed so that these features could be maintained and head injuries severely reduced if not eliminated by reducing the hits and the violence. These changes could also reduce the need for linemen to increase their weights to over 300 pounds to be eligible for athletic scholarships. As the number of colleges who actually realize substantial profits for the game is fairly small, this could be the route to go. And perhaps HM is too pessimistic in thinking that it is the violence that has the basic appeal and that professional football could also change.

Much hope is being placed in equipment changes. Unfortunately, in the past this seems to have encouraged harder hitting rather than safer play.
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.