The Feel-Good Switch: The Radical Future of Emotion

the-feelgood-switch-the-radical-future-of-emotion_1THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! How fucked up is the control elite in this moment of time!!??
Now we are cloning human emotion into computer programs to manipulate even more! Craziest sentence of the article – “This is moving us to a place where we can produce desired emotions nearly on command. Does anybody agree that we don’t need more immediate impulse and desire satisfaction?? Careful human beings – time for a radical shift towards a healthy humanity!!!
How do you feel??
Blessings Edith

For most of the last century, the study of emotions was not considered serious science. The problem was subjectivity. Science is objective, rigorously objective. Emotions, though, are internal states, so the only way to study them is through subjective inference (essentially asking people to report how they feel). But —because people lie, because we often misinterpret our emotions and because comparisons between subjects, that is the depth of my anger versus your anger, is impossible to measure—there’s no objective data to be found.

Thus, until recently, the topic was taboo
Change came in the late 1990s, when neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp (now at Washington State ) discovered the precise neuron-to-neuron trail of the seven primary emotions in all mammals—meaning, in one fell swoop, he answered the longstanding question of do animals have feelings (yes) and turned effective (meaning the study of emotions) neuroscience into a real field.

images (2)That field has since blown up. This explosion is following a couple of important trajectories. First, there’s a technological revolution that is allowing machines to read and interpret human emotion like never before.

A couple months back, for example, I wrote about Ellie—the world’s first AI-psychologist. Developed for DARPA by researchers at USC—in an attempt to detect depression and decrease the catastrophic rate of soldier suicide—Ellie uses a combination of microphones, video cameras and a modified X-Box Kinect movement sensor to read 60 different physical signals a second (everything from vocal tone to micro-facial expressions to postural changes) and then uses these signals to decode emotion.
Along similar lines, Raffi Khatchadourian wrote a great piece for the New Yorker about Affectiva, an affective computing company that is making incredible progress in this same area. In many cases, like judging the nuanced meaning behind a smile, their algorithms can now read human emotion better than humans can.
These developments have researchers talking about called Emotional Economy, the next huge wave in techno-economic development and the follow up to today’s Information Economy.

download (1)What is the Emotion Economy? Well, for starters, think about the forthcoming Internet of Things (IoT)—a giant mesh network connecting all of our devices. Now think about what happens if this network understands emotions.
Say you’re driving home from work. You’re tired because it’s been a long day. You’re also anxious because you have a ton of stuff due by the following morning. Well, as both your car and your phone will soon be able to read and interpret emotional and biological signals, as you’re driving home, these devices will detect your mood and fire up the coffee pot. Thus, by the time you’re back home, there’s a cup of magic black liquid waiting for you.
And this is a pretty tame example. For something a little more disruptive, imagine you’re on a Skype call with a potential new business partner. Of course, as part of the soon-to-be standard Skype package, your computer comes with its own affective detectors. So when your prospective business partner starts becoming really anxious during a discussion of shared responsibilities, you can get to the root of these anxieties before they become a bigger problem.
Beyond this technological revolution (which is helping us read and understand emotion), there’s a concurrent pharmacological revolution that’s moving us to a place where we can produce desired emotions nearly on command.

download (2)In this arena, consider the work of a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and UC San Francisco who—just last week— discovered that giving people a drug that increases the reward/motivation chemical dopamine in their brain also increases their compassion.

In this study, participants were given either a placebo or the Parkinson’s drug tolcapone—which prolongs the effects of dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex and essentially does the same sort of the same thing Prozac does (though, instead of prolonging the effects of serotonin in the brain, it amplifies dopamine). Next, these participants played a money distribution game—dividing a fixed sum between known players and anonymous participants (which is a good way to measure our compassion towards anonymous strangers).
The results were conclusive: participants with more dopamine floating around their system were more prone towards pro-social behaviors—that is, they were more sensitive to fairness and less tolerant of social inequality (that is, the perceived economic gap between an anonymous stranger and a known player).
While this is an exciting breakthrough in its own right, it comes on the heals of a decade of similar discoveries. We now have an oxytocin-stimulating nasal spray, for another example, that impacts trust levels (while there mitigating factors, in simple terms the more oxytocin in our system, the more we trust the people around us).

dopamineNow, for certain, there’s ton of stuff we still don’t know. Research into SSRI’s definitely proves that there’s more to this puzzle than a single neuro-chemical producing a single emotion (otherwise we would have ‘cured’ depression by now), but there’s no way around the fact that if  you combine these technological and pharmacological breakthroughs, we find two decades of stunning progress. In this short timespan, we’ve gone from knowing next to nothing about emotions to the point where we can read, interpret and—at least sometimes—produce these states nearly at will. Moreover, these discoveries are moving out of the lab and into the real world.

And the real world will never be the same.
The changes that are coming will be vast, but I want to point out two key areas of development.
First, let’s think about how many once “normal” conditions are now labeled pathologies (shyness has become ‘social phobia,’ sadness has become depression). Because of these new categories, according to new research by the National Institute of Mental Health, one quarter of Americans will surfer some form of mental illness. Already, these Americans are being prescribed medicines by the boatload. Now, sure, we could argue back and forth about the medical versus the diagnostic validity of these conditions, but that’s besides the point. The real point is we now live in a culture where, if you don’t like how you feel, rather than being forced to make changes to your life, we are reaching for pills to pop.

imagesResearch into things like dopamine as a compassion trigger is going to produce more pills to pop. And these pills will become more precise (meaning they’ll be far more effective than, say, today’s SSRI’s) and more readily available. What this adds up to is a profound shift in our collective mood—let’s just say that the baseline average mood will shift a few degrees up the happiness side of the curve. Sure, a happier world seems like a better world, but the real point is this is the first time in history such a shift will be possible and—like everything else—there will clearly be some unintentional consequences.
And that’s only half of this picture.  The other half starts with the idea that emotions are big levers—they exist to shape and steer behavior. But, because these levers are fairly easy to pull (think about how easy it is for your parents to push your buttons), humans evolved the ability to conceal their emotional states.  Yet, thanks to affective computing, the future that’s coming is a very exposed place. Your feelings—those inner experiences that have remained firmly private for all of human history—are going public. Meaning, the Emotional Economy brings with it a whole new level of radical transparency.
Taken together, these technological and pharmacological developments are producing the largest change in human emotional processing to come along in tens of thousands of years. Not only will nothing ever be the same—nothing ever will feel the same.


Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

descargaBy Bonnie L. Grant
Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential. Learn how to harness the natural antidepressant in soil and make yourself happier and healthier. Read on to see how dirt makes you happy.

Natural remedies have been around for untold centuries. These natural remedies included cures for almost any physical ailment as well as mental and emotional afflictions. Ancient healers may not have known why something worked but simply that it did. Modern scientists have unraveled the why of many medicinal plants and practices but only recently are they finding remedies that were previously unknown and yet, still a part of the natural life cycle. Soil microbes and human health now have a positive link which has been studied and found to be verifiable.

Soil Microbes and Human Health

Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress.
Serotonin has been linked depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant in soil and has no adverse health effects. These antidepressant microbes in soil may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt.

images (1)Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the actual physical act of gardening is a stress reducer and mood lifter. The fact that there is some science behind it adds additional credibility to these garden addicts’ claims. The presence of a soil bacteria antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener.

Mycrobacterium antidepressant microbes in soil are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.

How Dirt Makes You Happy

Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. The bacterium was tested both by injection and ingestion on rats and the results were increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration to tasks than a control group.

Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.

Watch this video about how gardening makes you happy:


Resources: “Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior,” by Christopher Lowry et al., published online on March 28, 2007 inNeuroscience.