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Scientists Afflict Computers With Schizophrenia 143

An anonymous reader writes "Computer networks that can't forget fast enough can show symptoms of of virtual schizophrenia, giving researchers new clues to the inner workings of schizophrenic brains, say researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University. In their experiments, the scientists used a virtual neural network to simulate an excessive release of dopamine in the brain and found that the network recalled memories in a distinctly schizophrenic-like fashion. The results bolster a hypothesis known in schizophrenia circles as the hyperlearning hypothesis, which posits that people suffering from schizophrenia have brains that lose the ability to forget or ignore as much as they normally would. Without forgetting, they lose the ability to extract what's meaningful out of the immensity of stimuli the brain encounters."
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Scientists Afflict Computers With Schizophrenia

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  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @12:28PM (#36048824) Homepage Journal

    I don't quite have schizophrenia, but I do tend to remember a lot and overthink things. Spending time disconnected from digital stimulus (for example, going for a decent walk every day, without bringing your phone) helps give your brain time to process everything.

    I'd think the effect of staying always connected is even worse for schizophrenics if this study is correct.

    On a different note, Slashdot has finally fixed its fortune cookie generator! Only took something like a week :p

  • by Broolucks ( 1978922 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @01:28PM (#36049542)

    I find the summary a bit confusing, though. What I have heard before is that the schizophrenic brain is poor at filtering out stimuli, meaning that unimportant details will stand out as much as important ones. For instance, it might have trouble filtering out ambient noise, so whereas a normal brain will cut off processing early on, a schizophrenic brain will process the noise the same way it would process salient, meaningful sounds. So what might happen is that the phoneme processing part of the brain will receive ambient noise as input and will make out voices and whispers out of it, because that is its job, and then these will be manipulated and interpreted as a conversation - maybe neighbors plotting against you, because why else would you be paying attention?

    Stimuli that should never make it past saliency processing get dispatched to the brain, which assumes that if it got this far, it must be meaningful (this is normally a fair assumption). From then on, it will "learn" to find meaning in noise, hence visual or auditive hallucinations, delusions, etc. From what I can gather, this study shows that an excess of dopamine could inhibit normal filtering functions, hence the "hyperlearning" on stimuli that should be thrown out, but isn't.

  • Re:Hyperlearning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by easterberry ( 1826250 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @03:00PM (#36050736)

    As someone who lives in a socialist country (well, we ALL live in socialist countries to some extend, but a most socialist one than the US), I disagree. The goal ISN'T to "give people every chance to exceed their reach", as you put it, but to make sure people can always pick themselves up and keep contributing to society. To make it so that when life isn't fair it isn't as bad as it could be and it isn't the end. If you lose everything, you still have access to health care, to shelter, to services to help you find a job and work to get it back.

    EI exists so that, if you lose your job, you won't find yourself on the street if you can't find a new one before next month's rent it due. Public healthcare is there so that if you're only making minimum wage, and you develop a heart condition, you won't die from a lack of funds to fix it. Education subsidization lets you develop skills to let you better your own life and at the same time better contribute to society as a whole. Socialism is the mantra of "today you, tomorrow me" restructured into a political system. It's an acknowledgement that everyone in a society is in a symbiotic relationship with everyone else in it and that working together is better than killing each other over every last scrap we can personally get our hands on.

  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @04:48PM (#36051686)
    And I do not have multiple-personalities. I'm lucky I have medicine that let's me lead a half-way normal life. I "remember" being sick, as much as you can remember without being certain that any of what you perceived had a basis in "Reality." When I was sick there were no "voices" in my mind, rather, it was an experience that is consistent with this article. Facts. Connecting together in rapid fashion to other "facts" whether the basis that connected them was logical or not. At first, without medicine, connecting the "facts" leads to some novel interpretations that others around you might find interesting. However, as time and the disease progresses without treatment: an overwhelming web of "facts" emerges and the frequency of different interpretations of the same "facts" doubles until fully untreated I was in a full state of chaos, or as it is really called: psychosis. Stay in and be happy you have a concrete "reality" you do not have cause to question.

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.