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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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  • Do schizophrenics typically have eidetic memories? This is not a symptom I was aware of.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the medications supposedly help erase memories. at least my nurse seemed to think they do. In my case the medications seem to help, but I wouldn't stake anything important on so called anti-psychotics or even atypical anti psychotics either.

      in my case i drink heavily filtered water, avoid most sugar natural or not, and avoid artificial sweeteners, avoid all caffeine, and the only thing i noticed is my thirst dropped 50% and devoid of caffeine and sugar that i get less dizzy from my medications. i also have

      • by Xtravar ( 725372 )

        What about BOOZE to erase the memories? And does it work on virtual networks?

        • by matfud ( 464184 )

          Yes Booze does work.unfortunately it gives you a sore head . As for simulated networks... I've just added a "drunk" function to mine! It randomly modifies the link weights. It behaves about as well as an extremely drunk person. Success I suppose!

          • by matfud ( 464184 )

            Now to add the "hangover" functionality. That is a lot more difficult. Strange how you can easily get a NN drunk but it is far more difficult to give it a hangover.

      • they make you ignorant of them, they don't help you get over them... certainly not quickly, definatly when you stop and up-regulating has kicked in.

        There a bit like a very bad version of heroin.
    • Do schizophrenics typically have eidetic memories? This is not a symptom I was aware of.

      I've often read that remembering something is a constructive process. I tend to think of it like checking out a revision from source control software. All it has are a bunch of diffs and pointers, and it executes a process on them to construct a snapshot of what the code looked like at some particular time. From that perspective, the snapshot is a new piece of output, even though it's cached information from the user's perspective. Human memory is said to work the same way: it's reassembled, not retrieved.


    • Ok,
      Schizophrenics have less brown matter volume, this is the bit that joins things together, white matter focuses on 'tasks' (crudely)
      Over time both brown and white matter volume go down (note this is volume of matter that's observed, not number of neurons.. at least for a good good while)
      (though they say 'neuro toxicity' it's a load of unsubstantiated crap)
      Oddly, new research has shown that neurons migrate to points of higher entropy to solve problems then migrate back again if their not needed, possibly

    • I've known a couple of people with schizophrenia and other psychoses, and when they were in the middle of an episode, they would often recall trivial details from the past and incorporate them into what they were talking about. It was actually a little unnerving, sometimes, and I'm someone who tends to remember trivial details better than most people. I didn't really make the "eidetic memory" connection until reading this article. I always assumed that it was just a random sampling of trivia that they had r

    • There very specific about things, esp the origin of things and very black and white.

      Go ask one of them they've got that in-site at least.
  • 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

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by treeves ( 963993 )

      As for your last sentence, I don't think so. Here's the quote at the bottom of my page right now:

      Try the Moo Shu Pork. It is especially good today. % Try to get all of your posthumous medals in advance. % Try to have as good a life as you can under the circumstances. % Try to relax and enjoy the crisis. -- Ashleigh Brilliant % Try to value useful qualities in one who loves you. % Tuesday After Lunch is the cosmic time of the week. % Tuesday is the Wednesday of the rest of your life. % What happened last night can happen again. % While you recently had your problems on the run, they've regrouped and are making another attack. % Write yourself a threatening letter and pen a defiant reply. % You are a bundle of energy, always on the go. % You are a fluke of the universe; you have no right to be here. % You are a very redundant person, that's what kind of person you are. % You are always busy. % You are as I am with You. % You are capable of planning your future. % You are confused; but this is your normal state. % You are deeply attached to your friends and acquaintances. % You are destined to become the commandant of the fighting men of the department of transportation. % You are dishonest, but never to the point of hurting a friend. % You are fairminded, just and loving. % You are farsighted, a good planner, an ardent lover, and a faithful friend. % You are fighting for survival in your own sweet and gentle way. % You are going to have a new love affair. % You are magnetic in your bearing. % You are not dead yet. But watch for further reports. % You are number 6! Who is number one? % You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely. % You are scrupulously honest, frank, and straightforward. Therefore you have few friends. % You are sick, twisted and perverted. I like that in a person. % You are so boring that when I see you my feet go to sleep. % You are standing on my toes. % You are taking yourself far too seriously. % You are the only person to ever get this message. % You are wise, witty, and wonderful, but you spend too much time reading this sort of trash. % You attempt things that you do not even plan because of your extreme stupidity. % You can create your own opportunities this week. Blackmail a senior executive. % You can do very well in speculation where land or anything to do with dirt is concerned. % You can rent this space for only $5 a week. % You could live a better life, if you had a better mind and a better body. % You definitely intend to start living sometime soon. % You dialed 5483. % You display the wonderful traits of charm and courtesy. % You don't become a failure until you're satisfied with being one. % You enjoy the company of other people. % You feel a whole lot more like you do now than you did when you used to. % You fill a much-needed gap. % You get along very well with everyone except animals and people. % You had some happiness once, but your parents moved away, and you had to leave it behind. % You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music. % You have a deep interest in all that is artistic. % You have a reputation for being thoroughly reliable and trustworthy. A pity that it's totally undeserved. % You have a strong appeal for members of the opposite sex. % You have a strong appeal for members of your own sex. % You have a strong desire for a home and your family interests come first. % You have a truly strong individuality. % You have a will that can be influenced by all with whom you come in contact. % You have an ability to sense and know higher truth. % You have an ambitious nature and may make a name for yourself. % You have an unusual equipment for success. Be sure to use it properly. % You have an unusual magnetic personality. Don't walk too close to metal objects which are not fastened down. % You have an unusual understanding of the problems of human relationships. % You have been selected for a secret mission. % You have Egyptian flu: you're going to be a mummy. % You have had a long-term stimulation relative to business. % You have literary talent that you should take pains to develop. % You have many friends and very few living enemies. % You have no real enemies. % You have taken yourself too seriously. % You have the body of a 19 year old. Please return it before it gets wrinkled. % You have the capacity to learn from mistakes. You'll learn a lot today. % You have the power to influence all with whom you come in contact. % You learn to write as if to someone else because NEXT YEAR YOU WILL BE "SOMEONE ELSE." % You like to form new friendships and make new acquaintances. % You look like a million dollars. All green and wrinkled. % You look tired. % You love peace. % You love your home and want it to be beautiful. % You may be gone tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that you weren't here today. % You may be infinitely smaller than some things, but you're infinitely larger than others. % You may be recognized soon. Hide. % You may get an opportunity for advancement today. Watch it! % You may worry about your hair-do today, but tomorrow much peanut butter will be sold. % You need more time; and you probably always will. % You need no longer worry about the future. This time tomorrow you'll be dead. % You never hesitate to tackle the most difficult problems. % You never know how many friends you have until you rent a house on the beach. % You now have Asian Flu. % You own a dog, but you can only feed a cat. % You plan things that you do not even attempt because of your extreme caution. % You possess a mind not merely twisted, but actually sprained. % You prefer the company of the opposite sex, but are well liked by your own. % You recoil from the crude; you tend naturally toward the exquisite. % You seek to shield those you love and you like the role of the provider. % You shall be rewarded for a dastardly deed. % You should emulate your heros, but don't carry it too far. Especially if they are dead. % You should go home. % You single-handedly fought your way into this hopeless mess. % You teach best what you most need to learn. % You too can wear a nose mitten. % You two ought to be more careful--your love could drag on for years and years. % You will always get the greatest recognition for the job you least like. % You will always have good luck in your personal affairs. % You will attract cultured and artistic people to your home. % You will be a winner today. Pick a fight with a four-year-old. % You will be advanced socially, without any special effort on your part. % You will be aided greatly by a person whom you thought to be unimportant. % You will be attacked by a beast who has the body of a wolf, the tail of a lion, and the face of Donald Duck. % You will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service. % You will be awarded a medal for disregarding safety in saving someone. % You will be awarded some great honor. % You will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize... posthumously. % You will be called upon to help a friend in trouble. % You will be dead within a year. % You will be divorced within a year. % You will be given a post of trust and responsibility. % You will be held hostage by a radical group. % You will be honored for contributing your time and skill to a worthy cause. % You will be imprisoned for contributing your time and skill to a bank robbery. % You will be married within a year, and divorced within two. % You will be married within a year. % You will be misunderstood by everyone. % You will be recognized and honored as a community leader. % You will be reincarnated as a toad; and you will be much happier. % You will be run over by a beer truck. % You will be run over by a bus. % You will be singled out for promotion in your work. % You will be successful in love. % You will be surprised by a loud noise. % You will be surrounded by luxury. % You will be the last person to buy a Chrysler. % You will be the victim of a bizarre joke. % You will be Told about it Tomorrow. Go Home and Prepare Thyself. % You will be traveling and coming into a fortune. % You will be winged by an anti-aircraft battery. % You will become rich and famous unless you don't. % You will contract a rare disease. % You will engage in a profitable business activity. % You will experience a strong urge to do good; but it will pass. % You will feel hungry again in another hour. % You will forget that you ever knew me. % You will gain money by a fattening action. % You will gain money by a speculation or lottery. % You will gain money by an illegal action. % You will gain money by an immoral action. % You will get what you deserve. % You will give someone a piece of your mind, which you can ill afford. % You will have a long and boring life. % You will have a long and unpleasant discussion with your supervisor. % You will have domestic happiness and faithful friends. % You will have good luck and overcome many hardships. % You will have long and healthy life. % You will hear good news from one you thought unfriendly to you. % You will inherit millions of dollars. % You will inherit some money or a small piece of land. % You will live a long, healthy, happy life and make bags of money. % You will live to see your grandchildren. % You will lose your present job and have to become a door to door mayonnaise salesman. % You will meet an important person who will help you advance professionally. % You will never know hunger. % You will not be elected to public office this year. % You will obey or molten silver will be poured into your ears. % You will outgrow your usefulness. % You will overcome the attacks of jealous associates. % You will pass away very quickly. % You will pay for your sins. If you have already paid, please disregard this message. % You will pioneer the first Martian colony. % You will probably marry after a very brief courtship. % You will reach the highest possible point in your business or profession. % You will receive a legacy which will place you above want. % You will remember something that you should not have forgotten. % You will soon forget this. % You will soon meet a person who will play an important role in your life. % You will step on the night soil of many countries. % You will stop at nothing to reach your objective, but only because your brakes are defective. % You will triumph over your enemy. % You will visit the Dung Pits of Glive soon. % You will win success in whatever calling you adopt. % You will wish you hadn't. % You work very hard. Don't try to think as well. % You worry too much about your job. Stop it. You are not paid enough to worry. % You would if you could but you can't so you won't. % You'd like to do it instantaneously, but that's too slow. % You'll be called to a post requiring ability in handling groups of people. % You'll be sorry... % You'll feel devilish tonight. Toss dynamite caps under a flamenco dancer's heel. % You'll feel much better once you've given up hope. % You'll never be the man your mother was! % You'll never see all the places, or read all the books, but fortunately, they're not all recommended. % You'll wish that you had done some of the hard things when they were easier to do. % You're a card which will have to be dealt with. % You're almost as happy as you think you are. % You're at the end of the road again. % You're being followed. Cut out the hanky-panky for a few days. % You're currently going through a difficult transition period called "Life." % You're definitely on their list. The question to ask next is what list it is. % You're growing out of some of your problems, but there are others that you're growing into. % You're not my type. For that matter, you're not even my species!!! % You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny. % You're working under a slight handicap. You happen to be human. % You've been leading a dog's life. Stay off the furniture. % Your aim is high and to the right. % Your aims are high, and you are capable of much. % Your analyst has you mixed up with another patient. Don't believe a thing he tells you. % Your best consolation is the hope that the things you failed to get weren't really worth having. % Your boss climbed the corporate ladder, wrong by wrong. % Your boss is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. % Your boyfriend takes chocolate from strangers. % Your business will assume vast proportions. % Your business will go through a period of considerable expansion. % Your depth of comprehension may tend to make you lax in worldly ways. % Your domestic life may be harmonious. % Your fly might be open (but don't check it just now). % Your goose is cooked. (Your current chick is burned up too!) % Your heart is pure, and your mind clear, and your soul devout. % Your ignorance cramps my conversation. % Your life would be very empty if you had nothing to regret. % Your love life will be happy and harmonious. % Your love life will be... interesting. % Your lover will never wish to leave you. % Your lucky color has faded. % Your lucky number has been disconnected. % Your lucky number is 3552664958674928. Watch for it everywhere. % Your mode of life will be changed for the better because of good news soon. % Your mode of life will be changed for the better because of new developments. % Your motives for doing whatever good deed you may have in mind will be misinterpreted by somebody. % Your nature demands love and your happiness depends on it. % Your object is to save the world, while still leading a pleasant life. % Your own qualities will help prevent your advancement in the world. % Your present plans will be successful. % Your reasoning is excellent -- it's only your basic assumptions that are wrong. % Your reasoning powers are good, and you are a fairly good planner. % Your sister swims out to meet troop ships. % Your society will be sought by people of taste and refinement. % Your step will soil many countries. % Your supervisor is thinking about you. % Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded. % Your temporary financial embarrassment will be relieved in a surprising manner. % Your true value depends entirely on what you are compared with. %

    • by Rary ( 566291 )

      On a different note, Slashdot has finally fixed its fortune cookie generator!

      You call that fixed?!? I don't know what you're seeing, but over here on my screen, it's currently showing about 200 different quotes all separated by "%". I wouldn't exactly call that "fixed".

      I really wish the Slashdot developers would figure out how to set up a separate test environment, rather than just coding directly on the production servers, which seems to be how things are done here.

      • On a different note, Slashdot has finally fixed its fortune cookie generator!

        You call that fixed?!? I don't know what you're seeing, but over here on my screen, it's currently showing about 200 different quotes all separated by "%". I wouldn't exactly call that "fixed".

        It was unstuck and working here about an hour ago. Now, it's completely broken and showing all of the fortunes.

    • Right now for me its displaying a huge block of fortune file type text, I assume it is displaying the first fortune, then going right passed the % and keeps going till it hits a limit. Well its way better than lemmings, that quote was old the first day.

    • Uh, the fortune cookie generator exploded on me.

      Meanwhile, Hi Mods. this is On Topic because this is what TFA says being schizophrenic and unable to forget is like!

      Here we go!
      Try the Moo Shu Pork. It is especially good today. % Try to get all of your posthumous medals in advance. % Try to have as good a life as you can under the circumstances. % Try to relax and enjoy the crisis. -- Ashleigh Brilliant % Try to value useful qualities in one who loves you. % Tuesday After Lunch is the cosmic time of the wee

      • Meanwhile, Hi Mods. this is On Topic because this is what TFA says being schizophrenic and unable to forget is like!

        One more reason to be wary of any organization excessively collecting data. One day they will become schizophrenic, if they aren't already.

  • "which posits that people suffering from schizophrenia have brains that lose the ability to forget or ignore as much as they normally would."

    So the fact that it sometimes takes me twenty minutes to find my keys in the morning is a sign that I'm sane? That's oddly comforting.

  • Just tell the Schizophrenics the hop count of their crazy idea is 16. Yet another problem solved with poison reverse.

    • by GaratNW ( 978516 )
      This is really just a ploy to develop cheaper virtual machines. "No copy of Windows needed! Your Mac just THINKS it's Windows"
    • by doshell ( 757915 )
      I know you jest, but poison reverse does not refer to truncating the hop count. It means not announcing your route to the neighbor you learned it from (which, by the way, alone is not enough to ensure convergence of the routing protocol).
  • While the actual terms were likely off -- "stripped her amygdala" doesn't make a lot of sense -- this sounds like exactly what River Tam is supposed to have.

    Teaching this to computers doesn't seem like a great idea, though. "This was a triumph" indeed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Artificial human intelligence at last!!!

  • very good info. make the analogy of schizophrenia with a computer network
  • Maybe:
    % rm /tmp
    I"m sorry, Dave, I can't do that.

  • "In one answer, for instance, DISCERN claimed responsibility for a terrorist bombing."

    Interesting methodology. I doubt though that it has a relationship to real schizo.

  • Cool so installing Windows makes one a Scientist

  • Sometimes I wonder how people develop their hypotheses. In this case, I'm wonder whether one of the researchers may have been struck by Morrison's Joker in the Batman Comic Arkham Asylum - in which a researcher describes the joker as hyper-sane, unable to filter out stimulus from the world around. Hmm.
    • I assume they studied the brains of schizophrenics, found they were producing a lot more dopamine than normal and then tried to figure out what that would do to a person based on what purposes dopamine serves and what symptoms could possibly be caused by those purposed going into overdrive.

    • It's been pretty well established that schizophrenics are rarely truly incapable of communication, just that frequently they encode the messages in an ad hoc register known only to them. I remember my abnormal psych book quoting patients that had been doing that prior to treatment. I've found that it's been fairly accurate in the limited number of people I've met that communicate like that. But if you've got access to the code book you can often times decode the speech. It's not easy because it requires a l

  • So these "Scientists" think the problem with "schizophrenic" people is they can't forget enough eh? I think the problem is what we CAN remember that no one else can. What's next? You're going to start wiping our memories for us? You already TRIED THAT!!!! IT DIDN'T WORK DID IT?!?! If you think I'm getting on that damned ship again and going to the pyramid, you're wrong. Johns told me about your plan and I'm on to you! The four corner day will supplant your illusion of euclidean time. ALL HAIL THE TIME CUBE!
    • assuming you are schizophrenic 'we' (as are a good lot of my good mates)....

      Is the origin of something exceptionally important to you.. like seeing is believing?

      If 20 people told you someone was a untrustworthy but all you'd seen for yourself was that they where,  would you give them the benefit of the doubt based on what you'd seem yourself. likewise the opposite.
  • It's called installing Windows Me.

    Actually windows 95 and 98 were not much better....

  • Cool, I'd proposed something along this line of research in a talk I gave at Shmoocon this year [].

    OK I'll go read TFA now.

  • ... I'm afraid I can't help you with your research on schizophrenia....

  • It's really quite excellent -- and vaguely linked to his Cryptonomicon universe... []

  • 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.

    • That's autistic spectrum as well... and defiantly not known for getting [personally] attached to things. maybe pissed off, but, like most people... just more sensitive... often less attached than 'typical' people.

      Both are known for 'black and white' thinking, and loads of trippy shit. the schizophrenics just get attached to it. (if they believe in themselves)... My mate got attached to his laptop... man and machine... you'd think you where molesting him if you went near it.... would only let one person sort
    • Actually, I have an issue like this that makes me very uncomfortable around crowds. For example, when I go to a restaurant, I can hear every conversation going on around me with the same relevance as someone sitting next to me. It drives me nuts because it prevents me from enjoying a conversation with the people I actuslly care about. In that situation, I either have to process everything at once and parse out the stuff relevant to who I'm trying to talk to, or block out everything as white noise and not pa

  • Did Slashdot's fortune thing at the bottom of the page just totally wig out?
  • Yes, I know it's not THE opposite, but that's what it sounds like to me.

    BTW, what's with the 5000 fortune cookies showing up in the footer of slashdot?!?

  • The problem with schizo people is not that they have too many "normal" memories. But that they remember too much of the "wrong" things.

    Have you ever woken up from a dream, and had difficulty, at least for a few moments, figuring out what is real and what is not? After those few moments, your mind clears, and you realize that your dream made no sense at all, and you wonder how you could have ever thought it was real. By the time you finish breakfast, the dream is forgotten.

    This is what schizophrenia is li

    • I've been on antipsychotics for a while, and I can attest to the fact that my memory is significantly worse than before I was on them. Part of the action against schizophrenia (not me, since I am diagnosed bipolar) seems to be reducing what you can recall in the hope of reducing the disruptive memories that one could think that schizophrenics recall. That said, far too little is known about mental health issues for anybody (professional or otherwise) to really say anything concrete.
  • Schizophrenia is a chronic physical (brain) illness, due to brain (nature/nurture) structure and/or chemistry.

    To compare schizophrenia a human malady to fycked-up technology application is sick. Texas universities probably have creationist classes and students believing amazon, sony, and pc/tablet crash, because it is godddd's will. As always, "Reality is self-induced hallucination."

    If a university wants to model a schizophrenic state using technology after we have proof of the physical causes, then there

    • In the many decades that psychiatry has been around, there is insufficient evidence of this: brain changes are caused by the drugs, not the condition. The mind body problem has plagued philosophy for many years and the materialist reductionist way of explaining it away as just brain chemistry is far from proven. Until we can answer that, we cannot hope to seriously try to pin down mental health issues as brain diseases or perhaps something else. We may never truly understand since the complexity of the o
  • It sounds like too much remembering induces positive feedback in the brain's pathways which lead to unstable oscillations. Forgetting is then required in order to dampen the system and stabilize it.

    If the brain remembers too much, it's possibly not the new stimuli which overwhelm it, but the combination of new stimuli plus the remembered information being replayed, all made worse by feedback paths.

    Just a wild-assed hypothesis.

  • I posted the following comment on neuroskeptic about this article:
    `"Noteworthy was the high frequency of agent-slotting exchanges between the hospital boss, Joe, and the Mafia boss, Vito, and parallel confusions between the “I” self-reference and underling Mafia members, suggesting generalization of boss/underling relationships."

    For the model to recognize these types of relationships, the authors would have had to explicitly tag these agents as possessing either these qualities the constituent e

  • This paper shows why psychologists should not touch computers, let alone write papers about it. Hyperlearning may be a cause of schizophrenia in people, but this paper shows nothing of the sort. The learning rate in artificial neural nets determines a step size for the optimisation of a function. You need small steps because at each step the learning algorithm ( gradient descent [], or error backpropagation in this case) assumes that the function is linear. So neurons in the human brain assume piecewise linear
  • Does this mean that people with photographic memories are more likely to develop schizophrenia?
  • Isn't this kind of what drove HAL crazy?

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.