Sunday, January 13, 2008

Addiction as a disease

Very interesting article from PsychCentral about discoveries related to addictive behaviour:


"Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions," reports lead scientist Charlotte Boettiger, PhD. "Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently."


While decisions were being made, the imaging detected activity in the posterior parietal cortex, the dorsal prefrontal cortex, the anterior temporal lobe and the orbital frontal cortex. People who sustain damage to the orbital frontal cortex generally suffer impaired judgment, manage money poorly and act impulsively, the scientists noted.


Read the rest of the article if you are interested in the details, it's quite short, but here is an interesting prediction from one of the researchers, Charlotte Boettiger:

"It wasn't that long ago that we believed schizophrenia was caused by bad mothers and depression wasn't a disease. Hopefully, in 10 years, we'll look back and it will seem silly that we didn't think addiction was a disease, too."

When I was studying psychology one of my lecturers was involved in a study looking at genetic factors in alcoholism. What always puzzled me about that was how you link the gene to the behaviour.

My own experiences with addictive behaviour suggest that it's a "mental image" thing involving, it seems, your moment to moment map of who you are and what you want. I could never quite see how to connect that to genetic factors. But a genetic factor that leads to a susceptibility to impairment of the orbital frontal cortex seems quite plausible to me.

An alternative that occurs to me is that the cortex is under-developed. It's development occurred in a period in which there were orders of magnitude less stimuli for humans and survival & procreation were pretty much the only goals available. It didn't have to worry about self-actualization and whether you were a good human being or not. Maybe it's just not up to the job (yet).

I look forward to reading a lot more about this line of research.

13/01/2008 10:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Getting the skinny on E2.0

My friend Dan Keldsen works for AIIM a, non-profit, organization with a long history. When they founded in 1943 they were the National Microfilm Association. Later they became the Association for Information and Image Management and probably thought they had their bases covered. But even that wasn't enough and now they have cut to the chase and call themselves "The Enterprise Content Management Association". Should be good until the next information age!

One of their current interests is determining whether people see a valuable substance in what has been labelled "Enterprise 2.0" or if, now that the dust has settled a little, people still think it's just a fad marketing term. To this end they are running a web survey that takes about 30 mins to complete.

I ran through the first few questions but it was quickly clear that I do not have the insights they are looking for. I don't even have an Enterprise 2.0 topic on my blog and haven't worked in even a moderately large organization since 2000.

However if Enterprise 2.0 means something to you (even if that's just spitting feathers) I'm sure Dan would appreciate your contribution. AIIM will be publishing the survey results and including it in their free webinars.

13/01/2008 11:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Experimenting with Git

All the cool kids are doing it so, despite having a fair old investment in Subversion, I am now experimenting with Git. Since I have spare Peepcode credits I got the Git peepcode which turns out to be a great introduction to what Git does best: easy branch and merge.

At the moment I am trying to work through how deployment with Capistrano is going to go. My first thought is to have a "deploy" branch from which all deployment happens. Every time you want to deploy you merge to the deploy branch then fire up Capistrano. Is that more work than I need? The alternative is just deploying from master but that seems a little haphazard.

I'm also weighing up how to collaborate. For some projects setting up a central repository to track the master branch using SSH and git-shell is appropriate. There is also Gitorius which looks promising for open source projects and GitHub which looks awesome for all kinds of projects. One of the ideas I always liked from Darcs was the ability to send patches via email. That always struck me as a good way to bootstrap a project. Perhaps with Gitorius and GitHub that's not really needed.

Early days but I like Git so far.

13/01/2008 11:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Don't log passwords stoopid

Great tip from fearoffish. So obvious in retrospect yet it never occurred to me. And who even knew Rails even had this built in?

I'll be setting mine to filter both password and password_confirmation.

13/01/2008 15:04 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about: