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This Optical Illusion Could Help to Diagnose Autism

(Credit: Turi et al., eLife, 7:e32399, 2018)

You probably see a cylinder when you look at the illusion above. But how our brains translate two intersecting sheets of moving dots into a 3D image reveals telling differences in visual perception that could perhaps help diagnose autism spectrum disorder.

It’s been shown that people with autism are better at picking out the details of complex images, at the cost of understanding what all those details mean when put together. This can mean seeing the trees, but not the forest, or the strokes of a paintbrush but not the subject of a painting. It’s a trait that’s supported by years of research, but it can be difficult to assess exactly how an individual perceives an image just by asking them questions. The cylinder illusion, applied here by a group of researchers from Italy and Australia, offers a more reliable way of telling what a subject is seeing.

Grow and Shrink

It comes down to the pupils. Our pupils are responsive to light, but they also widen and constrict in response to the notion of brightness or darkness, even if light levels remains the same. Here, the white dots are perceived as brighter, and the black dots as darker, and our pupils respond accordingly. It’s a way for the researchers to tell what parts of the illusion study participants are focusing on. They published their findings in March in the journal eLife.

The illusion itself relies on our brain’s assumptions of how a rotating cylinder behaves. The dots cross over each other just as marks on a transparent cylinder would, they even slow down at the edges to give the impression of curvature. The two colors give imply depth, though a closer look reveals that neither actually seems to be in front — some white dots cross over black dots, and some black over white. It allows us to reverse the cylinder’s apparent direction by focusing on one color over the other. Importantly for the researchers, the illusion is composed of both discrete details in the form of the dots, and a holistic image, in the form of the cylinder. Having both allows them to see which component their study participants favor.

They asked 50 adults, none of whom had autism, to watch the illusion, and while they were doing so, the researchers were watching them — their pupils at least. They wanted to see whether their pupils changed size rapidly throughout the experiment or stayed the same. If they changed size, it indicated that the participants were switching focus back and forth between the white and the black dots — i.e. they were focused on the details of the images. If their pupils stayed about the same, they were likely focused on both at once, meaning they saw the image as a whole. Crucially, both methods of perception produce the same cylinder illusion. But how they do so differs.

Detail-oriented

Before taking the test, the subjects all took the autism spectrum quotient, a self-reported questionnaire that measures various behaviors associated with autism. Higher scores indicate more correlation with autistic traits. When they paired scores on the test with measurements of pupil dilation and contraction, they saw that they were clearly related. Those whose pupils changed with greater frequency also reported more autistic traits. It was another validation of the theory that those with autism tend to focus on specific details as opposed to entire images.

Remember, none of the subjects had been formally diagnosed with autism, and none of their scores on the test indicated that they should be. In fact, the mean value of the test scores was about average. But, autism is a spectrum, and we all lie on it somewhere. Even in nominally average individuals, a tendency toward autistic traits was associated with a propensity to focus on details over holistic images. It adds further evidence that autism alters how we process visual information, and hints that it extends beyond those diagnosed with the disorder. The researchers say measuring changes in pupil size could potentially serve as another means of diagnosing autism.

The results are still a bit preliminary, so it’s too soon to draw definite conclusions based on their work. The surveys were all self-reported, for one thing, which can skew results a bit. And the study involved participants without autism, meaning that we’d need to see similar work in those with autism spectrum disorder to back up their findings.

But, with more research, the authors think their research could be used to perform assessments of those with autism who are non-verbal, which can happen in children. It would give doctors and teachers a way to get information from those who may not be able to communicate it themselves.

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Health

Yet Another Study Says Vitamin Supplements Are Worthless

(Credit: Thunderstock/Shutterstock)

Vitamin — the first four letters come from the Latin word for “life.” To sustain that, we need these organic compounds in small amounts, but it seems their purpose ends there.

New research reaffirms the counterintuitive notion that vitamin and mineral supplements aren’t the magical panacea we’ve been led to believe. It’s something that researchers have been finding for years, and a meta-analysis, summarizing the findings of 179 individual studies, published on Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that most common vitamins provide precisely zero benefit to those taking them.

Non-vital Vitamins

Specifically, the study concluded that multivitamins, as well as calcium, and vitamins C and D are essentially powerless. They do no harm, but they might as well be placebos. These findings run contrary to popular wisdom, which instructs us to load up on supplements to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and premature death.

This isn’t the first time science has refuted vitamin worship. In 2013 a series of studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine, collectively including hundreds of thousands of participants, concurred that vitamins do not lead to any boost in health. In fact, the studies found that beta-carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A actually slightly increase mortality.

The only supplement that may live up to its reputation, according to the new study, is folic acid. This, with or without vitamin B, may prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The tradition of using vitamins and minerals for nutrient deficiencies dates back to 1747, when the British naval surgeon James Lind treated scurvy with citrus fruit, rich in vitamin C. Physicians routinely make such prescriptions, though usually only in cases where the patient has a demonstrated deficiency of a particular vitamin or nutrient.

Supplement Crazy

In recent years, though, we’ve come to view supplements as the gateway to general health and longevity. A Gallup poll in 2013 showed that 50 percent of Americans regularly take vitamins or multivitamins.

On the flip side, a comparison of Gallup polls in 1975 and 2016 reveals plunging public trust in the mainstream American medical system. This phenomenon may have contributed to the ascent of “natural” vitamin and mineral supplements.

But it probably also stems from rampant marketing and advertising. Thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, manufacturers don’t have to prove the to the Food and Drug Administration that their supplements work. They can claim their products work, though, as long as they keep it vague (“strengthens the body”) and don’t profess to truly treat anything.

Call it a healthcare failure, call it a marketing miracle. Either way, call a doctor before you pop another vitamin. Odds are they’ll tell you to stick to fruits and veggies.

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KNOW THE CAUSE: Lyme Disease and Fungus

Lyme Disease and Fungus

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Host:
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Guests:
Ross Pelton, RPH, PHD, CCN
Dr. Greg Emerson
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Dr Emerson Discusses Obesity
Probiotics That Produce Glutathione
The Vitamin You Don’t Need To Swallow
Lyme Disease and Fungus
Only Buy These If Organically Produced

Supplements:
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Health

Morgellons and Dope (Crack)

Even though this person in this video blog needs help with her drug addiction she shares her true story of being infected with morgellons. Everyone has their own way in dealing with this horrible disease. If you google Morgellons or resistant scabies mites you will come across forums of people questioning if some narcotic drugs could possibly get rid of these things. It’s not uncommon to hear individuals who gets high and complains about feeling bugs crawling all over them, biting them, etc. In reality in many cases it is true. Because of these narcotic drugs poisoning the system it drives them out of the body. Just as the same as if taking anti-parasitic drugs such as ivermectin.

Morgellons disease is a poorly understood condition characterized by small fibers, particles and bugs emerging from the skin. People with this condition often report feeling as if something is crawling on or stinging/ biting their skin.

In no way do we endorse or suggest in using any illegal substance to deal or attempt to get rid of morgellons or resistant scabies mites.

 

 

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