Seeing red can really affect performance

Cognitive Daily discusses the findings of two interesting studies that suggest that simply seeing the colour red makes us perform worse on tests.

The articles discuss a couple of elegant studies by a research team, led by psychologist Andrew Elliot, which confirmed that seeing red makes us tend to do worse on tests. They then set about trying to understand why.

In a second study, students were given test booklets with the title in one of several possible colours. Interestingly, those who had booklets with red titles tended to choose easier questions, which led to a direct test of a neuropsychological idea about brain symmetry and avoidance:

Students who saw the red test cover chose significantly more easy test questions than either those who saw green or gray test covers. There was no significant difference between the students who saw green and gray.

So it seems that the color red in this context may cause people to avoid challenging or difficult situations. In their final experiment, the researchers took advantage of a robust experimental finding about avoidance. For more than two decades, nearly a hundred studies have found a characteristic brain activity associated with avoidance — asymmetrical activity in the right frontal cortex. This is easily measured using non-invasive EEG equipment.

The research team used exactly this technique and found that relatively greater right hemisphere was found for red material, but not other colours, suggesting red triggers part of the avoidance system.

As Cognitive Daily note, we can’t tell from these experiments whether the red and avoidance link is with us from birth, or whether we’ve just learnt it through cultural exposure.

It’s a really elegant couple of studies though, and as always, they’re wonderfully explained by the CogDaily team.

Link to ‘Does the color red really impair performance on tests?’.
Link to ‘Why does seeing red make test-takers choke?’

Ten of the best in social psychology

PsyBlog has just concluded a great series of articles, each of which tackled a classic experiment in social psychology that demonstrated something counter-intuitive, curious or even shocking about ourselves.

You may recognise some of them, as they’ve become various shades of legendary to notorious, even to people without a special interest in psychology.

Others are well known within the field but have yet to filter out to the general consciousness.

To my mind, one of the best is the theory of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps one of the most important findings in social psychology – explaining how we are motivated to reconcile conflicting beliefs and actions.

The rest of the experiments have been equally as influential and the whole series makes for a great overview of some of the foundation stones of the modern science of mind.

Link to “Why We do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies”.

The absinthe minded green fairy

The New York Times has a brief but wonderfully illustrated article on the cultural history of absinthe, the highly alcoholic spirit that was adopted by numerous famous artists.

Wikipedia also has a fantastic article on absinthe which looks at the history of its creation, popularity, prohibition and revival.

It also exposes the myth that wormwood, a key flavouring ingredient, causes hallucinations. A scientific article looked at the evidence for this and found that the effects of the drink are almost entirely due to its alcohol content.

While thujone, an active ingredient in wormwood, can causes seizures in high enough quantities, there isn’t enough in absinthe to have a significant effect.

However, erroneous concerns about the drink leading to dangerous forms of ‘madness’ led it to be banned in most European countries in the early 1900s, giving it an instant notoriety and cultural impact that far goes beyond its pharmacological influence.

Link to NYT on ‘Absinthe Returns in a Glass Half Full of Mystique…’
Link to Wikipedia article on absinthe.
Link to scientific article ‘Absinthism: a fictitious 19th century syndrome…’

Election brain scan nonsense

Neuropsychologist Martha Farah has written a highly critical commentary on a recent New York Times op-ed piece where neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni and colleagues used brain scans of people who viewed videos of US presidential candidates in an attempt to reveal voter reactions “on which this election may well turn”.

Farah quite rightly calls it “junk science” as it is a barely controlled study that relies on stereotypes and generalisation to infer that activation in one particular brain area means the viewers are experiencing a certain reaction.

So why do I doubt the conclusions reported in today’s Op Ed piece? The problems I see have less to do with brain imaging per se than with the human tendency to make up “just so” stories and then believe them. The scattered spots of activation in a brain image can be like tea leaves in the bottom of a cup – ambiguous and accommodating of a large number of possible interpretations.

For example, the story reports that “When we showed subjects the words ‚ÄúDemocrat,‚Äù ‚ÄúRepublican‚Äù and ‚Äúindependent,‚Äù they exhibited high levels of activity in the part of the brain called the amygdala, indicating anxiety”.

In brain-scanning studies, the amygdala is regularly found to be active in people who experience fear. But you can’t make the reverse inference, that amygdala activation equals fear, because it can be equally as active when people experience happiness or joy.

There’s plenty more where that came from, but what is most shocking is not that this junk made The New York Times but that it made it again, and again.

In fact, Iacoaboni’s team were on the front page of the NYT in 2004 with almost exactly the same stunt – attempting to use brain scans to predict responses when viewing political campaign ads.

The ‘study’ details have mysteriously gone from the web but are still archived if you want to see history repeating itself.

And as we reported in 2006, similar nonsense was repeated with the Super Bowl ads, by (guess who) the same team.

None of these studies have ever been published in scientific journals so why does Iacoboni, who does lots of respectable cognitive neuroscience, keep running these essentially meaningless studies?

All of these stunts are essentially PR for FKF Applied Research, a ‘neuromarketing company’ who will carry out bespoke brain scan marketing studies for a price.

Iacoboni is not listed as a staff member but he’s been associated with most of their previous media stunts and four out of five FKF staff are co-authors on the NYT article. We can bet there’s some pretty strong connection there.

Unfortunately, these sorts of stunts play on the excitement surrounding high-tech science and distort the public’s understanding of the significance of brain imaging.

They’re are neither informative nor truly newsworthy but have enough of a sugar coating to make them attractive to a media beguiled by the bright lights of brain scanning.

Link to Farah article on the Neuroethics and Law Blog.

Music in dreams

From a footnote on p282 of Oliver Sacks Musicophilia:

There have been very few systematic studies of music in dreams, though one such [pdf], by Valeria Uga and her colleagues at the University of Florence in 2006, compared the dream logs of thirty-five professional musicians and thirty non-musicians. The researchers concluded that “musicians dreams of music more than twice as much as non-musicians [and] musical dream frequency is related to the age of commencement of musical instruction, but not to the daily load of musical activity. Nearly half of all recalled music was non-standard, suggesting that original music can be created in dreams.” While there have been many anecdotal stories of composers creating original compositions in dreams, this is the first study to lend support to the idea.

The finding has an interesting parallel with findings on the ‘age-of-acquisition effect’ in language research.

It was known for years that things like the ability to name objects or remember words was influenced by the how common the word is, and how ‘concrete’ it is. For example, concrete words like tree, apple and house tend to be more robust than abstract words like hope, love or like.

Largely due to the work Andy Ellis it’s been found that many of these effects are actually a function of at what age the word was first learnt, with earlier words being more robust in terms of being more easily processed or accessed during cognitive processing.

The Uga study hints that a similar process may be at work with music.

Link to PubMed entry for study on music and dreams.
pdf of full-text of music and dreams study.
Link to Google Scholar search for age-of-acquisition effect.

Hypnosis as a surgical tool

The editorial of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute discusses a recent study that found that hypnosis can be successfully used in breast cancer surgery to reduce pain, nausea, painkiller use, tiredness and emotional impact of the surgical procedure.

The study was a randomized controlled trial of patients who were undergoing breast surgery either to treat a cancer or to test a lump to see if it was cancerous.

Patients were randomly assigned to either a brief 15-minute hypnosis condition, or to another where the patient discussed their concerns with an empathic psychologist (to make sure the effects weren’t just due to having someone their to ‘calm their nerves’).

The study found that patients given hypnosis needed less painkilling medication, were less nauseous, less emotionally upset, and experienced less pain intensity than the patients in the ’empathic listening’ condition.

The editorial notes that the results suggest hypnosis is a powerful tool for helping patients, discusses why it isn’t being used more widely, and what we know about how it affects the brain:

Thus, the study in this issue contributes to an impressive body of research using randomized prospective methodology in sizeable patient populations to demonstrate that adjunctive hypnosis substantially reduces pain and anxiety during surgical procedures while decreasing medication use, procedure time, and cost. If a drug were to do that, everyone would by now be using it.

So why don’t they? For one thing, there is no mediating industry to sell the product‚Äîdangling watches are out of fashion for hypnotic inductions. Plus, there is still lingering suspicion that hypnosis reeks of stage show trickery. After all, the magic wand originated with Mesmer’s use of a magnetic stick to presumably alter magnetic fields in patients’ bodies. Yet hypnosis is the oldest Western form of psychotherapy. Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention, with a constriction in peripheral awareness and a heightened responsiveness to social cues. It is most similar to the everyday state of becoming so absorbed in a good movie or a novel that one enters the imagined world and suspends awareness of the usual one, a condition playwrights refer to as the “suspension of disbelief.” This state can exert powerful influence on mind and body.

Altering perception using hypnosis results in brain changes that literally reduce pain perception [rather than merely altering the response to pain]. Indeed, simply changing the wording of the hypnotic instruction from “you will feel cool, tingling numbness more than pain” to “the pain will not bother you” alters the brain location of the analgesia from the somatosensory cortex to the anterior cingulate gyrus. Hypnotic alteration of color perception results in bidirectional changes in blood flow in the portions of the visual cortex that process color vision‚Äîblood flow in this region increases when color is imagined rather than seen and decreases when color is hypnotically drained from a colorful stimulus. Thus, there is good neurophysiologic reason to believe that hypnosis is potentially a powerful tool to alter perception of pain and associated anxiety.

If you’re interested in volunteering for research into the neuropsychology of hypnosis in London (which doesn’t involve anything painful!), we’re still recruiting participants for sessions at 2pm on Saturday 17th and 24th November.

There’s more information at our study web page.

Link to Journal of the National Cancer Institute editorial on hypnosis.
Link to abstract of RCT study.
Link to information on our neuropsychology of hypnosis study.

Antidote to TV drug ads

Consumer Reports have created a sort of video film review for a popular US television drug ad, where they update the commercial with scientific findings that aren’t mentioned.

The advert is for a drug that aims to treat ‘restless legs syndrome’, and both the condition and the drug are apparently being heavily marketed in the US at the moment.

Consumer Reports have their own take on the ad, noting that the side-effects of the drug can be worse than the condition itself, and highlighting that although trials showed the drug was effective in up to 73% of people, placebo was effective in up to 57% of people.

It’s great to see a counter-point to this sort of advertising, especially when it’s produced so well.

Link to Consumer Reports page with embedded video (via TWS).

‘Marlborough Marine’ fights post-war trauma, depression

The Los Angeles Times has a moving video and photo essay about Lance Corporal James Blake Miller, made famous by the iconic photo taken during the battle of Fallujah, and his post-war struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s somewhat ironic that the photo, which has become a symbol of the stoicism of the US Marine Corps, depicts Miller at a time when he was first struggling with the trauma of war.

The photo essay is by photographer Luis Sinco, who made the marine famous, and his been following Miller since he returned home from Iraq.

Sadly, Miller has suffered divorce, PTSD, depression and suicidal thoughts since his return owing to his experiences during the fighting.

It’s an incredibly powerful piece, with some quite poignant moments (e.g. being ignored by one politician who he had arranged to meet to discuss the effect of PTSD on troops), especially considering that mental illness in the US military is at an all time high.

Link to LA Times photo-essay on James Blake Miller (via MeFi).

Meditation for the nation

ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind just had a programme looking at both the neuroscience of meditation and its increasing use in evidence-based mental health treatments.

Key aspects of meditation are increasingly become adopted into well-researched mainstream cognitive therapies.

Essentially, it’s Buddhist mindfulness meditation, repackaged to make it sound more palatable to a wider audience, and often included alongside more traditional approaches.

The two big players in the psychological treatment field at the moment are Mindfulness-based CBT and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Mindfulness approaches seem particularly useful for people with chronic or relapsing symptoms, such as severe relapsing depression, rather than for first-episode or acute conditions.

For example, a key study published in 2000 found that mindfulness-based CBT had a beneficial effect on people who had three or more relapse of depression, but not people who had experienced two relapses or less.

The idea is quite different from cognitive approaches, where clients are encouraged to identify, evaluate and retrain their problematic thoughts and behaviours.

Mindfulness instead encourages people to be fully aware of these troublesome thoughts or sensations, but not to engage with them.

In other words, clients are encouraged to develop a degree of separation from their thoughts and emotions, so they can experience them, but not feel that they are fully controlled by them.

Some research has suggested that this is because mindfulness (and indeed other approaches) improve our ability to monitor, evaluate and engage with our own thoughts – so-called metacognitive ability.

Link to AITM on ‘Dr Mindfulness: science and the meditation boom’.

Dangerous minds

Malcolm Gladwell has written an excellent article for The New Yorker on the problems with the FBI’s methods of profiling serial killers and other serious offenders.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit (formerly the Behavioural Science Unit) is the FBI’s psychology unit that aims to research and develop methods of understanding criminal behaviour, police tactics, negotiation, and crime scene analysis.

It is a huge enterprise that exports its expertise around the world. Foreign police forces can often call on their expertise, for free, to help solve domestic cases.

However, in many ways the BAU is a world onto itself. It develops its own techniques that can often be quite distinct from those of non-FBI forensic psychologists. For example, many of its criminal and crime science analysis methods rely heavily on Freudian-style symbolic interpretations.

For example, the FBI classifies serial killers into ‘organized’ and ‘disorganized’ types.

Organized serial killers supposedly use logic and planning to commit crimes that fulfil their fantasies. The victim carefully selected, efforts are made to maintain control throughout the crime and the scene is cleaned up afterwards.

In contrast, disorganized serial killers supposedly choose their victims almost randomly and attack in a haphazard way, taking opportunity as it occurs. The crime scene is apparently chaotic and because the ‘disorganized killer’ has no interest in the person themselves, they may, as Gladwell recounts, “takes steps to obliterate their personalities by quickly knocking them unconscious or covering their faces or otherwise disfiguring them.”

Perhaps the thing that raises the most eyebrows is that it publishes and reviews many of its theories in its own in-house journals, meaning they get little outside academic scrutiny.

Gladwell takes a look at some of these ideas in more detail and notes that they haven’t faired well to some of the independent academic assessments they’ve been tested with:

Not long ago, a group of psychologists at the University of Liverpool decided to test the F.B.I.’s assumptions [pdf]. First, they made a list of crime-scene characteristics generally considered to show organization: perhaps the victim was alive during the sex acts, or the body was posed in a certain way, or the murder weapon was missing, or the body was concealed, or torture and restraints were involved. Then they made a list of characteristics showing disorganization: perhaps the victim was beaten, the body was left in an isolated spot, the victim’s belongings were scattered, or the murder weapon was improvised.

If the F.B.I. was right, they reasoned, the crime-scene details on each of those two lists should “co-occur” ‚Äî that is, if you see one or more organized traits in a crime, there should be a reasonably high probability of seeing other organized traits. When they looked at a sample of a hundred serial crimes, however, they couldn‚Äôt find any support for the F.B.I.’s distinction. Crimes don’t fall into one camp or the other. It turns out that they’re almost always a mixture of a few key organized traits and a random array of disorganized traits. Laurence Alison, one of the leaders of the Liverpool group and the author of “The Forensic Psychologist‚Äôs Casebook,” told me, “The whole business is a lot more complicated than the F.B.I. imagines.”

The whole article is a fascinating insight into the world of FBI profiling and notes that the methods may rely as much on cognitive distortions for their impact, as on hard evidence.

UPDATE: The forensic psychologists over at the excellent CrimePsychBlog have some commentary on the Gladwell piece, noting, among other things that Gladwell bases his criticisms on methods of profiling pioneers whose time has long since passed. A scientific approach is apparently now the mainstay of profiling practice and (they hope) that also includes the FBI.

Link to New Yorker article ‘Dangerous Minds’ (via 3Q).

2007-11-09 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news:

The Neurocritic covers a fascinating study that modelled group interest for new web information. Full text: pdf.

Call for a ban on controversial ‘Dolphin Assisted Therapy’. Controversial or just completely bizarre?

Brain Waves covers the top 10 neuroscience trends of 2007.

Activity is reduced in visual areas to direct activation toward hearing areas when we’re trying to listen to complex sounds, according to a new study covered by BBC News.

The New Republic has an in-depth review of a new book on the biology of altruism.

A study in this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry found that people with schizophrenia can be more logical than people without a psychiatric diagnosis.

The Scientific American Mind Matters blog covers some of the highlights of the Society for Neuroscience annual conference.

The BPS Research Digest looks at a study on psychiatrists who treat themselves for mental illness.

The LA Times has an in-depth and important article entitled ‘Are we too quick to medicate children?’

Van Gogh and the history of manic depression is discussed by The Neurophilosopher.

BBC News reports on an intriguing new genetic study of epilepsy: two genes are known individually to increase the chance of having a seizure, but carrying both makes epilepsy less likely.

A study finds further evidence that genetics has a role in determining sexual orientation in men.

PsyBlog discusses the false consensus bias and why we all stink as intuitive psychologists.

The Guardian reports on a study that suggest love at first sight is just sex and ego. Presumably, only if you do it right though.

Amygdala abnormalities linked to violent aggression in a study covered by Treatment Online.

Developing Intelligence reports that an artificial intelligence model of speech recognition develops what seem to be the equivalent of mirror neurons.

How we understand what doctors say can be quite different, even when they use the same words, depending on how serious we think the illness is. Cognitive Daily covers a fantastic applied psychology study.

Alcohol abuse in the New Testament

I just found this abstract of a 1987 article from the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism that reviewed attitudes to alcohol in the Bible, and found that boozing was looked on considerably more favourably in the Old Testament than the New.

Alcohol abuse in the New Testament.

Seller SC.

Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1987;22(1):83-90.

The New Testament is similar to the Old Testament in terms of some fundamental attitudes towards alcohol. St Paul, for example, in the spirit of the Old Testament, unequivocally condemns drunkenness but recommends the consumption of wine in moderate amounts. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in emphasis between the two documents. Wine is referred to as God’s gift in six of the books from the Old Testament, and no such description is offered in the New Testament. Total abstention seems acceptable only under exceptional circumstances in the Old Testament, while it is implicitly extolled through the exemplary role of John the Baptist in the New Testament. Finally, penalties for drunkards, including loss of salvation, are proportionally more frequent and comprehensive in the New Testament.

Link to PubMed entry for article.

Brain map, created by a cartographer

The October 25th edition of Neuron has a fantastic ‘brain map’ cover designed by Sam Brown, a cartographer based in Wellington, New Zealand.

You really need to see the cover in the flesh to see all the wonderful detail, as unfortunately, there’s no high resolution versions of the cover online.

There’s a better image currently on the Unit Seven website, which is still quite impressive though.

All walk and no trouser

A study shortly to be published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour reports that the menstrual cycle has an effect on women’s walking style and its attractiveness to men, but has also provoked speculation that highlights the worst in evolutionary psychology story-telling.

The study found that women’s walking style differed during the menstrual cycle, but that men rated it as most attractive when they were least fertile.

This contrasts with several previous studies have found that women dress, act and are perceived as most attractive during their most fertile time of the month.

Some researchers suggest that we’ve evolved so women subtly advertise their fertility to potential mates, perhaps, quite reasonably, as this happens in far more obvious ways almost uniformly throughout the animal kingdom.

So you might think that something to consider is that this finding is evidence against this idea, or that maybe the link with walking style is just a ‘side-effect’.

For example, estrogen affects dopamine function in the striatum, part of key action pathways in the brain, and the menstrual cycle is linked to changes in neuromuscular coordination. It could be that evolution has selected for the behaviour via these mechanisms, but it could also be that they have no evolutionary significance.

However, the alternative is barely considered in the paper or in the press reports. This from New Scientist:

However, Provost and her colleagues say there is in fact no contradiction between this research and other studies, as they are investigating two different kinds of signal. The previous research investigating men’s response to fertile women focused on signals such as smells and facial expressions, which can only be detected at close range. That makes evolutionary sense, as it would benefit a woman to advertise her fertility to a man that she has decided is worth having children with and has therefore allowed to get close to her.

In contrast, men can pick up on the attractiveness of a woman’s walk from long distance, and it can therefore act as an unwitting signal to less appealing males who she might not want to choose. So the advantage of having a less sexy walk around the time of ovulation becomes clear: it allows a woman to hide her fertile period from undesirable men who might take advantage of her at that time.

As an explanation, I actually quite like it, but there’s little consideration of the ‘side-effect’ idea, or even the contradictory evidence. For example, it goes against research which suggests that women dress more attractively during their most fertile time.

Evolutionary psychology is sometimes criticised for creating ‘just so stories‘ – unverifiable explanations that weave a story about how the data suggests that evolution has selected for a particular cognitive or behavioural difference.

It’s true to say that this accusation is levelled at evolutionary psychology more than is warranted. It does make testable predictions and all science involves some story telling to some degree.

Nevertheless, evolutionary psychology researchers would do well to show that they are considering the alternative explanation – that some behaviours might be associated with sex or fertility while having no influence on survival, the chance of mating, or passing on certain genes.

At this point I normally castigate the media for picking up on the sexy speculations and not the debate, but unfortunately, in this case, the scientific paper seems to make the same mistake.

Link to abstract of study.
Link to media reporting.

Sonata in epilepsy

The August edition of medical journal Epilepsy and Behaviour has an interesting case study of a patient who found that listening to Mozart could reduce his epileptic seizures.

The patient had what are known as ‘gelastic seizures’, meaning they trigger laughter when they occur.

Anticonvulsive drugs didn’t seem to help, and surgery to try and remove the focus of his seizures (often a successful treatment) had little significant effect.

We admitted for assessment a 56-year-old gentleman who had experienced gelastic seizures (laughing fits) since shortly after birth. He developed complex partial seizures during his teenage years and secondarily generalized tonic‚Äìclonic seizures in his midthirties…

It was agreed that he should be admitted for reassessment of his condition and to determine whether further surgical intervention could be of benefit.

A few months prior to his admission, he learned that Mozart’s music had been used, with some success, to enhance spatiotemporal reasoning. He therefore began to listen to Mozart for an average of 45 min a day. He did not listen to one particular piece of music.

Before he began listening to Mozart, he was having gelastic seizures with intense laughter, in association with altered perception and experiential phenomena, at a frequency of five or six per day, as well as secondarily generalized tonic–clonic seizures at an average frequency of seven per month. Electroencephalography revealed some evidence of right hemisphere involvement during the seizures that lasted 15–30 s. Seizures also were associated with a brief rise in heart rate.

Within days of starting to listen to Mozart regularly, he noticed a difference in the pattern of his seizures. In the 3 months during which he had listened to Mozart, he did not have any secondarily generalized tonic–clonic seizures. He continued to have five gelastic seizures a day, but these manifested as simply a brief smile (5–9 s), which he could disguise in the presence of others; in addition, the altered perception and experiential phenomena ceased.

Repeat MRI at this time revealed no change in the hypothalamic hamartoma and no definite or consistent EEG or ECG changes with any of the brief events.

No significant change has been observed during neuropsychometric testing since 2000.

The authors of the study mention in passing the so-called ‘Mozart effect‘ – where the music supposedly helps the brain operate more effectively owing to its typical rhythm which affects brain function.

It’s largely thought to be rubbish by most serious neuroscientists, although that hasn’t stopped a whole industry of ‘brain enhancing’ Mozart products being pushed onto unsuspecting punters.

For some people, epileptics seizures can be triggered by very idiosyncratic things.

As we discussed previously on Mind Hacks, ‘musicogenic epilepsy’ can be triggered by types of music, specific tones, or even specific songs (there’s a good discussion of this in Oliver Sacks’ new book).

It is likely, therefore, that from some people, specific music or types of music will also reduced their chances of having a seizure.

Link to PubMed entry for case study in Epilepsy and Behaviour.

Neuropod on blow, brainbows and optimism

The November edition of the newly minted Nature Neuroscience podcast Neuropod has just been released with features on the ‘brainbow‘ multi-colour neuron staining, the neurobiology and regulation of cannabis, the cognitive neuroscience of optimism, and the sleep cycle.

The interview on cannabis is with neuroscientist Paul Morrison and psychiatrist Robin Murray – two leading cannabis researchers.

Despite him leading recent research which has shown a modest but likely causal link between cannabis use and psychosis, Murray has always maintained a level-headed approach to the problem and is well-worth listening to (fast forward to 10 minutes in, if you’re in a hurry).

He’s on fine form and has this take on the effect of the drug on the political classes:

Essentially, cannabis is very bad for the brains of politicians, they do not know what to do. Firstly, they’re asked ‘have you ever smoked cannabis?’ and they don’t know whether to say yes or no, and then they have this belief that tinkering with the classification will actually do something.

Link to Neuropod webpage with audio.