September 18, 2008
Senator Barack Obama is able to invoke emotion while John McCain addresses show signs of clinical depression, a scientific study has discovered.
Using ever more sophisticated software and mathematical algorithms, scientists are increasingly able to pick apart political speeches. They analyzed language, pitch, tone and facial expressions to get a clue as to whether politicians are being sincere. To prove the point David Skillicorn, a mathematics and computer science researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, analyzed the speeches of John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, during the election race.
His findings published in the New Scientist concluded that even though the candidates receive training and have their speeches written for them, personal traits still shine through. While each of the 150 speeches studied varied no matter who was delivering them. McCain’s speeches fall flat and even showed signs of someone with clinical depression. His voice changes little in pitch as he speaks, and so conveys very little emotion or impact, it was said. Clinton was more neutral.
Mr. Skillicorn has developed an algorithm that evaluates word usage within the text of a conversation or speech to determine when a person “presents themselves or their content in a way that does not necessarily reflect what they know to be true”. “The important thing to recognize is that politicians aren’t typically good at out-and-out lies, but they are very adept at dancing around the truth,” Mr. Skillicorn concluded.
Researchers from Chiang Mai University have a new means of fighting phobias and depression. Pachaderms. Dr. Audomsark Haesungcharern, the dean of CMU believes their voice has therapeutic qualities citing studies which have found elephant calls containing both infra sound, a relaxing tone, and ultra sound, which creates active emotions.
Just last year an elephant study with autistic children suggested an improvement in a number of areas, such as self-reliance and social reactions. This has encouraged us to continue the study into how the elephants can help relieve the symptoms [of certain mental disorders],” said Dr Audomsark.
Many medical researchers worldwide have found animal-assisted therapy to be of benefit to autistic people. Horses, dogs and dolphins are considered to have potential in this regard. Prasop Tipprasert, the FIO’s elephant specialist, said the centre had trained 20 elephants to work with children and that safety is the most important concern, so all elephants are tamed and kept under close supervision.
For most of us summertime is a good time, a time to “stir it up” out in the sun, with lots of fun-filled activities. For others, it is not the happiest of times. Many people who are experiencing feelings of depression in the summer do not realize they are suffering from summer SAD, (seasonal affective disorder).
This is because they mistakenly perceive their “bouts” as a new event rather than a seasonal pattern. ‘We’ve kind of de-seasonalized ourselves,’ says Dr. Thomas Wehr, a research psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health and an expert on both winter and summer SAD. ‘You know, we turn the lights on after dark, we turn the heat on in winter, we turn the air-conditioning on in summer, and you could almost not notice. We tend to think more in a linear way rather than in a cyclic way.’
Summer SAD vs. Winter SAD
Winter SAD suffers typically feel lethargic in the colder months, crave carbohydrates, gain weight, and sleep excessively. Those afflicted with summer SAD often experience: agitation, loss of appetite, insomnia and, in extreme cases, increased suicidal fantasies.
Epidemiological data in the United States has also shown a higher proportion of SAD suffers experience an elevated nighttime body temperature. To treat this symptom, many summer SAD suffers turn up the air-conditioning. Though this can help it isn’t a universal cure. Others take lots of cold showers, however getting back to sleep isn’t all that easy. As with most forms of depression, more women than men suffer from summer SAD. One estimate puts it as high as two to one, the highest being women in their reproductive years. One UK woman reportedly swam every day in the English Channel where the cold water gave her measurable relief. I am sure the endorphins released during her exercise regime didn’t hurt either.
Since antidepressants have been shown to lower brain and body temperature in sleep, the most practical defense for summer SAD is still pharmacological.
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