Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2017 Contents B26 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 4, 2017
men less likely to
question their impulses
Hotheaded,impulsive men who shootfirstand ask
questions later are a staple of Westerns and 1970s
cop films, but new research shows there might be
truth to the trope.
A study conducted by researchers from Caltech, the
Wharton School, Western University, and ZRT Labora-
tory tested the hypothesis that higher levels of testosterone
increase the tendency in men to rely on their intuitive judg-
ments and reduce cognitive reflection---a decision-making
process by which a person stops to consider whether their
gut reaction to something makes sense. The researchers
found that mengivendoses oftestosterone performed more
poorly on a test designed to measure cognitive reflection
than a group given a placebo.
"What we found was the testosterone group was quicker
to make snap judgments on brain teasers where your ini-
tial guess is usually wrong," says Caltech's Colin Camerer,
the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics and
T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience
Leadership Chair. "The testosterone is either inhibiting
the process of mentally checking your work or increasing
the intuitive feeling that 'I'm definitely right.'"
The study, which is one of the largest of its type ever
conducted, included 243 males who were randomly se-
lected to receive a dose of testosterone gel or placebo gel
before taking a cognitive reflection test. A math task was
also given to control for participant engagement, moti-
vation level, and basic math skills.
The questions included on the cognitive reflection test
are exemplified by the following:
A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more
than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?
For many people, the first answer that comes to mind
is that the ball costs 10 cents, but that's incorrect because
then the bat costs only 90 cents more than the ball. The
correct answer is that the ball costs 5 cents and the bat
costs $1.05. An individual prone to relying on their gut in-
stincts would be more likely to accept their first answer
of 10 cents. However, another person might realise their
initial error through cognitive reflection and come up with
the correct answer.
Participants were not limited on time while taking the
test and were offered $1 for each correct answer and an
additional $2 if they answered all the questions correctly.
The results show that the group that received testoster-
one scored significantly lower than the group that received
the placebo, on average answering 20 per cent fewer ques-
tions correctly. The testosterone group also "gave incorrect
answers more quickly, and correct answers more slowly
than the placebo group," the authors write. The same
effect was not seen in the results of the basic math tests
administered to both groups. The results "demonstrate a
clear and robust causal effect of [testosterone] on human
cognition and decision-making," they conclude.
The researchers believe the phenomenon can be linked
to testosterone's effect of increasing confidence in humans.
"We think it works through confidence enhancement.
If you're more confident, you'll feel like you're right and
will not have enough self-doubt to correct mistakes,"
Camerer says the results of the study raise questions
about potential negative effects of the growing testos-
terone-replacement therapy industry, which is primar-
ily aimed at reversing the decline in sex drive many mid-
dle-aged men experience.
"If men want more testosterone to increase sex drive,
are there other effects? Do these men become too mentally
bold and thinking they know things they don't?"
(California Institute of Technology)
Gene editing strategy eliminates HIV-1 infection in live animals
A permanent cure for HIV infection re-
mains elusive due to the virus's ability to
hide away in latent reservoirs.
But now, in new research published in
print May 3 in the journal Molecular Ther-
apy, scientists at the Lewis Katz School of
Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) and
the University of Pittsburgh show that they
can excise HIV DNA from the genomes of
living animals to eliminate further infection.
They are the first to perform the feat in
three different animal models, including
a "humanised" model in which mice were
transplanted with human immune cells and
infected with the virus.
The team is the first to demonstrate that HIV-
1 replication can be completely shut down and
the virus eliminated from infected cells in ani-
mals with a powerful gene editing technology
known as CRISPR/Cas9.
The work was led by Wenhui Hu, MD, PhD,
currently Associate Professor in the Center for
Metabolic Disease Research and the Depart-
ment of Pathology (previously in the Depart-
ment of Neuroscience)at LKSOM; Kamel Khal-
ili, PhD, Laura H Carnell Professor and Chair
of the Department of Neuroscience, Director
of the Center for Neurovirology, and Director
of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at
LKSOM; and Won-Bin Young, PhD.
Dr Young was Assistant Professor in the
Department of Radiology at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine at the time of
the research. Dr Young recently joined LKSOM.
The new work builds on a previous proof-of-
concept study that the team published in 2016,
in which they used transgenic rat and mouse
models with HIV-1 DNA incorporated into the
genome of every tissue of the animals' bodies.
They demonstrated that their strategy could
delete the targeted fragments of HIV-1 from
the genome in most tissues in the experimental
The new study marks another major step
forward in the pursuit of a permanent cure
for HIV infection. "The next stage would be
to repeat the study in primates...," Dr Khali-
li said. "Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in
(Temple University Health System)
Does testosterone make men feel more right?
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