1. Social stress; 2. Autistic spectrum and BPAs; 3. What is time?

1.   Paging all employment lawyers:  all those office bullies can now be associated with actual, physical inflammatory responses.   Slavich GM, Way BM, Eisenberger NI, Taylor SE. Neural sensitivity to social rejection is associated with inflammatory responses to social stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 2.

Social stress upregulates inflammatory proteins — the latest PNAS paper points to a soluble receptor for tumor necrosis factor-α (sTNFαRII). This makes sense – people who are stressed get heightened immune responses, like autoimmune issues, psoriasis and the rest of it. Anti-TNF meds (like, here), act to sop up extra TNFs.   This is not to recommend that anti-TNF biologicals get a label indication for “social rejection,”  they act as immunosuppressants, and some are black boxed — you don’t want to fool with these.

2.  Autistic spectrum and all that plastic stuff we’ve been using for the past 15+ years.  (Here’s the senate subcommittee hearing from C-Span).  There seems to be some big time research money being thrown that way. Good, we say. Let’s have the Love Canal superfund of autistic spectrum to force some clean up of the ground water contaminants.

3.  Get out the sitar music (we love philosophy): What is time?

Time takes forever when you’re bored or doing something you don’t like. But, time flies when you’re having fun.

Time perception is subjective.  Wittmann, M., Simmons, A.N., Aron, J.L., Paulus, M. P.  Accumulation of neural activity in the posterior insula encodes the passage of time. Neuropsychologia 48: 3110-3120. (2010).  According to Wittmann et al, time is perceived in the insula as the additive amount of bodily sensations as encoded neurally. Our interpretation: The less you have going on, the more you notice your body, and the longer time takes. When you are busy doing something else and not self aware, then time flies (that is, not too much neural perception).

This brings up all sorts of validation. Want a criminal to s-u-f-f-e-r? Solitary confinement, with sensory depravation. Time will last longer, subjectively. Want to savor a moment? Avoid distractions.

Did that dream take forever? Maybe there was lots of bodily sensation. The ability to estimate the time one slept varies significantly, and that may have something to do with sleep architecture. Aritake-Okada S, Higuchi S, Suzuki H, Kuriyama K, Enomoto M, Soshi T, Kitamura S, Watanabe M, Hida A, Matsuura M, Uchiyama M, Mishima K.  Diurnal fluctuations in subjective sleep time in humans. Neurosci Res. 2010 Jul 29.