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1.  Personality, Psychopathology, Life Attitudes and Neuropsychological Performance among Ritual Users of Ayahuasca: A Longitudinal Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42421.
Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychoactive plant beverage containing the serotonergic 5-HT2A agonist N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and monoamine oxidase-inhibiting alkaloids (harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine) that render it orally active. Ayahuasca ingestion is a central feature in several Brazilian syncretic churches that have expanded their activities to urban Brazil, Europe and North America. Members of these groups typically ingest ayahuasca at least twice per month. Prior research has shown that acute ayahuasca increases blood flow in prefrontal and temporal brain regions and that it elicits intense modifications in thought processes, perception and emotion. However, regular ayahuasca use does not seem to induce the pattern of addiction-related problems that characterize drugs of abuse. To study the impact of repeated ayahuasca use on general psychological well-being, mental health and cognition, here we assessed personality, psychopathology, life attitudes and neuropsychological performance in regular ayahuasca users (n = 127) and controls (n = 115) at baseline and 1 year later. Controls were actively participating in non-ayahuasca religions. Users showed higher Reward Dependence and Self-Transcendence and lower Harm Avoidance and Self-Directedness. They scored significantly lower on all psychopathology measures, showed better performance on the Stroop test, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Letter-Number Sequencing task from the WAIS-III, and better scores on the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale. Analysis of life attitudes showed higher scores on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory, the Purpose in Life Test and the Psychosocial Well-Being test. Despite the lower number of participants available at follow-up, overall differences with controls were maintained one year later. In conclusion, we found no evidence of psychological maladjustment, mental health deterioration or cognitive impairment in the ayahuasca-using group.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042421
PMCID: PMC3414465  PMID: 22905130
2.  An fMRI Study on the Role of Serotonin in Reactive Aggression 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27668.
Reactive aggression after interpersonal provocation is a common behavior in humans. Little is known, however, about brain regions and neurotransmitters critical for the decision-making and affective processes involved in aggressive interactions. With the present fMRI study, we wanted to examine the role of serotonin in reactive aggression by means of an acute tryptophan depletion (ATD). Participants performed in a competitive reaction time task (Taylor Aggression Paradigm, TAP) which entitled the winner to punish the loser. The TAP seeks to elicit aggression by provocation. The study followed a double-blind between-subject design including only male participants. Behavioral data showed an aggression diminishing effect of ATD in low trait-aggressive participants, whereas no ATD effect was detected in high trait-aggressive participants. ATD also led to reduced insula activity during the decision phase, independently of the level of provocation. Whereas previous reports have suggested an inverse relationship between serotonin level and aggressive behavior with low levels of serotonin leading to higher aggression and vice versa, such a simple relationship is inconsistent with the current data.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027668
PMCID: PMC3218006  PMID: 22110714
3.  Signal Injection as a Fault Detection Technique 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2011;11(3):3356-3380.
Double frequency tests are used for evaluating stator windings and analyzing the temperature. Likewise, signal injection on induction machines is used on sensorless motor control fields to find out the rotor position. Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA), which focuses on the spectral analysis of stator current, is the most widely used method for identifying faults in induction motors. Motor faults such as broken rotor bars, bearing damage and eccentricity of the rotor axis can be detected. However, the method presents some problems at low speed and low torque, mainly due to the proximity between the frequencies to be detected and the small amplitude of the resulting harmonics. This paper proposes the injection of an additional voltage into the machine being tested at a frequency different from the fundamental one, and then studying the resulting harmonics around the new frequencies appearing due to the composition between injected and main frequencies.
doi:10.3390/s110303356
PMCID: PMC3231603  PMID: 22163801
fault detection; induction motor; electrical drives
4.  Dopamine Agonist Increases Risk Taking but Blunts Reward-Related Brain Activity 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2479.
The use of D2/D3 dopaminergic agonists in Parkinson's disease (PD) may lead to pathological gambling. In a placebo-controlled double-blind study in healthy volunteers, we observed riskier choices in a lottery task after administration of the D3 receptor-preferring agonist pramipexole thus mimicking risk-taking behavior in PD. Moreover, we demonstrate decreased activation in the rostral basal ganglia and midbrain, key structures of the reward system, following unexpected high gains and therefore propose that pathological gambling in PD results from the need to seek higher rewards to overcome the blunted response in this system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002479
PMCID: PMC2423613  PMID: 18575579

Results 1-4 (4)