277 posts tagged Brain
At the quantum level of analysis, the brain is made up of 99.999 etc% empty space, plus a system of molecules, atoms and so on. But these atomic constituents, as Stapp points out, do not exist as independent self-contained material entities. Ultimately they emerge out of the quantum field of potentiality; and their emergence in some way depends upon consciousness. When we know all this (and all this is known), then the materialists’ picture of mind-independent jiggling molecules in a materially substantial brain dissolves. As Stapp says, “no such brain exists; no brain, body, or anything else in the real world is composed of those tiny bits of matter that Newton imagined the universe to be made of” (Mindful Universe, 2007, p.139). Rather, the physical grounds in the brain of the experience of the seeing of a yellow wall reduces to a jiggling of an insubstantial quantum field, as the illustration illustrates.
read of the day: A Fundamental Theory to Model the Mind
In 1999, the Danish physicist Per Bak proclaimed to a group of neuroscientists that it had taken him only 10 minutes to determine where the field had gone wrong. Perhaps the brain was less complicated than they thought, he said. Perhaps, he said, the brain worked on the same fundamental principles as a simple sand pile, in which avalanches of various sizes help keep the entire system stable overall — a process he dubbed “self-organized criticality.” As much as scientists in other fields adore outspoken, know-it-all physicists, Bak’s audacious idea — that the brain’s ordered complexity and thinking ability arise spontaneously from the disordered electrical activity of neurons — did not meet with immediate acceptance. But over time, in fits and starts, Bak’s radical argument has grown into a legitimate scientific discipline. Now, about 150 scientists worldwide investigate so-called “critical” phenomena in the brain, the topic of at least three focused workshops in 2013 alone. Add the ongoing efforts to found a journal devoted to such studies, and you have all the hallmarks of a field moving from the fringes of disciplinary boundaries to the mainstream.
L ook closely at the picture above. What you’re actually looking at is a work of art by Johannes Stotter. Despite its extremely photographic nature, it’s actually a painting. Even more shocking is the canvas isn’t cloth. It’s a woman covered in body paint. (via How optical illusions trick your brain, according to science - The Week)
Can an electric ‘thinking cap’ improve learning?
Vanderbilt University ->Original Study
It may be possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn by sending a mild electrical current to the brain, a new study suggests. The findings, which also show that the effect can be enhanced or depressed depending on the direction of the current, may extend beyond the potential to improve learning, researchers say. They could have clinical benefits in the treatment of conditions like schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which are associated with performance-monitoring deficits. The medial-frontal cortex is believed to be the part of the brain responsible for the instinctive “Oops!” response we have when we make a mistake. Previous studies have shown that a spike of negative voltage originates from this area of the brain milliseconds after a person makes a mistake, but not why. For a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers wanted to test the idea that this activity influences learning because it allows the brain to learn from our mistakes. “And that’s what we set out to test: What is the actual function of these brainwaves?” says psychologist Robert Reinhart, a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University. “We wanted to reach into your brain and causally control your inner critic.” Reinhart and Geoffrey Woodman, assistant professor of psychology, set out to test several hypotheses: One, they wanted to establish that it is possible to control the brain’s electrophysiological response to mistakes, and two, that its effect could be intentionally regulated up or down depending on the direction of an electrical current applied to it. This bi-directionality had been observed before in animal studies, but not in humans. Additionally, the researchers set out to see how long the effect lasted and whether the results could be generalized to other tasks. (via Can an electric ‘thinking cap’ improve learning? | Futurity)
Human nose can detect 1 trillion odours
What the the nose knows might as well be limitless, researchers suggest.
The human nose can distinguish at least 1 trillion different odours, a resolution orders of magnitude beyond the previous estimate of just 10,000 scents, researchers report today in Science Scientists who study smell have suspected a higher number for some time, but few studies have attempted to explore the limits of the human nose’s sensory capacity. “It has just been sitting there for somebody to do,” says study co-author Andreas Keller, an olfactory researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York.
..A human nose has around 400 types of scent receptors. When the smell of coffee wafts through a room, for example, specific receptors in the nose detect molecular components of the odour, eliciting a series of neural responses that draw one’s attention to the coffee pot.
The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains
Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.
Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides. In a 2012 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to these neurotoxins while pregnant to those who had not. Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture. Last month, more research brought concerns about chemical exposure and brain health to a heightened pitch. Philippe Grandjean, Bellinger’s Harvard colleague, and Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, announced to some controversy in the pages of a prestigious medical journal that a “silent pandemic” of toxins has been damaging the brains of unborn children. The experts named 12 chemicals—substances found in both the environment and everyday items like furniture and clothing—that they believed to be causing not just lower IQs but ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Pesticides were among the toxins they identified.
Move over focus groups. Neuroscience-based research from Innocean seeks to uncover what people really like (and seemingly reveals that, sometimes, people love brands more than people). In this age of easily shared hyper-hyperbole, where everything is the most amazing, the absolute worst, or the most squee-worthy, to hear someone decree their love for a brand is no big thing. But do people really, truly love certain brands? And if they do, is it possible for someone to love brands as much or more than loved ones? And is what we say we love the same as what our brain shows we love? These provocative questions are among those that agency Innocean sought to explore with its Brand Love study, an experiment conducted with neuroscientist Dr. Paul Zak that tests physiological responses to determine what people like. Intended as an experiment to help the agency get a better understanding of how people respond to advertising, the study has yielded some interesting results. Namely, that in some instances, people do in fact express stronger love for their favored brands than for their chosen loved one.