40 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2019
    1. The machinery that accomplishes these tasks is by far the most powerful and complex of the sensory systems. The retina, which contains 150 million light-sensitive rod and cone cells, is actually an outgrowth of the brain. In the brain itself, neurons devoted to visual processing number in the hundreds of millions and take up about 30 percent of the cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing. Each of the two optic nerves, which carry signals from the retina to the brain, consists of a million fibers; each auditory nerve carries a mere 30,000.
    1. Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by ‘a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow affect, glibness, manipulation and callousness.’ When individuals with psychopathy imagine others in pain, researchers have found that brain areas necessary for feeling empathy and concern for others fail to become active and connected to other important regions involved in affective processing and compassionate decision-making.
    2. When you are in an agreeable and comfortable situation it is more difficult to empathize with another person’s suffering. At a neurobiological level – without a properly functioning supramarginal gyrus – your brain has a tough time putting itself in someone else’s shoes.

      'They' literally can't help being selfish assholes

    3. The right supramarginal gyrus ensures that we can decouple our perception of ourselves from that of others. When the neurons in this part of the brain were disrupted in the course of a research task, the participants found it difficult to stop from projecting their own feelings and circumstances onto others. The participants' assessments were also less accurate when they were forced to make particularly quick decisions.
    4. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience on October 9, 2013, Max Planck researchers identified that the tendency to be egocentric is innate for human beings – but that a part of your brain recognizes a lack of empathy and autocorrects. This specific part of your brain is called the the right supramarginal gyrus. When this brain region doesn't function properly—or when we have to make particularly quick decisions—the researchers found one’s ability for empathy is dramatically reduced. This area of the brain helps us to distinguish our own emotional state from that of other people and is responsible for empathy and compassion.
  2. Apr 2019
    1. “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.”
    1. Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don’t need a history of trauma to feel self-conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers — but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens.
    2. In trauma survivors, Van der Kolk notes, the parts of the brain that have evolved to monitor for danger remain overactivated and even the slightest sign of danger, real or misperceived, can trigger an acute stress response accompanied by intense unpleasant emotions and overwhelming sensations. Such posttraumatic reactions make it difficult for survivors to connect with other people, since closeness often triggers the sense of danger. And yet the very thing we come to most dread after experiencing trauma — close contact with other people — is also the thing we most need in order to regain psychoemotional solidity and begin healing.
    3. This, he points out, is why we’ve evolved a refined mechanism for detecting danger — we’re incredibly attuned to even the subtlest emotional shifts in those around us and, even if we don’t always heed these intuitive readings, we can read another person’s friendliness or hostility on the basis of such imperceptible cues as brow tension, lip curvature, and body angles.
  3. Mar 2019
    1. Found reference to this in a review of Henry Quastler's book Information Theory in Biology.

      A more serious thing, in the reviewer's opinion, is the compIete absence of contributions deaJing with information theory and the central nervous system, which may be the field par excellence for the use of such a theory. Although no explicit reference to information theory is made in the well-known paper of W. McCulloch and W. Pitts (1943), the connection is quite obvious. This is made explicit in the systematic elaboration of the McCulloch-Pitts' approach by J. von Neumann (1952). In his interesting book J. T. Culbertson (1950) discussed possible neuraI mechanisms for recognition of visual patterns, and particularly investigated the problems of how greatly a pattern may be deformed without ceasing to be recognizable. The connection between this problem and the problem of distortion in the theory of information is obvious. The work of Anatol Rapoport and his associates on random nets, and especially on their applications to rumor spread (see the series of papers which appeared in this Journal during the past four years), is also closely connected with problems of information theory.

      Electronic copy available at: http://www.cse.chalmers.se/~coquand/AUTOMATA/mcp.pdf

  4. Feb 2019
    1. This supplemented the individual's memory and ability to visualize. (We are not concerned here with the value derived from human cooperation made possible by speech and writing, both forms of external symbol manipulation. We speak of the manual means of making graphical representations of symbols—

      The expression "manual means of making graphical representation" makes me think of photography as a memory aid or augmenting tool. Although, of course, it would not necessarily refer to a symbolic portrayal.

      Interestingly, neuroscience today affirms our memory is far from a simple pointing to the past function, but it actually alters or edits the memory itself each time we go back to it and probably the subject who remembers changes in the process. Could that be an example of how technological aids can augment our brain processing of memories?

      I have recently explored this idea on my blog in a post called As We May Remember (a wink to the Vannebar Bush essay) http://eltnotes.blogspot.com/2019/02/as-we-may-remember.html

  5. Aug 2018
  6. May 2018
  7. Dec 2017
    1. The well-defined goal of connectomics is an illusion. In reality, there are many possible goals. And which goal we choose depends on the scientific question we want to answer. Do we want a connectome or the connectome? Do we want the adult bauplan or the developmental arc? Do we want the connectome constant to all of a species, or the variation between them?

      a connectome is a full map of the brain and a bauplan seems to be an archetypical map of an organism's body. Here it's used figuratively I think. Maybe as a pun.

    1. there are about 87 billion neurons in one human brain

      And about 7000 connections to other neurons per neuron?

  8. Feb 2017
  9. Dec 2016
    1. Montreal Neurological Institute

      sharing all data associated with its research; no patents for 5 yrs (see video) - first major research institute of it's kind - check if this is really true?

    2. European Union, Japan and the United States

      Find out specifically which of these are "open" and if they are all focused on neuroscience?

  10. Nov 2015
    1. Routine meditators also retain more brain cells, while the rest of us lose 4% of ours as we age.
    2. According to set point theory, our attitude and behaviors have a bigger effect on our happiness than our external circumstances – and that’s good news for mindfulness. Mindfulness shapes our brain by increasing gray matter in areas related to attention, learning, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and compassion.
    3. Mindfulness literally changes our brains, making some areas more responsive, interconnected, and dense. In particular, these are areas related to empathy (the insula); memory, emotion, and emotion regulation; and reward circuitry. In response to distressing stimuli, meditators see more activation in their prefrontal structures (for awareness) and less in their fear-driven amygdala.
    4. When our mind wanders during meditation, a group of brain areas called the “default mode network” activates. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what this network does – it may be directly involved in mind wandering or simply be carrying out brain maintenance when we aren’t thinking about anything in particular. As soon as we realize our mind is wandering during meditation, other brain regions for detecting relevant events light up. As we refocus our attention on the breath, the executive brain network takes over. Experienced meditators who repeat this process thousands of times start to show differences in the brain. They develop more connection between the self-focused part of the default mode network and brain regions for disengaging attention, which makes it easier to shut off that area of the brain when they realize their minds are wandering. Over time, meditation improves working memory, fluid intelligence, and standardized test scores.
  11. Oct 2015
    1. Just having positive experiences is not enough to promote last well-being. If a person feels grateful for a few seconds, that’s nice. That’s better than feeling resentful or bitter for a few seconds. But in order to really suck that experience into the brain, we need to stay with those experiences for a longer duration of time—we need to take steps, consciously, to keep that spotlight of attention on the positive. So, how do we actually do this? These are the three steps I recommend for taking in the good. I should note that I did not invent these steps. They are embedded in many good therapies and life practices. But I’ve tried to tease them apart and embed them in an evolutionary understanding of how the brain works. 1. Let a good fact become a good experience. Often we go through life and some good thing happens—a little thing, like we checked off an item on our To Do list, we survived another day at work, the flowers are blooming, and so forth. Hey, this is an opportunity to feel good. Don’t leave money lying on the table: Recognize that this is an opportunity to let yourself truly feel good. 2. Really savor this positive experience. Practice what any school teacher knows: If you want to help people learn something, make it as intense as possible—in this case, as felt in the body as possible—for as long as possible. 3. Finally, as you sink into this experience, sense your intent that this experience is sinking into you. Sometimes people do this through visualization, like by perceiving a golden light coming into themselves or a soothing balm inside themselves. You might imagine a jewel going into the treasure chest in your heart—or just know that this experience is sinking into you, becoming a resource you can take with you wherever you go.
    2. Another region is the frontal regions of the prefrontal cortex—areas involved in controlling attention. Again, this should be no surprise: They’re focusing their attention in their meditation, so they’re getting more control over it, and they’re strengthening its neural basis.
    3. You can use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better. This is known as “self-directed neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity refers to the malleable nature of the brain, and it’s constant, ongoing. Self-directed neuroplasticity means doing it with clarity and skillfulness and intention. The key to it is a controlled use of attention. Attention is like a spotlight, to be sure, shining on things within our awareness. But it’s also like vacuum cleaner, sucking whatever it rests upon into the brain, for better or worse.
    4. research has also shown that it’s possible to slow the loss of our brain cells. Normally, we lose about 10,000 brain cells a day. That may sound horrible, but we were born with 1.1 trillion. We also have several thousand born each day, mainly in the hippocampus, in what’s called neurogenesis. So losing 10,000 a day isn’t that big a deal, but the net bottom line is that a typical 80 year old will have lost about 4 percent of his or her brain mass—it’s called “cortical thinning with aging.” It’s a normal process. But in one study, researchers compared meditators and non-meditators. In the graph to the left, the meditators are the blue circles and the non-meditators are the red squares, comparing people of the same age. The non-meditators experienced normal cortical thinning in those two brain regions I mentioned above, along with a third, the somatosensory cortex. However, the people who routinely meditated and “worked” their brain did not experience cortical thinning in those regions.
    5. People who maintain some kind of regular meditative practice actually have measurably thicker brains in certain key regions. One of those regions is the insula, which is involved in what’s called “interoception”—tuning into the state of your body, as well as your deep feelings. This should be no surprise: A lot of what they’re doing is practicing mindfulness of breathing, staying really present with what’s going on inside themselves; no wonder they’re using, and therefore building, the insula.
    6. busy regions of the brain start stitching new connections with each other. Existing synapses—the connections between neurons that are very busy—get stronger, they get more sensitive, they start building out more receptors. New synapses form as well.
    7. more activation in the left prefrontal cortex is associated with more positive emotions. So as there is greater activation in the left, front portion of your brain relative to the right, there is also greater well-being. That’s probably in large part because the left prefrontal cortex is a major part of the brain for controlling negative emotion. So if you put the breaks on the negative, you get more of the positive. On the other hand, people who routinely experience chronic stress—particularly acute, even traumatic stress—release the hormone cortisol, which literally eats away, almost like an acid bath, at the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that’s very engaged in visual-spatial memory as well as memory for context and setting. For example, adults who have had that history of stress and have lost up to 25 percent of the volume of this critically important part of the brain are less able to form new memories.
    8. And better understanding them means we can skillfully stimulate the neural substrates of those states—which, in turn, means we can strengthen them. Because as the famous saying by the Canadian scientist Donald Hebb goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
    1. during periods of mind-wandering, regions of the brain’s default mode network were activated. Then when participants became aware of this mind-wandering, brain regions related to the detection of salient or relevant events came online. After that, areas of the executive brain network took over, re-directing and maintaining attention on the chosen object. And all of this occurred within 12 seconds around those button presses.

      Link

      I'd be interested to see how sleep deprivation relates to this; I find my mind wanders easily when I haven't had enough sleep. Yet another reason to get more sleep to be happy and healthy.

    2. A particularly generative field is contemplative neuroscience, which involves collaborations between scientists and expert authorities in the traditions that have informed the concept of mindfulness.
    3. For example, when your mind wandered off in that meeting, it might help to know you’re slipping into default mode—and you can deliberately bring yourself back to the moment. That’s an ability that can improve with training.
    4. One brain area stood out in this analysis: the medial prefrontal cortex, a part of the default mode network that is particularly related to self-focused thoughts, which make up a good portion of mind-wandering content. It turns out that experienced meditators deactivated this region more quickly after identifying mind-wandering than people who hadn’t meditated as much
    5. more experienced meditators have increased connectivity between default mode and attention brain regions, and less default mode activity while meditating.
  12. Mar 2014
  13. Sep 2013
    1. and this again proves that knowledge and belief differ

      Not to the human brain. If you believe Strawberry Pop-Tarts are better than Blue Berry Pop-Tarts and you know that 1 + 1 = 2 your brain processes the information in the exact same way. This is what can make persuasion difficult: how to you get someone to view an idea they see as true in a different way? This is a little off topic, but still relevant in the way Gorgias explains his views.

    1. Or another example: if you need to remember the name " Pyrilampes " you must connect it with pyr (fire) and lampein (to shine). These are examples for words

      We can increase memory by changing the way we learn it. Like a word association. Much like the Baker Potter paradox (we remember people who describe themselves as potters or bakers vs someone named Baker or Potter).

    2. it is useful for everything, for wisdom as well as for the conduct of life.

      Memory is actually extremely fallible.

    3. (21) But there is also an argument about the disgraceful and the seemly which says that each is distinct from the other. Since if anyone should ask those who say that the same thing is both disgraceful and seemly whether they have ever done anything seemly, they would admit that they have also done something disgraceful, if disgraceful and seemly are really the same thing. (22) And if they know any man to be handsome,2 they would also know the same man to be ugly.3 And if they know any man to be white, they would also know the same man to be black. And it is seemly to honour the gods and again disgraceful to honour the gods, if disgraceful and seemly are really the same thing

      Good section about cognitive dissonance. This means to hold two opposing opinions at the same time. The kind of stuff I love to study.