Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Brain

Cognitive mechanisms? How my brain works

Note: Re-edit of “How my brain works: Cognitive mechanisms; (Jan. 9, 2010)”

Before venturing into this uncharted territory, let me state that there is a “real universe”, which each person perceives differently: If this real world didn’t exist, there would be nothing to perceive.

The real world cares less about the notions of time and space.

No matter how we understand the real world, our system of comprehension is strictly linked to our brain/senses systems of perceptions.

The way animals perceive the universe is different from our perception.

All we can offer are bundles of hypotheses that can never be demonstrated or confirmed, even empirically, except in few cases in the processes.

The best we can do is to extend the hypothesis that our perceived universe correlates (qualitative coherent resemblance) with a de-facto real universe of the moment.

The notions of time, space, and causality are within our perceived universe.

Each individual has his own “coherent universe” that is as valid as any other perception.

What rational logic and empirical experiments have discovered in “laws of nature” apply only to our perceived universe. Mainly, to what is conveniently labeled the category of grown up “normal people” who do not suffer major brain disturbances or defects.

How newborn and toddlers perceive the universe is very challenging, and could be the dawn of a breakthrough cognitive scientific era.

Man uses symbols such as language, alphabets, mathematical forms, and musical symbols to record their cognitive performances.

Brain uses “binary code” of impressions and intervals of non impressions to register a codified impression.  Most probably, the brain creates all kinds of cells and chemicals to categorize, store, classify, and retrieve various impressions.

The rationale is that, since no matter how fast an impression is, it stands to reason that the trillions and trillions of impressions would saturate the intervals between sensations in no time.

We are born with 25% of the total number of synapses that grown up will form.

Neurons have mechanisms of transferring from one section of the brain to other parts when frequent focused cognitive processes are needed.

A child can perceive one event following another one but he has no further meaning, but simple observations.  A child is Not surprised with magic outcomes; what is out of the normal for a grown up is as valid a phenomenon as another to the child (elephant can fly).

We know that vision and auditory sensations pass through several filters (processed data) before being perceived by the brain.

The senses of smell and taste circumvent filters and are sensed by the limbic (primeval brain) before passing this data to cognition.

The brain attached markers or attributes to impressions that it receives.

A marker represents a special network form of synapses.

Four markers that I call exogenous markers attach to impressions as they are “registered” or perceived in the brain coming from the outside world through our senses.

At least four other markers, I label “endogenous markers” are attached to internal cognitive processing and are linked to information during the  re-structuring or re-configuring of events are performed during the dream periods: massive computations are needed to stored data before they are transformed to ready useful data before endogenous markers are attributed to them for registering in other memory banks.

There are markers that I call “reverse-exogenous” and are attached to information meant to be exported from the brain to the outside world. They are mainly of 2 kinds: body language information (such as head, hand, shoulder, or eye movements) and the recorded types on external means, such as writing, painting, sculpting, singing, playing instruments, or performing art work.

The first exogenous marker directs impressions from the senses in their order of successions.

The child recognizes that this event followed the other one within a short period of occurrence. His brain can “implicitly” store the two events as following in succession in a qualitative order (for example the duration of the succession is shorter or longer than the other succession). I label this marker as “Time recognizer” in the qualitative meaning of sensations.

The second marker registers and then stores an impression as a spatial configuration. At this stage, the child is able to recognize the concept of space but in a qualitative order. For example, this object is closer or further from the other object. I call this marker “space recognizer”.

The third marker is the ability to delimit a space when focusing on a collection of objects. Without this ability to first limit the range of observation (or sensing in general) it would be hard to register parts and bits of impressions within a first cut of a “coherent universe”. I label this marker “spatial delimiter

The fourth marker links “strength” or “weight” of occurrence as the impression is recognized in the database.  The child cannot count but the brain is already using this marker for incoming information. In a sense, the brain is assembling events and objects in special “frequency of occurrence” database during dream periods and the information are retrieved in qualitative order of strength of sensations in frequency.  I call this attribute “count marker”.

The fifth marker is an endogenous attributes: this marker is attached within the internal export/import of information in the brain. This attribute is a kind of “correlation” quantity that indicates same/different trends of behavior of events or objects.  In a sense, this marker will internally sort out data as “analogous” or contrary collections along a time scale.

People have tendency to associate correlation with cause and effect relation but it is Not. A correlation quantity can be positive (two variables have the same behavioral trend in a system) or negative quantity (diverging trends). With the emergence of the 5th marker the brain has grown a quantitative threshold in synapses and neurons to start massive computations on impressions stored in the large original database or what is called “long-term memory”.

The sixth marker is kind of  gross “probability quantity” that permits the brain to order objects according to “plausible” invariant properties in space (for example objects or figures are similar according to a particular property, including symmetrical transformations). I label this the “invariant marker” and it re-structures collections of objects and shapes in structures such as hereditary, hierarchical, network, or circular.

The seventh marker I call the “association attribute”. Methods of deduction, inductions, and other logical manipulations are within these kinds of data types.  They are mostly generated from rhetorical associations such as analogies, metaphors, antonyms, and other categories of associations.

No intuition or creative ideas are outside the boundary of prior recognition of the brain.

Constant focus and work on a concept generate complex processing during the dream stage. The conscious mind recaptures sequences from the dream state ,and most of the time unconsciously.

What knowledge does is decoding in formal systems the basic processes of the brain and then re-ordering what seems as chaotic firing in brain cells.  Symbols were created to facilitate rules writing for precise rationalization.

The eighth marker I call the “design marker”.

It recognizes interactions among variables and interacts with reverse exogenous markers since a flow with outside perceptions is required for comprehension.

Simple perceived relationships between two events or variables are usually trivial and mostly wrong. For example, thunder follows lightning and thus, wrongly interpreted as lightning generates thunder.  Simple interactions are of the existential kind as in the Pavlov reactions where existential rewards, such as food, are involved in order to generate the desired reactions. The Pavlov reaction laws apply to man too.

Interactions among more than two variables are complex for interpretations in the mind and require plenty of training and exercises.

Designing experiments is a very complex cognitive task and not amenable to intuition: it requires learning and training to appreciating the various cause and effects among the variables.

The first kinds of “reverse exogenous” markers can be readily witnessed in animals such as in body language of head, hand, shoulder, or eye movements. Otherwise, Pavlov experiments could not be conducted if animals didn’t react with any external signs.

In general, rational thinking retrieves data from specialized databases “cognitive working memory” of already processed data and saved for pragmatic utility.

Working memories are developed once data find outlets to the external world for recording; thus, pure thinking without attempting to record ideas degrades the cognitive processes with sterile internal transfer without new empirical information to compute in.

An important reverse-exogenous marker is sitting still, concentrating, emptying our mind of external sensations, and relaxing the mind of conscious efforts of perceiving the knowledge “matter” in order to experience the “cosmic universe”.

I presume that a few particular markers of the same kind can handle the flow of impressions, but the brain tends to construct many duplicates of redundant markers for emergency occurrences and for the regeneration processes.

The most used markers such as “count” are distributed in many strategic nodes and chemicals are attached to incoming impressions so that any “count” node may recognize the alterations.

Talented individuals have more specialized markers for the skills they acquired and thus, the denser and more varied are the synapses networks that correspond to the more intelligence kinds we developed.

Note: This article was not meant to analyze emotions or value moral systems.  It is very probable that the previously described markers are valid for the moral value systems with less computation applied to the data transferred to the “moral working memory”.

I believe that more other sophisticated computations are performed than done to emotional data since a system is constructed for frequent “refreshing” with age and experiences.

I conjecture that emotions are generated from the vast original database; and the endogenous correlation marker is the main computation method: the reason is that emotions are related to complex and almost infinite interactions with people and community.

Thus, the brain prefers not to consume time and resources on complex computations that involve many thousands of variables interacting simultaneously.

An emotional reaction in the waking period is not necessarily “rational” but of the quick and dirty resolutions kinds.

In the dream sessions, emotionally loaded impressions are barely processed because they are hidden deep in the vast original database structure and are not refreshed frequently to be exposed to the waking conscious cognitive processes; thus, they flare up within the emotional reaction packages.

Note 2: The brain is a flexible organic matter that can be trained and developed by frequent “refreshing” of interactions with the outside world of sensations. Maybe animals lack the reverse exogenous markers to record their cognitive capabilities.

More likely, it is because their cognitive working memory is shriveled that animals didn’t grow the appropriate limbs for recording sensations:  Evolution (or lack of it) didn’t endow them with external performing limbs for writing, sculpting, painting, or doing music.

The fact that chimps were trained to externalize cognitive capabilities that are as valid as a 5 years old mankind child, suggest that attaching artificial limbs to chimps, cats, or dogs that are compatible with human tools will demonstrate that chimps can give far better cognitive performance than expected.

This is a first draft to get the project going. I appreciate developed comments and references.

Who care to see Reality as Is? Who can we trust to deliver “what is Reality”?

Note: Re-edit of “Are we able to see Reality as is? July 2015 and Donald Hoffman speech on March 2015”

Let’s begin with a question: Do we see reality as it is?

Are we shaped with tricks and hacks that keep us alive (evolutionary process)?

I love a great mystery, and I’m fascinated by the greatest unsolved mystery in sciences, perhaps because it’s personal.

It’s about who we are, and I can’t help but be curious.

The mystery is this: 

What is the relationship between your brain and your conscious experiences, such as your experience of the taste of chocolate or the feeling of velvet?

This mystery is not new. In 1868, Thomas Huxley wrote,

“How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the genie when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.”

Huxley knew that brain activity and conscious experiences are correlated, but he didn’t know why.

To the sciences of his day, it was a mystery. In the years since Huxley, sciences have learned a lot about brain activity, but the relationship between brain activity and conscious experiences is still a mystery. Why?

Why have we made so little progress?

Some experts think that we can’t solve this problem because we lack the necessary concepts and intelligence.

We don’t expect monkeys to solve problems in quantum mechanics, and as it happens, we can’t expect our species to solve this problem either.

Well, I disagree. I’m more optimistic. 

I think we’ve simply made false assumptions, one assumption in particular.

Once we fix it, we just might solve this problem. Today, I’d like tell you what that assumption is, why it’s false, and how to fix it.

Let’s begin with a question: Do we see reality as it is?

Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?

Aren’t we reconstructing “reality” everytime?

I open my eyes and I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato a meter away. As a result, I come to believe that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away.

I then close my eyes, and my experience changes to a gray field, but is it still the case that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away? I think so, but could I be wrong? 

Could I be misinterpreting the nature of my perceptions?

We have misinterpreted our perceptions before. We used to think the Earth is flat, because it looks that way. Pythagoras discovered that we were wrong.

Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of the Universe, again because it looks that way. Copernicus and Galileo discovered, again, that we were wrong.

Galileo then wondered if we might be misinterpreting our experiences in other ways. He wrote:

I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on reside in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities would be annihilated.” (Meaning, nature and its plants have their own consciousness, regardless of the disappearance of living creatures?)

That’s a stunning claim. Could Galileo be right? Could we really be misinterpreting our experiences that badly? What does modern science have to say about this?

Neuroscientists tell us that about a third of the brain’s cortex is engaged in vision. When you simply open your eyes and look about this room, billions of neurons and trillions of synapses are engaged.

This is a bit surprising, because to the extent that we think about vision at all, we think of it as like a camera.

It just takes a picture of objective reality as it is. Now, there is a part of vision that’s like a camera: the eye has a lens that focuses an image on the back of the eye where there are 130 million photoreceptors, so the eye is like a 130-megapixel camera.

But that doesn’t explain the billions of neurons and trillions of synapses that are engaged in vision. What are these neurons up to?

Neuro-scientists tell us that they are creating, in real time, all the shapes, objects, colors, and motions that we see. 

It feels like we’re just taking a snapshot of this room the way it is, but in fact, we’re constructing everything that we see. We don’t construct the whole world at once. We construct what we need in the moment.

Now, there are many demonstrations that are quite compelling that we do construct what we see. I’ll just show you two.

In this example, you see some red discs with bits cut out of them, but if I just rotate the disks a little bit, suddenly, you see a 3D cube pop out of the screen. Now, the screen of course is flat, so the three-dimensional cube that you’re experiencing must be your construction.

In this next example, you see glowing blue bars with pretty sharp edges moving across a field of dots. In fact, no dots move. All I’m doing from frame to frame is changing the colors of dots from blue to black or black to blue. But when I do this quickly, your visual system creates the glowing blue bars with the sharp edges and the motion. 

There are many more examples, but these are just two that you construct what you see.

But neuroscientists go further. They say that we reconstruct reality. So, when I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato, that experience is actually an accurate reconstruction of the properties of a real red tomato that would exist even if I weren’t looking.

Why would neuroscientists say that we don’t just construct, we reconstruct?

The standard argument given is usually an evolutionary one. The notion that “Our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage compared to those who saw less accurately, and therefore they were more likely to pass on their genes…” (This hypothesis didn’t withstand investigation).

We are the offspring of those who saw more accurately, and so we can be confident that, in the normal case, our perceptions are accurate. 

You see this in the standard textbooks. One textbook says, for example, “Evolutionarily speaking, vision is useful precisely because it is so accurate.” So the idea is that accurate perceptions are fitter perceptions. They give you a survival advantage.

Now, is this correct? Is this the right interpretation of evolutionary theory? 

Let’s first look at a couple of examples in nature.

The Australian jewel beetle is dimpled, glossy and brown. The female is flightless. The male flies, looking for a hot female. When he finds one, he alights and mates.

There’s another species in the outback, Homo sapiens. The male of this species has a massive brain that he uses to hunt for cold beer. (Laughter) And when he finds one, he drains it, and sometimes throws the bottle into the outback.

Now, as it happens, these bottles are dimpled, glossy, and just the right shade of brown to tickle the fancy of these beetles. The males swarm all over the bottles trying to mate. They lose all interest in the real females.

Classic case of the male leaving the female for the bottle. (Laughter)  The species almost went extinct.

Australia had to change its bottles to save its beetles. (Laughter)

Now, the males had successfully found females for thousands, perhaps millions of years. It looked like they saw reality as it is, but apparently not. Evolution had given them a hack.

A female is anything dimpled, glossy and brown, the bigger the better. (Laughter) Even when crawling all over the bottle, the male couldn’t discover his mistake.

You might say, beetles, sure, they’re very simple creatures, but surely not mammals. Mammals don’t rely on tricks. Well, I won’t dwell on this, but you get the idea. (Laughter)

So this raises an important technical question: Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?

Fortunately, we don’t have to wave our hands and guess; evolution is a mathematically precise theory. We can use the equations of evolution to check this out. We can have various organisms in artificial worlds compete and see which survive and which thrive, which sensory systems are more fit.

A key notion in those equations is fitness.

Consider this steak: What does this steak do for the fitness of an animal? Well, for a hungry lion looking to eat, it enhances fitness. For a well-fed lion looking to mate, it doesn’t enhance fitness.

And for a rabbit in any state, it doesn’t enhance fitness, so fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes, but also on the organism, its state and its action.

Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is.

And it’s fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution.

In my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds.

Some of the organisms see all of the reality, others see just part of the reality, and some see none of the reality, only fitness. Who wins?

In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality but are just tuned to fitness drive to extinction all the organisms that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor vertical, or accurate perceptions. Those perceptions of reality go extinct.

I hate to break it to you, but perception of reality goes extinct (compared to fitness)

This is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?

That is a bit counterintuitive. But remember the jewel beetle. The jewel beetle survived for thousands, perhaps millions of years, using simple tricks and hacks.

What the equations of evolution are telling us is that all organisms, including us, are in the same boat as the jewel beetle. We do not see reality as it is. We’re shaped with tricks and hacks that keep us alive.

Still, we need some help with our intuitions.

How can not perceiving reality as it is be useful? Well, fortunately, we have a very helpful metaphor: the desktop interface on your computer.

Consider that blue icon for a TED Talk that you’re writing. Now, the icon is blue and rectangular and in the lower right corner of the desktop. Does that mean that the text file itself in the computer is blue, rectangular, and in the lower right-hand corner of the computer? Of course not.

Anyone who thought that misinterprets the purpose of the interface. It’s not there to show you the reality of the computer. In fact, it’s there to hide that reality.

You don’t want to know about the diodes and resistors and all the megabytes of software. If you had to deal with that, you could never write your text file or edit your photo.

So the idea is that evolution has given us an interface that hides reality and guides adaptive behavior. 

Space and time, as you perceive them right now, are your desktop. Physical objects are simply icons in that desktop.

There’s an obvious objection.

Now, if you think that train coming down the track at 200 MPH is just an icon of your desktop, why don’t you step in front of it?

And after you’re gone, and your theory with you, we’ll know that there’s more to that train than just an icon.

Well, I wouldn’t step in front of that train for the same reason that I wouldn’t carelessly drag that icon to the trash can: not because I take the icon literally — the file is not literally blue or rectangular — but I do take it seriously. I could lose weeks of work. 

Similarly, evolution has shaped us with perceptual symbols that are designed to keep us alive. We’d better take them seriously.

If you see a snake, don’t pick it up. If you see a cliff, don’t jump off. They’re designed to keep us safe, and we should take them seriously. That does not mean that we should take them literally. That’s a logical error.

Another objection: There’s nothing really new here. 

Physicists have told us for a long time that the metal of that train looks solid but really it’s mostly empty space with microscopic particles zipping around.

There’s nothing new here. Well, not exactly. It’s like saying, I know that that blue icon on the desktop is not the reality of the computer, but if I pull out my trusty magnifying glass and look really closely, I see little pixels, and that’s the reality of the computer. Well, not really — you’re still on the desktop, and that’s the point.

Those microscopic particles are still in space and time: they’re still in the user interface. So I’m saying something far more radical than those physicists.

Finally, you might object, look, we all see the train, therefore none of us constructs the train.

But remember this example. In this example, we all see a cube, but the screen is flat, so the cube that you see is the cube that you construct. We all see a cube because we all, each one of us, constructs the cube that we see.

The same is true of the train. We all see a train because we each see the train that we construct, and the same is true of all physical objects.

We’re inclined to think that perception is like a window on reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that this is an incorrect interpretation of our perceptions.

Instead, reality is more like a 3D desktop that’s designed to hide the complexity of the real world and guide adaptive behavior. Space as you perceive it is your desktop. Physical objects are just the icons in that desktop.

We used to think that the Earth is flat because it looks that way. Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of reality because it looks that way. We were wrong. We had misinterpreted our perceptions.

Now we believe that spacetime and objects are the nature of reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that once again, we’re wrong.

We’re misinterpreting the content of our perceptual experiences. There’s something that exists when you don’t look, but it’s not spacetime and physical objects.

It’s as hard for us to let go of spacetime and objects as it is for the jewel beetle to let go of its bottle. Why?

Because we’re blind to our own blindnesses. But we have an advantage over the jewel beetle: our science and technology.

By peering through the lens of a telescope we discovered that the Earth is not the unmoving center of reality, and by peering through the lens of the theory of evolution we discovered that spacetime and objects are not the nature of reality.

When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a red tomato, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a red tomato and is nothing like a red tomato.

Similarly, when I have an experience that I describe as a lion or a steak, I’m interacting with reality, but that reality is not a lion or a steak.

And here’s the kicker: When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a brain, or neurons, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a brain or neurons and is nothing like a brain or neurons.

And that reality, whatever it is, is the real source of cause and effect in the world — not brains, not neurons. Brains and neurons have no causal powers. They cause none of our perceptual experiences, and none of our behavior. 

Brains and neurons are a species-specific set of symbols, a hack.

What does this mean for the mystery of consciousness? Well, it opens up new possibilities.

For instance, perhaps reality is some vast machine that causes our conscious experiences. I doubt this, but it’s worth exploring.

Perhaps reality is some vast, interacting network of conscious agents, simple and complex, that cause each other’s conscious experiences. Actually, this isn’t as crazy an idea as it seems, and I’m currently exploring it.

But here’s the point: Once we let go of our massively intuitive but massively false assumption about the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life’s greatest mystery.

I bet that reality will end up turning out to be more fascinating and unexpected than we’ve ever imagined.

The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare: 

Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids. And by the way, even this TED is just in your head.

19:31 Chris Anderson: If that’s really you there, thank you. So there’s so much from this. I mean, first of all, some people may just be profoundly depressed at the thought that, if evolution does not favor reality, I mean, doesn’t that to some extent undermine all our endeavors here, all our ability to think that we can think the truth, possibly even including your own theory, if you go there?

 Donald Hoffman: Well, this does not stop us from a successful science. What we have is one theory that turned out to be false, that perception is like reality and reality is like our perceptions. That theory turns out to be false.

Okay, throw that theory away. That doesn’t stop us from now postulating all sorts of other theories about the nature of reality, so it’s actually progress to recognize that one of our theories was false. So science continues as normal. There’s no problem here.

20:22 CAThis is cool, but what you’re saying I think is it’s possible that evolution can still get you to reason.

DH: Yes. Now that’s a very, very good point. The evolutionary game simulations that I showed were specifically about perception, and they do show that our perceptions have been shaped not to show us reality as it is, but that does not mean the same thing about our logic or mathematics.

We haven’t done these simulations, but my bet is that we’ll find that there are some selection pressures for our logic and our mathematics to be at least in the direction of truth. I mean, if you’re like me, math and logic is not easy.

We don’t get it all right, but at least the selection pressures are not uniformly away from true math and logic. So I think that we’ll find that we have to look at each cognitive faculty one at a time and see what evolution does to it.

What’s true about perception may not be true about math and logic.

CA: I mean, really what you’re proposing is a kind of modern-day Bishop Berkeley interpretation of the world: consciousness causes matter, not the other way around.

DH: Well, it’s slightly different than Berkeley. Berkeley thought that, he was a deist, and he thought that the ultimate nature of reality is God and so forth, and I don’t need to go where Berkeley’s going, so it’s quite a bit different from Berkeley. I call this conscious realism. It’s actually a very different approach.

Donald Hoffman on March 2015

Note 1: The way I comprehended this awesome speech is:

1. There are only 2 realities:  The survival process of the species and Death

2. If mankind tampers with the survival process we are doomed (as we already decimated countless other species)

3. We don’t love Death. We don’t love making babies: we just deal with this survival reality as best we can.

4. Love is not within the realm of making babies: we just fall in love.

5. If we try to keep mathematics and logic out of the survival process, then we are Not allowing them to give us new ideas on the topic of survival

Note 2: I like to expand this concept a little further. After many trials in the living, we settle in a “comfort zone” and we stick to this zone and let the advertisers and politicians abuse of our perception of what is reality. We become the Silent Majority in a society. Unless we get out of our comfort zone again and again, we deny ourselves and our descendents the advantage of the survival process.

Here’s Why Some Brains Really Are Smarter, According to This New Study

Note: Mind you that smart is Not solely restricted to analytical reasoning. There are many kinds of smartness and intelligence in human behaviors.

Are you ‘neurally efficient‘?

MIKE MCRAE
18 MAY 2018

People with a higher IQ are more likely to have fewer connections between the neurons in the outer layer of their brain, according to a recent study.

While previous research has suggested bigger brains are indeed smarter, a closer look at the microstructural architecture suggests it’s not just a matter of more brain cells, as much as more efficiently connected ones.

An international team of neurologists used a non-invasive technique known as multi-shell diffusion tensor imaging to get an idea of the density and branching arrangements of the grey matter inside the heads of just under 260 volunteers.

Each subject also took a culturally fair complex reasoning test, producing a variety of scores ranging from 7 to 27 correct answers out of a possible 28.

Matching the imaging data with the test scores, the researchers found that those with higher analytical skills not only had more brain cells, they also tended to have fewer branches between the neurons in their cerebral cortex.

They then turned to a database of nearly 500 neural maps within the Human Connectome Project, and found the same pattern of higher IQ and lower inter-connectivity.

At first this might seem counter-intuitive. (If we are restricting smartness with analytical reasoning)

The old idiom ‘more hands make light work’ might apply to brain cells, but in this case those extra hands don’t seem to be passing more information between them.

Previous research had shown that in spite of having more brain cells to share the heavy lifting, smarter brains don’t tend to work as hard, displaying less metabolic activity when subjected to an IQ test compared with those who struggle to attain high scores.

This observation has led to the development of the neural efficiency hypothesis, which suggests the analytical power of groups of nerve cells isn’t about pushing them harder, but about them being connected in a way that minimises effort.

“Intelligent brains are characterised by a slim but efficient network of their neurons,” says neurologist Erhan Genç from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.

This makes it possible to achieve a high level of thinking with the least possible neural activity.

Research on intelligence is often complicated by questions of definition and interpretations of IQ testing, so we need to refrain from generalising the results too far beyond the scope of the experiment.

Brains do a number of awesome things, with analytical reasoning making up just a part of its diverse cognitive skill set.

But understanding more about how individual units can interact to solve problems with maximum efficiency does more than show how brains function on a cellular level, they might point the way to improving technology that mimics them.

More research will no doubt help unravel the mystery of just how a streamlined nervous system does a better job at solving problems.

It might not help us all become geniuses, but it does show there’s merit in working smarter, and not harder.

This researcher was published in Nature Communications

Are you ‘neurally efficient’?

Are we confounding brain, mind and Evolution with neurosciences?

Professionals in a discipline explain evolution and mind with respect to the perspective and terminologies of their discipline.  This tunnel-vision of explaining serious matter is skewing issues.

In Mind and Cosmos, Thomas Nagel had scientists up in arms because Nagel had the gall to question the neo-Darwinian belief that consciousness, like any aspect of adaptability, is evolutionary in nature.

It is prima facie highly implausible,” Nagel writes, “that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection.”

Nagel claim is not based on evidence that nature is predisposed to give rise to conscious existence, since no mechanistic explanation seems commensurate with the miracle of subjective experience and the ability to reason.

There are very few  scientists who hypothesize that human life was inevitable.

Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and bio-geologist, put it this way: “Biochemistry is wired into the universe. The self-made cell emerges from geochemistry as inevitably as basalt or granite.”

Indeed, the tendency to think that organisms increase in complexity over time seems natural. So why not actual laws of nature to vouchsafe this eventuality?

According to Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute, the universe gives us “order for free.”

Kauffman believes that all molecules must sooner or later catalyze themselves in self-sustaining reactions, or “autocatalytic networks,” crossing the boundary between inanimate and animate.

The more common view is that while natural selection encourages the development and retention of traits that help us to survive, evolution is essentially directionless; it has no goals, no set outcome.

What are the Brain’s Survival Skills? And Fear beyond the Amygdala

Can scientists use the brain’s inherent survival mechanisms to develop better stroke treatment?

Strokes are a major cause of death and disability worldwide, with 150,000 people affected in the UK every year.

Most strokes happen when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked due to blood clots or fat deposits. Once blood is cut off from an area of the brain, brain cells are starved for oxygen and nutrients and start to die within minutes.

A new study in Nature Medicine, scientists at the University of Oxford reveal a novel way in which the brain protects itself in response to stroke.

Ranya Bechara posted on Feb. 27, 2013 “Stroke Vs Brain: Harnessing the Brain’s Survival Skills”

Current treatments for stroke are focussed on breaking up the clots, improving blood flow to the affected area, and ultimately reducing the brain damage caused by the stroke. However, the so called ‘clot-busters’ are only effective if given within one to two hours of the stroke.

Other ways of protecting the brain against stroke damage are in high demand.

In this study, the research team from Oxford University (in collaboration with other researchers from Greece, Germany, and Canada, and the UK) decided to try a new approach. They investigated a phenomenon that has been known for years: some brain cells have an inherent defence mechanism that allows them to survive when deprived of oxygen.

These cells are located in the part of the brain responsible for forming memories: a pretty sea-horse shaped structure called the hippocampus.

The scientists analysed the proteins produced by these cells and found that the key to their survival is a protein called hamartin. This protein is released by the cells in response to oxygen deprivation, and when its production was supressed, the cells became more vulnerable to the effects of stroke.

Photo credit: http://www.vascularinfo.co.uk

Picture  





Original article is available here

Fear beyond the Amygdala
Ranya Bechara posted on Feb. 6, 2013

Picture

For decades now, scientists have thought that fear could not be experienced without the amygdala. This almond-shaped structure located deep in the brain (pictured on the left).
The amygdala has been shown to play an important role in fear-related behaviours, emotions, and memories, and patients with damage to the amygdala on both sides of the brain were thought to be incapable of feeling afraid.
However, a recent study in Nature Neuroscience reports that these ‘fearless’ patients do experience fear if made to inhale carbon dioxide- a procedure that induces feelings of suffocation and panic.
The patients reported being quite surprised at their own fear, and that it was a novel experience for them!
Scientists behind the study have suggested that the way the brain processes fear information depends on the type of stimulus.
The results of this study could have important implications for people who suffer from anxiety disorders such as panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
More details can be found here

593.  ICT: Transmitter of crisis and catalyst of global economic restructuring; (Dec. 19, 2009)

594.  First “mathematical” philosopher: Descartes; (Dec. 20, 2009)

595.  Idiosyncrasy in “conjectures”; (Dec. 21, 2009)

596.  Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development; (Dec. 23, 2009)

597.  How causality relation and invariant are perceived by the brain; (Dec. 24, 2009)

598.  Color of your money; (Dec. 25, 2009)

Brain, senses, and sixth sense; (October 3, 2009)

 

            There is this modern tendency to consider man as plainly a brain that controls all our behavior and actions.  The senses are considered as supplement to our brain to execute the various brains’ commends. How about this venue that it is our brain that created and developed our five senses?  There are many animals and living creatures with less numbers of senses and many with senses far more developed than man. Our brain is an amalgam of cells, nerves, neurons, axons, synapses, and chemical molecules (hormones).  Our brain has developed four specialized parts in addition to our primitive brain but all working together to achieving an elementary input/output task by firing electrical and chemical signals to the specialized glands and members.

            Man can atrophy one sense or develop all his five senses and permit the brain to create a new compartment for a sixth sense in order to handle complementary inputs that cross the current normal threshold for a qualitative shift to what could be the emergence of an additional sense or a new specialized lobe.  In the last century, almost everything was designed to rely exclusively on the eyes and ears.

            First, let me offer preliminary knowledge of our brains, constituents, and functions. The sensorial perceptions are mainly located in the parietal lobes (the top back of the head); the taste, touch, temperature and pain are solicited in that compartment; these lobes also integrate the hearing and visual signals and link them to our global sensorial memory.  The temporal lobes (on both sides of the head) are the locations of musical signals (intensity and tonality of the sounds), and the comprehension of the meaning of words. The frontal lobes or cortex (upper and front of the head) are the newly developed brains and locate the functions of organization, reflection, planning, and modulate our emotions. Voluntary movements take their sources in the posterior section of these lobes.  The occipital lobes (back of the head) are engaged in reading, and decoding visual information (shape, color, and movement of objects are analyzed in these lobes).

            There are specialized neurons that can be activated when an action is executed or when an action is also observed (mirror neurons).  These mirror neurons are the biological basis for empathy, imitation, and training; almost every decision is influenced by our emotions.  Neurons have the potential to flow or transfer from one brain to another when recycling cognitive aptitudes such as reading and writing are elevated.  Neurons and connections are modified when training tasks are memorized. It is the quantity of synapses (connections) that differentiate among intelligence. There are phases in our sleep when brain activities are most intense while muscular activities are extremely inhibited; this phase is called “paradox sleep”.  We produce new neurons at every stage of growth, especially in the hippocampus and the smell brains. Almost 10% of our synapses are established when we are born and they increase with our activities and cognitive demands (efforts, mental and physical, mean increase in fresh synapses and neurons).

            We have 8 varieties of intelligence; mainly the visual, spatial, naturalist, logic-mathematics, corporal, musical, inter-personal, and intra-personal intelligences. The new battery of experiments for testing cognitive and movements capabilities are designed to account for our eight kinds of intelligences.

           

            Each brain compartment has a daily program to activate depending on the daily strength of activations of the synapses and a longer term memory.  When we fast the brain compartments for the senses, mainly the smell and the taste buds, send frenzied signals for feedback; the daily program is mainly saying “you activate me or I will be forced to delete the daily program very shortly”; the cortex sends signals for the brain senses to cool down their engines because it is bombarded by counter-mending instructions; it is saying to the brains senses “I am not able to function properly because I am overwhelmed by increased rate of urgent though  superfluous instructions to control your damned activities”.  The tag of war among the brains induces the fasting individual to go to sleep or be diverted to ignore the senses signals by daydreaming activities.

 

            The cortex was developed to specialize in comprehending the interactions among the senses. Man can consciously interpret the interactions of three senses simultaneously; this is no small feat. Not only you have to weight the strength and potency of each one of the three senses but you have to interpret the interactions between two senses out of the three and then the three senses altogether.  This conscious capacity to interpret the interactions of three senses simultaneously at every moment is what we call developing a sixth sense for forecasting events, foreseeing changes, and planning ahead for incoming changes in climate and survival.  Man can interpret interactions among three variables (in experiments) but his abilities to interpret senses interactions are faltering due to the deficiencies in the senses of smell, touch, and taste.

            Before the advent of modern man, people could occasionally experience their power of premonition or forecasting accurately; this is the main reason people elected elders as shaman leaders and believed in their spiritual power because they experienced it personally and was not a matter of faith at all.  Modern man has elected unconsciously to atrophy several of his senses on the basis that smart machines, fast communications, and powerful programs for analyzing huge quantity of data could easily supplant human cortex power. That might be true for the few specialists but surely human mental capabilities have significantly dwarfed compared to man seven thousand years ago. We might grow in length, weight, and physical power but our mental potentials of making good use of our senses is waning and we are no longer fit to survive in catastrophic events.

            As holistic man we have degraded in the past four centuries for individual survival because four of our senses have been gradually atrophied.  The consistent atrophy of our senses of touch, taste, and smell has damped our capabilities for developing our sixth sense to forecast emerging needed precautions for the near future. What is needed urgently is that the newer generations be initiated at schools and in the communities to get in touch with the deficient senses.  Weekly lab sessions to acquire the ability to discriminate among odors, texture, and tastes should be formalized and encouraged.  The whole gamut of subtleties in numbers and flavors of the deficient senses should be re-integrated in our brains in order to acquire stronger affection to nature, the environment, and the surrounding habitat and relationship among communities.

            Man can prove to the brain that he appreciates living on earth and enjoying its nature and environment or he may instruct his brain that he prefers to return to caves or being confined to capsules roaming the sky amid the planets. These choices will be reflected in our teaching methods, community behavior, and new professions that encourage the atrophied senses to emerge as valid and effective resources for the next generations.

            So far, the activists for “back to nature” and caring for the environment are mostly urban dweller with moistly abstract concepts on climate changes and natural degradations.  It is far more effective to ground our determination for alternative life styles by rejuvenating our faltering senses and appreciating what gifts we are wasting.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,427,014 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 774 other followers

%d bloggers like this: