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Posts Tagged ‘neurons

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’?

Cognitive mechanisms; (Dec. 26, 2009)

Before venturing into this uncharted territory let me state that there is a “real universe” that each one perceives differently: if this real world didn’t exist then there would be nothing to perceive. The real world cares less about the notions of time and space. No matter how we rationalize about 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 than our perception.  All we can offer are bundles of hypotheses that can never be demonstrated or confirmed even empirically. The best we can do is to extend the hypothesis that our perceived universe correlates (qualitative coherent resemblance) with the real universe. 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.

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 rational 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 it has no further meaning but simple observation.  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 him (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 attaches markers or attributes to impressions that it receives.  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 attached to information when re-structuring or re-configurations are performed during the dream periods: massive computations are needed to stored data before they are transformed to other 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 two 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 are 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 attaches “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 starting massive computations on impressions stored in the large original database or what is called “long-term memory”.

The sixth marker is kind of a “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”.

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. Thus, 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: 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 didn’t endow them with external performing limbs for writing, sculpting, painting, or doing music. The fact that chimps were trained to externalize cognition as valid as 5 years old capabilities 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.

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

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 it has no further meaning but simple observation.  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 him (elephant can fly).

The brain attaches markers or attributes to impressions that it receive from the senses.  Four markers that I call exogenous markers attach to impressions as they are “registered” in the brain coming from the outside world.  At least four other markers, I label “endogenous markers” are attached to internal cognitive processing and are attached to information when re-structuring or re-configurations are performed during the dream periods because massive computations are needed to these endogenous markers. There are markers that I call “reverse-exogenous” and are attached to information meant to be recorded on external means such as writing or performing art work. Maybe animals lack these reverse exogenous markers since evolution didn’t endow them with external performing limbs for writing, sculpting, painting, or doing music.

The first exogenous marker directs impressions 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 are 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 a qualitative sense 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 attaches a “strength” 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 with a qualitative order 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 data as “analogous” or contrary collections on 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 starting massive computations on impressions stored in the large original database.

The sixth marker is kind of a “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, or circular.

The seventh marker recognizes interactions among variables and interacts with reverse exogenous markers since a flow with outside perceptions is required for comprehension. I label this the “design marker”.  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, the Pavlov reactions, where an existential rewards, such as food, are involved. Interactions among more than two variables are complex for interpretations in the mind.  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 brain is very performing for rhetorical associations and cognitive methods are basically formal decoding the various alternative procedures that brain may process information.  Whatever is created or conceived by any individual the brain has already the mechanism of processing it.

I need more time and reflection to figure out the reverse exogenous marker. This is a first draft to get the project going. I appreciate developed comments and references

Note: This article was not meant to analyze sensations, emotions, or value moral systems.  It is very probable that the defined markers are valid for the moral value systems with additional markers that might be needed to store and retrieve data from the special moral system structured .  In general, rational thinking retrieve data from specialized databases that are already processed and saved for pragmatic utility.   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 and the brain prefers not to consume time and resources on complex computations that involve thousands of variables. Thus, an emotional reaction in the waking period is not necessarily “rational” but quick and dirty resolutions. 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 and thus they flare up within the emotional reaction packages.

BANG, not the Big One: Tell me more; (October 23, 2009)

 

            Bits, atoms, neurons, and genes form the acronym BANG.  Several disciplines in chemistry, biology, molecular sciences, pharmacology, genetics, electronics, and physics have one thing in common: nano-particles; it opened wide a trillion dollars industries with no check and balance.  In 1960, many developed nations had surpluses of food stuff; this is no longer the case.  It is predicted that by 2017 famine will be the lot of 70 impoverished States harming 1.2 billion human.

            Actually, antitrust laws are so far not being applied to the six organically modified seeds industries that share scientific discoveries and have sole monopoly of 90% of organic seeds.  Monsano, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Syngena, Bayer, and Dupont have deposited more than 500 patents on genes “adapting to climatic changes”; in another word, how to profit from degradation of the environment.  In 2008, Monsato has increased by 35% the prices on organically modified seeds that it has exclusive rights to produce and distribute. Monsano and Dow Agrosciences associated to produce in 2010 genetically modified wheat seeds that can withstand 8 kinds of “natural enemies”, mainly herbicides and insecticides; thus, 87% of modified seeds used around the world bear the label Monsano.

            The multinational oil companies of BP, Shell, Chevron, and Cargill are linking up with these nano-sciences of agro-technologies to transform biological matters such as (agricultural harvest, forests, algae…) into industrial sugar; then converting sugar into chemical products and nano-products with high added values. Chemistry linked to oil products could now be adapted to vegetable carbon.  Entire countries such as Madagascar and Angola are now being leased to cultivate modified breeds of harvests.

            The scientific counselor to Barak Obama, John Holdren, is encouraging the application of geo-engineering to fighting atmospheric changes.  Among such engineering techniques is sprinkling the atmosphere with nano-particles of sulfates to veil the sunrays.  Monster farms of phytoplankton are created to absorb or capture CO2.

            The UN views these geo-engineering projects as purely speculative in nature with unknown risks for collateral damages.  A joint Indo-German oceanographic Institute discarded the decision of the Conference of the UN and carried on its project: it “fertilized” a large zone in the Antarctic Ocean by dumping tons of iron sulfates; the microscopic unicellular algae were meant to grow in abundance and capture CO2.  The zooplankton ate the algae and the experiment was not conclusive; this temporary failure is encouraging other multinationals such as Climos Inc. or (Planktos Science) to resume these kinds of projects under the name of “eco-restoration” for substantial financial returns.           

 

Note 1: 94% of US citizens have the toxic substance biphenyl (BPA) in their system.  This is due to the fact that baby milk bottles were manufactured since 1930 with this synthesized chemical product that proved to render plastic more malleable and supple. A substitute of this product, diethylstilbestrol, that has female sexual hormone characteristics, was widely prescribed to pregnant women in the 70’s with devastating consequences to malformed newborns.

 

Note 2:  Most of the information was taken from the French monthly journal “Le Monde Diplomatic” of October 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.


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