What are you? Look deep inside yourself and ask, "What am I?" You could say you are a man or a woman, a human, a primate, an animal. But what 'you' really are is a MIND. For ages humanity has been exploring the landscape of the mind, but it was just recently that we realized the mind is the result of physical processes happening in an organ in your skull. Let's explore the mysteries of the human brain together. Jun 9
Review A "fascinating" (The Economist) dive into the world of linguistics that is "part travelogue, part science lesson, part intellectual investigation...an entertaining, informative survey of some of the most fascinating polyglots of our time" (The New York Times Book Review). We all learn at least one language as children. But what does it take to learn six languages...or seventy? In Babel No More, Michael Erard, "a monolingual with benefits," sets out on a quest to meet language superlearners and make sense of their mental powers. On the way he uncovers the secrets of historical figures like Italian cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who was said to speak seventy-two languages; Emil Krebs, a pugnacious German diplomat, who spoke sixty-eight languages; and Lomb Kat, a Hungarian who taught herself Russian by reading Russian romance novels.
Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners (9781451628258): Michael Erard
Memory Is Not a Recording Device: How Technology Shaped Our Metaphors for Remembering
by Maria Popova Debunking the myth that memory is about “reliving” a permanent record stored in a filing cabinet. Last year, Joshua Foer set out to hack his memory.
by Maria Popova What five-year-old Albert Einstein can teach us about serendipity and the filter bubble of information. A newborn baby would stare at a new image for an average of 41 seconds before becoming bored and tuning out on repeated showings — that’s how hard-wired our affinity for novelty is. In New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change, behavioral science writer Winifred Gallagher — whose treatise on the myth of multitasking you might recall — explores the evolutionary, biological, psychological, and cultural forces that drive our deep-seated neophilia, our tendency to ceaselessly seek out the new and different.
Why We Seek the New: A History and Future of Neophilia
Brain Preservation Now!
Brain Preservation Foundation
Neuroscientists today can preserve small volumes (<1mm³) of animal brain tissue immediately after death with incredible precision – the features and structure of every synapse within these volumes is well-protected down to the nanometer scale, using an inexpensive, room-temperature process of chemical fixation and plastic embedding, or "plastination." The image to the right is an example of plastination and local circuit tracing, occurring in leading neuroscience labs around the world today. This work immediately raises the question:
Mind reading is possible!
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the ﬁrst place.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google Three motives drive neuroscience research: the clinician’s urge to heal, the analyst’s urge to understand, and the engineer’s urge to improve. Understanding and repairing the brain have always gone along with wanting to improve it, and proponents of human enhancement have eagerly anticipated the brain supremacy. Could brain techniques like neuroimaging be used to extend or transcend natural human capacities, for instance by allowing us more direct access to other minds?
ARCHITECTS HAVE BEEN talking for years about “biophilic” design, “evidence based” design, design informed by the work of psychologists. But last May, at the profession’s annual convention, John Zeisel and fellow panelists were trying to explain neuroscience to a packed ballroom. The late-afternoon session pushed well past the end of the day; questions just kept coming.
Are neuroscientists the next great architects?
Evolution has created a staggering range of organisms, each with features cleverly honed for its environmental niche. But while evolution is a fantastic creator, adding almost whatever is needed, it is surprisingly lazy at tidying up after itself, at pruning what is no longer required. In the bacterial world, where margins for survival may be razor sharp, things are more efficient. But most animals carry with them a surplus of obsolete features, such as the astronomical quantities of pathological DNA interlopers that sit in every cell in our bodies. But there are also more large-scale examples of detritus we endure. For instance, whenever we get cold, our hair duly stands on end to create a buffer of trapped air around our skins, as if such an action would make any difference to keep us cocooned from the cold—it doesn’t (unlike other primates, we simply don’t have enough hair to make this automatic response functional).
Touring the brain
Home - Organization for Human Brain Mapping
The Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) is the primary international organization dedicated to using neuroimaging to discover the organization of the human brain. Message From the Chair: Steve Smith, FMRIB Centre, Oxford University New Year’s Greetings and welcome to the first OHBM newsletter of 2014. There is a lot happening at OHBM that we are excited about for this coming year. The planning for OHBM’s 20th Annual Meeting is in full swing, and we’ve already announced that Eve Marder will open as Talairach Lecturer. I am happy to report that the Program Committee has selected an impressive list of keynote presenters including: Katrin Amunts, Hanna Damasio, Yaniv Assaf, Jim Haxby, SH Han, John Duncan and Richard Frackowiak. They have also selected a compelling slate of Educational Courses, Morning Workshops and Symposia.
Did a Copying Mistake Build Man's Brain?
A copying error appears to be responsible for critical features of the human brain that distinguish us from our closest primate kin, new research finds. When tested out in mice, researchers found this "error" caused the rodents' brain cells to move into place faster and enabled more connections between brain cells. When any cell divides, it first copies its entire genome. During this process, it can make errors.
The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity
by Maria Popova Hume was a neuroscientist, or what early aviation has to do with the psychology of identity. We’ve already seen that the notions of stable character and fixed personality are a myth. And yet, our culture is wired for labels and checkboxes, eager to neatly file people away into categorical cabinets and thrown into furor over the slightest inkling of multiplicity. Take, for instance, Howard Hughes, at once a legendary aviator, movie mogul, tycoon, and socialite, and a reclusive billionaire housebound by his deathly phobia of dirt.
In a remote corner of the universe, on a small blue planet gravitating around a humdrum sun in the outer districts of the Milky Way, organisms arose from the primordial mud and ooze in an epic struggle for survival that spanned aeons. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these bipedal creatures thought of themselves as extraordinarily privileged, occupying a unique place in a cosmos of a trillion trillion stars. Conceited as they were, they believed that they, and only they, could escape the iron law of cause and effect that governs everything.
How Physics and Neuroscience Dictate Your "Free" Will
Poor Alfred Russel Wallace! Virtually unknown these days compared to Darwin, Wallace was one of the 19th century’s greatest biologists and perhaps the preeminent field naturalist of all time. Those who have heard of Wallace know him primarily as the codiscoverer, with Darwin, of natural selection. But whereas Darwin had laboriously worked out the details, with copious examples from the living world, over a period of decades, Wallace literally came upon the principle of natural selection in a kind of brainstorm, a moment of epiphany while he lay in a malarial fever at a remote island campsite in what is today Indonesia.
We’re wired to sing
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but has a more developed cortex than any other. Large animals such as whales and elephants have larger brains in absolute terms, but when measured using the encephalization quotient which compensates for body size, the human brain is almost twice as large as the brain of the bottlenose dolphin, and three times as large as the brain of a chimpanzee. Much of the expansion comes from the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought.
The Brain: The Mystery of Consciousness
The young women had survived the car crash, after a fashion. In the five months since parts of her brain had been crushed, she could open her eyes but didn't respond to sights, sounds or jabs. In the jargon of neurology, she was judged to be in a persistent vegetative state. In crueler everyday language, she was a vegetable. So picture the astonishment of British and Belgian scientists as they scanned her brain using a kind of MRI that detects blood flow to active parts of the brain. When they recited sentences, the parts involved in language lit up.
So my wife and I were discussing Josh and Chuck’s recent podcast on our culture’s dire need for innovators, teleportation and a universal language. We both agreed on the first count, but were split on the other two. Setting aside the ethical and possibly gene-splicing issues of teleportation, I just couldn’t get behind the idea of a universal language.
Is language the brains operating system? The Blogs at HowStuffWorks
Phobias: New Research on How to Fix Irrational Fears
7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams | REM Sleep & Lucid Dreams | Nightmares & Violent Dreams | Sleep Disorders
Thinking in foreign language makes decisions more rational
Home | Open Connectome Project
Brain Scanner Being Used To Give Stephen Hawking A New Voice
Generating Text from Functional Brain Images | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Scientists Use Brain Waves To Eavesdrop On What We Hear
Table of Contents, Section 1: Neuroscience Online: An Electronic Textbook for the Neurosciences | Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy - The University of Texas Medical School at Houston