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Meet Walter Pitts, the Homeless Genius Who Revolutionized Artificial Intelligence. Walter Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work.

Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. Not wanting to risk another run-in that night, Pitts stayed hidden until the library closed for the evening. McCulloch was a confident, gray-eyed, wild-bearded, chain-smoking philosopher-poet who lived on whiskey and ice cream and never went to bed before 4 a.m. In 1923, the year that Walter Pitts was born, a 25-year-old Warren McCulloch was also digesting the Principia. Standing face to face, they were an unlikely pair. 1.

Your Brain Can’t Handle the Moon - Issue 19: Illusions. What is this new theory?” The long-retired New York University cognitive psychologist, Lloyd Kaufman, asked me. We were sitting behind the wooden desk of his cozy home office. He had a stack of all his papers on the moon illusion, freshly printed, waiting for me on the adjacent futon. But I couldn’t think of a better way to start our discussion than to have him respond to the latest thesis claiming to explain what has gone, for thousands of years, unexplained: Why does the moon look bigger when it’s near the horizon?

He scooted closer to his iMac, tilted his head and began to read the MIT Technology Review article I had pulled up.1 I thought I’d have a few moments to appreciate, as he read, the view of New York City outside the 28th floor window of his Floral Park apartment, but within a half-minute he told me, “Well, it’s clearly wrong.” It wasn’t even my theory, yet I felt astonished.

It’s wrong, he told me, because “you can get the illusion if you have only one eye. References 1. 2. Why We Can't Grasp the Scale of Climate Change, Population Growth, or Societal Tipping Points. You don’t see it coming. You probably couldn’t if you tried. The effects of large changes in scale are frequently beyond our powers of perception, even our imagination. They seem to emerge out of nowhere: the cumulative effects of climate change, the creation of a black hole, the spookiness of quantum mechanics, the societal tipping points reached when the rich have billions rather than millions—even the sudden boiling of water in a slowly heating pot. More or less of almost anything can change nearly everything. I’ve been pondering this a lot recently as I watch the explosion of mini-mansions in my once modest Santa Monica neighborhood. I also see a lot more dog poop on the sidewalk, a lot fewer old folks strolling at dusk, a noticeable decrease in the number of “hellos” from the neighbors.

None of these trends are entirely new. The realm of the massive is the realm of the round, because gravity crushes everything. J.B.S. Stories like these have more than mere narrative power. Fooled By Your Own Brain - Issue 2: Uncertainty. Your powers of attention: fooled! Attention is, by definition, limited. And that’s usually a good thing. If you’re searching for a lost earring on the floor, you want to ignore anything that’s not small and shiny.

When talking to someone at a party, your mind helpfully tunes out all of the other voices prattling on around you. Sometimes, though, our exquisite attentional machinery can give us a warped version of reality. The video demonstrates the psychological concept of change blindness, or the inability to notice changes (even big ones) in a visual scene. In one experiment, published in 1997, psychologist Daniel Simons made movies of simple scenes, such as a man getting up from a chair to answer a telephone (see videos here and here). Earlier this year, scientists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston performed an experiment to test the observational powers of seasoned radiologists. Second question: Did you spot the gorilla? Your social brain: fooled! Fooled By Your Own Brain - Issue 2: Uncertainty.

Mazviita Chirimuuta Tells Us How We Should Be Defining Color. Philosophers have a bad reputation for casting unwarranted doubt on established facts. Little could be more certain than your belief that the cloudless sky, on a summer afternoon, is blue. Yet we may wonder in earnest, is it also blue for the birds who fly up there, who have different eyes from ours?

And if you take an object that shares that color—like the flag of the United Nations—and place half in shadow and half in the full sun, one side will be a darker blue. You might ask, what is the real color of the flag? All these questions point us to the idea that colors are, despite first appearances, subjective and transitory. My response is to say that colors are not properties of objects (like the U.N. flag) or atmospheres (like the sky) but of perceptual processes—interactions which involve psychological subjects and physical objects. The Puzzle of Color Color is one of the longstanding puzzles in philosophy, raising doubts about the truthfulness of our sensory grasp on things. 1. 2. 12 tversky. Emaps,cognitivecollages,andspatialmentalmodels. Why Do Oculus Rift and Other Virtual Reality Experiences Feel So Real?

I am standing a few feet away from a conference table, about to test something called a “Holojam.” It is made of head-mounted displays, motion capture cameras and many lines of code. Affixed to the edges of the table, as well as to my hands and ankles, are little plastic balls, which are used to track things in the virtual environment. Like QR codes, they help the software interpret the table as a table.

Ken Perlin, who directs the Media Research Lab at New York University, describes it to me as the “first community-created collaborative 4-D spacetime sculpture.” Then he flips the switch. The space I am standing in is a kind of forest clearing at night, with a bright moon illuminating tall trees. But isn’t fidelity what makes a virtual reality feel real? Perlin knows about the verisimilitude angle. But Perlin is skeptical of the merits of an indefinite push toward more visual detail. We could walk through an infinite kingdom in our living room.

You delude yourself, of course. References. The Brain.


The Mind & Consciousness. Memory. Sleep. Language & the Brain. Reading & the Brain. Interesting Books on the Brain & Mind. Neuroscience. Epigenetics 101: a beginner’s guide to explaining everything | Cath Ennis | Science. Epigenetics is one of the hottest fields in the life sciences. It’s a phenomenon with wide-ranging, powerful effects on many aspects of biology, and enormous potential in human medicine. As such, its ability to fill in some of the gaps in our scientific knowledge is mentioned everywhere from academic journals to the mainstream media to some of the less scientifically rigorous corners of the Internet. Wondering why identical twins aren’t actually, well, identical? Epigenetics! Want to blame your parents for something that doesn’t seem to be genetic?

Epigenetics! But what exactly is epigenetics – and does the reality live up to the hype? The basics Epigenetics is essentially additional information layered on top of the sequence of letters (strings of molecules called A, C, G, and T) that makes up DNA. There are different types of epigenetic marks, and each one tells the proteins in the cell to process those parts of the DNA in certain ways. Epigenetics and our experiences Epigenetic inheritance. Psychology Reference.

Telling the Story of the Brain’s Cacophony of Competing Voices. Kaleidoscopic images reveal the colourful inner workings of the human brain. Colourful images of brain activity will go on show for the first time in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh this monthThe pictures consist of MRI scans, microscopic images and electrical monitoring resultsResearchers from Edinburgh created the exhibition to show the beauty of neurological disorders such as autismExhibition also highlights the advanced technologies used by scientists to image the brain and its cells in action By Sarah Griffiths Published: 16:15 GMT, 10 June 2014 | Updated: 17:44 GMT, 10 June 2014 The brain differences between the young and the old, people with autism, and even female mice have been revealed in a series of beautiful rainbow images.

The collection of pictures use a kaleidoscope of colours to highlight neurons, electrical connections between cells, and other brain activity, and will go on show for the first time in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh later this month. The brain has two main cell types - neurons and glia. Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation (Dec. 4. Dec. 4, 2013 With evidence growing that meditation can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body.

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

Richard J. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. Neuroscientist_2007: Evolution of Cognitive Function via Redeployment of Brain Areas. The Humans With Super Human Vision | Senses. An average human, utterly unremarkable in every way, can perceive a million different colors. Vermilion, puce, cerulean, periwinkle, chartreuse—we have thousands of words for them, but mere language can never capture our extraordinary range of hues. Our powers of color vision derive from cells in our eyes called cones, three types in all, each triggered by different wavelengths of light. Every moment our eyes are open, those three flavors of cone fire off messages to the brain.

The brain then combines the signals to produce the sensation we call color. Vision is complex, but the calculus of color is strangely simple: Each cone confers the ability to distinguish around a hundred shades, so the total number of combinations is at least 1003, or a million. Take one cone away—go from being what scientists call a trichromat to a dichromat—and the number of possible combinations drops a factor of 100, to 10,000. Almost all other mammals, including dogs and New World monkeys, are dichromats. Why Eating When You’re Depressed Makes You Eat More. Diet-induced obesity promotes depressive-like behaviour that is associated with neural adaptations in brain reward circuitry.

A Tiny Worm with a Mighty Scientific Impact. Your Gut Beats Your Brains in Shady Transactions. The Neuroscience of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I'd just assumed that most implants and augmentations were designs to deliberately not mesh well with the human body as a means to control the masses and exploit them for money. Now Jensen never had problems with his implants, right? Why was that? Because he was both A) working for the company and B) was using high grade military and espionage equipment and that stuff probably doesn't have the defects built into them. These guys are greedy, but not stupid. Lies and misinformation are better a breeding loyal lap dogs than addictions and abusiveness.

Not only that it would hinder their operatives. So all of those problems that supposedly should't be problems are probably either deliberately caused by the implants, caused by the medicine or both. Are musicians our external brains? Thats pretty hipster of you. You should appreciate the fact that the people that are making the music you love are getting a nice paycheck. Are you just trolling me out of spite, now, or what? No - yours was the first comment (well at the top of the page) - and I felt the need to interject. I havent really worried about bands I like "selling out" (unless they completely overhaul their sound) since I was in high school. You shouldnt worry about it either. You should just be happy that an artist you like is being recognized/rewarded for their work and is gaining a wider audience.

I never said they were selling out, and indeed, I am very happy they're getting paid and widely recognized. I like the Black Keys, and I'm happy they're successful, but there is such a thing as too much success, particularly in the music business. In an unrelated note: it's generally poor form to tell people what they should and shouldn't do; just FYI.

How do you really know what time is? This seems backwards: "Let's start with caffeine, which makes your internal clock go faster. If your brain normally stores 60 pulses for 60 seconds, your brain on caffeine stores 100 pulses. Two things happen as a result. First, when you retrieve your time memory, that minute will seem shorter than the 60 seconds it actually took. So a speedy clock means that time gets faster. " If normally I do 60 pulses, 1 per second, but caffeine makes it so I take 100 samples in a second, then that second will seem longer, not shorter, when I remember it. Slower internal clocks would speed up time, because relatively, I would have less reference points for any time interval that passed compared to before, and thus it would seem like more time had passed than actually had. This combined with uniqueness of experience is likely the main 2 causes for it seeming like time in general goes by faster as we get older.

Infections of the mind: why anti-vaxxers just 'know' they're right. Anti-vaccination beliefs can cause real, substantive harm, as shown by the recent outbreak of measles in the US. These developments are as shocking and distressing as their consequences are predictable. But if the consequences are so predictable, why do the beliefs persist? It is not simply that anti-vaxxers don’t understand how vaccines work (some of them may not, but not all of them). Neither are anti-vaxxers simply resistant to all of modern medicine (I’m sure that many of them still take pain killers when they need to). Naïve theories We all have what psychologists call “folk” theories, or “naïve” theories, of how the world works.

Naïve physics is not such a good guide outside of this environment. Click to enlarge As well as physics, we also have naïve theories about the natural world (naïve biology) and the social world (naïve psychology). Naïve theories of all kinds tend to persist even in the face of contradictory arguments and evidence. Sticky ideas Here is an example.