Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations Mind & Brain::News::September 12, 2011:: ::Email::Print Seeing your life pass before you and the light at the end of the tunnel, can be explained by new research on abnormal functioning of dopamine and oxygen flow By Charles Q. Choi NEURAL NIRVANA: Although the specific causes of this part of near-death experiences remain unclear, tunnel vision can occur when blood and oxygen flow is depleted to the eye.Image: Neil T/Flickr Near-death experiences are often thought of as mystical phenomena, but research is now revealing scientific explanations for virtually all of their common features.
Time on the Brain: How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception I always knew we humans have a rather tenuous grip on the concept of time, but I never realized quite how tenuous it was until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended a conference on the nature of time organized by the Foundational Questions Institute. This meeting, even more than FQXi’s previous efforts, was a mashup of different disciplines: fundamental physics, philosophy, neuroscience, complexity theory. Crossing academic disciplines may be overrated, as physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out, but it sure is fun. Like Sabine, I spend my days thinking about planets, dark matter, black holes—they have become mundane to me. But brains—now there’s something exotic.
The Cyborg in Us All I was visiting Schalk, a 40-year-old computer engineer, at his bunkerlike office in the Wadsworth Center, a public-health lab outside Albany that handles many of New York State’s rabies tests. It so happens that his lab is also pioneering a new way to control our computers — with thoughts instead of fingers. Schalk studies people at the Albany Medical Center who have become, not by choice, some of the world’s first cyborgs. One volunteer was a young man in his 20s who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy. He had been outfitted with a temporary device, a postcard-size patch of electrodes that sits on the brain’s cortex, known as an electrocorticographic (ECoG) implant. Surgeons use these implants to home in on the damaged tissue that causes seizures.
How Embarrassing: Researchers Pinpoint Self-Consciousness in the Brain The pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (purple) may be the seat of self-consciousness in the brain.Image: COURTESY OF W. IRWIN, University of California, San Francisco Feeling embarrassed? You can probably thank your pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC), a boomerang-shaped region of the brain nestled behind the eyes. Cognitive scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, and U.C.
Neuroscience Challenges Old Ideas about Free Will Mind & Brain::Mind Matters::November 15, 2011:: ::Email::Print Celebrated neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga explains the new science behind an ancient philosophical question By Gareth Cook Michael S.
The Evolution of Grief, Both Biological and Cultural, in the 21st Century | Culturing Science Three months ago, I received an email informing me that a high school friend, Pat, had died. I read his obituary and my body stopped functioning. I froze on the spot, limbs tense but trembling. My mouth went dry, my vision blurred. As I waited for my train in the packed station, I could barely stand as my muscles turned to jelly and legs folded beneath my body.
Mind & Brain::Mind Matters::December 13, 2011:: ::Email::Print Scientists measure the "doorway effect," and it supports a novel model of human memory By Charles B. Brenner and Jeffrey M. Zacks Why Walking through a Doorway Makes You Forget
STREET SMARTS: Navigating labyrinthine London to earn a taxi license plumps up the hippocampus. Image: Wikimedia Commons Manhattan's midtown streets are arranged in a user-friendly grid. In Paris 20 administrative districts, or arrondissements, form a clockwise spiral around the Seine. But London? Cache Cab: Taxi Drivers' Brains Grow to Navigate London's Streets
MIND Reviews: Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man Image: Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man by Mark Changizi. BenBella Books, 2011 Once upon a time, humans could not hold conversations or sing songs together. Now we chatter incessantly, not only with speech but also through text messages, tweets and status updates. How we transformed into the highly social species we are today remains the subject of many theories.
LIVING DOLL: When the body is Barbie's, what happens to the brain?Image: iStock/Andrew Cribb In science fiction and fantasy tales, there is a long running fascination with the idea of dramatically diminishing or growing in stature. In the 1989 classic, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Rick Moranis invents a device which accidentally shrinks both his own and the neighbor’s children down to a quarter-of-an-inch tall. Preceding this by more than 100 years, Lewis Carroll wrote about a little girl who, after tumbling down a rabbit hole, nibbles on some cake and then grows to massive proportions. The Neuroscience of Barbie
Mind & Brain::Head Lines::December 11, 2011:: ::Email::Print See Inside Crabs' memory systems are surprisingly sophisticated By Erica Westly Crab's Brain Encodes Complex Memories
The American Fascination With Zombies | Anthropology in Practice Ed note: As Halloween rapidly approaches in the US, AiP will be exploring superstitions, beliefs, and the things that go bump in the night. This post originally appeared on AiP on May 17th, 2011, in response to Zombie Awareness Month—oh, it’s real all right. It’s been slightly modified for this posting. I think I must be prepared. For what?
Mind & Brain::Head Lines::December 21, 2011:: ::Email::Print See Inside People who kill themselves have more of a type of neuron important for social emotions By Charles Q. Choi The long cell in the middle is a characteristic von Economo neuron. Neurons Offer Clues to Suicide
Mind & Brain::Head Lines::January 29, 2012:: ::Email::Print See Inside Our internal representation of the world is flat By Morgen Peck Brain Likely Encodes the World in 2 Dimensions
Image: iStock/aaM Photography, Ltd. The notion of “the aesthetic” is a concept from the philosophy of art of the 18th century according to which the perception of beauty occurs by means of a special process distinct from the appraisal of ordinary objects. Hence, our appreciation of a sublime painting is presumed to be cognitively distinct from our appreciation of, say, an apple. The field of “neuroaesthetics” has adopted this distinction between art and non-art objects by seeking to identify brain areas that specifically mediate the aesthetic appreciation of artworks. However, studies from neuroscience and evolutionary biology challenge this separation of art from non-art. The Neuroscience of Beauty
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