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Conspiracy Theorists Have a Basic Cognitive Issue, Say Scientists. Insight into the Seat of Human Consciousness | Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. BOSTON – For millennia, philosophers have struggled to define human consciousness. Now, a team of researchers led by neurologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has pinpointed the regions of the brain that may play a role maintaining it. Their findings, which have already garnered multiple awards from the American Academy of Neurology, were published today in that society’s journal, Neurology. “For the first time, we have found a connection between the brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involved in awareness, two prerequisites for consciousness,” said Michael D.

Fox, MD, PhD, Director of the Laboratory for Brain Network Imaging and Modulation and the Associate Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at BIDMC. Classical neurology holds that arousal and awareness are two critical components of consciousness. The researchers analyzed 36 patients with brainstem lesions, of which 12 led to coma and 24 did not.


Perception. Vision. Creativiy. What's It Like to See Ideas as Shapes? One spring evening in the mid 2000s, Jonathan Jackson and Andy Linscott sat on some seaside rocks near their college campus, smoking the kind of cigarettes reserved for heartbreak. Linscott was, by his own admission, “emotionally spewing” over a girl, and Jackson was consoling him. Jackson had always been a particularly good listener. But in the middle of their talk, he did something Linscott found deeply odd. “He got up and jumped over to this much higher rock,” Linscott says.

“He was like, ‘Andy, I’m listening, I just want to get a different angle. For Jackson, moving physically to think differently about an idea seemed totally natural. Jackson has synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that has long been defined as the co-activation of two or more conventionally unrelated senses. Jackson sees his thoughts as shapes. For many people, decision-making is a murky, difficult process. It’s possible that someone could know Jackson for years without realizing anything is different about him. Oliver Sacks: What hallucination reveals about our minds. James Flynn: Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents' Alex Wissner-Gross: A new equation for intelligence. The Analysis of Mind, by Bertrand Russell. Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber. On Monday, I reported on the latest study to take a bite out of the idea of human rationality.

In a paper just published in Pediatrics, Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth University and his colleagues showed that presenting people with information confirming the safety of vaccines triggered a "backfire effect," in which people who already distrusted vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate their kids. Unfortunately, this is hardly the only example of such a frustrating response being documented by researchers. Nyhan and his coauthor, Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, have captured several others, as have other researchers. Here are some examples: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. THE BRAIN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. The model of the triune brain proposed by MacLean in 1970 is a useful piece of shorthand for the complex evolutionary history of the human brain.

But the brain's combination of reptilian, paleomammalian and neomammalian structures is far more intricate than a mere set of nested Russian dolls. Ever since the first mammals appeared more than 200 million years ago, the cerebral cortex has assumed greater and greater importance compared with the brain's other, older structures. Because these structures had proven their effectiveness for meeting certain fundamental needs, there was no reason for them to disappear. Instead, evolution favoured a process of building expansions and additions, rather than rebuilding everything from the bottom up. The brains of various species of mammals (Left: all on the same scale; Right: enlarged, on various scales) This expansion of the surface of the neocortex (also known as the isocortex) is more apparent in predatory mammals than in herbivorous ones.

THE BRAIN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. Fish's thoughts filmed for first time. Researchers Capture A Zebrafish's Thought Process On Video. What's in a thought? When it comes to the zebrafish, now you can see for yourself. For the first time, Japanese researchers have captured video of thoughts moving through a zebrafish's brain. By genetically modifying a transparent zebrafish larvae to create a glow in reaction to calcium ions--which skyrocket during neuron activity--scientists could track the regions in the fish's brain activated by the thought process.

Researchers released a paramecium, a single-celled zebrafish food source shaped like a grain of rice, and watched the glowing neurological response from the fish. As the paramecium moves from right to left, the zebrafish's thoughts bounce from left to right. This research could lead to better psychiatric medications, according to Koichi Kawakami, one of the co-authors of the paper in Current Biology.

How about we just keep watching the glowing fish? [Smithsonian Magazine] 5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think. Keith Chen (TED Talk: Could your language affect your ability to save money?) Might be an economist, but he wants to talk about language. For instance, he points out, in Chinese, saying “this is my uncle” is not as straightforward as you might think. In Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle.

The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger. “All of this information is obligatory. This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages” like Chinese use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. But that’s only the beginning. Featured illustration via iStock. The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science. Illustration: Jonathon Rosen "A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change.

Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. " So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology. Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Emotional_dog_and_rational_tail.pdf. The Brains of the Animal Kingdom. How consciousness works – Michael Graziano. Scientific talks can get a little dry, so I try to mix it up. I take out my giant hairy orangutan puppet, do some ventriloquism and quickly become entangled in an argument. I’ll be explaining my theory about how the brain — a biological machine — generates consciousness. Kevin, the orangutan, starts heckling me. ‘Yeah, well, I don’t have a brain. But I’m still conscious. Kevin is the perfect introduction. Many thinkers have approached consciousness from a first-person vantage point, the kind of philosophical perspective according to which other people’s minds seem essentially unknowable.

Lately, the problem of consciousness has begun to catch on in neuroscience. I believe that the easy and the hard problems have gotten switched around. In a period of rapid evolutionary expansion called the Cambrian Explosion, animal nervous systems acquired the ability to boost the most urgent incoming signals. Attention requires control. I call this the ‘attention schema theory’. And then what? Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong | Talk Video. Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory | Talk Video. Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness. The War on Reason - Paul Bloom. Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating. Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps make clear that our mental lives can be observed in the activity of our neurons, and we’ve made considerable progress in reading someone’s thoughts by looking at those maps.

It’s clear, too, that damage to the brain can impair the most-intimate aspects of ourselves, such as the capacity to make moral judgments or to inhibit bad actions. To some scholars, the neural basis of mental life suggests that rational deliberation and free choice are illusions. Because our thoughts and actions are the products of our brains, and because what our brains do is determined by the physical state of the world and the laws of physics—perhaps with a dash of quantum randomness in the mix—there seems to be no room for choice. As the author and neuroscientist Sam Harris has put it, we are “biochemical puppets.” “Pig valves.” Other cases are easier.