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1 Introduction “I think, therefore I am.” —René Descartes, 17th-century philosopher Few of us question the crucial importance of the brain. It is vital to our existence.
How to Think About the Mind Neuroscience shows that the 'soul' is the activity of the brain Sept. 27 issue - Every evening our eyes tell us that the sun sets, while we know that, in fact, the Earth is turning us away from it. Astronomy taught us centuries ago that common sense is not a reliable guide to reality. Today it is neuroscience that is forcing us to readjust our intuitions. People naturally believe in the Ghost in the Machine: that we have bodies made of matter and spirits made of an ethereal something. Yes, people acknowledge that the brain is involved in mental life.
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a major discovery in how the brain encodes memories. The finding, published in the December 24 issue of the journal could eventually lead to the development of new drugs to aid memory. The team of scientists is the first to uncover a central process in encoding memories that occurs at the level of the synapse, where neurons connect with each other. "When we learn new things, when we store memories, there are a number of things that have to happen," said senior author Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research, at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute. Kosik is a leading researcher in the area of Alzheimer's disease.
Burundanga is a scary drug. According to news reports from Ecuador, the last thing a motorist could recall, after waking up minus his car and possessions, was being approached by two women; in Venezuela, a girl came round in hospital to find she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. Each had been doped with burundanga, an extract of the brugmansia plant containing high levels of the psychoactive chemical scopolamine. News reports allude to a sinister effect: that the drug removes free will, effectively turning victims into suggestible human puppets.
A mind reading machine has edged closer to reality after scientists found a way of converting thoughts into words. Researchers were able to render brain signals into speech for the first time, relying on sensors attached to the brain surface. The breakthrough, which is up to 90 percent accurate, will be a boon for paralysed patients who cannot speak and could help read anyone’s thoughts ultimately, reports the Telegraph. “We were beside ourselves with excitement when it started working,” said Prof Bradley Greger, bioengineer at the Utah University who led the project.
Despite centuries of scientific research, the inner workings of the brain remain somewhat of an unsolved mystery — especially the study of memory retention and the process of learning. But theories certainly exist as to how these complex processes work. Here, we’ve distilled some of these ideas into an infographic that your brain can comprehend. >> More infographics on the Mindflash blog . >> Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Mindflash. (Click Image To Enlarge)