12.08.2010 - Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak, new study shows Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we’re listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear. Activity in the auditory cortex when we speak and listen is amplified in some regions of the brain and muted in others. In this image, the black line represents muting activity when we speak. Neuroscientists from UC Berkeley, UCSF and Johns Hopkins University tracked the electrical signals emitted from the brains of hospitalized epilepsy patients. Their findings, published today (Dec. 8, 2010) in the Journal of Neuroscience, offer new clues about how we hear ourselves above the noise of our surroundings and monitor what we say.
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. 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. Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. Read also: the truth about Climategate.At first, the group struggled for an explanation. From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect").
Programmes | Happiness Formula | Searching the brain for happiness For thousands of years people have pursued happiness, but the problem has been that it has always been seen as a kind of fuzzy concept. But now, in a new BBC Two series called The Happiness Formula, neuroscientists say happiness is tangible and the result of brain activity - you can see it and even measure it. Dr Kringelbach is a contributor to the programme. In November 2005 the Dalai Lama was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC. While this event was not without controversy, his speech was generally well received and surprised many scientists with his remarkable open-mindedness, particularly concerning the validity of neuroscientific enquiry. The Dalai Lama described a normal person's mind as "a troublemaker" and confessed that he "still feels anger and fear". Meditation, he said, can help. The pursuit of happiness is a preoccupation for many of us and has probably been since the dawn of mankind. Pleasure centre Wanting and liking
Letter-Color Synaesthesia For as long as I can remember, I've had this implicit sense of a relationship between letters and colors. To me, every letter seems to have a color of its own. When I think of a word, I am aware of its color and the color of its component letters. The phenomenon is consistent enough that I can rely on it to help me remember things like phone numbers and proper names. I call it my letter-color synaesthesia. Webster's Dictionary defines synaesthesia as "the production of a mental sense-impression relating to one sense by the stimulation of another sense." The effect is completely involuntary. Here's an approximation of the basic mapping of the letters and numerals, taken individually, to colors: Here they are again, over a dark background: This may seem odd, but it gets stranger. First of all, vowels almost always fade into the background in the presence of consonants. In longer words, the repetition of a single letter can even influence the other consonants, as in this case:
Deindividuation The Misconception: People who riot and loot are scum who were just looking for an excuse to steal and be violent. The Truth: You are are prone to losing your individuality and becoming absorbed into a hivemind under the right conditions. Source: Improv Everywhere When a crowd gathers near a suicidal jumper something terrible is unleashed. In Seattle in 2001, a 26-year-old woman who had recently ended a relationship held up traffic for a little too long as she considered the implications of leaping to her death. As motorists began to back-up on the bridge and become irate, they started yelling “Jump, bitch, jump!” Cases like this aren’t unusual. In 2008, a 17-year old man jumped from the top of a parking garage in England after 300 or so people chanted for him to go for it. In San Francisco, in 2010, a man stepped onto the ledge of his apartment window and contemplated dropping from the building. Within a crowd like this many will retain their sense of right and wrong. Source: El Destructo
How Great Entrepreneurs Think What distinguishes great entrepreneurs? Discussions of entrepreneurial psychology typically focus on creativity, tolerance for risk, and the desire for achievement—enviable traits that, unfortunately, are not very teachable. So Saras Sarasvathy, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, set out to determine how expert entrepreneurs think, with the goal of transferring that knowledge to aspiring founders. While still a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, Sarasvathy—with the guidance of her thesis supervisor, the Nobel laureate Herbert Simon—embarked on an audacious project: to eavesdrop on the thinking of the country's most successful entrepreneurs as they grappled with business problems. Sarasvathy identified 245 U.S. entrepreneurs who met her criteria, and 45 of them agreed to participate. Sarasvathy concluded that master entrepreneurs rely on what she calls effectual reasoning. Do the doable, then push it Here's another: Woo partners first And:
5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness Much of the brain is still mysterious to modern science, possibly because modern science itself is using brains to analyze it. There are probably secrets the brain simply doesn't want us to know. But by no means should that stop us from tinkering around in there, using somewhat questionable and possibly dangerous techniques to make our brains do what we want. We can't vouch for any of these, either their effectiveness or safety. #5. So you just picked up the night shift at your local McDonald's, you have class every morning at 8am and you have no idea how you're going to make it through the day without looking like a guy straight out of Dawn of the Dead, minus the blood... hopefully. "SLEEEEEEEEEP... uh... What if we told you there was a way to sleep for little more than two hours a day, and still feel more refreshed than taking a 12-hour siesta on a bed made entirely out of baby kitten fur? Holy Shit! We're pretty sure Kramer did this once on Seinfeld. How Does It Work? #4. #3. 1. 2. 3.
Exploding head syndrome Exploding head syndrome (EHS) is a form of hypnagogic auditory hallucination and is a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia event in which the subject experiences a loud bang in their head similar to a bomb exploding, a gun going off, a clash of cymbals, ringing, an earthquake, or any other form of loud, indecipherable noise that seems to originate from inside the head. This noise usually happens at the onset of sleep or within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not necessarily the result of a dream. Although the sound is perceived as extremely loud, it is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to change in number over time, with several attacks happening in a space of days or weeks, followed by months of remission. Sufferers often feel a sense of fear and anxiety before and after an attack, accompanied by elevated heart rate. Causes Related phenomena These loud noises are a common feature of out-of-body experiences. Symptoms See also Notes
Mirror neuron A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate species. Birds have been shown to have imitative resonance behaviors and neurological evidence suggests the presence of some form of mirroring system. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex. The function of the mirror system is a subject of much speculation. Discovery Further experiments confirmed that about 10% of neurons in the monkey inferior frontal and inferior parietal cortex have "mirror" properties and give similar responses to performed hand actions and observed actions. Origin In monkeys In humans
8 Things Everybody Ought to Know About Concentrating “Music helps me concentrate,” Mike said to me glancing briefly over his shoulder. Mike was in his room writing a paper for his U.S. History class. Mike made a shift about every thirty seconds between all of the above. Do you know a person like this? The Science Behind Concentration In the above account, Mike’s obviously stuck in a routine that many of us may have found ourselves in, yet in the moment we feel it’s almost an impossible routine to get out of. When we constantly multitask to get things done, we’re not multitasking, we’re rapidly shifting our attention. Phase 1: Blood Rush Alert When Mike decides to start writing his History essay, blood rushes to his anterior prefrontal cortex. Phase 2: Find and Execute The alert carries an electrical charge that’s composed of two parts: first, a search query (which is needed to find the correct neurons for executing the task of writing), and second, a command (which tells the appropriate neuron what to do). Phase 3: Disengagement 1. 2. 3. 4.
Consistently Inconsistent Robert Kurzban's Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind is a book about how our brains are composed of a variety of different, interacting systems. While that premise is hardly new, many of our intuitions are still grounded in the idea of a unified, non-compartmental self. Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite takes the modular view and systematically attacks a number of ideas based on the unified view, replacing them with a theory based on the modular view. Chapter 1: Consistently Inconsistent (available for free here) presents evidence of our brains being modular, and points out some implications of this. As previously discussed, severing the connection between the two hemispheres of a person's brain causes some odd effects. But what happens when you ask the patient to explain why they pointed to those objects in particular? Now one asks, what did ”the patient” think was going on? Not convinced by weird cases of brain damage?
Mirror Neurons Mirror Neurons PBS air date: January 25, 2005 ROBERT KRULWICH: Hello again. We humans are really good at reading faces and bodies. Ask yourself, "Why do people get so involved, so deeply, deeply involved, with such anguish, such pain, such nail biting tension over football?" COMMENTATOR: The Cleveland Browns are gambling on defense. ROBERT KRULWICH: Why are we such suckers for sports? Well, as it happens, scientists have an explanation for this strange ability to connect. DANIEL GLASER: It had never been found on a cellular level before. ROBERT KRULWICH: A set of brain cells, found on either side of the head, among all the billions of long branching cells in our brain, these so-called "mirror neurons," have surprising power. DANIEL GLASER: What we've found is the mechanism that underlies something which is absolutely fundamental to the way that we see other people in the world. (NEURON FIRING): Clack, clack, clack. ROBERT KRULWICH: ...whenever the monkey would grab for a peanut. V.S. V.S.