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Connectome: A New Way To Think About What Makes You You

Connectome: A New Way To Think About What Makes You You
by Maria Popova “You are more than your genes. You are your connectome.” The nature vs. nurture debate pitted the hard and social sciences against each other for decades, if not centuries, stirred by a central concern with consciousness, what it means to be human, what makes a person, and, perhaps most interestingly to us egocentric beings, what constitutes character and personality. In Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, MIT Professor of Computational Neuroscience Sebastian Seung proposes a new model for understanding the totality of selfhood, one based the emerging science of connectomics — a kind of neuroscience of the future that seeks to map and understand the brain much like genomics has mapped the genome. A “connectome” denotes the sum total of connections between the neurons in a nervous system and, like “genome,” implies completeness. Neuroscientists have already identified the basic kinds of change. Sample Seung’s insights with his 2010 TEDGlobal talk:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/03/22/connectome-sebastian-seung/

Related:  How the Brain Works

Exploring the inner workings of the healthy brain Scientists working under the aegis of the Max Planck Society are in an enviable position. With a budget of more than €1.5 billion to fund more than 80 institutes, the Society gives its researchers freedom to explore the basic science area of their choice without the expectation of a "micro-economic return on investment," said Dr. Peter Gruss, president of the Munich, Germany-based research organization. "No one tells us what research we should do. We have no programs.

The Master and His Emissary The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is a 2009 book written by Iain McGilchrist that deals with the specialist hemispheric functioning of the brain. The differing world views of the right and left brain (the "Master" and "emissary" in the title, respectively) have, according to the author, shaped Western culture since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, and the growing conflict between these views has implications for the way the modern world is changing.[1] In part, McGilchrist's book, which is the product of twenty years of research,[2] reviews the evidence of previous related research and theories, and based on this and cultural evidence, the author arrives at his own conclusions. The Master and His Emissary received mostly favourable reviews upon its publication. Critics praised the book as being a landmark publication that could alter readers' perspective of how they viewed the world; A.C.

How to Optimize Your Brain: Why Refining Emotional Recall is the Secret to Better Memory by Maria Popova “You are what you remember — your very identity depends on all of the events, people and places you can recall.” We’ve seen the many ways in which our memory can be our merciless traitor: it is not a recording device but a practitioner of creative plagiarism, a terrible timekeeper, and the bent backbone in the anatomy of lying. How, then, can this essential human faculty become our ally? In The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well (public library) — a compendium of pragmatic advice on such modern fixations and timeless aspirations as how to create a great company culture (courtesy of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh) to how to be funny (courtesy of Alec Baldwin) to how to fight for justice (courtesy of Constance Rice) — neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, and prolific brain-book author Richard Restak offers some vital tips on how to optimize your brain, central to which is honing the capacity and performance of your memory:

The Science of How Memory Works by Maria Popova What the four “slave” systems of the mind have to do with riding a bicycle. “Whatever becomes of [old memories], in the long intervals of consciousness?” Henry James wistfully pondered upon turning fifty. “They are like the lines of a letter written in sympathetic ink; hold the letter to the fire for a while and the grateful warmth brings out the invisible words.” James was not alone in seeking to understand the seemingly mysterious workings of human memory — something all the more urgently fascinating in our age of information overload, where we’re evolving a new kind of “transactive memory.”

The Science of Smell: How the Most Direct of Our Senses Works by Maria Popova Why the 23,040 breaths we take each day are the most powerful yet perplexing route to our emotional memory. “Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes,” Anna Quindlen advised in her indispensable Short Guide to a Happy Life. Susan Sontag listed “linen” and “the smell of newly mown grass” among her favorite things. “A man may have lived all of his life in the gray,” John Steinbeck wrote in his beautiful meditation on the meaning of life, “and then — the glory — so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose.” Why is it that smell lends itself to such poetic metaphors, sings to us so sweetly, captures us so powerfully?

Neurocomic: A Graphic Novel About How the Brain Works by Maria Popova From the caves of memory to the castles of deception, by way of naughty neurotransmitters and giddy ganglia. Scientists are only just beginning to understand how the brain works — from what transpires in it while we sleep to how to optimize its memory to what love does to it to how music affects it — and the rest of us fall somewhere on the spectrum between fascinated and confused when it comes to the intricate inner workings of our master-controller. From British indie press Nobrow — who also brought us Freud’s graphic biography, those lovely illustrated chronicles of the Space Race and aviation, as well as Blexbolex’s magnificent No Man’s Land — comes Neurocomic (public library), a graphic novel about how the brain works. This remarkable collaboration between Dr.

The Evolutionary Mystery of Left-Handedness and What It Reveals About How the Brain Works by Maria Popova From Medieval sword-fighters to Broca’s brains, or why the hand may hold the key to the link between creativity and mental illness. “Sahara is too little price / to pay for thy Right hand,” Emily Dickinson wrote in a poem. “The right hand = the hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates,” Susan Sontag pondered in her diary in 1964. “Therefore, to prefer the left hand! Peter Doolittle: How your "working memory" makes sense of the world Close Help with subtitles Desktop / laptop users: please make sure you have the most updated versions of your browser and Flash player, and that Flash is enabled when you visit TED.com. iOS users: to access subtitles, start playing the video, then tap the speech bubble icon that appears in the bottom row of video controls.

Some people do feel more than others, and it’s all in their genes Some people do feel more than others, and it’s all in their genes Gabriella Munoz Wednesday, 25 June 2014 A new study has found that some people have a greater emotional sensitivity and are programmed to better recognise and understand what others are going through. Image: ra2studio/Shutterstock If you can’t help but cry every time you go to a wedding, or if you think that handling so many emotions all the time is really hard work, you may belong to the 20 percent of the population that has high sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), an innate trait associated with greater empathy. Emotional Memory - explaining a child's and a parent's raw reactions A few months ago, one of our last days in UK, the four of us rocked up to a park, eager to get some air after being stuck in a bit of gnarly traffic. It was a crazy windy day, perfect for kite flying. As we unfolded our kite our three year old daughter began to scream. She threw herself on the floor, thrashing about, her face purple, her arms and legs crashing onto the muddy grass. “PUT THE KITE AWAY” she screamed. “PUT IT AWAY AWAY AWAY AWAY” through heaving sobs.

Happy Birthday, Oliver Sacks: The Visionary Neurologist on What Hallucinations Reveal about How the Mind Works by Maria Popova “We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well.” While our delusions may keep us sane, hallucinations — defined as perceptions that arise independently of external reality, as when we see, hear, or sense things that aren’t really there — are an entirely different beast, a cognitive phenomenon that mimics mysticism and has no doubt inspired mystical tales over the millennia. In the 18th century, Swiss lawyer-turned-naturalist Charles Bonnet, the first scientist to use the term evolution in a biological context, turned to philosophy after deteriorating vision rendered him unable to perform the necessary observations of science. Blindness eventually gave him a special form of complex visual hallucinations, known today as Charles Bonnet syndrome, but he was otherwise fully lucid and marveled, as a cognitive scientist might, at “how the theater of the mind could be generated by the machinery of the brain.”

David Graeber – Debt Seminar Fortunately I didn’t contract with Chris in advance to contribute to the Graeber seminar, so I’m not in debt on this score, paying late and therefore a bad person. Right. I’m only about halfway through the book – on audiobook: must have something to do on the bus – and quite enjoying it. Some skepticism about Graeber’s scholarship has been expressed in the wake of revelation of that embarrassing bit about Apple computers that he got totally wrong.

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