background preloader

Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'

Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'
What does this mean in terms of free will? "We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine. There are lots of things that happen before this stage – plans, goals, learning – and those are the reasons we do more interesting things than just waggle fingers. But there's no ghost in the machine." The conclusions are shocking: if we are part of the universe, and obey its laws, it's hard to see where free will comes into it. "If you see a light go green, it may mean press the accelerator; but there are lots of situations where it doesn't mean that: if the car in front hasn't moved, for example. Slowly, however, we are learning more about the details of that complexity. "What happens if someone commits a crime, and it turns out that there's a lesion in that brain area? This runs shockingly contrary to the sense of freedom that we feel in terms of controlling our actions, on which we base our whole sense of self and system of morality.

Related:  we are social, we are political, we are (non-)religious

Intuitive? Try God God is related to decision-making style, with those who rely more heavily on intuition reporting higher rates of belief, while those who are more reflective tilt toward atheism. By linking religious belief to intuition, the study supports the idea that there is something in the cognitive makeup of humans that promotes belief in a higher power. For example, the natural tendency that people have to see a purpose behind random events, or the need to reduce uncertainty in their lives — as well as the anxiety it causes — may promote a belief in God. The work, conducted by researchers in Harvard’s Psychology Department, found that cognitive style was an important indicator of religious belief. They found that this was true even when accounting for factors such as intelligence, education, income, and political orientation. They also found that more intuitive people reported an increase in religious faith over the course of their lives, a rise independent of religious upbringing.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation Background[edit] Early attempts at stimulation of the brain using a magnetic field included those, in 1910, of Silvanus P. Thompson in London.[2] The principle of inductive brain stimulation with eddy currents has been noted since the 20th century. The first successful TMS study was performed in 1985 by Anthony Barker and his colleagues at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, England.[3] Its earliest application demonstrated conduction of nerve impulses from the motor cortex to the spinal cord, stimulating muscle contractions in the hand. As compared to the previous method of transcranial stimulation proposed by Merton and Morton in 1980[4] in which direct electrical current was applied to the scalp, the use of electromagnets greatly reduced the discomfort of the procedure, and allowed mapping of the cerebral cortex and its connections. Theory[edit]

Eidetic memory -photographic memory Overview[edit] The ability to recall images in great detail for several minutes is found in early childhood (between 2% and 10% of that age group) and is unconnected with the person's intelligence level.[citation needed] Like other memories, they are often subject to unintended alterations. The ability usually begins to fade after the age of six years, perhaps as growing vocal skills alter the memory process.[2][3] A few adults have had phenomenal memories (not necessarily of images), but their abilities are also unconnected with their intelligence levels and tend to be highly specialized. In extreme cases, like those of Solomon Shereshevsky and Kim Peek, memory skills can actually hinder social skills.[4]

Cognition Cognition is a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious.[4] These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, systemics, and computer science.[5][page needed] Within psychology or philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as mind, intelligence. It encompasses the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts), and states of intelligent entities (humans, collaborative groups, human organizations, highly autonomous machines, and artificial intelligences).[3] Etymology[edit]

Tanya L Chartrand: Botox impairs our ability to relate to others Tanya L Chartrand is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina. With David T Neal from the University of Southern California she recently published a paper entitled "Embodied Emotion Perception: Amplifying and Dampening Facial Feedback Modulates Emotional Perception Accuracy", which found that using Botox – a neurotoxin injected into muscles to reduce frown lines – reduces a person's ability to empathise with others. It wouldn't surprise people to hear that it's difficult to tell what the Botoxed are feeling, but your study found that the Botoxed have little idea what we are feeling? Yes, we always assume that you can't tell what the Botoxed people are feeling because their faces are somewhat paralyzed and can appear frozen, but what is less intuitive is that being injected with Botox impairs their ability to understand what other people around you are feeling. So Botox messes with our embodied cognition?

Learn more quickly by transcranial magnetic brain stimulation, study in rats suggests What sounds like science fiction is actually possible: thanks to magnetic stimulation, the activity of certain brain nerve cells can be deliberately influenced. What happens in the brain in this context has been unclear up to now. Medical experts from Bochum under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Klaus Funke (Department of Neurophysiology) have now shown that various stimulus patterns changed the activity of distinct neuronal cell types.

Berkeley on Biphasic Sleep If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don’t roll your eyes. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter. Students who napped (green column) did markedly better in memorizing tests than their no-nap counterparts. Cognitive bias Some cognitive biases are presumably adaptive. Cognitive biases may lead to more effective actions in a given context.[7] Furthermore, cognitive biases enable faster decisions when timeliness is more valuable than accuracy, as illustrated in heuristics.[8] Other cognitive biases are a "by-product" of human processing limitations,[9] resulting from a lack of appropriate mental mechanisms (bounded rationality), or simply from a limited capacity for information processing.[10][11] A continually evolving list of cognitive biases has been identified over the last six decades of research on human judgment and decision-making in cognitive science, social psychology, and behavioral economics. Kahneman and Tversky (1996) argue that cognitive biases have efficient practical implications for areas including clinical judgment, entrepreneurship, finance, and management.[12][13]