Tag Archives | Brain

What It’s Like To Live As A Dead Person

cotard's syndrome

From New Scientist, what it’s like to live with the constant, crushing realization that you are dead:

Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead. He was in the grip of Cotard’s syndrome. People with this rare condition believe that they, or parts of their body, no longer exist.

For Graham, it was his brain that was dead, and he believed that he had killed it. Suffering from severe depression, he had tried to commit suicide by taking an electrical appliance with him into the bath.

“When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that the tablets weren’t going to do me any good ’cause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didn’t need to eat, or speak, or do anything…everything was meaningless.”

Neurologist Adam Zeman said, “He felt he was in a limbo state caught between life and death.”

Some people with Cotard’s have reportedly died of starvation, believing they no longer needed to eat.

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The Threat And Promise Of Humans With Technologically-Boosted Superintelligence

radically amplified human intelligence

Via Sentient Developments, futurist and Singularity Summit co-organizer Michael Anissimov on radically amplified human intelligence (IA) as potentially even more powerful, and dangerous, than artificially intelligent machines:

The real objective of IA is to create “super-Einsteins”, persons qualitatively smarter than any human being that has ever lived. There will be a number of steps on the way there.

The first step will be to create a direct neural link to information. Think of it as a “telepathic Google.”

The next step will be to develop brain-computer interfaces that augment the visual cortex, the best-understood part of the brain. This would boost our spatial visualization and manipulation capabilities. Imagine being able to imagine a complex blueprint in high detail, or to learn new blueprints quickly.

The third step involves the genuine augmentation of pre-frontal cortex. This is the Holy Grail of IA research — enhancing the way we combine perceptual data to form concepts.

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Is Early-Age Reading Developmentally Appropriate?

Activity_at_the_library6Marsha Lucas asks if introducing children to reading at an early age developmentally appropriate.

via Rewire Your Brain For Love:

Louise Bates Ames, PhD, a superstar in child development and the director of research at the world-renowned Gesell Institute of Child Development, stated that “a delay in reading instruction would be a preventative measure in avoiding nearly all reading failure.” Leapfrogging necessary cognitive developmental skills — and asking a young brain to do tasks for which it isn’t truly ready — is asking for trouble with learning.

The brains of young children aren’t yet developed enough to read without it costing them in the organization and “wiring” of their brain. The areas involved in language and reading aren’t fully online — and aren’t connected — until age seven or eight. If we’re teaching children to do tasks which their brains are not yet developed to do via the “normal” (and most efficient) pathways, the brain will stumble upon other, less efficient ways to accomplish the tasks — which lays down wiring in some funky ways — and can lead to later learning disabilities, including visual-processing deficits.

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Researchers Successfully Use Subjects’ Brain Waves As Personal Identifiers

brain wavesIn coming years, allowing a machine to momentarily observe your mental activity may be the key to open your email account or front door. Via Dark Reading:

It sounds like something straight out of science fiction: brainwaves taking the place of passwords in the name of authentication. A new study by researchers from the U.C. Berkeley School of Information examined the brainwave signals of individuals performing specific actions to see whether they can be consistently matched to the right individual.

Participants were asked to imagine performing a repetitive motion from a sport of their choice, singing a song, watching a series of on-screen images and silently counting the objects, or choose their own thought and focus on it for 10 seconds.

To measure the subjects’ brainwaves, the team used the NeuroSky Mindset, a Bluetooth headset that records Electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. In the end, the team was able to match the brainwave signals with 99 percent accuracy.

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Panting For Breath On A Virtual Shore

adbusters_106_virtualshores_S

Our brains are being reprogrammed — literally. And not for the better, but droolingly bad.

A “detriment to cognition, concentration, contemplation and psychological health,” causing “structural abnormalities in gray matter” to the tune of a “fifteen percent shrinkage in the area of the brain that controls speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory, and other information.”

That´s what research in neuroscience is showing about all of the pervasive technologies — video games, cell phones, televisions, etc — so many of us spend numerous hours hyper-connected to all day long.

And, “This shrinkage is cumulative: The more time online, the more grey matter shrivels.”

“New studies are showing that internet and social media use contribute to or instigate even bigger mental breakdowns: split-personality disorder, delusional and paranoid thought, suicidal thinking, even psychosis . . . psychosis, that is defined as, a loss of what is real.”

These technologies, which we have only really had so dramatically present in our lives for the last five years, are contributing greatly to the mental breakdown of millions of people.… Read the rest

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A Sense Of Being Watched Is Hardwired Into Our Brains, Say Researchers

brain sense of being watchedIf when in doubt, we tend to feel that eyes must be upon us, could this help explain much of our behavior? From belief in a god staring down at us, to paranoid fantasies, to reluctance to break social norms even when no one is actually paying attention? Via the Telegraph:

The feeling that others are watching us is an evolutionary mechanism designed to keep us alert, experts said.

Prof. Colin Clifford, a University of Sydney psychologist who led the research, explained: “A direct gaze can signal dominance or a threat, and if you perceive something as a threat you would not want to miss it. Simply assuming another person is looking at you may be the safest strategy.”

The researchers asked volunteers to determine in which direction a series of faces were looking. Even without being able to clearly see where the eyes were focused, the participants felt as if they were being watched.

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Humans Successfully Control Rats’ Movements Telepathically In Experiment

What orders will you give to your rat army? Via New Scientist:

Telepathic control of another person’s body is a small step closer – human volunteers were able to trigger movement in a rat’s tail using their minds.

Recently, researchers linked the brains of two rats so that they worked together. Such techniques are unlikely to be applied to humans any time soon because they require invasive surgery to implant electrodes into the brain. But now Seung-Schik Yoo of Harvard Medical School and colleagues have created a system that connects a human to a rat via a computer, without the need for the human or the rat to have brain implants.

The human volunteers wore electrode caps that monitored their brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Meanwhile, an anaesthetised rat was hooked up to a device that made the creature’s neurons fire whenever it delivered an ultrasonic pulse to the rat’s motor cortex.

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Experiment Gives Lab Rats The Ability To Communicate Telepathically

There’s something a bit dark about this impressive experiment, in which one rat telepathically gives orders to the other. New Scientist reports:

The world’s first brain-to-brain connection has given rats the power to communicate by thought alone. “Many people thought it could never happen,” says Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University. Nicolelis’s team has demonstrated a direct interface between two brains – with the rats sharing both motor and sensory information.

The feat was achieved by first training rats to press one of two levers when an LED above that lever was lit. A correct action opened a hatch containing water to drink. The researchers wired up the implants of an encoder and a decoder rat. The pair were given the lever-press task, but only the encoder rats saw the LEDs come on. Brain signals from the encoder rat were transmitted to the decoder rat. The team found that the decoders, despite having no visual cue, pressed the correct lever.

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Study Says Cannabis May Help Reverse Dementia From Alzheimer’s

Toke up for the sake of your brain? The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A team from Neuroscience Research Australia is in the early stages of research examining if one of the main active ingredients in cannabis, called cannabidiol, could reverse some of the symptoms of memory loss in animals.

Tim Karl, a senior research fellow with the group, said cannabidiol has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and other effects that could be beneficial for the brain.

His study involved injecting cannabidiol into mice that had symptoms similiar to those seen in Alzheimer’s, as well as examining what would happen to brain cells treated with the drug. Dr Karl found that when the mice were given the cannabidiol they showed drastic improvement on parts of the tests that were related to recognising and remembering objects and other mice: “You could say it cured them.”

There had been case reports in medical literature of marijuana smokers who had developed Alzheimer’s disease, only to find their smoking seemed to relieve some of their symptoms.

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German Neurologist Claims ‘Dark Patch’ In The Brain Is Responsible For Evil

Perhaps reserve some skepticism, but the claim is that future serial killers and dictators could be pinpointed in childhood via brain scan of the front lower forehead area. The Daily Mail reports:

A German neurologist claims to have found the area of the brain where evil lurks in killers and rapists. One of Germany’s best-known brain specialists, Bremen scientist Dr. Gerhard Roth says the ‘evil patch’ lies in the brain’s central lobe and shows up as a dark mass on X-rays. He discovered it when investigating violent convicted offenders over the years for German government studies.

‘We showed these people short films and measured their brain waves,’ he said. ‘Whenever there were brutal scenes the subjects showed no emotions. In the areas of the brain where we create compassion and sorrow, nothing happened.’ The dark mass at the front of the brain, he says, appears in all scans of people with records for criminal violence.

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