Brain



God HelmetCreepy. Via Wikipedia:

The God Helmet was not specifically designed to elicit visions of God, but to test several of Persinger’s hypotheses about brain function. The first of these is the Vectorial Hemisphericity Hypothesis, which proposes that the human sense of self has two components, one on each side of the brain, that ordinarily work together but in which the left hemisphere is usually dominant.

Persinger argues that the two hemispheres make different contributions to a single sense of self, but under certain conditions can appear as two separate ‘selves’. Persinger and Koren designed the God Helmet in an attempt to create conditions in which contributions to the sense of self from both cerebral hemispheres is disrupted …






In the New York Times, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan say it’s only a matter of time before we pinpoint chemicals in the brain that produce empathetic behavior. Will religion be rendered…



Who can think? Who can feel? Via Orion, the revelation that octopi — boneless creatures with brains the size of a walnut — seem to have immense intelligence, feelings, and personalities is…


Rats are better than many people. The Telegraph writes: Rats actually display human-like empathy and will unselfishly go to the aid of a distressed fellow rodent, research has shown. The results of…



Not that this should be any great surprise, but maybe now that scientists are able to measure the adverse effects of combustion-engine vehicle pollution, legislators will take action. One can dream, anyway. From the Wall Street Journal:

Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain.

As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks—especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments—may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory.

New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability…


The implications of this are mind-boggling – one has visions of the scientists being moved to Guantanamo Bay for some real life “testing.” Katie Moisse reports for ABC News:

California scientists have found a way to see through another person’s eyes.

Researchers from UC Berkeley were able to reconstruct YouTube videos from viewers’ brain activity — a feat that might one day offer a glimpse into our dreams, memories and even fantasies.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery,” said Jack Gallant, professor of psychology and coauthor of a study published today in Current Biology. “We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”…


Alva Noe explains at NPR: Addiction has been moralized, medicalized, politicized, and criminalized. And, of course, many of us are addicts, have been addicts or have been close to addicts. Addiction runs…


Olivia Solon writes on Wired: Japanese researchers have developed a chemical agent that turns biological tissue transparent, allowing for vivid imaging of neurons and blood vessels deep inside mouse brains. The aqueous reagent —…


vintage-color-wheel-6We think of a physical object’s being a certain “color” as a solid, immutable property (grass is green, lemons are yellow, et cetera). However, the way our brains see and process color is largely determined by the language we learned as an infant.

Case in point: the Himba tribe of remote northern Namibia, to whom water looks “white” like milk and the sky looks “black” like coal, and who struggle to distinguish between blue and green, yet can easily pick out micro-shades which Americans cannot see. Via BBC Horizon, a reminder that the world looks different to everyone:


Can we restore our “mental sketch pads” by renewing how our brain holds memory on the neurological level? The National Geographic reports: You can’t teach an old brain new tricks—but you can…


It’s pretty much common sense that starvation diets are bad for you, but when your brain starts eating itself you know it’s time to stop! Nick Collins reports for the Telegraph: Like…




Clockwork Eyes… I see no possible way which this could be abused (prepare your tinfoil hats, folks). Clay Dillow writes for Popular Science:

Microelectrode arrays implanted in the brain monitor neurological conditions in living patients all the time, sometimes even influencing brain activity if it gets out of line. So, thought researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, why not load one up with drugs so it can deliver chemical therapy to problem sites immediately upon detecting an issue?

The team is developing a new polymer-coated electrode that can both monitor and treat a patient immediately, a capability that could be life-changing — or even life-saving — for those living with conditions like epilepsy. Their device is basically a microelectrode like any other, but it has been covered in a conductive polypyrrole film. Chambers in the film are loaded up with different drugs and neurotransmitters like dopamine or GABA.