Artist Yaron Steinburg’s installation piece for any brain-lover is a masterpiece. This piece is not only stunningly beautiful but also thought provoking. At first glance, it may look merely like brain model made out of cardboard boxes. After taking a deeper look inside, however, a myriad of complex ideas can be observed. The complexity of the piece is deceptively hidden within the brain itself, wherein a booming city lies. The city looks like a seemingly unorganized mess, much like the many interacting regions of the human brain itself. The true brilliance of the piece though lies in looking past this cluttered city, and viewing the piece (and its message about the nature of the brain) for what it really is: an organized mess of infinite complexity and beauty.
Yup, that’s all I’ve got. Enjoy being spooky!
Tarman Wants More Brains – YouTube
This semester I decided it was a good idea to take up French again. So I signed up for “LF 303,” which is now where I sit for fifty minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday trying to convince my professor (and myself) that I am a halfway-competent French speaker. Which, it turns out, I could be. I have a feeling it won’t be long before I start dreaming in French again, at which point I’m sure I will have something neuroscience-related to say about that.
That hasn’t happened yet, but French class has actually had some direct mind and brain content. Last month we read a short story called “Le Horla” by Guy de Maupassant. The story is written from the perspective of Dr. Marrande, a psychiatrist who comes across an interesting case and calls on some of his colleagues for their opinions. Dr. Marrande introduces his coworkers to the patient (referred to as such – “le malade”), and he lets the patient tell his own story. More
The world seems as though it is starting to move faster and faster, and thus the demand for information and information accessibility is drastically speeding up as well. Modern computers and related technologies, however, have done a remarkable job with both creating and keeping up with the ever growing demand for data and access people need to it. Perhaps one of the interesting innovations on the scene as of late is the emergence of a new form of information sharing and storing colloquially called “cloud computing”. More
According to a recent study, there are at least two neural correlates for decision-making in the brain.
If you’re the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz who yearns for a brain, you have neither of these correlates. However, if you are someone who has frontal lobe damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), you have one functional neural correlate: for action value comparisons. You can make optimal decisions about how to get a brain (…although you obviously would already have one). Alternatively, you could have suffered damage to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) - in which case you would be able to make stimulus value comparisons and choose which objects are optimal, such as the wittiest or the most creative brain, but not how to get the chosen object. More
Ever wonder why people still “talk with their hands” when they’re on the telephone? We often use hand gestures while speaking even at times when the listener cannot see them. Gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain as speech (think sign language): the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca’s) and the posterior middle temporal gyrus (Wenicke’s area). Hand movements help us to communicate more efficiently and emphasize certain points of the message we are trying to convey to our conversational partners. They’re an indication of our thought process throughout the discussion. Evolutionary insight proposes that the language brain regions, which originally supported the pairing of body language and meaning, have been adapted in humans for spoken language; however, we still don’t know precisely the reason why people gesture, and more interestingly, why some people use gestures more often than others. More
Have you ever wondered what pushes normal people to become hellacious monsters? Have you ever considered that the same person that turns evil has an equal chance of becoming a hero? If any of these questions have ever crossed your mind, Dr. Philip Zimbardo may have answers for you. More
A recent study found that musical aptitude seems to have a relationship with reading ability. This study directly relates literacy with inherent musical aptitude that the researchers are able to measure, which is something that you’re born with and that does not magically appear by listening to classical music on repeat. While they do examine the inherent musical aptitude, the study suggests that we might be able to prescribe some sort of musical curriculum that could potentially improve literacy in children. So, yes, all those weird to-be-moms holding heavy duty headphones up to their baby bumps blasting Mozart may be on to something. More
We all know that we should hit the gym so we can look good, marry a rich dude, and not need to do science anymore. But can dragging yourself to the gym improve your cognitive assets as well?
Recent studies show that even in normal, healthy brains, that forced exercise has effects. Rats who ran voluntarily on a wheel placed on a cage were compared with those who forced to run on a treadmill. Even though the rats who ran voluntarily ran faster, those who were forced to run on a treadmill showed more proliferation in the dentate gyrus and performed better on cognitive tests. More
Philosophy of Mind came into its most compelling forms during the age of modern philosophy beginning with René Descartes. Perhaps infamously, Descartes claimed that mind and body are two distinct substances – philosophical jargon for what exists without the aid of any other thing. For Descartes, the world was clearly and distinctly physical in one sense and entirely mental in another. This seems perplexing, and Descartes did concede that the mind and body were closely intertwined and appeared to act with respect to one another, but his arguments clearly press that they are not causally connected in any way. These notions of dualism seem nearly preposterous with the advent of modern science, but were nonetheless important in developing our thought about the mind in the modern era.
Dualism gave rise to other interesting, yet now strongly refuted movements. One of these was idealism, or the doctrine argued famously by George Berkeley that states that all that exists are either ‘ideas’ or minds that perceive them. In this sense, an idea is defined as that which is perceived, inclusive of information imprinted on the senses, passions and operations of the mind, and conceptions formed by imagination and memory. Importantly, Berkeley argues that these ideas exist ‘in the mind’ exclusively: that is, they are purely mental and all things are simply combinations and aggregations of ideas. These immaterial ‘ideas’ then, are the only objects of human knowledge under idealism, and this theory denies the existence of physical objects entirely! The notion seems preposterous, but there is a very interesting argument found within idealism that can throw our conception of perception for quite the proverbial loop. More