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If we're not in pain, we're not alive

You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 25, 2014 - 73 comments

The Count and his fucking LF

Coder's High. Metafilter's own David Auerbach, who says he's now a former programmer, describes a satori-like absorption that comes only from things like debugging.
posted by grobstein on Jun 18, 2014 - 73 comments

Doña Quixote

My Dementia: Telling who I am before I forget, by author Gerda Saunders
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2014 - 16 comments

the squidgy 1.5kg lump of pink stuff in our heads

NeuroBollocks: Debunking pseudo-neuroscience so you don't have to.
posted by cthuljew on Mar 31, 2013 - 18 comments

empathy used to abuse others and empathy used to help others

The two aspects of empathy, cognitive and affective, as described succinctly and clearly by neuroscientist Simon Baron Cohen. Ever wondered how chronically abusive people seem to have X-ray vision knowing just what cruel thing to say to hurt most? It's because they have greater cognitive empathy and less - or very little - affective empathy. Psychologist, Daniel Goleman adds another aspect of empathy into the picture, compassionate empathy.
posted by nickyskye on Mar 26, 2013 - 37 comments

Speak, Memory

A meditation on falsehood and truth in memory by Oliver Sacks.
posted by parudox on Feb 2, 2013 - 26 comments

%-| The difference between us and them

The Depressive and the Psychopath, an article about mental state of the killers responsible for the Columbine high school massacre of 1999.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 10, 2013 - 76 comments

DOWNTIME for the BRAIN

"Having felt what it’s like to have all the backlog of experiences cleared out of my head, I’m intolerant of letting it build up a backlog again. It feels too good when it’s all clean and clear. Another way of talking about this is to say that the frantic, amped up feeling of too much seeking clears away. When we are seeking all the time, we are intaking new material constantly without ever actually dealing with it."
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas on Nov 30, 2012 - 31 comments

Don't even Blink...

Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
posted by Artw on Sep 14, 2012 - 64 comments

Mirrors of your dreams

Neuro Images posts images of brains and art based on them. Some of them are beautiful; some of them are grotesque; some of them are confronting or sad (the complete series is here); and some of them are strangely reminiscent. (previously)
posted by Joe in Australia on Jul 30, 2012 - 9 comments

Patient 23

"Adrian Owen still gets animated when he talks about patient 23. The patient was only 24 years old when his life was devastated by a car accident. Alive but unresponsive, he had been languishing in what neurologists refer to as a vegetative state for five years, when Owen, a neuro-scientist then at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues at the University of Liège in Belgium, put him into a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and started asking him questions. Incredibly, he provided answers."
posted by jquinby on Jun 15, 2012 - 31 comments

Ain't no spoon or fork or knife.

“There are no images and no representations in our minds,” he insisted. “Our visual experience of the world is a continuum between see-er and seen united in a shared process of seeing.”

I was curious, if only because, as a novelist I’d always supposed I was dealing in images, imagery. This stuff might have implications. So we had a beer together.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 19, 2012 - 25 comments

Teller Reveals His Secrets

Teller Reveals His Secrets
posted by Meatbomb on Feb 25, 2012 - 57 comments

Can Sex Ever Be Casual?

Psychology Today delves into the societal and psychological issues raised by casual sex.
posted by reenum on Jan 26, 2012 - 32 comments

I’m lucky, but…

Metafilter Favorite Stephen Fry announces that he is now the president of mental health charity MIND, in part because of his 2006 documentary: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Sep 23, 2011 - 24 comments

The Nocebo Effect

The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills.
posted by homunculus on Sep 20, 2011 - 69 comments

Carl Jung

Carl Jung: Taking inner life seriously. An eight-part series on the thought of Carl Gustav Jung from the Guardian's How to Believe series (previously.) Jung's relationship with his patient, student, and rumored lover Sabina Spielrein, and his mentor Sigmund Freud is the subject of a new film, "A Dangerous Method." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Sep 16, 2011 - 14 comments

"Mr. Cortex, We Love You!"

In the early 1960s, actor/comedian/writer/composer/TV-star Steve Allen recorded How to Think, an educational album about the brain and the mind. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Sep 6, 2011 - 12 comments

Putting Des Cartes before the horse

"The modern and contemporary philosophical tradition, which has emphasized the specialness and security of self-knowledge, especially self-knowledge of the stream of conscious experience, and in comparison the relative insecurity or derivativeness of our knowledge of the physical world around us, has the epistemic situation upside-down" - Eric Schwitzgebel (Previously)
posted by Gyan on Sep 1, 2011 - 32 comments

You all need to have your heads examined

The epidemic of mental illness plaguing the Americans and the overmedication of psychiatric patients are in part artifacts of the diagnostic method. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Jun 22, 2011 - 50 comments

The Soul Niche

Swimming around in a mixture of language and matter, humans occupy a particular evolutionary niche mediated by something we call 'consciousness'. To Professor Nicholas Humphrey we're made up of "soul dust": "a kind of theatre... an entertainment which we put on for ourselves inside our own heads." But just as that theatre is directed by the relationship between language and matter, it is also undermined by it. It all depends how you think it.
posted by 0bvious on Feb 4, 2011 - 17 comments

The Beautiful Mind

"It is only fitting that the story of the brain should be a visual one, for the visuals had the ancients fooled for millenniums. The brain was so ugly that they assumed the mind must lie elsewhere. Now those same skeletal silhouettes glow plump and brightly colored, courtesy of a variety of inserted genes encoding fluorescent molecules. A glossy new art book, “Portraits of the Mind,” hopes to draw the general reader into neuroscience with the sheer beauty of its images." Slide Shows: The Beautiful Mind and Portraits of the Mind [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 2, 2010 - 6 comments

What's it like to be Peter Hacker?

"The whole endeavour of the consciousness studies community is absurd – they are in pursuit of a chimera" - Peter Hacker on philosophy
posted by Gyan on Oct 25, 2010 - 145 comments

Don't interrupt me, I'm building my sense of self!

An idle brain may be the self's workshop. 'Recent research suggests that mind-wandering may be important and that knowledge of how it works might help treat such conditions as Alzheimer's disease, autism, depression and schizophrenia.' Once upon a time, scientists didn't regard idle musings of the wandering mind as very important. 'But in the span of a few short years, they have instead come to view mental leisure as important, purposeful work — work that relies on a powerful and far-flung network of brain cells firing in unison. Neuroscientists call it the "default mode network."''Understanding that setting may do more than lend respectability to the universal practice of zoning out: It may one day help diagnose and treat psychiatric conditions as diverse as Alzheimer's disease, autism, depression and schizophrenia — all of which disrupt operations in the default mode network. Beyond that lies an even loftier promise. As neuroscientists study the idle brain, some believe they are exploring a central mystery in human psychology: where and how our concept of "self" is created, maintained, altered and renewed.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Sep 2, 2010 - 20 comments

Where am I?

If your brain and body were separated, which one would be "you?" Philosopher Daniel Dennett explores what might happen in that event. (Previously)
posted by Obscure Reference on Aug 26, 2010 - 212 comments

LSD and psychotherapy in 1958

Cary in the Sky with Diamonds. "Before Timothy Leary and the Beatles, LSD was largely unknown and unregulated. But in the 1950s, as many as 100 Hollywood luminaries—Cary Grant and Esther Williams among them—began taking the drug as part of psychotherapy. With LSD research beginning a comeback, the authors recount how two Beverly Hills doctors promoted a new 'wonder drug,' at $100 a session, profoundly altering the lives of their glamorous patients." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 9, 2010 - 12 comments

John Haugeland, 1945-2010

American philosopher John Haugeland has died. In dramatic fashion, he suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of a conference dedicated to his work on the occasion of his retirement. He made enormous contributions to the philosophy of mind and introduced many undergraduates to the very idea of artificial intelligence. [more inside]
posted by el_lupino on Jun 23, 2010 - 42 comments

An eye the size of a grapefruit, keeping an eye on me...

...and there was just rope everywhere--it went around the whales mouth, around the whale's head, across her eye, over her back wrapped around the pectoral fins, all the way down to its tail. I thought there was no hope, there was no chance, we're looking at a dead whale, the whale just doesn't know it yet--but I knew that I had to try. ...It was a very surreal moment looking down and seeing the 20 crab traps and buoys just disappear into the abyss... And just like that, the whale was gone. ...I'm spinning around, where'd she go, where'd she go ? ...Now here's where the story takes a pretty startling turn. ...Next thing I know there's this fifty ton whale coming right at me...
From about 4:00 to 14:30 in nearly 23 minutes of the segment, Animal Blessings--in mp3 here, all 20 megs of it. Or you can try the podcast at RadioLab: Animal Minds. Either way, you are in for a most truly awesome anecdote. And listen to the whole program to have some back and forth science dropped on you in regards to what we think we know about what and how animals think. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on May 26, 2010 - 69 comments

The Neurology of Morality

Researchers at MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have identified two "morality centers" of the brain. In two separate experiments, they have shown a correlation between a particular part of the brain and the ability to make moral jusgments related to intent to commit a crime. In one experiment, patients with brain damage in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain don't consider hypothetical perpetrators to be morally responsible for their actions. In another experiment (noted on NPR today) the researchers showed that they could switch off the moral judgment function by applying a magnetic field to the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) of the brain. The TPJ has also been implicated in "out of body experiences", both in cases of brain damage and by artificially stimulating the area.
posted by darkstar on Mar 29, 2010 - 32 comments

Me Tarzan. You Jane. He Skeptic.

This article, about differences between male and female brains, is doing the rounds on various blogs. (I found it via reddit.) Meanwhile, debunkers are doing their best to rip the author a new asshole.
posted by grumblebee on Mar 25, 2010 - 86 comments

DSM-5

At midnight tonight, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a proposed draft of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222 on Feb 9, 2010 - 58 comments

he of the weird al hair and santa claus beard

R.Sapolsky on the uniqueness of humans in relation to the rest of the animal world (via)
posted by kliuless on Dec 20, 2009 - 28 comments

Genes that cause depression?

A gene variant associated with serotonin transport (STG) , and normally associated with depression is strangely more prevalent, but also less likely to induce depression in collectivistic East Asian cultures. The study took data from 29 countries, and found a consistent trend towards this same genetic variant being strongly associated with episodes of major depression in Western cultures.
posted by mdpatrick on Oct 29, 2009 - 27 comments

Feeling 'Selfy' ? Regarding 'The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind, and the Myth of the Self' by Thomas Metzinger

Natasha Mitchell: So it's not a little man or woman inside our heads...

Thomas Metzinger: ...that looks at pictures. But the experience of looking, of being directed to one's own feelings or to one's sensory perceptions of the outside world, this is itself an image. There is nobody looking at the image, it's like the camera is part of the picture or the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing. This is how a first-person perspective emerges in our own case, the question is, okay, if it's not a thing, if it's not something in the brain, what kind of a process is it?
[more inside]
posted by y2karl on Oct 14, 2009 - 56 comments

Aaron Beck & Cognitive Therapy

The psychoanalytic mystique was overwhelming. It was a little bit like the evangelical movement.” How Aaron Beck and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helped increase empiricism in psychotherapy.
posted by Non Prosequitur on Oct 9, 2009 - 53 comments

Wait, wait, I almost have it!

Why do we get "tip of the tongue" moments?? We’ve all experienced the tip of the tongue moment where we wanted to say something but just couldn’t remember the word. But what causes this momentary lapses in vocabulary?
posted by CaptKyle on Jun 12, 2009 - 43 comments

Mindsight

Mindsight is a deeply worthwhile exposition of the workings of the mind, an hour-long talk from the Google Personal Growth Series (but don't let that title put you off). [SLYT] [more inside]
posted by mhjb on Jun 2, 2009 - 11 comments

Thought Suppression

Why Thought Suppression is Counter-Productive: How pushing a thought out of consciousness can bring it back with a vengeance. [Via]
posted by homunculus on May 22, 2009 - 39 comments

"Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will."

There are times when having a fully developed brain can almost seem like an impediment. Are babies more aware of the world around them than adults are? Can "thinking like a baby" lead us to be more in tune with our creativity and our ability to learn? Scientists have taken a new look inside the baby mind, which is "unfocused, random, and extremely good at what it does."
posted by amyms on May 1, 2009 - 38 comments

That's one large with a twist of the lith, please.

A Japanese study finds a link between lower suicide rates and traces of lithium in the drinking water. While the study's findings are "intriguing", external relations director Sophie Corlett of Mind warns that lithium is toxic, and that further research is needed.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 1, 2009 - 17 comments

X-Phi

Philosophy’s great experiment. "Philosophers used to combine conceptual reflections with practical experiment. The trendiest new branch of the discipline, known as x-phi, wants to return to those days. Some philosophers don’t like it." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 4, 2009 - 45 comments

Extending the Mind

How Google Is Making Us Smarter: Humans are "natural-born cyborgs," and the Internet is our giant "extended mind."
posted by homunculus on Jan 15, 2009 - 50 comments

The Genomic Self

My Genome, My Self: Steven Pinker considers what we can expect from personal genomics. Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes: Carl Zimmer looks at the hunt to learn about the role of genes in intelligence.
posted by homunculus on Jan 10, 2009 - 6 comments

Dreaming is a private thing.

A team of researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto have managed to reconstruct black-and-white visual images from an fMRI scan of a test subject's brain. Some more examples of the recovered data. The organization responsible claims that the technology to record thoughts and dreams is just around the corner. [more inside]
posted by teraflop on Dec 11, 2008 - 48 comments

The Body Swap Illusion

If I Were You: Perceptual Illusion of Body Swapping. Expanding on previous experiments, researchers discover how to induce a "body-swap" illusion, whereby subjects perceive the body of another as if it were their own.
posted by homunculus on Dec 4, 2008 - 22 comments

A New Theory Of Mental Disorders

"Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’. This, according to the theory, increases a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later on, as well as mood problems like bipolar disorder and depression."
posted by grumblebee on Nov 11, 2008 - 43 comments

metaphors be with you

Link found between physical and emotional warmth l Metaphors of the Mind: Why Loneliness Feels Cold and Sins Feel Dirty. "Our mental processes are not separate and detached from the body". Sensory metaphors l The Metaphor Observatory, top 10 metaphors of 2007.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 27, 2008 - 45 comments

I Contain Multitudes

First Person Plural. "An evolving approach to the science of pleasure suggests that each of us contains multiple selves—all with different desires, and all fighting for control. If this is right, the pursuit of happiness becomes even trickier. Can one self bind another self if the two want different things? Are you always better off when a Good Self wins? And should outsiders, such as employers and policy makers, get into the fray?" [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 25, 2008 - 27 comments

Afterlife and the Mind

Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too? Examining self-consciousness and mortality.
posted by amyms on Oct 16, 2008 - 219 comments

Wilder Penfield

Wilder Penfield, Neural Cartographer.
posted by homunculus on Aug 28, 2008 - 14 comments

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