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When I was a little kid, my mother told me not to stare into the sun, so when I was six I did.

Jason Padgett is the first person to acquire synasthesia and savantism by head trauma. Three years after his mugging, he began drawing complex geometries, including hand-drawn approximations of fractals, the first time anyone had ever done so. Eventually a mathematician suggested Padgett take a math course; with trigonometric notation Padgett offered a proof of his approximation of Pi. [more inside]
posted by Made of Star Stuff on Jul 25, 2011 - 52 comments

The NFL star and the brain injuries that destroyed him

Before the former American football player Dave Duerson killed himself, he asked that his brain be left to researchers studying head injuries among athletes.
posted by jonesor on Jul 20, 2011 - 105 comments

The Brain on Trial.

The Brain on Trial. Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order.
"We may someday find that many types of bad behavior have a basic biological explanation—as has happened with schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, and mania."
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Jul 15, 2011 - 99 comments

Gelotology

The Mad Music Archive and the Colorectal Surgeon Song as gelotological recommendations | Gelotology.com | Laugh Sounds | Laughter and the Brain | Gelotology: A laughing matter | Gelotology, the study of laughter | The Science of Laughter | What’s So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing | The science of laughter - Humour may play a vital role in children's development, reports Alastair Clarke. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jul 10, 2011 - 4 comments

Juju Apple, Voodoo Apple

Looks like FOX News called it -- UK neuroscientists now suggest that the brains of Apple devotees are stimulated by Apple imagery in the same way that the brains of religious people are stimulated by religious imagery.
posted by hermitosis on May 19, 2011 - 162 comments

I have superpowers? Snap.

"Even beyond the philosophical wonder of passively sampling our outside environment in a shared, meaningful fashion is the ridiculous sensitivity of our senses." [more inside]
posted by Glinn on May 11, 2011 - 27 comments

all about the brain

Allen Human Brain Atlas - Brain Explorer 2 is a desktop software application for viewing the human brain anatomy and gene expression data in 3D. "Until now, a definitive map of the human brain at this level of detail simply hasn't existed," said Allan Jones, the nonprofit institute's chief executive. "For the first time, we have generated a comprehensive map of the brain that includes the underlying biochemistry." | Functional Neuroanatomy | 10 Great Sites for Reviewing Brain Anatomy | Harvard Brain Atlas. Bonus link: Brain massage with cosmic energy application in Pushkar, India. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 14, 2011 - 12 comments

Form Constants

"In the Bible, God appeared to Ezekiel as a “wheel within a wheel”. Spirals and concentric circles are commonly found in petrogylphs carved by cultures long dead. Similar visual effects are reported during extreme psychological stress, fever delirium, psychotic episodes, sensory deprivation, and are reliably induced by psychedelic drugs."
Form Constants and the Visual Cortex, or Where Psychedelic Visuals Come From.
posted by Taft on Mar 15, 2011 - 51 comments

Off the top of the dome

Dr. Charles Limb put jazz musicians and freestyle rappers in an fMRI machine and asked them to improvise/freestyle. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Mar 11, 2011 - 8 comments

Braindriver

Braindriver is a car that allows you to steer, accelerate and decelerate with nothing more than the faint electrical signals generated by the brain.
posted by jason's_planet on Mar 5, 2011 - 13 comments

Humans, Version 3.0

Humans, Version 3.0. "The next giant leap in human evolution may not come from new fields like genetic engineering or artificial intelligence, but rather from appreciating our ancient brains." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Feb 28, 2011 - 15 comments

Rise of the Neuronovel

Rise of the Neuronovel. Marco Roth at N+1 argues that the recent interest of contemporary novels (Motherless Brooklyn, Saturday, Atmospheric Disturbances) in the disordered wetware of their characters represents a defeat for fiction. "...the new genre of the neuronovel, which looks on the face of it to expand the writ of literature, appears as another sign of the novel’s diminishing purview." Jonah Lehrer responds to Roth and Roth responds back.
posted by escabeche on Jan 2, 2011 - 58 comments

A Real Science of Mind

A Real Science of Mind Neurobabble piques interest in science, but obscures how science works. Individuals see, know, and want to make love. Brains don’t. Those things are psychological — not, in any evident way, neural.
posted by shivohum on Dec 27, 2010 - 21 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

Squishy Goodness

Charlie Rose: The Brain Series
posted by cthuljew on Nov 23, 2010 - 8 comments

Deconstructing Henry

Dr. Jacopo Annese, sitting in front of his ventilated biosafety cabinet, a small paintbrush in his hand, teases apart a crumpled slice of brain.

Written by the grandson of the neurosurgeon who conducted Patient H.M.'s historical surgery, this article is a great follow-up to the San Diego Brain Observatory's live webcast from last December. [more inside]
posted by empatterson on Nov 4, 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

The Dalai Lama at Stanford

The Dalai Lama on changing minds only through compassion and respect. He spent several days at Stanford recently, and this session focuses on the neuroscience of compassion. Watch it in full here.
posted by philipy on Oct 21, 2010 - 56 comments

You are a chord

10 things you didn't know about sound. Among them: "You are a chord." A TED talk by Julian Treasure and responses by him to some of the opinions about his talk.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 12, 2010 - 38 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

Oliver Sacks', The Mind's Eye

Oliver Sacks is surviving cancer of the eye, ocular melanoma. In his latest book, The Mind’s Eye, he "tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities." In the interview, Sacks talks about his diagnosis, the after-effects of his radiation treatment (which include hallucinations that resolve themselves into words if he "smokes a little pot"), his apprenticeships with poets W.H. Auden and Thom Gunn, and the importance of science writing in an age when the authority of science is being undermined by religious zealots. Via MeFi's own, Steve Silberman, digaman. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Sep 1, 2010 - 39 comments

Kurzweil vs. Myers

Ray Kurzweil: Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030. PZ Myers: Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain.
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2010 - 195 comments

Death and The Slow-Mo Effect

Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, wanted to find out how the human brain processes time in a near death situation. [more inside]
posted by two lights above the sea on Aug 17, 2010 - 26 comments

Too much cofffee man

What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain
posted by Artw on Jul 13, 2010 - 136 comments

Brainy Pop

The Amygdaloids (beware automatic mp3) mix neuroscience and rock and roll, and they're pretty sharp.
posted by Mooseli on Jul 10, 2010 - 3 comments

Free will vs. Modern-day Criminal Justice System

The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system
As de Duve has written, “If … neuronal events in the brain determine behavior, irrespective of whether they are conscious or unconscious, it is hard to find room for free will. But if free will does not exist, there can be no responsibility, and the structure of human societies must be revised”.
Ben Libet & free will, previously on metafilter. (And more on: Lucretius, Dualism, Philosophy of mind, and Free Will 1, 2.)
posted by scalespace on Jul 6, 2010 - 100 comments

Pixel Pickle

Editors of the pop-culture magazine Wired provided the title "iPhone 4’s ‘Retina’ Display Claims Are False Marketing" to a highly critical article about the new iPhone's high-resolution "Retina" display, so-called as the human eye cannot resolve individual pixels when viewing it. A technician who worked on the Hubble telescope disagreed with the Wired editors' choice of rhetoric in very strong technical terms and issued less stringent disagreement with Raymond Soneira, the writer of the piece. Neuroscientist and photographer Bryan Jones published his own highly readable technical analysis of the display's pixel arrangement, that helped him decide whether Apple's claims were truthful or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 26, 2010 - 64 comments

Concealed Neuroanatomy in Michelangelo's Separation of Light From Darkness

In a Michelangelo Fresco, Visions of a Brain Stem. "It has been hiding in plain sight for the past 500 years, and now two Johns Hopkins professors believe they have found it: one of Michelangelo’s rare anatomical drawings in a panel high on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was a conscientious student of human anatomy and enthusiastically dissected corpses throughout his life, but few of his anatomical drawings survive. This one, a depiction of the human brain and brain stem, appears to be drawn on the neck of God, but not all art historians can see it there."
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2010 - 62 comments

Strangers in the mirror.

Prosopagnosia, or face blindness, is an impairment which limits one's ability to recognize faces (previously). As part of the World Science Festival, Robert Krulwich interviews two famous suffers of this little known disease: the portrait artist Chuck Close and the neuroscientist and writer Oliver Sacks. [more inside]
posted by 1f2frfbf on Jun 18, 2010 - 78 comments

Listen to presences inside poems. Let them take you where they will.

Sean Haldane, a nominee for the post of professor of poetry at Oxford, talks about his dual life as a poet and neuroscientist
“I now think poetry has more capacity to change people than psychotherapy”
And he also has an interesting blog.
Robert Graves wrote in 1968: “I like Sean’s poems: clean, accurate and no nonsense – they still have the original poetic nap on them. They make sense, which is rare these days”.
From The Psychiatrist 2002: Are poetry and psychotherapy too ‘wet’ for serious psychiatrists?
Poetry Therapy is not new.
posted by adamvasco on May 31, 2010 - 19 comments

Free Willy

You've stepped out of a time machine, it's 1894 and you're standing in front of a young Adolf Hitler, with instructions to assassinate the child. What you do next may depend a lot on your belief and definition of free will (never mind the unintended consequences) [more inside]
posted by smoke on May 20, 2010 - 205 comments

The dolphin as our beast of burden

A Mind in the Water: The dolphin as our beast of burden. "The shocking double life of the dolphin, featuring neuropsychologists, hippies, spies, and extraterrestrials."
posted by homunculus on May 8, 2010 - 21 comments

David Eagleman's afterlife - a possibilist position

So we're stuck in a position where we know too little to commit to atheism and we know too much to commit to religion. That put me somewhere in the middle. I don't prefer the term agnostic because agnosticism is often used as a weak term that means I'm not sure if the guy with the beard on the cloud exists or doesn't exist. So I call myself a possibilian. [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Apr 10, 2010 - 229 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

Art imititates life?

Bringing New Understanding to the Director’s Cut (NYT) Art imitates life? Neuroscientists studying vision have observed a 1/f distribution in the natural scenes we encounter everyday. A new study shows movies have a similar 1/f distribution of scene pacing as natural scenes we encounter in daily life.
posted by scalespace on Mar 1, 2010 - 44 comments

When a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist...

Optimal Waist-to-Hip Ratios in Women Activate Neural Reward Centers in Men by Steven M. Platek and Devendra Singh.
posted by jjray on Feb 10, 2010 - 177 comments

That'll do

Neuroscience explained using LOLcats (SLLJ). You're-a-kitty filter. That is all. [more inside]
posted by Joey Michaels on Feb 9, 2010 - 26 comments

Change Your Mind Change Your Brain

Change your mind, change your brain - Matthieu Ricard talks about creating the inner conditions for authentic happiness, and the effects of meditation on the brain. [more inside]
posted by MetaMonkey on Jan 31, 2010 - 17 comments

Accept defeat

The Neuroscience of Screwing Up by Jonah Lehrer [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Dec 22, 2009 - 16 comments

Signatures of Consciousness

12 years in the making, a good working hypothesis about the nature of conciousness. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Dec 4, 2009 - 72 comments

Optimizing Your Brain At Work

Optimizing Your Brain at Work is a pretty fascinating talk at Google by David Rock about managing your brain's internal states and attention, as well as threat responses with the goal of optimizing information processing. It is a Youtube link, and fairly long (~55min). He also mentions The Neuroscience of Mindfulness during the talk, so here is a convenient link to that.
posted by Vulpyne on Dec 3, 2009 - 28 comments

Neuroscience, Live!

HM was the subject of many landmark studies in neuroscience. After his hippocampus was removed to control epileptic seizures, he was unable to form long-term memories. University of California - San Diego's Brain Observatory is shaving his brain now, sliver after sliver, and posting the live camera feed on the web. [more inside]
posted by Vhanudux on Dec 2, 2009 - 86 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

Big Brother's just a beetle on the wall

Cyborg Spy Beetles are no longer a thing of the future. UC Berkeley (funded by DARPA) has created cyborg beetles guided wirelessly via laptop. These spy beetles were created with the intent of bugging actual conversations, literally acting as the "fly on the wall". [more inside]
posted by scrutiny on Oct 27, 2009 - 56 comments

The Anxious Mind

Understanding the Anxious Mind. A good article on the psychology of anxiety and how an anxious temperament at birth can ebb and flow during one's lifetime. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Oct 2, 2009 - 22 comments

Monkeys inform humans about walking

What can we learn from quadrapeds about our own bipedal gait? Recently, a group of researchers has taught rhesus macaques how to walk, and then used neural recordings to develop a model of a functioning brain-machine interface (BMI) designed to take the signals from your brain and use them to interface with a prosthetic leg, which would allow previously paralyzed patients to literally walk again. [more inside]
posted by scrutiny on Oct 1, 2009 - 3 comments

A Few Strange Notes About Schizophrenia

Here's a strange one for the books: Science has taken notice that a really, really LARGE proportion of schizophrenic patients smoke. In fact, Scientific American Mind reports that an average of 85% of schizophrenic patients smoke cigarettes compared to only 20% in the general population. Many schizophrenics also appear to have abnormal thermoregulation, an impaired ability to understand body language, an inability to perceive an optical illusion called "the hollow mask illusion," an impaired ability to produce a brain protein known as the muscarinic M1 receptor, and an abnormally large number of genetic mutations known as CNV's or "copy number variations."
posted by mdpatrick on Sep 29, 2009 - 65 comments

The Wisdom of Salmon

Functional MRI (fMRI) is a widely used technique of brain imaging in the cognitive sciences, allowing researchers to visualize what part of the brain is responding to certain stimuli, resulting in striking images of live brains. These days, fMRI is seeing more non-research use, such as forming the basis of controversial new lie detectors. Craig Bennett, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB, submitted a whole Atlantic salmon to fMRI analysis, and found that this fish could apparently detect, and respond to, the the emotional state of human beings (poster). Remarkable science, especially considering the salmon was dead at the time. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Sep 24, 2009 - 59 comments

Torture Produces False Memories and Bad Intel

Torturing the brain (PDF). Extreme pain and stress can actually impair a person's ability to tell the truth. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Sep 22, 2009 - 28 comments

the consumption renews the appetite

Seeking - How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting.
posted by nickyskye on Sep 6, 2009 - 40 comments

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