The Unspeakable Odyssey of the Motionless Boy. "How much of our humanity are we prepared to cede to machines? This is a dilemma of the future, but it's not much of a concern for Erik Ramsey. Erik can't move. He can't blink his eyes. And he hasn't said a word since 1999. But now, thanks to an electrode that was surgically implanted in his brain and linked to a computer, his nine-year silence is about to end." [Via]
A New State of Mind. "New research is linking dopamine to complex social phenomena and changing neuroscience in the process."
How magicians control your mind. "Magic isn't just a bag of tricks - it's a finely-tuned technology for shaping what we see. Now researchers are extracting its lessons (PDF)." [Via BB and MH]
For the first time in the Indian state of Maharashtra, life sentences were meted out based on the findings of Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature(BEOS) profiling. [more inside]
Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. A new study of the connections in the brain has identified the brain's central hub.
You know the feeling that something is on the tip of your tongue? It offers deep insights into the nature of the mind. [Via The Frontal Cortex]
"Associative Musical Visual Intelligence (or "amvi" for short) is a type of intelligence that's difficult enough to define, let alone test. Many creative people can associate across sensory domains: they "hear" hints of shapes and can "taste" the essense of colors. At its most extreme this phenomenon is called synesthesia. However, I believe that creative people subconsciously employ elements of synesthesia every day when attempting to think of things in new ways. This is a logic test that attempts to measure one's ability to correlate musical phrases with abstract shapes and symbols." [more inside]
"The Guardian has been granted exclusive and unfettered access to one of the most controversial research facilities at a British university." Caring or cruel? Inside the primate laboratory. Audio slideshow. A necessary evil - Colin Blakemore. Wise monkeys - Gill Langley.
"Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation" (PDF). A recent article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences on the neuroscience of meditation, focusing on how meditation alters and sharpens the brain's attention systems. The research is being done at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior (previously), who have also recently published research on the "Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation" (PDF), which describes how meditation can cultivate compassion by physically affecting brain regions that play a role in empathy. They shared this research with the Dalai Lama at the recent Seeds of Compassion forum.
The Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours. Why the Next Civil Rights Battle Will Be Over the Mind.
"How many brain scientists have the chance to study a stroke from the inside?" In 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor did (previously), and she recently gave a moving TED talk on her experience. If that merely whetted your appetite for more brainy videos, check out the complete archive of UCSD TV's Grey Matters, a series of lectures on the brain. And for dessert, The Parts of the Brain, as performed by Pinky and The Brain. [via Neurophilosophy]
Out of the Blue: "Can a thinking, remembering, decision-making, biologically accurate brain be built from a supercomputer?"
Encephalon: Briefing the Next US President on 24 Neuroscience and Psychology Issues. Encephalon, the neuroscience blog carnival has returned after a brief hiatus and is being hosted at Sharp Brains. [Via Mind Hacks, which will host the next edition.]
"A few years ago a psychologist and a philosopher got into an argument over whether we can accurately describe our thoughts. "Yes," said the psychologist; with training and the help of my special technique, we can accurately describe our thoughts. The philosopher doubted it. To resolve their argument, they recruited a young woman who agreed tell them her thoughts, so that they could argue over whether she was credible." Eric Schwitzgebel and Russ Hurlbert debate the transparency of inner experience. See also Schwitzgebel's extremely interesting blog.
The Moral Instinct. "Evolution has endowed us with ethical impulses. Do we know what to do with them?" [Via The Mahablog.]
The New New Philosophy. "Philosophers are increasingly eager to go out into the world and conduct experiments. But will their results settle any arguments?" [Via Mind Hacks]
Traveling a lot this weekend? Long drive, plane or train ride? You can use that transit time to listen to the Dalai Lama talk for more than four hours with neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars on the topic of craving, suffering and choice. Part one. Part two. [iTunes links] If you're stuck at home, you can watch the video. The video link has the full list of participants.
In research that may one day help restore mobility to the paralyzed and amputees, Dr. Charles Higgins of the University of Arizona has created a "robo-moth": a 6-inch tall wheeled robot guided by an electrode inserted into a single neuron responsible for vision stability during flight in the hawk moth (aka the Tobacco hornworm). [more inside]
See For Yourself - Purves Lab's optical illusions web page with empirical explanations of familiar and unfamiliar illusions.
MindPapers - David Chalmers organizes, streamlines and expands his collection of papers related to mind and neuroscience.
Mapping Memory. "Turn the human brain upside down and all around to see how memories are saved (or lost)." National Geographic has a great interactive 3D map of the brain as part of an excellent feature on memory. [more inside]
Searching for God in the Brain. "Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith." [Via MindHacks, which points out a few niggling omissions in the article.]
The Philosophy and Neuroscience Movement (PDF). A paper by Andrew Brook and Pete Mandik on the relationship between neuroscience and philosophy. [Via MindHacks.] [more inside]
Worried about inaccuracies in Wikipedia? Try Scholarpedia, a peer-reviewed encyclopedia, with articles written by experts in their field. [more inside]
How big is your crockus? In cutting edge neuroscience news, a new part of the brain has recently been identifed by the enigmatic Dr. Crockus. Described as "the detailed section of the brain, a part of the frontal lope," the crockus is apparently four times larger in females than in males, which is why girls see the details of experiences while boys see the whole but not the details. [more inside]
The Abyss. Oliver Sacks writes about Clive Wearing (recently discussed here). [Via MindHacks.] [more inside]
In an experiment reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at NYU and UCLA demonstrate that political orientation is related to basic differences in cognition - how the brain processes information. Psychological studies in the past found conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments while liberals are more "open to new experiences." The latest study finds these traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions. [more inside]
BrainPaint. Beautiful, real-time images created through neurofeedback by using the electrical activity of the brain to seed fractal patterns.
Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
Excellent BBC Brain Story series available online. One of the best TV series on psychology and neuroscience ever produced, the BBC's Brain Story, is available on public bittorrent servers for download. It is a six part series covering virtually every area of contemporary neuropsychology, including the major researchers, discoveries, techniques and even many of the patients who have been the subjects of classic case studies that have helped us understand the curious effects of brain injury.
The Shapes of Thought is "an exploration of the visualization of emotion as EEG and other bioelectrical signals over time as retrievable data in three-dimesnional forms." It's part of the Einstein's Brain project. [Via Neurofuture.]
Essential tones of music rooted in human speech. Original Duke University paper by Deborah Ross, Jonathan Choi and Dale Purves [pdf].
A good night's sleep with the flip of a switch? A brain zapper to fight sleep deprivation using TMS. [more inside]
When a Brain Forgets Where Memory Is. Interesting article on dissociative fugue, the poorly understood memory disorder where people seem to forget who they are. [Via MindHacks.]
Neurolaw - The Brain on the Stand
The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow. A documentary about Temple Grandin (previously discussed here and here.) [Via MindHacks.]
Dr. Rajesh Rao of the University of Washington has created a brain-computer interface that allows a human to control a small humanoid robot (video link) through brain activity alone.
Ramón y Cajal fathered a new science with his elegant sketches of neurons. Since then, the brain has been visualized in a variety of ways: from the microscopic to the functional, from the abstract to the beautiful. The connectome, intellectual heir to the human genome project and proteomics, aims to map the entire brain network as a means of understanding cognition and behavior. Pick your favorite brain metaphor here.
Video of a hemispherectomy, a neurosurgical procedure to remove a hemisphere of the brain, on a 6-year-old girl with epilepsy. Previous post about the procedure. [Via Mind Hacks.]
Neuroscience Gateway - "a comprehensive source for the latest research, news and events in neuroscience and genomics research"
Scientists discover a region of the brain responsible for feelings of 'self' and 'other'. If electrically stimulated, it causes the perception of an alien being-- a shadow person, standing just behind you, mimicking your every move. This could explain strange feelings of being watched, or of strange presences, or ghosts.
We’ve detected background radiation from the Big Bang. We’ve sent explorers to the bottom of the ocean and the moon above us. We have images of the individual atoms of which our world is made. But we cannot have direct access to the sensory experiences of another human being. Language can help to bridge the gap but it is an imperfect tool. The closest we have come is Brain Fingerprinting and even that only indicates recognition of a scene or object; it does not capture the actual visual memory of the scene or object. This may soon change. Several years ago, researchers at Berkeley wired a cat’s neurons to a computer and were able to obtain videos of what the cat was seeing.