How Google Is Making Us Smarter: Humans are "natural-born cyborgs," and the Internet is our giant "extended mind."
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]
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.
Art as Visual Research: Art and neuroscience combine in creating fascinating examples of illusory motion.
"You cannot overestimate how threatened the scientific establishment is by the fact that it now looks like the materialist paradigm is genuinely breaking down.", argues psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, part of a growing "non-material neuroscience" movement, an approach that evokes Cartesian dualism - the belief that the mind is not linked to the body, taking on the qualities of a soul. However growing the movement might be, others argue that the end of materialism is far from nigh. (via)
Brain's 'Hate Circuit' Identified. "People who view pictures of someone they hate display activity in distinct areas of the brain that, together, may be thought of as a 'hate circuit', according to new research by scientists at UCL (University College London)."
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.
The Noisy Drinking Cat. More videos of animals having fun. Who says that animals don't experience pleasure? [Scroll down for some of the interesting things animals enjoy.] Love Songs Bring Pleasure to Bird Brains. [more inside]
Dr. Joe Z. Tsien has previously created a strain of mice unable to form memories, one with much improved memory - "Doogie" mice - and can now erase single mouse memories. "Our work reveals a molecular mechanism of how that can be done quickly and without doing damage to brain cells." Remembering to forget....
Army Funds Synthetic Telepathy Research Inspired by video game research [previously] the army has issued funding to research the possibility of sending/receiving e-mail via brainwaves. Some progress has been made using EEGs already, although the army's motives don't seem so pure.
As the market plummets, it might be interesting to look at the neurological background in the breakdown of trust. The author, Jonah Lehrer, is a young brainiac writer for Seed and the excellent Frontal Cortex. l Scientists immediately discovered a strong neural signal that drove many of the investment decisions. The signal was fictive learning. l One way to think of the financial markets right now is that instead of being populated by rational agents, they're full of people with borderline personality disorder. [more inside]
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).