neurosciences

Let’s follow that fire truck I think your house is burnin down

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The average person misplaces up to nine items a day, and one-third of respondents in a poll said they spend an average of 15 minutes each day searching for items—cellphones, keys and paperwork top the list, according to an online survey of 3,000 people published in 2012 by a British insurance company. […]

In a recent study, researchers in Germany found that the majority of people surveyed about forgetfulness and distraction had a variation in the so-called dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2), leading to a higher incidence of forgetfulness. According to the study, 75% of people carry a variation that makes them more prone to forgetfulness.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

related { Processing new information during sleep compromises memory }

photo { Daniel Bejar, The Visual Topography of a Generation Gap (Brooklyn, NY, #1), 2011 }

We must embrace emptiness and burn it as fuel for our journey

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If you’re like most people, you spend a great deal of your time remembering past events and planning or imagining events that may happen in the future. While these activities have their uses, they also make it terribly hard to keep track of what you have and haven’t actually seen, heard, or done. Distinguishing between memories of real experiences and memories of imagined or dreamt experiences is called reality monitoring and it’s something we do (or struggle to do) all of the time. […]

Perhaps you’ve left the house and headed to work, only to wonder en route if you’d locked the door. Even if you thought you did, it can be hard to tell whether you remember actually doing it or just thinking about doing it. […]

The study’s authors also found greater activation in the anterior medial prefrontal cortex when they compared reality monitoring for actions participants performed with those they only imagined performing.

{ Garden of the Mind | Continue reading }

‘The fire of hell is called eternal, only because it never ends.’ –Thomas Aquinas

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When you really focus your attention on something, you’re said to be “in the present moment.” But a new piece of research suggests that the “present moment” is actually […] a sort of composite—a product mostly of what we’re seeing now, but also influenced by what we’ve been seeing for the previous 15 seconds or so. They call this ephemeral boundary the “continuity field.”

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

photo { Richard Sandler }

What’s the last thing that you do remember?

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A fascinating paper asks what one man with no memory – and no regrets – can really teach us about time. […]

Researchers Carl Craver and colleagues describe the case of “KC”, a former “roadie for rock bands, prone to drinking and occasional rash behavior” who suffered extensive brain damage in a motorcycle crash. In particular, KC lost his hippocampus on both sides of the brain. This area is crucial for memory, so KC experiences profound amnesia. In fact, he’s one of the best known cases of the condition.

KC is unable to form any new long-term memories: he forgets everything that happens within a matter of minutes. He also, famously, cannot imagine anything happening in either the past or the future. Here’s a much-quoted conversation between him and neuroscientist Endel Tulving.

ET: What will you be doing tomorrow?

[15 second pause.]

KC: I don’t know.


{ Neuroskeptic | Continue reading }

photo { Archana Rayamajhi }

‘Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called Ego.’ –Nietzsche

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A recent paper has put a hole in another remnant of Freud’s influence, that suppressed memories are still active. Freud noticed that we can suppress unwelcome memories. He theorized that the suppressed memories continued to exist in the unconscious mind and could unconsciously affect behaviour. Uncovering these memories and their influence was a large part of psychoanalysis. Understanding whether this theory is valid is important for evaluating recovered memories of abuse and for dealing with post-traunatic stress disorder.

The question Gagnepain, Henson and Anderson set out to answer was whether successfully suppressed conscious memories were also suppressed unconsciously or whether they were still unconsciously active. […]

[T]he results do fit with a number of other findings about memory, so that it is now unwise to take the Freudian view of suppression as reliable.

{ Neuro-patch | Continue reading }

‘Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings—always darker, emptier and simpler.’ —Nietzsche

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At one end is our everyday consciousness, and at the other is total unconsciousness, as represented by coma. Actually, the term “coma” covers two very similar states: One is the kind of coma that results from a severe head injury or cardiac arrest, and the other is the state induced in a hospital setting by means of general anesthesia.

So anyone who has had general anesthesia has been in a coma?

Yes, general anesthesia is nearly identical to what we might call “natural” coma.

{ American Scientist | Continue reading }

Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real

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“Saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon.

“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.” […]

A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use.

{ Telegraph | Continue reading }

photo { John Gutmann, Freaky Faces Graffiti (Masks Graffiti), San Francisco, 1939 }

In this model of time, nothing returns

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Our brains show more activity in their emotional regions when the music we are listening to is familiar, regardless of whether or not we actually like it.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

related { Young Musicians Reap Long-Term Neuro Benefits }

and { By Licking These Electric Ice Cream Cones, You Can Make Music }

photo { Nina Simone by Alfred Wertheimer, December 1964 }

‘We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.’ –Schopenhauer

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The simplest type of human communication is non verbal signals: things like posture, facial expression, gestures, tone of voice. They are in effect contagious: if you are sad, I will feel a little sad, if I then cheer up, you may too. The signals are indications of emotional states and we tend to react to another’s emotional state by a sort of mimicry that puts us in sync with them. We can carry on a type of emotional conversation in this way. Music appears to use this emotional communication – it causes emotions in us without any accompanying semantic messages. It appears to cause that contagion with three aspects: the rhythmic rate, the sound envelope and the timbre of the sound. For example a happy musical message has a fairly fast rhythm, flat loudness envelop with sharp ends, lots of pitch variation and a simple timbre with few harmonics. Language seems to use the same system for emotion, or at least some emotion. The same rhythm, sound envelope and timbre is used in the delivery of oral language and it carries the same emotional signals. Whether it is music or language, this sound specification cuts right past the semantic and cognitive processes and goes straight to the emotional ones. Language seems to share these emotional signals with music but not the semantic meaning that language contains.

{ Neuro-patch | Continue reading }

‘Your other self will miss the lighening bolt, you won’t get back to the future and we’ll have a major paradox!’ –Doc

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To answer the seemingly simple question “Have I been here before?” we must use our memories of previous experiences to determine if our current location is familiar or novel. In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers have identified a region of the hippocampus, called CA2, which is sensitive to even small changes in a familiar context. The results provide the first clue to the contributions of CA2 to memory and may help shed light on why this area is often found to be abnormal in the schizophrenic brain.

{ Function Space | Continue reading }

You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested.

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Exposure to bright light is a second possible approach to increasing serotonin without drugs. Bright light is, of course, a standard treatment for seasonal depression, but a few studies also suggest that it is an effective treatment for nonseasonal depression and also reduces depressed mood in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder39 and in pregnant women suffering from depression. […]

The fourth factor that could play a role in raising brain serotonin is diet. […] The idea, common in popular culture, that a high-protein food such as turkey will raise brain tryptophan and serotonin is, unfortunately, false. Another popular myth that is widespread on the Internet is that bananas improve mood because of their serotonin content. Although it is true that bananas contain serotonin, it does not cross the blood–brain barrier.

{ Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience | Continue reading }

They always build one door opposite another for the wind to. Way in. Way out.

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Memory is a cognitive process which is intrinsically linked to language. One of the fundamental tasks that the brain carries out when undertaking a linguistic activity - holding a conversation, for example - is the semantic process.

On carrying out this task, the brain compares the words it hears with those that it recalls from previous events, in order to recognise them and to unravel their meaning. This semantic process is a fundamental task for enabling the storing of memories in our brain, helping us to recognise words and to memorise names and episodes in our mind. However, as everyone knows, this is not a process that functions 100% perfectly at times; a lack of precision that, on occasions, gives rise to the creation of false memories.

{ Basque Research | Continue reading }

Our memory is a poor way of recording events, a study has found, as it rewrites the past with current information, updating recollections with new experiences. […] Their results raise questions over the reliability of eyewitness court testimony, the team concluded. 

{ Independent | Continue reading }

photo { Andrew and Carissa Gallo }