We all know what a thought is, but have you seen one take shape?

Tuesday, 12 February, 2013

Footage of the brain of a fish as it forms a thought. Thunder and lightning, very exciting. Around here you tend to see smoke more than anything else when thought making is in action…

And if you ever want to take a break from thinking, it may one day be possible to outsource the process, if a supercomputer, costing a cool $1.6 billion, that simulates the human brain, ever comes to fruition.

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Most of what we see when looking at art is not seen by the eye

Tuesday, 20 December, 2011

I’ve never given much thought to how exactly I observe the artworks I look at, but it seems our perceptions in this regard are shaped by far more than what is simply before our eyes.

We want to believe that pleasure is simple, that our delight in a fine painting or bottle of wine is due entirely to the thing itself. But that’s not the way reality works. Whenever we experience anything, that experience is shaped by factors and beliefs that are not visible on the canvas or present in the glass. Even the most exquisite works in the world – and what is more exceptional than a Rembrandt portrait? – still require a little mental help. We only see the beauty because we are looking for it.

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The left side of the brain is eclipsed by the right side’s creativity

Thursday, 24 February, 2011

Mercedes Benz left/right brain artwork

An advertising campaign for Mercedes Benz in Israel makes for an all to right-sided way of illustrating the differences between our left and right brain hemispheres.

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Never lost that loving feeling even after 20 years of marriage

Friday, 14 January, 2011

Couples who claim to still be oh-so-in-love with each other, even after being together for 20 years or more, aren’t necessarily putting on a show, and now we have the brain scans to prove it

But, unlike those who are newly in love, the long-in-love brains show no activity among the areas that are commonly associated with anxiety and fear. “Individuals in long-term relationships may experience the excitement, sexual attraction, engagement, and intensity associated with romantic love,” says Acevedo. “But they report pining, anxiety, intrusive thinking far less than individuals newly in love.”

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Would you, on an impulse, ever overclock your brain?

Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

British researchers have found that applying a very mild electrical current – one milliamp (one thousandth of an amp) – to the brain, in a way “overclocking” it – a little like the way overclockers push computer components to perform well beyond their intended capability – boosted the ability of study participants to tackle certain maths problems.

While the application of an electrical current to the brain is unlikely to turn everyone into a genius, the finding could however benefit people with dyscalculia, a difficulty comprehending mathematics and solving numerical problems.

Dr Cohen Kadosh, who led the study, said: “We are not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings and are now looking into the underlying brain changes. “We’ve shown before that we can induce dyscalculia, and now it seems we might be able to make someone better at maths, so we really want to see if we can help people with dyscalculia.

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Ok, excessive consumption of alcohol won’t kill brain cells, but…

Friday, 8 October, 2010

Contrary to popular perception, the consumption of large quantities of alcohol (as in alcoholic beverages) doesn’t actually destroy brain cells, but it does hamper their ability to communicate with each other, which when you think about it, is probably just as bad.

While brain cells aren’t being killed as the result of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, the ability for your brain cells to communicate with one another is being inhibited. What’s going on here is that the alcohol ends up damaging dendrites, which are the things at the ends of neurons that conduct electrochemical stimulation from another cell to the cell body in question. Basically, with some of these dendrites damaged, it inhibits the ability of your brain cells to talk to one another.

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The day dreaming brain is far from taking it easy

Wednesday, 1 September, 2010

Neuroscientists consider our brains to be in a “default mode” of sorts while we are day dreaming and our thoughts are wandering… and greater insight into that process may help tackle a range of psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Individually, the brain regions that make up that network have long been recognized as active when people recall their pasts, project themselves into future scenarios, impute motives and feelings to other people, and weigh their personal values. But when these structures hum in unison – and scientists have found that when we daydream, they do just that – they function as our brain’s “neutral” setting. 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.

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Forget Mr Spock, to mind meld you need only talk to each other

Friday, 30 July, 2010

It may be possible to mind-meld with others without having to resort to the Vulcan technique of doing so…

When two people experience a deep connection, they’re informally described as being on the same wavelength. There may be neurological truth to that. Brain scans of a speaker and listener showed their neural activity synchronizing during storytelling. The stronger their reported connection, the closer the coupling.

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How surprisingly apt our minds are at listening to new music

Tuesday, 26 January, 2010

While we may not realise it, our brains may be trying to determine the composition of an unknown song while we are listening to it for the first time.

The first is that music hijacks some very fundamental neural mechanisms. The brain is designed to learn by association: if this, then that. Music works by subtly toying with our expected associations, enticing us to make predictions about what note will come next, and then confronting us with our prediction errors. In other words, every melody manipulates the same essential mechanisms we use to make sense of reality.

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The sand avalanches in my mind, the theory of chaotic thought

Wednesday, 1 July, 2009

It seems the human brain organises its processes in sand hill like fashion, piling them on top of each other until they collapse in sand avalanches.

The quintessential example of self-organised criticality is a growing sand pile. As grains build up, the pile grows in a predictable way until, suddenly and without warning, it hits a critical point and collapses. These “sand avalanches” occur spontaneously and are almost impossible to predict, so the system is said to be both critical and self-organising. Earthquakes, avalanches and wildfires are also thought to behave like this, with periods of stability followed by catastrophic periods of instability that rearrange the system into a new, temporarily stable state.

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