Neuroscientists Need to Communicate Their Research to the Public More Effectively

September 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

Dumb it down a little for the press please, but we are not all like Homer, here.

Communicating science can be difficult, and for neuroscientists, it is particularly challenging because the subject matter—how our brains work—is highly complex. Research is often reported inaccurately because many journalists who cover neuroscience have little understanding of the field. Instead of enhancing the public understanding of neuroscience, media coverage of brain research often propagates misinformation. Read the full story…

via Talkin’ Brains – Dana Foundation.

Whos hand is that?

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Mo Costandi posted a fun article one could use to trick friends but, the science behind it is what is intriguing to me.

“DO you think that you perceive your body and the world around you as they really are? If your answer to that question is “yes”, then think again. Our perceptions are little more than the brain’s best guess of the nature of reality, constructed from fragments of information it receives through the senses. “Read the full post (it has video)

via Illusions of bodily awareness adapted for the pub : Neurophilosophy.

You Fall in Love Because Your Brain is a Jellyfish, Lizard, and Mouse Ice Cream Cone | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Check out this wonderfully creative article on human evolution by Kyle Munkittrick. I love the picture.

“Human beings are the peak of evolution, right? Our advanced brains allow us to poke one another on Facebook, send rockets to the moon, and order complex drinks at Starbucks. We can even fall in love. How are we able to do all of that? NPR’s Science Podcast has been doing a running series “The Human Edge” in which they discuss various things about humans that make us, well, human. NPR’s John Hamilton tackled brain evolution and how we humans still carry parts of other animal brains within us. Feel that pebble in your shoe? Thank a jellyfish. Ever duck before a rogue Frisbee collides with your noggin? Thank a lizard. Remember where you left your keys? Thank a mouse.”… Read the full story

via You Fall in Love Because Your Brain is a Jellyfish, Lizard, and Mouse Ice Cream Cone | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine.

Finding My Mind

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

While drinking my morning coffee, I watched a documentary I had waiting on TiVo for a few days called Finding My Mind.  In it, Oxford University professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus du Sautoy, takes a journey deep into his own brain; a willing guinea pig for some of the most extraordinary experiments known to neuroscience.

What stood out most for me were his interviews with Christof Koch and John-Dylan Haynes.

Koch states that individual nerve cells and single neurons can process information. He has written a text-book on the subject. These cells networking together produce the  Neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC).

Haynes work on Unconscious decisions in the brain is very exciting. In the documentary, Haynes showed Sautory that his subconscious brain was making decisions up to six seconds before his conscience brain. Haynes seemed quite disturbed by this fact. As if this somehow nullified the idea of free will. I think once he realized that his unconscious was simply him, he was OK.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.
Buddha

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Warning I'm not listeningYes, I just quoted Jackie Chan from Rush Hour 2.  Hey, that is the thought that popped into my brain while I was reading this article. What can I say?

I just can’t get over how cool the brain is. It seems like every day science learns a dozen marvelous new things about how our brains work.

“We know that real verbal communications requires both a speaker and a listener (often they go back and forth, but not always). This involves both the production of speech, AND the perception and comprehension of what someone else is saying to you. The question is, HOW does that happen?” Read Full Story…

via Conversations really DO take two. | Neurotic Physiology.

Internet overload

August 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have been spending far too much time on the internet the past few months. Between twitter, RSS and my blog, I spend almost no time with my husband anymore. I miss him. He is my favorite person in the world and frankly, my reason for living.

Worst of all I realized this morning that I have spiraled into a deep depression.  Depression is nothing new for me. I am Bi-polar. However, for the last few years, I have been in a “place in my life” where my depressions were simply a chemical imbalance in my brain. I felt the all the symptoms of depression, but because I was otherwise happy with my life, they were just like any other symptoms I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

This morning however I realized I wasn’t happy anymore.  Nothing fundamental has changed in my life. All that has changed is my “online” life. Like most people I follow people with similar interests to my own. I wanted to learn, share ideas, understand what was going on in my head.

I followed scientists, and skeptics which let to atheists. Eventually my circle grew to include “spoonies”. In the beginning I was very careful to only follow people who were positive, or at the very least not outright negative. That did not last long.

I am now spending hours(yes hours, partially blind) every day reading through hundreds posts and articles of people bitching and moaning about how terrible the world is, just to find a few good tidbits of information. And looking back at my own posts, I have started doing it too. I don’t want to be that person. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I am not saying people’s problems are not important. They are very real issues and they should be discussed. The internet is the right forum to discus them.  The problem is mine. I should not be reading them.  Fuck, I was yelling at the news on TV last night. I need to make some serious changes to my internet habits starting today.

I suppose this post is for the few people who actually follow me on a regular basis. I am not leaving the internet. I am not giving up my blog or twitter. I will simply be scaling things back.

May peace and joy be with you.

PJ

Reinforcements ordered in the war on brains

August 10, 2010 § 3 Comments

I am not a regular viewer of Rachel Maddow, but thanks to @darwinsbulldog I saw this and had to share it.

What’s wrong with evolutionary biology 101?:Pharyngula

July 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

It's more than genes, it's networks and systems|pharyngulaI learn more about biology reading PZ Myer’s blog than I ever did in school. Of course I went to mostly private religious schools, and then their were the dark ages spent in the Utah public school system. I don’t remember them teaching biology in Utah. They did have an animal husbandry class. I skipped that one.

“Here’s the problem, and also a brief introduction to Evolutionary Biology 201.

First, [evolutionary biology 101] it’s not exactly wrong — it’s more like taking one good explanation of certain kinds of evolution and making it a sweeping claim that that is how all evolution works. By reducing it to this one scheme, though, it makes evolution far too plodding and linear, and reduces it all to a sort of personal narrative. It isn’t any of those things. What’s left out in the 101 story, and in creationist tales, is that: evolution is about populations, so many changes go on in parallel; selectable traits are usually the product of networks of genes, so there are rarely single alleles that can be categorized as the effector of change; and genes and gene networks are plastic or responsive to the environment. All of these complications make the actual story more complicated and interesting, and also, perhaps to your surprise, make evolutionary change faster and more powerful.” Please read the full story on Science Blogs

via It’s more than genes, it’s networks and systems : Pharyngula.

Bubbles!

July 19, 2010 § 7 Comments

I am a little obsessed with bubbles. As you may have read on this blog, I had an awakening a couple of years back. It was brought on by many factors including physical and mental trauma. Not the least of which were a couple of mini-strokes that happened while I was “dead” or being revived. The point being that my brain seems to have rewired itself in some strange and wonderful ways. Before this enlightenment, I had almost no knowledge of quantum physics, astrophysics, particle physics, etc. So, When I had this eye-opening experience and all these pieces started falling into place, my mind started racing out of control. It was almost too much to handle. I have never been a very disciplined person. I said “Shit, I need to learn to meditate.” Once I calmed myself down, I started reading as much as I could online and watching every documentary I could find on the evolution of well… everything. I had a picture in my head that I could not articulate because I did not have the language. First, the language center of my brain is a little messed up. Second, I don’t have the education. I took one physics and one trigonometry class in high school. I think I took one advanced algebra class in college but that is it. Of course I knew of the Big Bang theory but could not discuss it in detail. My knowledge of string theory didn’t go beyond my love for the series Quantum Leap.

I knew that what I put together in my mind was important. It was something the world should know. But who the hell was I to tell anyone anything. I felt an urgency to find some word, some image, just someplace to start looking for someone to tell what was in my head. I knew it was that important. Then I saw a documentary on M-Theory. I turned to my husband and said “Everything’s OK now. They’re already working on it.” All the anxiety and urgency melted away. The thirst for knowledge did not. I still read every thing I can. (it takes a long time) And watch every documentary.

Yes I am quite aware of how utterly nuts this all sounds. I am myself a skeptic. If I read this on someones blog I would cry “bullshit”. But I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am not trying to sell anything. I don’t care if you believe me or not. For a long time I was convinced I was alone in this experience. Upon further research, it is quite common.

Now for the obsession with bubbles. BUBBLES! Forgive me. Yes, it does have to do with bubble universe theory. It is also a very sweet inside joke with my husband having to do the movie Finding Nemo and of course the character Bubbles. We are now the type of happy couple I use to make fun of back when I was a cynical person.

Parallel Universes is a 2001 documentary produced by the BBC’s Horizon series. The documentary has to do with parallel universes, string theory, M theory, supergravity, and other theoretical physics concepts. Participants include Michio Kaku, Paul Steinhardt, Neil Turok, Burt Ovrut, Alan Guth and other physicists. It is not the documentary I was watching that day, but it is one of our favorites. If you have not seen it please take the time. Even if you have no interest in physics. It will rock your world. If you have seen it. It is worth another viewing. We have watched it several times.

 

Click here to see Parallel Universes

Are you letting your ideas have sex?

July 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

This is a ‘must see’ TED Talk. I almost had a brain-gasm I was so excited. It is so amazing to me still, that people I have never heard of know exactly what I have been trying to articulate. Once again I have to say to someone Thank you Matt Ridley for saying what I have been thinking but did not have the words to say.

At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.

Ideas can only be shared if you have the freedom to share them. We have the First Amendment in the United States but do you use it to share ideas or to suppress ideas of people who don’t agree with you? Before you answer that question consider the speech Phil Plait gave at TAM8 called “Don’t Be A Dick”

Human Consciousness Taboo?

July 4, 2010 § 4 Comments

Anil Seth: identifying the root of consciousnessWhat is going on out there in the scientific community? I tried several searches to find information on human consciousness. Most of what I found were religious nuts and spiritualists talking about ascension. I thought that was something they only did on Stargate Atlantis. Don’t get me wrong. I loved that show. But, I was looking for less fictional information. I did find some studies done back in the ’70s and the ’90s.  Finally I found an interview with Anil Seth, the co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, in The Guardian. Anil Seth: identifying the root of consciousness At least it is a place for me to start. I am truly shocked at how little study is being done in this field. If the studies are being done why can’t I find them?

It seems even the Sackler Center is scoffed at until people find out what they are really doing.  The flights of fancy that may unlock the secrets of
our brains in the TimesOnline.
Last link on this post I promise … One Minute with Seth from New Science (download PDF)

Our Queer Universe

July 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

This is one of my favorite TED talks by Richard Dawkins. It is a very beautiful way of explaining the way we evolved to look at the world.

On the subject of duh…

July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sciene DailyIsn’t it wonderful when science catches up to what everybody already knew? I am referring to the recent study published by Association For Psychological Science. The study was cited in an article Science Daily June 30, 2010.  Is your left hand more motivated than your right hand? The article states in part:

Motivation doesn’t have to be conscious; your brain can decide how much it wants something without input from your conscious mind. Now a new study shows that both halves of your brain don’t even have to agree. Motivation can happen in one side of the brain at a time.

We all knew this right? Not necessarily the right brain, left brain stuff but, the conscious, subconscious stuff. Who didn’t know about the subconscious making decisions? Sometimes I think scientists are deliberately obtuse. That’s just a layman’s opinion. Read the article and judge for yourself. The right and left brain data is very interesting.

And the truth shall set you free…

June 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Liar, liar: Why deception is our way of life Liar, Liar - New Scientist

by Dorothy Rowe is an intriguing look into how our minds work.  I must say I do not share many of her fears. “Each of us lives alone, in our own world of meaning. This is frightening.” I find them exciting and comforting.  However I do agree with her insights on lying.

A new way to count

June 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Chip Conley explains how American leaders and businesses can help move us from a culture wanting to a culture of happiness.

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