Site-Wide Activity

  • Ted Talk by neuroscientist Anil Seth. The brain processes the outer world via the senses, then organizes it and projects that organization back on to the world. Perception itself is an active, constructive […]

  • Below is a summary of recent topic suggestions  to consider for the next meeting.

    Paul – We should revisit, at some point, dfn’s of consciousness, components of consciousness, and what human style […]

  • I regret that I’ll probably miss next two meetings. I’ll be in Costa Rica July, and Shrewsbury, UK, August. Best to All, Paul

  • The Global Consciousness Project, Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS, for which I was once Hawaii state coordinator) and Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) are collaborating to release a smart phone […]

  • A neuron that encircles the mouse brain emanates from the claustrum (an on/off switch for awareness) and has dense links with both brain hemispheres. Scientists including Francis Crick and Christoph Koch have […]

  • Programmers of social media apps and increasing range of other apps apply neuroscience to program your brain.

  • In line with our July joint meeting with the NM Tech Council, I’m reading a fascinating book (Stealing Fire) on the variety of ways humans can experience states of flow (optimal states of consciousness and pe […]

  • In a few previous posts I posted articles on new scientific research questioning some of Piaget’s original premises. This Wikipedia article discusses those neo-Piagetians who have taken into account the more […]

  • Here is an interview with Thompson on Buddhism and the Brain. It starts with defining consciousness as awareness, its changing contents and how both then identify as a self in changing contexts. “Consciousness is […]

    • Traditionally they engage in vigorous debates between the different schools and factions, challenging each other and themselves. Having engaged in those debates I’ve found that more often than not everyone ends up defending their own dogma. But occasionally a few rare individuals break through. That’s one reason I like Thompson, being part of that tradition but also taking it to new heights using science and other domains. Stephen Batchelor is another one, although not so much from a scientific standpoint.

    • Also a lot of this information is in a discussion thread on Stephen Batchelor I started at the following link. He calls himself a Buddhist atheist and has tried to eliminate much of the metaphysical beliefs from Buddhism. It’s a 10-page read but very dense with information.

    • Here’s a funny satire on how to become a Buddhist.

    • Excellent video. The self as a process resonates. Self being a process aligns well with consciousness being a process and awakening being a process. Summarizing one slide in the video, the enactive theory takes into account the self process enacting through social cognition, language, rooted in the life of the body and immersed in the environment. Enactivism takes into account the complexities influencing the process of self. Ignoring the complexities and reducing self down to the brain creates an illusion of self is a curious notion (neuroreductionism). It makes me wonder about the difference in peoples life experiences, home and social environments in the developmental years, personality type, values, and world views to have such radically different perspectives.

    • The video below is Evan Thompson challenging an article in Scientific American that reduces mindfulness down to regions in the brain. He argues from the perspective of embodied cognitive science. During the Q&A someone asks what the Scientific American author’s response was when Evan questioned their article. Evidently Scientific American pressured them to present the data in a particular way.

      • Wrong link above. The one above is George Lakoff on embodied cognition and language. The correct one is below.

      • Weird. I pasted the link to a new tab and it was correct. I paste it to a comment and it is the George Lakoff link. Not sure how to remedy this one.

      • This may solve the problem. I used the share link rather than copying it from the URL.

      • Yes, I’m familiar with the Thompson video you reference.

  • Continuing the last post on developmental cognitive neuroscience (DCN), Meltzoff is one of the pioneers of DCN and here’s what he had to say in this ’99 article.

    “There has been a profound, even revolutionary, […]

  • The Journal of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience is here and it’s open access. This Wikipedia article gives a good overview of this developing field.  And here’s a Psychology Today article applying it to […]

    • Here’s a good article on how this field really needs a good constructivist developmental model in which to make sense of the findings. My limited research to date shows a lot of neuroscientific study but is sparse on contextualizing it in a developmental scheme. In particular, it looks at the neo-Piagetian models of Demetriou, Case, Pascual-Leone, Halford.

  • Interesting article by Karl Friston, the Wellcome principal research fellow and scientific director at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging and professor of neurology at University College […]

  • It’s common for brain functions to be described in terms of digital computing, but this metaphor does not hold up in brain research. Unlike computers, in which hardware and software are separate, organic brains’ […]

    • This reminds me of the principle reason why the meme thing never really led anywhere. Memes are informational replicators that reside in mind/brains. By definition, they replicate via imitation. But when one brain receives a piece of information from another, that receipt process is nothing like copying information from one computer hard drive to another. Instead, a highly personalized representation of the original meme is created in the recipient. It is not like DNA replication. Memes just are not good replicators. — Paul

    • I also like this article by Zak Stein on a better metaphor:

      • Zakstein makes a compelling argument. It’s interesting that both the cybernetic and the ecosystem metaphors emerged from general systems thinking. When I was studying GST in the early 1980s, the models of mind were complex adaptive living systems. Living systems have characteristic functions, including information processing. The error is to make the linear sort of information processing associated with traditional computers the entire model. Also, organisms learn (in several senses, including unconscious conditioning and conceptual knowledge acquisition and modification) and exercising influence over learning outcomes can have meaningful parallels with programming. I agree with the author that the information processing metaphor has been radically overextended (as metaphors tend to be), but there’s still value in thinking about how brains process information and how behaviors and concepts are formed (some aspects of which parallel ‘programming’ in a general sense).

  • The paper can be found here. The abstract follows:

    Enlightenment has had broadly different definitions is the East and West. In the East it is seen as an individual accessing meditative states that transcend […]

    • The Spanda Journal issue in which this article appears has been released. However after reading a couple of the other articles it seems they are not based in the sort of neuroscience and social science I used. There’s still a lot of woo out there on the topic of consciousness and enlightenment.,1.pdf

  • Caltech researchers have identified the brain mechanisms that enable primates to quickly identify specific faces. In a feat of efficiency, surprisingly few feature-recognition neurons are involved in a process […]

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