Category Archives: brain

Altered states and altered traits

Good, brief clip on the difference between the above, and how meditation can turn altered states into lasting traits that one carries in their daily life. Aside from the physiological benefits, if we can just dump the metaphysical mumbo jumbo that accompanies traditional interpretations of what these states and traits mean then we’ll have made progress toward a postmetaphysical cultural metaphor.

Communication between brain areas based on nested oscillations

eNeuro, 10 March 2017, 4(2). This might be neuroscientific evidence for my speculations on the syntegration of consciousness states and stages via meditative discipline. To be determined. The abstract:

“Unraveling how brain regions communicate is crucial for understanding how the brain processes external and internal information. Neuronal oscillations within and across brain regions have been proposed to play a crucial role in this process. Two main hypotheses have been suggested for routing of information based on oscillations, namely communication through coherence and gating by inhibition. Here, we propose a framework unifying these two hypotheses that is based on recent empirical findings. We discuss a theory in which communication between two regions is established by phase synchronization of oscillations at lower frequencies, which serve as temporal reference frame for information carried by higher frequency activity. Our framework, consistent with numerous recent empirical findings, posits that cross-frequency interactions are essential for understanding how large-scale cognitive and perceptual networks operate.”

Consciousness in the world is scale invariant

And implies an event horizon of the human brain. There’s a mouthful, a new title in NeuroQuantology (15:3, September 2017). The abstract follows, also a brainful. This will take some reading and digesting, provided I have the requisite capacity to understand it (which remains to be seen).

“Our brain is not a ‘stand alone’ information processing organ: it acts as a central part of our integral nervous system with recurrent information exchange with the entire organism and the cosmos. In this study, the brain is conceived to be embedded in a holographic structured field that interacts with resonant sensitive structures in the various cell types in our body. In order to explain earlier reported ultra-rapid brain responses and effective operation of the meta-stable neural system, a field-receptive mental workspace is proposed to be communicating with the brain. Our integral nervous system is seen as a dedicated neural transmission and multi-cavity network that, in a non-dual manner, interacts with the proposed supervening meta-cognitive domain. Among others, it is integrating discrete patterns of eigen-frequencies of photonic/solitonic waves, thereby continuously updating a time-symmetric global memory space of the individual. Its toroidal organization allows the coupling of gravitational, dark energy, zero-point energy field (ZPE) as well as earth magnetic fields energies and transmits wave information into brain tissue, that thereby is instrumental in high speed conscious and sub-conscious information processing. We propose that the supposed field-receptive workspace, in a mutual interaction with the whole nervous system, generates self-consciousness and is conceived as operating from a 4th spatial dimension (hyper-sphere). Its functional structure is adequately defined by the geometry of the torus, that is envisioned as a basic unit (operator) of space-time. The latter is instrumental in collecting the pattern of discrete soliton frequencies that provided an algorithm for coherent life processes, as earlier identified by us. It is postulated that consciousness in the entire universe arises through, scale invariant, nested toroidal coupling of various energy fields, that may include quantum error correction. In the brain of the human species, this takes the form of the proposed holographic workspace, that collects active information in a ‘brain event horizon,’ representing an internal and fully integral model of the self. This brain-supervening workspace is equipped to convert integrated coherent wave energies into attractor type/standing waves that guide the related cortical template to a higher coordination of reflection and action as well as network synchronicity, as required for conscious states. In relation to its scale-invariant global character, we find support for a universal information matrix, that was extensively described earlier, as a supposed implicate order as well as in a spectrum of space-time theories in current physics. The presence of a field-receptive resonant workspace, associated with, but not reducible to, our brain, may provide an interpretation framework for widely reported, but poorly understood transpersonal conscious states and algorithmic origin of life. It also points out the deep connection of mankind with the cosmos and our major responsibility for the future of our planet.”

Seeing my blindfold

I’ve found some thought-provoking answers on the Q&A social media site, Quora. Follow the link to a perceptive and helpful answer to, “Can a person be able to objectively identify exactly when and how their thinking processes are being affected by cognitive biases?

The author provides some practical (if exhausting) recommendations that, if even partly followed by a third-to-half of people (my guestimate), would possibly collapse the adversarial culture in our country.

The religious brain and atheism

As much of the world settles into the spectacle and cozy embrace of culturally reinforced magical thinking, New Scientist has several interesting recent articles about the evolved intuitive nature of religious thinking as a cognitive by-product (of the value of assuming agency in environmental phenomena, for example) and delving into how atheism is and is not like religious thinking. I find the point interesting that religion and atheism (or any ism), as social constructs, cannot be studied and compared in the same ways that objectively real objects and phenomena can, but we can learn much from systematic approaches to investigating the underlying neurological functions and their probable evolutionary value.

If you don’t subscribe, Albuquerque Public Libraries carry New Scientist.

Check out Ed Berge’s blog

We’ve come to appreciate Ed Berge’s thoughtful posts on consciousness, metaphorical thinking, etc. Check out his fun, informative blog, Proactive Progressive Propagation. (Where I work, that would definitely become ‘P3.’)

The non-conscious nature of being

 Recent paper by that name in Frontiers in Psychology. The abstract follows. Since I’ve long thought the opposite of what the paper claims I’ll have to read and ponder this one for a bit. The introduction follows:

“Despite the compelling subjective experience of executive self-control, we argue that ‘consciousness’ contains no top-down control processes and that ‘consciousness’ involves no executive, causal, or controlling relationship with any of the familiar psychological processes conventionally attributed to it. In our view, psychological processing and psychological products are not under the control of consciousness. In particular, we argue that all ‘contents of consciousness’ are generated by and within non-conscious brain systems in the form of a continuous self-referential personal narrative that is not directed or influenced in any way by the ‘experience of consciousness.’ This continuously updated personal narrative arises from selective ‘internal broadcasting’ of outputs from non-conscious executive systems that have access to all forms of cognitive processing, sensory information, and motor control. The personal narrative provides information for storage in autobiographical memory and is underpinned by constructs of self and agency, also created in non-conscious systems. The experience of consciousness is a passive accompaniment to the non-conscious processes of internal broadcasting and the creation of the personal narrative. In this sense, personal awareness is analogous to the rainbow which accompanies physical processes in the atmosphere but exerts no influence over them. Though it is an end-product created by non-conscious executive systems, the personal narrative serves the powerful evolutionary function of enabling individuals to communicate (externally broadcast) the contents of internal broadcasting. This in turn allows recipients to generate potentially adaptive strategies, such as predicting the behavior of others and underlies the development of social and cultural structures, that promote species survival. Consequently, it is the capacity to communicate to others the contents of the personal narrative that confers an evolutionary advantage—not the experience of consciousness (personal awareness) itself.”

Dancing mitigates aging decline

See the study here in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, 15 June 2017. From the abstract:

“Dancing seems a promising intervention for both improving balance and brain structure in the elderly. It combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills and cognitive demands while at the same time the risk of injuries is low. […] Hence, dancing constitutes a promising candidate in counteracting the age-related decline in physical and mental abilities.”

The real problem of consciousness

See this article. A few excerpts:

“A new picture is taking shape in which conscious experience is seen as deeply grounded in how brains and bodies work together to maintain physiological integrity – to stay alive.”

“The brain is locked inside a bony skull. All it receives are ambiguous and noisy sensory signals that are only indirectly related to objects in the world. Perception must therefore be a process of inference, in which indeterminate sensory signals are combined with prior expectations or ‘beliefs’ about the way the world is, to form the brain’s optimal hypotheses of the causes of these sensory signals.”

“A number of experiments are now indicating that consciousness depends more on perceptual predictions, than on prediction errors. […] We’ve found that people consciously see what they expect, rather than what violates their expectations.”

Real and false reason

Some liberals (and scientists) still think that reason is somehow above and beyond emotion. When I suggest framing in emotional terms they say sure, but that works only for emotional issues as if reason is something beyond emotion. So here’s a reminder from  this Lakoff classic:

“It is a basic principle of false reason that every human being has the same reason governed by logic — and that if you just tell people the truth, they will reason to the right conclusion. […] But many liberals, assuming a false view of reason, think that such a [moral, emotional] messaging system for ideas they believe in would be illegitimate — doing the things that the conservatives do that they consider underhanded. Appealing honestly to the way people really think is seen as emotional and hence irrational and immoral. Liberals, clinging to false reason, simply resist paying attention to real reason.”

“Real reason is embodied in two ways. It is physical, in our brain circuitry. And it is based on our bodies as the function in the everyday world, using thought that arises from embodied metaphors. And it is mostly unconscious.  False reason sees reason as fully conscious, as literal, disembodied, yet somehow fitting the world directly, and working not via frame-based, metaphorical, narrative and emotional logic, but via the logic of logicians alone.”

“Real reason is inexplicably tied up with emotion; you cannot be rational without being emotional. False reason thinks that emotion is the enemy of reason,  that it is unscrupulous to call on emotion. Yet people with brain damage who cannot feel emotion cannot make rational decisions because they do not know what to want, since like and not like mean nothing. ‘Rational’ decisions are based on a long history of emotional responses by oneself and others. Real reason requires emotion.”