Category Archives: brain functioning

Neural responses to media a strong predictor of friendship

“The findings revealed that  similarity was strongest among friends, and this pattern appeared to manifest across brain regions involved in emotional responding, directing one’s attention and high-level reasoning. Even when the researchers controlled for variables, including left-handed- or right-handedness, age, gender, ethnicity, and nationality, the similarity in neural activity among friends was still evident. The team also found that fMRI response similarities could be used to predict not only if a pair were friends but also the social distance between the two.”

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.

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.”

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.”

Promising metabolic therapy for dementias

An article describes a personalized therapeutic program involving 10 patients and using multiple modalities for metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND).

The first 10 patients who have utilized this program include patients with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). Nine of the 10 displayed subjective or objective improvement in cognition beginning within 3-6 months, with the one failure being a patient with very late stage AD. Six of the patients had had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time of presentation, and all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained, and at this time the longest patient follow-up is two and one-half years from initial treatment, with sustained and marked improvement. These results suggest that a larger, more extensive trial of this therapeutic program is warranted. The results also suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes. Furthermore, given the failure of monotherapeutics in AD to date, the results raise the possibility that such a therapeutic system may be useful as a platform on which drugs that would fail as monotherapeutics may succeed as key components of a therapeutic system.

Cognitive decline as early as 18 years prior to clinical diagnosis of dementia

Performance on individual cognitive tests of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition also significantly predicted the development of AD dementia, with associations exhibiting a similar trend over 18 years.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that cognitive impairment may manifest in the preclinical phase of AD dementia substantially earlier than previously established.

State of AI progress

An MIT Technology Review article introduces the man responsible for the 30-year-old deep learning approach, explains what deep machine learning is, and questions whether deep learning may be the last significant innovation in the AI field. The article also touches on a potential way forward for developing AIs with qualities more analogous to the human brain’s functioning.