Archive for October, 2013

Fifteen books to change the world

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The books listed below are suggested as those most helpful to understanding the theories of consciousness discussed on this site. 1.)  The Emperor’s New Clothing  –  Roger Penrose 2.)  Shadows of the Mind  –  Roger Penrose 3.)  Three Roads to Quantum Gravity  –  Lee Smolin 4.)  Emotion Explained  –  Edmund T. Rolls 5.)  Memory Attention and Decision Making  –  Edmund T. Rolls 6.)  Neuroculture  –  Edmund T. Rolls 7.)  The Orbitofrontal cortex  –  David H. Read more […]

Planck Probe (2)

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Planck Probe (2) Based on Magee McKee, New Scientist, 5 October 2013 Recent observations from the Planck probe provide the best picture of the cosmic background radiation. Opinions are divided as to the significance of the recent evidence. Cosmoligists at Princeton view the latest evidence as creating problems for inflation theory, which has for some years been a consensus interpretation of the development of the early universe. Inflation theory has been used to account for the evenness Read more […]

Sleep cleans the brain

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Sleep cleans the brain of toxins BBC News, science reporter, 17 October 2013 Summary of the above report A reearch team has suggested that at least one function of sleep is to allow waste removal from the brain. A report in ‘Science’ describes glial cells in the brain as shrinking during sleep, so as to allow fluids to wash between neurons. What is now referred to as the glymphatic system has recently been discovered as a method of cleaning the brain, and it has been demonstrated to be 10x Read more […]

Mechanical brain concept

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Mechanical brain concept Anil Ananthaswamy based on William Tyler New Scientist, 31 August 2013 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v502/n7470/full/502177a.html Tyler’s position is that brain processing is mechanically sensitive. He argues that in addition to the well known electrical and biochemical signalling between neurons, the neurons may also be part of a mechanical network. He thinks that such a network might be involved in memory storage and responses to new circumstances. Some Read more […]

Panpsychism in the West

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Panpsychism in the West David Skrbina Skrbina defines panpsychsim as the belief that all things have a mind-like quality. This appears to have been the dominant view in pre-historical times, in the form of animism. He tries to make a distinction between animism, in which he claims the spirits of objects, trees etc. appear as human-like rational agents, in contrast to the later and more sophisticated philosophical panpsychism. This is in turn contrasted with the modern western idea of a mechanical Read more […]

Brain & Gaze

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Brain and the Gaze Jan Lauwereyns MIT Press (2012) Summary/review of this book Perception is argued to take time to build, and does not come to us all at once. The observer has to integrate bits and pieces of information dispersed across time and space. Eye movements are devoted to acquiring information about the environment, but these movements are neither random nor properly systematic. The retina is technically part of the brain, but does not receive feedback from other brain regions. Read more […]

Dorsomedial striatum and expected return

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The dorsomedial striatum encodes net expected return Alice Wang, Keiji Miura, Naoshige Uchida http://www.nature.com Decision making is argued to involve the vigour of activity fluctuating in line with the net value of options. In the event of lesions to the dorsal striatum and to a lesser extent lesions to the ventral striatum, the vigour of activity was related to preceding activity more than to immediate signals. It is adaptive to assess the costs as well as the benefits of actions. Read more […]

Dopamine, reward and aversion

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Dopamine neurons represent reward but not aversion Christopher D. Fiorillo, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Science, vol 341, 2 August 2013 Summary of the above article The study shows that while midbrain dopamine neurons are activated by evidence of reward, and suppressed by lack of reward, and are also capable of signalling prediction error relative to reward level, they are , however, not responsive to aversion. This suggests that reward and aversion are represented Read more […]