Archive for May, 2015

Empathy in mammals

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The article discusses studies which seek to know whether empathy can motivate behaviours in non-human mammals. Peggy Mason et al at the University of Chicago showed that rats would free other rats distressed by being held in a restraint. This looked like empathy, but it is possible to argue that the rats really wanted to obtain a playmate rather than relieve another’s distress as such.

Brain’s Resting State

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The brain’s resting state activity accounts for about 80% of its energy consumption. Anaesthesia, in which consciousness is removed, involves a 40-50% reduction in energy consumption, implying that part of the resting state’s high level of energy consumption is used to sustain consciousness. The resting state also overlaps with the reward system which is based on midline structures, as distinct from lateral regions that are more involved in planning and reasoning.

Emotions and elementary forces

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The book, ‘The Science of Consciousness’ (published in June 2015), authored by Eva Deli considers the mind a physical system, and an elementary fermion, which interacts through elementary forces, called emotions. Birds and mammals have complex neural organization, which allows the formation of emotions, the basis of the mind’s homeostatic regulation.

Unification of quantum mechanics

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The book, ‘The Science of Consciousness’ (published in June 2015) is authored by Eva Deli, and proposes a new hypothesis, which is rooted in string theory. The author considers the universe being divided by an information-blocking horizon into macrodimensions, called space, and microdimensions, called time.

Energy and consciousness

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The authors argue that the conscious state is supported by a high and fairly uniform baseline energy consumption and related levels of neural activity. This viewed is based on PET scanning measures of glucose and oxygen consumption, taken with subjects under anaesthesia, that showed that energy levels while under anaesthesia are 40-50% below awake resting levels across different brain regions.

Sense of direction

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Head-direction systems function as a compass. Neurons involved in these systems increase their firing rates when the head is pointed in a particular direction. Firing is also influenced by the angular velocity of head momentum. Head-direction information is viewed as a key part of the brain’s navigation system, and is also important for the development of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex.