Archive for October, 2015

Altered states of consciousness

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It is argued that altered states, which can result from a range of cause including near-death-experience (NDE), meditation or psychedelic drugs, can be directly causal of durable personality changes. Further to this, recent experimentation suggests that some altered states can deactivate brain regions responsible both for the sense of self, and for constraining ‘mystical’ type experiences in other brain regions. Thus contrary to any suggestion that the self is some type of ‘mystical illusion’ it may in fact be part of a system that constrains ‘mystical’ experience during normal brain processing.

Stimulus-specific adaptation

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This research relates to the ability of the auditory system to recognise sounds as the same word, even at widely different pitches and speeds, and also the greater sensitivity of hearing for unexpected as opposed to expected sounds. In the wild, the unexpected or infrequent sound might warn of the approach of a predator, in contrast to the more general background noises of nature.

Fundamental quanta

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Quarks and electrons constitute the fundamental building blocks of matter, but in both cases they can be annihilated into energy as photons, or alternatively energy can create such particles possessed of mass and charge out of the vacuum. This might pose the question as to whether the vacuum, which can be identified with spacetime, is not more truly fundamental than the quanta.

Quantum field theory

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The ability of particles possessing mass and charge to be annihilated, and charge carriers such as photons to be absorbed by such particles could be argued to make it difficult to view quanta as something fundamental.

Brain oscillations

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Humans can perform short-term actions while remaining aware of longer-term goals. Evidence suggests that prefrontal areas coordinate motor activity when such goals are being aimed at. The more that abstract rules are involved, the more there is a combination of theta (4-8 Hz) and high gamma (80-150 Hz) phase together with inter-regional information encoding in the frontal cortex.