Visual System ‘Prioritizes’ Information for Conscious Access

We are continuously flooded with sensory information from our physical environment – the sights, sounds, smells, feel of everything around us. We’re flooded with so much information, in fact, that we’re not consciously aware of much of it.

“Considering that people are continuously presented with vast amounts of sensory information, a system is needed to select and prioritize the most relevant information,” Surya Gayet and colleagues write.

The researchers surmised that, in the case of vision, visual working memory (VWM) may be that selection system.

Given that VWM is used to actively retain information for upcoming goal-directed behavior, it seems likely that it would also play a role in selecting the information that is relevant to, and prioritized for, conscious access. Gayet and colleagues investigated their hypothesis in a series of experiments.

In the crucial experiment, participants were shown two colored patches and were instructed to remember one of them. Participants then saw a target item, presented in the remembered color or the other color, in one eye. They were simultaneously presented with a dynamic pattern in the other eye.

The dynamic pattern had the effect of masking the target item, making it temporarily invisible to the participants. The researchers wanted to see how long it would take for the participants to detect the masked target.

Data showed that those targets that matched the color held in VWM reached visual awareness faster than targets of another color. And data from subsequent experiments confirmed the findings from the first.

Together, the findings suggest that the content of VWM can affect how visual information is processed, before it’s even accessible to conscious awareness

“The results of the present experiments suggest that VWM might well play [a selection] role in human consciousness,” Gayet and colleagues explain. “It funnels down the incoming sensory information to that which is relevant for imminent goal-directed behavior.”

According to the researchers, these findings shed light on a functional link between visual awareness and VWM:

“Whereas VWM is used to retain relevant visual information for imminent goal-directed behavior, visual awareness is needed to flexibly deal with incoming information to guide future behavior.”


2015 Movie Challenge

{13. A movie you watched as a kid} → Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to convey my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.


General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to convey my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.


      I have seen worlds bathed in the Makers’ flames, their denizens fading without so much as a whimper. Entire planetary systems born and razed in the time that it takes your mortal hearts to beat once. Yet all throughout, my own heart, devoid of emotion, of empathy: I.. have.. felt.. nothing! A million, million lives wasted! And had they all held within them your tenacity? Had they all loved life, as you do?

I've rearranged the reply code. Your planet will be spared. [x]

imagine bucky hearing about the VA scandal and getting really angry because how DARE an entire nation say they respect their vets and then do such awful things for their own gain? so he goes and does a ton of research and asks tony for legal assistance and gets sam to talk to real veterans about their experiences with the VA. and then he goes before congress to testify and the media has a FIELD DAY. and people keep approaching steve and sam in the street about it and someone asks pepper about it at a press conference and all three of them firmly proclaim their alliance to the veteran’s side. (sam’s exact words were, “i’m a vet from iraq. if you really think i’m going to be against what he’s doing, then you have no idea who the fuck i am.)

when people ask bucky, six months later, what he did that caused congress to force through the legislation that cut through the corruption and expanded benefits for veterans, bucky just smiled slightly and said, “you gotta just look at them like they’re kids who broke a glass window and have to be punished. they HATE that. they’ll do anything to avoid people looking at them like they’re inferior. also, crying. crying helped a bit.”

And just like that, Cracked has transformed you into a great and powerful grocery list wizard.

5 Brain Hacks That Give You Mind-Blowing Powers

Sure, you could improve yourself the normal way, with hard work and years of slow, incremental progress. Or you could use some of your body’s built-in cheat codes and just hack your way to awesometown.

These hacks come with various degrees of difficulty, but no risk or potential for injury. And actual scientists say that all of them work.

Read More

Bucky doesn’t remember a lot of things, but the worst are the things he’s forgotten about himself. So when he stands, staring blankly into the open refrigerator and says, “I don’t know what kind of sandwiches I like,” Steve doesn’t tell him, “Pastrami.” Instead he gets his jacket and steers Bucky toward the door. “Let’s go find out.”

They go to the deli on the corner of their street, ordering one of every type of sandwich available. They spend an entire afternoon sitting there, surrounded by breads, meats, and cheeses. Bucky would take a bite (sometimes making a face or looking pleased) before passing it to Steve and he’d do the same. Then they’d discuss the various merits of the sandwich. Bucky takes notes in the little book Steve bought him, creating a sandwich rating system.

When Steve is having the leftover food wrapped up to be donated to the local orphanage, Bucky says thoughtfully, “I think my favorite is pastrami.”

And Steve wraps an arm around Bucky’s shoulders and smiles. Sometimes the new Bucky doesn’t make the same choices that the old Bucky would, but it doesn’t matter. Because it’s his choice, and that’s the most important thing. So Steve orders half a pound of pastrami to take home, and Bucky knows that much more about himself.

Immune response affects sleep and memory

Fighting off illness- rather than the illness itself- causes sleep deprivation and affects memory, a new study has found.

University of Leicester biologist Dr Eamonn Mallon said a common perception is that if you are sick, you sleep more.

But the study, carried out in flies, found that sickness induced insomnia is quite common.

(Image credit)

The research has been published in the journal PeerJ.

Dr Mallon said: “Think about when you are sick. Your sleep is disturbed and you’re generally not feeling at your sharpest. Previously work has been carried out showing that being infected leads to exactly these behaviours in fruit flies.

“In this paper we show that it can be the immune system itself that can cause these problems. By turning on the immune system in flies artificially (with no infection present) we reduced how long they slept and how well they performed in a memory test.

“This is an interesting result as these connections between the brain and the immune system have come to the fore recently in medicine. It seems to be because the two systems speak the same chemical language and often cross-talk. Having a model of this in the fly, one of the main systems used in genetic research will be a boost to the field.

“The key message of this study is that the immune response, sleep and memory seem to be intimately linked. Medicine is beginning to study these links between the brain and the immune system in humans. Having an easy to use insect model would be very helpful.”

MCAT Immune System (Specific Defenses) Review
Adaptive immunity: highly specific response to pathogen/antigen
Antigen presenting cells (APCs) present foreign antigen on their surface → antigen is recognized by T and B cells → cytotoxic T cells kill infected cells → helper T cells activate macrophages (engulfs pathogens), T cells, and B cells
B cells produce antibodies
Antibodies binding to antigen affects:
Neutralization: pathogens can not attack the host cells
Opsonization: phagocytosis can occur easier
Complement activation: kills infected cells by puncturing holes on the membrane
Memory cells: made without T cell activation
Proliferate and produce antibodies to prepare for same infection in the future

Immune system review video

The pilot and autopilot within our mind-brain connection

Have you ever driven to work so deep in thought that you arrive safely yet can’t recall the drive itself? And if so, what part of “you” was detecting cars and pedestrians, making appropriate stops and turns? Although when you get to work you can’t remember the driving experience, you are likely to have exquisite memory about having planned your day.

How does one understand this common experience? This is the question posed by Professor of Biology, John Lisman and his former undergraduate student, Eliezer J. Sternberg, now in medical school, in a recent paper in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Lisman explains that once a task such as driving has become a habit, you can perform another task at the same time, such as planning your day. But looking closer at these two behaviors, driving and planning, one can see interesting differences. The Habit system that is driving you to work is non-flexible: if the new parking regulations at work require you to go left instead or right, the likelihood that you’ll go right is very high. On the other hand, if you heard yesterday that your boss has scheduled a group meeting for noon, the likehood that you’ll plan your day accordingly is high. In other words, your non-habit system is flexible.

What interests Lisman and Sternberg is the relationship of the habit/non-habit systems to concepts of conscious vs unconscious. These concepts were popularized by Freud, who posited a duality of the human mind. Behavior can be influenced by both the conscious system and unconscious system. Freud compared the mind to an iceberg——with the small conscious system above water and the larger unconscious system below. Modern cognitive neuroscience now accepts this duality.

The mind can be described as having an unconscious and conscious part. And the brain can be described as having both habit and non-habit systems. Lisman and Sternberg argue that these two views can be merged: there is a habit system of which we are unconscious and a non-habit system of which we are conscious.

This simple equation turns out to have enormous implications for research on the mind-brain connection. Experiments on consciousness are done in humans because you can ask them to report their awareness, something you can’t do with animals. On the other hand, there are many invasive procedures for studying what’s happening in the brain of animals. So how can you study consciousness in rats?

Lisman and Sternberg provide a simple answer — ask whether rats have habit and non-habits. Scientific literature demonstrates that rats indeed have both habits and non-habits. For instance, when a rat comes to a choice point on a maze (and the reward site is to left), rats display very different behavior depending on how much experience they’ve had with that maze. With relatively little experience, rats pause at the choice point and look both ways before making a decision; in contrast, a highly experienced rats zooms left without stopping. Experiments have shown that different parts of the brain are involved in these two phases. Lisman and Sternberg make two conclusions: first, that rats, like us, have conscious and unconscious parts of the brain and second, that from experiments on rats we can learn to identify the parts of the brain that mediate conscious vs unconscious processes.

In their paper, Lisman and Sternberg also discuss potential objections to their hypothesis, and suggest further tests.

(Photo: GETTY)

Kingdom Hearts I ☆.。.:* ヽ(´▽`)ノ”

Kingdom Hearts II  ヾ(*´∇`)ノ “ *:. 。.☆

Kingdom Hearts III    ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:* ヾ(゚∀゚ゞ) ・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

All Kingdom Hearts games (◡‿◡✿)

People who tell me that the side games “aren’t needed” or are “stupid” (⊙‿⊙✿)