mind science of the mind

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Pay attention to the slight movements of your eyes as you think about your favourite childhood cartoon character. Or a song you’re sick of hearing. Imagine how you may look in 20 years time. Your favourite ice cream flavour? It’s likely your eyes shifted slightly as you thought because your eye movements are linked to certain areas of your brain. Someone trying to lie about a made up conversation may shift their eyes to the left or someone having an internal debate may have their eyes cast downwards to the right.

Of course, this is not completely foolproof as our eyes are constantly moving and are affected by a number of environmental stimuli such as light, sound or even pressure to maintain eye contact in a conversation but this serves as a general guide.

Catching prey using Vortices

I was reading about Vortices and after hours of research online, out of the blue I stumbled upon this amazing bird. This is the Red Necked Phalarope and from the looks of it seems to have put vortices to a really productive use - catching its prey.

By rotating around ~60-80 times a minute, it produces an upward vortex that sucks out insects/bugs/crustaceans from the water, which it swiftly picks up with its beak and eats. ( This one would have aced the Fluids class for sure :D)

This is analogous to tornadoes sweeping up cars and houses along its way in an upward swirl.

Mind Blown!

** The actual dynamics of vortices of course is waay more complicated. ;)

*** There are three species of phalarope (red-necked, red/grey, and Wilson’s), and they can all feed like that.            

A Collection Of Books By Neurologist Oliver Sacks

If you’re interested in neuroscience or psychology, I’d highly reccomend any book by Oliver Sacks! I get asked a lot about books to read so you can also check out this video I made with my top 7 and this masterpost which includes websites where you can learn more!

1. Migrane

For centuries, physicians have been fascinated by the many manifestations of migraine, and especially by the visual hallucinations or auras- similar in some ways to those induced by hallucinogenic drugs or deliria–which often precede a migraine. Dr. Sacks describes these hallucinatory constants, and what they reveal about the working of the brain. 

2. Awakenings

Awakenings is the remarkable account of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen in a decades-long sleep, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of these individuals, the stories of their lives, and the extraordinary transformations they underwent with treatment.

3. The Island of The Color Blind

Oliver Sacks has always been fascinated by islands, and this book is an account of his work with an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind.  He listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.

4. Uncle Tungsten

A book about Sacks’ childood;  his discovery of biology, his departure from his childhood love of chemistry and, at age 14, a new understanding that he would become a doctor.

5. An Anthropologist on Mars

This book talks about 7 seemingly paradoxical neurological conditions: including a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette’s Syndrome except when he is operating; an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident, but finds a new sensibility and creative power in black and white; and an autistic professor who has great difficulty deciphering the simplest social exchange between humans, but has built a career out of her intuitive understanding of animal behavior. 

6.  Seeing Voices

 A journey into the world of deaf culture, and the neurological and social underpinnings of the remarkable visual language of the congenitally deaf. Sacks writes “The existence of a visual language, Sign, and the visual intelligence that goes with its acquisition, shows us that the brain is rich in potentials we would scarcely have guessed of, shows us the almost unlimited resource of the human organism when it is faced with the new and must adapt.”

Hello everyone.

Apologies for the long/unexplained absence. I’ve not been doing very well recently and I haven’t quite had the time to be posting. However, a small update is that I’m struggling very much with my mental health but my studies are going very well. I just wanted to thank you all for your kindness and support and I will try update more regularly from now on!

I hope you are all well and looking after yourself, and I’m sending love, hugs and good study vibes 💗

Can Buddhist Practices Help Us Overcome The Biological Pull Of Dissatisfaction?

Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied? Author Robert Wright, who teaches about the interface of evolutionary biology and religion, thinks so.

Wright points out that evolution rewards people for seeking out pleasure rather than pain, which helps ensure that human beings are frequently unsatisfied: “We are condemned to always want things to be a little different, always want a little more,” he says. “We’re not designed by natural selection to be happy.”

But all is not lost. In his new book, Why Buddhism is True, Wright makes the case that some Buddhist practices can help humans overcome the biological pull towards dissatisfaction.

“I think of mindfulness meditation as almost a rebellion against natural selection,” he says. “Natural selection is the process that created us. It gave us our values. It sets our agenda, and Buddhism says, ‘We don’t have to play this game.’ ”

Illustration: Veronica Grech/Getty Images

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A human brain has around 86 billion neurons, and the communication between these neurons are constant. The sheer scale of these interactions mean a computer (an EEG) can register this electrical activity, with different frequencies indicating different mental states.

Sources

7 healthy tips for a better night’s sleep

It’s back to school time! Here’s a healthy reminder to get your sleep on - consistently & intentionally - this semester. 

Sleep is critical for mind and body health. Without it, the effects can be severe. Below, neuroscientist Claudia Aguirre provides 7 healthy tips for a better night’s sleep:

1. Aim for power hours. Sleep the recommended amount for a restorative night. That is: between 9 and 12 hours for school-aged children, 8 to 10 hours for teenagers, and 7 to 9 hours for adults. [Animation by TED-Ed + Josephine Mark]

2. Ban the blue. Filter the blue light of your electronic device and sleep better. Studies show that blue light from electronic devices can delay sleep onset and affect overall circadian rhythm. [Animation by Javier Saldeña/TED-Ed]

3. Spoon. Sleeping on the side may help the brain clear waste more efficiently than sleeping on the back or belly. [Animation by TED-Ed + Josephine Mark]

4. Breathe deep. Deep breathing triggers the body’s relaxation response. What’s more, inhaling can drive cerebrospinal fluid flow to help clear brain waste and oxygenate the brain. [Animation by TED-Ed + Josephine Mark]

5. Don’t overdo it. Science is still working this one out, but there are some cases where too much sleep can pose a health risk. Better set that alarm. [Animation by Alan Foreman/TED-Ed]

6. Exercise. Lab experiments show that regular exercise can protect the brain from sleep deprivation-induced memory deficits. [Animation by Andrew Zimbelman/TED-Ed]

7. Keep cool. You just might get a better night’s rest if you sleep in a cool room (or stick your feet out). [Animation by TED-Ed + Josephine Mark]

For more health tips from experts, check out 7 TED-Ed Lessons for a healthier you.

Author bio: Claudia Aguirre is a neuroscientist and the author of several TED-Ed Lessons, including What would happen if you didn’t sleep? and Does stress cause pimples? Check her work and research out on Twitter & Facebook & Instagram.

X-Files Episodes Organized by Philosophical Topic

Metaphysics

Fatalism: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (3.4), Monday (6.14) 
Interactionism: Shadows (1.5), Fire (1.11), Excelsis Dei (2.11)
Determinism, compatibalism, and/or human freedom: Aubrey (2.12) , Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (3.4), Syzygy (3.13), Wetwired (3.23), Talitha Cumi (3.24), Synchrony (4.19)
Disembodied existence: Shadows (1.5), Beyond the Sea (1.12), End Game (2.17), Elegy (4.22)
Personal agency/autonomy: Ice (1.8), Pusher (3.17), Hell Money (3.19), Kitsunegari (5.8), Empedocles (8.17)
Personal identity: Lazarus (1.15), Born Again (1.21), End Game (2.17), The List (3.05), Apocrypha (3.16), Herrenvolk (4.1), The Field Where I Died (4.5), Dreamland (6.4), Dreamland II (6.5)
Psychological continuity: End Game (2.17), Herrenvolk (4.1), The Field Where I Died (4.5)
Reincarnation: Lazarus (1.14), Born Again (1.21), The List (3.5), The Field Where I Died (4.5)
Time travel (see David Lewis): Synchrony (4.19)
Parallel universes: 4-D (9.4)

Epistemology

Belief [This is a major theme in the entire series, but it is especially prevalent in these episodes] (see James, Clifford): Beyond the Sea (1.12), E.B.E. (1.16), Colony (2.16), Quagmire (3.22), S.R. 819 (6.9)
Cartesian skepticism: How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (6.6), Field Trip (6.21), Via Negativa (8.7)
General epistemology: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (3.4), Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (3.20), Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (4.7), Demons (4.23), Bad Blood (5.12)
Pragmatism: The Erlenmeyer Flask (1.23), Little Green Men (2.1), all things (7.17)
Fideism: all things (7.17)   

Ethics

Animal ethics: Red Museum (2.10), Fearful Symmetry (2.18)
Biomedical ethics: Eve (1.10), Colony (2.16)
Divine command theory ethics: Revelations (3.11)
Environmental ethics: Darkness Falls (1.19), Quagmire (3.22)
Ethical subjectivism: Home (4.3)
Ethics of scientific research: Demons (4.23)
Kantian ethics: Home (4.3), Small Potatoes (4.20)
“Lifeboat” ethics: Død Kalm (2.19)
Moral relativism: Excelsis Dei (2.11), Fresh Bones (2.15), Hell Money (3.19), Teso Dos Bichos (3.18), Kaddish (4.12)
Moral responsibility: Irresistible (2.13)
Virtue ethics: Apocrypha (3.16), Avatar (3.21), Zero-Sum (4.21)
Moral education: Home (4.3)

Philosophy of mind

Artificial intelligence: Ghost in the Machine (1.6), Kill Switch (5.11)

Philosophy of religion

Faith and reason: Revelations (3.11), All Souls (5.17)
Religious ambiguity: Essence (8.20), Improbable (9.13)

Philosophy of science

Abductive inference (see Peirce): Pilot (1.1)
Axiological & normative issues in scientific research: Ice (1.7), Young at Heart (1.15), Soft Light (2.23) 
Folk theories and scientific explanations: Teliko (4.4)
The “Unexplanable”: Without (8.2), Invocation (8.5), Dæmonicus (9.3)
Paradigm shifts (see Kuhn): The Erlenmeyer Flask (1.23)

Political philosophy

Government’s proper role in society: Blood (2.3), Musings of a Cigarette Man (4.7), The Pine Bluff Variant (5.18)
Freedom of Religion: Roadrunners (8.4)

Existentialism

Beyond the Sea (1.12), Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (3.20), Talitha Cumi (3.24)

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N°4 in the 2017 birthday spam for Fi who wished for “Dark Side of the Moon” edits - SN: 5x16