Archive for the ‘Neuroscience’ Category

I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on 10 minutes ago. I’m 30 years old, and I never knew a human could do any of this.

Source: Imagine a dog. Got it? I don’t. Here’s what it’s like to be unable to visualize anything. – Vox

When I talk to other scientists about the study of consciousness, very often the first thing I’m asked to explain is why the topic is worth scientific attention. I argue that it’s not just a topic for philosophers or poets, and it’s not just a matter of opinion or belief. We can actually build rational theories of consciousness, theories that have explanatory power and that can be tested experimentally. And it’s crucial knowledge. Consciousness has a specific, practical impact on brain function. If you want to understand how the brain works, you need to understand that part of the machine. No neuroscientist, and no expert in artificial intelligence, should scoff at consciousness.” (excerpt)

They play to our intuitions, but don’t actually explain anything.

Source: Most Theories of Consciousness Are Worse Than Wrong – The Atlantic

“Few books risk such damage to the public understanding of science as those by Oliver James. Inexplicably popular despite their scientific illiteracy and mediocre writing, they are promoted widely by James’s regular, shriekingly aggressive media appearances. A glance at the studies shows the absurdity of the extreme blank-slate position advanced in Not In Your Genes: environments clearly matter, but so does DNA, and the perversity of denying this becomes ever more acute with each new genetic discovery. Truly understanding human psychology and helping those with psychiatric illnesses requires us to have a realistic view of the causes of differences between people. That realistic view is Not In This Book.”  (excerpt)

Source: On genetics Oliver James is on a different planet to the rest of us | Spectator Health

“Introductory Bayesian texts usually assume a level of training in mathematical statistics that most researchers simply don’t have time (or otherwise don’t need) to learn. There are actually a lot of accessible Bayesian resources out there that don’t require much math stat background at all, but it just so happens that they are not consolidated anywhere so people don’t necessarily know about them.” (Excerpt)

Interesting research support that experiences can significantly change brain.

“The study, which has been published in the renowned scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, shows that it is the imbalance between the two signalling systems which determines the severity of the symptoms suffered by the individual rather than the degree of change in a single system. Others have previously speculated that the biological basis of psychiatric disorders such as PTSD includes a shift in the balance between different signalling systems in the brain but none has yet proved it. The results of the study are a great leap forward in our understanding of PTSD. It will contribute new knowledge which can be used to design improved treatments for traumatised individuals.” (excerpt)


Source: Posttraumatic stress disorder reveals imbalance between signalling systems in the brain

“The researchers say all this suggests there is something uniquely convincing about neuroscience in the context of psychological phenomena. They believe the most plausible reason is that psychology students endorse a “brain-as-engine-of-mind” hypothesis – that is, they “assign to neuroscience a privileged role in explaining psychological phenomena not just because neuroscience is a ‘real’ science but because it is the most pertinent science for explaining the mind.” That the students who endorsed dualist beliefs (seeing the mind as separate from the brain) were just as wooed by superfluous neuroscience information somewhat undermines this interpretation.” (excerpt)

via BPS Research Digest: Psychology students are seduced by superfluous neuroscience.

I recognize that this could politicized, and that’s not my intention for sharing this. Educators, after all, work best when they approach educating with an open mind (or open mindset) and flexibility. This is a reason education is both an art and a science. On the other hand, we should be careful about being “early adopters”. We should explore new ideas and tools, but we should approach these explorations with awareness and with special attention to measuring (somewhat objectively) what we hope to achieve against what was actually achieved (somewhat objectively).


The Neurocritic: Against Initiatives: “don’t be taken in by the boondoggle”.


Here’s Professor Leah Krubitzer, who heads theLaboratory of Evolutionary Biology at University of California, Davis:

“From a personal rather than scientific standpoint, the final important thing I’ve learned is don’t be taken in by the boondoggle, don’t get caught up in technology, and be very suspicious of “initiatives.” Science should be driven by questions that are generated by inquiry and in-depth analysis rather than top-down initiatives that dictate scientific directions. I have also learned to be suspicious of labels declaring this the “decade of” anything: The brain, The mind, Consciousness. There should be no time limit on discovery. Does anyone really believe we will solve these complex, nonlinear phenomena in ten years or even one hundred? Tightly bound temporal mandates can undermine the important, incremental, and seemingly small discoveries scientists make every day doing critical, basic, nonmandated research. These basic scientific discoveries have always been the foundation for clinical translation. By all means funding big questions and developing innovative techniques is worthwhile, but scientists and the science should dictate the process.”


The Surprising Reason That Empathising With Strangers Can Be Hard — PsyBlog.


This article reminded me of action movies where the hero and the damsel in distress often end up together in the end. But with the suggestion that it could take “just 15 minutes of playing a video game together” as being enough to overcomce the stranger-to-friend barrier, makes me think of activities of Project Adventure. There are implications for team building for classrooms and perhaps even rehabilitation of bullying behaviors (male or female). If well-planned and facilitated, bullies teaming up with their typical targets may develop relationships that reduce the chances of repeated bullying behaviors. I’m thinking also of The Breakfast Club, how they teamed up and became friends afterward.

What’s going on in these stressful situations? Does the stress with another person provide some kind of syncing event? How much deeper can the empathy get developed between the two or more people? does the syncing take place in groups experiencing the same event or does it fall off with increasing numbers?

It also makes me realize this has implications in parenting. Think of all the times we feel distanced from our kids. I wonder if taking the scary rollercoaster ride together might build those bonds.

I’m taking this one article about one or two studies at face-value. Forgive overgeneralization fallcy.


Neuroscience Reveals The Deep Power of Human Empathy — PsyBlog.

What Is Sensory Adaptation? | eHow.