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Archive for October, 2012

Human animals have always had a hefty egoic sense of exceptionalism which has proven harmful, and often lethal, to all other animals. We tell ourselves we are the only animals who can feel pain, then discover most other creatures have fully

 functioning nervous systems. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with emotional capacities, so we call evidence of emotions in other animals “merely instinct”. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with a sense of morality, until we experience it in animals with whom we have become familiar.

Human Beings may seem exceptional to themselves, but in the whole scope of things, we are just one member of a very large tribe of living creatures, all of whom are in various stages of evolutionary adaptation.

via Mark Rowlands – Animal morality.

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Scientists have figured out a way to read our dreams. It is in the preliminary stages, but the knowledge base will continue to expand. Although it seems pretty simplistic, it is a phenomenal step in an understanding of what our unconscious mind is up to during the one-third of our lives spent in slumber. Many people report infrequent memories of dream content, while some report no memory whatsoever. 

via Scientists read dreams : Nature News & Comment.

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UCLA researchers have�discovered that�the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease behaves as if it’s remembering something during sleep, even under anesthesia — a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

His team found that the entorhinal cortex showed what is called persistent activity, which is thought to mediate working memory during waking life — for example, when people pay close attention to remember things temporarily, such as recalling a phone number or following directions.

“The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time.” Mehta said. “These results are entirely novel and surprising. In fact, this working memory-like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex even under anesthesia.”

The findings are important, Mehta said, because humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping and a lack of sleep results in adverse effects on health, including learning and memory problems.

via The sleeping brain behaves as if it’s remembering something | KurzweilAI.

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Scientists found a region in the brain responsible for “eye contact”.

Making direct eye contact with someone gives you that feeling of a special connection because it excites newly discovered “eye cells” in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions and social interactions.

via Eye-contact detector found in the brain – life – 16 October 2012 – New Scientist.

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Researchers disguised rapid- and slow-changing sounds within background noise. Participants were asked to indicate whether they could hear the noise by pressing a button using alternately their right hand then their left hands.

Those responding with their right hand heard the rapidly changing sounds more often than when using their left hands while the slowly changing sounds were heard more often when using the left hand.

“The left hemisphere likes rapidly changing sounds, such as consonants, and the right hemisphere likes slowly changing sounds, such as syllables or intonation,” explains Turkeltaub on the GUMC website.

“It’s really pretty amazing. Imagine you’re waving an American flag while listening to one of the presidential candidates. The speech will actually sound slightly different to you depending on whether the flag is in your left hand or your right hand.”

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Why?

What if the universe simply doesn’t need reasons? What if reason is relevant only in our human realm? A plant doesn’t need a reason to blossom. It just does it. Lightning strikes and meteors crash without a reason. The question “why?” only arises in the human mind.

We evolved to discover simple cause and effect. We know ginger roots settle the stomach and a black widow spider can kill you. Our species has thrived by understanding what might be beneficial and what might be harmful. However, when it comes to questions about the purpose of our existence, our brains fail us.

via Being Human A-Z | Being Human.

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Perhaps our brains are not equipped to get the Big Picture. Maybe they evolved to deal with only a narrow spectrum of reality, focused on day to day reality just enough to keep us going. Maybe at this point our brains are not capable of comprehending the incomprehensible.

Perhaps the question of our origin and of ultimate reality doesn’t need to be answered to find wellbeing. What if freedom lies instead in the capacity to live with not knowing? What would it feel like to be utterly at home, in the midst of the mystery?

 

via Being Human A-Z | Being Human.

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