NEUROSCIENCE



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The Brain

The Mind

Free Will

The Brain


12/1/14

Both the aging process and traumatic brain injuries ...

damage the brain's ability to rid itself of waste


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10/27/14

How the brain chooses to remember or forget




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5/8/14

New neurons may help erase old memories




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11/1/13

Scientists were surprised by the degree of variation
found among genomes of individual neurons ...

from the same brain


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9/23/13

Neuroscientists find biological basis for lack of empathy in psychopaths

So now we know how to fix Americans who identify with "The Tea Party":
A simple procedure that implants a functional ventromedial prefrontal cortex.


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8/27/13

Hippocampus found NOT to be the seat of long-term memory

It is spread out in the cerebral cortex


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8/13/13

It was frustrating to read the American interpretations of this study.
Most wanted to insert their woo-woo beliefs into the findings.
But we can usually count on the British to give us a more level-headed,
objective report (except where the Royals are concerned).

Brain activity increases as death nears


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6/27/13

New discovery in neuroscience: the glymphatic system
may hold the key to treating dementia disorders

The brain's garbage truck

I liked the part about the brains of mice being similar to the human brain.
That might explain why ... so many people are rats.


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4/10/13

Brain creates subconscious categories




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10/30/12

MRI measures the battle between neural networks for control of the brain

This only applies to those who actually use their brains
which immediately eliminates "certain factions" of the population.


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8/22/12

Want to get smarter?



Regardless of the hand you were dealt,
a lot has to do with how you play your cards.
Some people get through life by bluffing.
Others trade in their cards for better ones:

that's called "learning"


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7/19/12

Researchers read monkey's thoughts




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7/21/08

Neurons (1:57)




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The Mind


7/21/16

"Cognitive Ease" ...

a term worth remembering (8:25)

Apply what you learned in the video
and it may help you understand the "Trump phenomenon"


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2/24/16

If you've never taken the "Selective Attention Test"
try it now (1:22)



(No, I did not get to take the test, because I had already read about it first)

I sent the following email to co-author, Christopher Chabris:

"I have been unable to locate any mention of,
what I would consider to be,
the most important information of all:

1) What was the average score of those who saw the gorilla?
2) What was the average score of those who missed the gorilla?

I was unable to locate the info on the internet.
I read the abstract but could not find the info I wanted."

Here is the reply from co-author Christopher Chabris:
"There's an analysis like this on page 1069 of the article, but we did it by correlating noticing (1 for noticing, 0 for missing) with the error magnitude (# of passes away from correct count), averaged across conditions. The correlation was tiny. In our more recent paper in I-Perception we found that people who made more counting mistakes were more likely to notice the unexpected event, but only when the counting task was difficult."

Here is the excerpt from page 1069 of the article:
"Across these fifteen conditions the correlations averaged to r . 0:15, suggesting that noticing was not strongly associated with counting poorly or inattentively."

Summary

As stated in the abstract, those who noticed the gorilla
did miss more passes on average than those who didn't.
So why were the authors raving about the abilities
of those who noticed the gorilla?

I reached the opposite conclusion:
Viewers were given a task.
Those whose powers of concentration were so strong
that they couldn't be distracted, even by someone in a gorilla suit,
should have been praised for passing the test with flying colors;
while those whose powers of concentration were not as strong,
and got distracted from their assigned task, and therefore missed more passes,
should have been the ones who were viewed as having performed less efficiently.

I formed these opinions about the authors:

1) When the results revealed that those,
who could not be distracted by the gorilla, scored better,
the authors tried to bury the accomplishment of those subjects deep in the abstract.

2) Knowing that they could not omit that fact
without being accused of hiding data,
they briefly mentioned it, but even then,
they tried to minimize the importance of the difference in performance.

Why?

Why did the authors take a positive quality:
the ability to focus and successfully complete a task,
and turn it around completely backwards,
and accuse the successful subjects of "inattentional blindness?"

I see at least two possibilities:

1) If they highlighted the results
which showed that people who were distracted by the gorilla
scored lower than those whose powers of concentration were superior,
and who therefore, were able to see more passes;
everyone would have yawned and said "So what; why is that news?"

But, then a light bulb appeared over the researcher's heads
and they realized that if they criticized those who performed better,
and gave it an exotic name, like "inattentional blindness,"
then they could give the impression that those who performed more poorly,
possessed some special gift.

Then, as we all saw, instead of yawn-makers, they became celebrity researchers!

2) It is also possible that the researchers fell prey
to one of the most common weaknesses of all humans,
one which all scientists must constantly be on guard against ... confirmation bias.

The authors started with a conclusion,
and when the results produced a contrary result,
they simply "interpreted" the results
in a way that supported their original hypothesis.

Creationists do that all the time.
They start with the answers and try to force science to conform to their myths.

But we expect more from our scientists.

UPDATE

Here is an interesting study that puts the "Selective Attention Test"
in proper perspective (that would be the one that I proposed above).
This is what can happen when you try to hide data and force interpretations
to produce a result that you need  to be true.
Eventually, scientists with more integrity will begin to appear;

and they might be bringing ... embarrassing results


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10/6/14

Classic Emails

N.Y. Times writer believes people with pedophilia ...

have no choice

I sent her this response (2 pages)


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8/27/13

For the first time ever, a human controls the brain of another human
at a distant location over the internet.




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7/25/13

False memories implanted in mice

As our legal system has discovered ... it's much easier in humans.


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7/15/13

The perception of time (3:06)




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4/8/13

Young children aren't just mimicking language - they understand grammar ...

and chimpanzees do not




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2/28/13

Vulcan Mind Meld ... established between rats



What's the next step?

Yep - you guessed it.




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2/11/13

Neuroscientists can now predict (with over 80% accuracy)
which political party you favor.

This method outperforms all previous methods

Here's a follow-up

The culprit? ... it's the amygdala


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11/29/12

Which is the best way to judge emotion:
By facial expression or body language?



Blew that one, didn't ya?
Yeah, me too.


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10/16/12

Neuroscience is learning the basis for social decisions in the brain

The article stated:
"Primates employ three different parts of the prefrontal cortex
in decisions about whether to give or keep prized treats.
These findings illuminate a poorly understood brain circuit,
and offer possible insights into human sharing and other social behavior.
"


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7/11/12

Bad news for Ayn Rand's Objectivists

The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are

And before you Ghost Worshipers try to jump in on this one,
altruism doesn't apply when you give money to your ghost.
That's because you are expecting a return on that investment.

As the article points out, altruism is done out of empathy for others.
It applies when you have nothing to gain, and it may even cause you to suffer ...

by sacrificing your own welfare to help others


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11/8/11

The scientific connection between religion and brain damage (4:21)




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1/23/11

If you have ever tried to reason with a Fox News fanatic
or a deeply religious person,
then you have experienced the frustration
of bombarding them with facts and reason,
and completely refuting their argument ...
only to watch them fold their arms and say
"nope - not buyin' it."

Is there a scientific explanation for this seeming insanity?

Yes there is
(only the first 13 minutes are relevant)



Additionally, there are other "higher level" explanations
for their stubborness as well; such as:

ego / pride
(refusing to admit defeat)

team loyalty
(refusal to desert those with whom they identify)

suspicion or jealousy
(refusal to trust those with superior education or knowledge)


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The Free Will Debate


12/15

Determinists (those who believe that free will is an illusion) ...

take a hard right to the jaw

Now get ready for the flood of attacks by Determinists
who will do their best impression of Creationists
by trying to attack every aspect of the study.

UPDATE

I must be clairvoyant ...

Jerry Coyne (9 pages)

UPDATE

Professor Coyne steps in it ... again

No. He did not reply.
And why should he? What's he gonna say?
When you've got zero evidence for your assertions,
the best strategy is to remain silent and hope they go away.


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11/13/15

Classic Emails (3 pages)

In podcast #362, I criticized Jerry Coyne's essay on Free Will.
After posting podcasts, I usually send out notifications
to those who might be interested in the topic.
I received one reply from the CC list: Aaron Schurger
(who had written a paper defending against the attacks on Free Will)
Coyne had stated that he did not find Schurger's paper "convincing."

Here is my reply to Schurger's email


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5/22/15

I wonder how Sam Harris and other determinists will explain this one?

Paralyzed man uses intention of movement to control robotic arm

According to Determinists like Harris ...
we don't have the freedom to make choices.


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6/9/14

Remember when Determinists (like Sam Harris)
tried to hijack the Libet Experiment
and interpret it so that it supported their view of reality?

The view that we are nothing more than biological robots with no free will?

well ... science is fighting back


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11/24/13

Neuroscientists find an area in the brain responsible for decision-making.



If Determinists were correct that "Free Will is just an illusion"
then there wouldn't be an area in the brain responsible for decision-making,
because according to them ... "we" don't make decisions.


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