Unraveling the Potential of the Unconscious Mind

People can learn to use the non-conscious content in their brains to make profitable decisions. Findings suggest a novel form of non-conscious metacognition.

Source: ATR Brain Information Communications Research Laboratory Group

We are conscious beings, yet most of the activity in our brains remains nonconscious. Can we harness this hidden pool of information? Notably, one important challenge is the astronomical vastness and complexity of such nonconscious information. How can the human brain ‘know’ what aspects of such complex activity may be relevant, given that it is by definition nonconscious and thereby ‘unknown’? There is no magic formula to solve this problem, and research in artificial intelligence suggests that even the best of our current algorithms struggle to handle this vastness of dimensionality in everyday, real-life problems.

Leer Más


Parents’ brains sync up when caring for children together

New research suggests parenthood helps couples tune into each other’s minds and emotional states.

  • Far from being a mental drain, parenthood seems to rewire gray matter for improved empathy and emotional regulation.
  • A recent study published in Nature Scientific Reports found that couples who co-parent together display similar brain activity, suggesting they become greatly attuned to each other.
  • These findings suggest time spent parenting together improves care, coordination, and empathy.

When they say parenting changes you, what follows is typically a refrain of ways the wee one will break you. Consider “mommy brain,” the folk psychology that having a baby decays a woman’s mind to flighty, forgetful, scatterbrained mush.

Leer Más


Cientistas encontram universo multidimensional no cérebro

É um grande esforço de imaginação tentar compreender o mundo em quatro dimensões para muitas pessoas, mas um novo estudo descobriu estruturas no cérebro com até onze dimensões – trabalho inovador que está começando a revelar segredos profundos da arquitetura do cérebro.

Usando topologia algébrica de uma forma que nunca foi usada antes na neurociência, a equipe do Blue Brain Project descobriu um universo de estruturas geométricas multidimensionais e espaços dentro das redes do cérebro.

A pesquisa, publicada na Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, mostra que essas estruturas emergem quando um grupo de neurônios formam uma panelinha: cada neurônio se conecta à todos os outros neurônios do grupo de uma forma muito específica, que gera um objeto geométrico preciso. Quanto mais neurônios há em uma panelinha, maior é a dimensão do objeto geométrico.

Leer Más


The universe may be conscious, say prominent scientists

 

A proto-consciousness field theory could replace the theory of dark matter, one physicist states. 

What consciousness is and where it emanates from has stymied great minds in societies across the globe since the dawn of speculation. In today’s world, it’s a realm tackled more and more by physicists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists. There are a few prevailing theories. The first is materialism. This is the notion that consciousness emanates from matter, in our case, by the firing of neurons inside the brain.

Take the brain out of the equation and consciousness doesn’t exist at all. Traditionally, scientists have been stalwart materialists. But doing so has caused them to slam up against the limitations of materialism. Consider the chasm between relativity and quantum mechanics, or Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and you quickly start to recognize these incongruities.

The second theory is mind-body dualism. This is perhaps more often recognized in religion or spirituality. Here, consciousness is separate from matter. It is a part of another aspect of the individual, which in religious terms we might call the soul. Then there’s a third option which is gaining ground in some scientific circles, panpsychism. In this view, the entire universe is inhabited by consciousness.

Leer Más


Your brain on gratitude: How a neuroscientist used his research to heal from grief

Neuroscientist Glenn Fox has dedicated his life to studying gratitude — how it improves our resilience, lowers stress, and boosts overall health. He’s an expert on the ability of gratitude to help us through tough times.

But on Thanksgiving in 2013, Fox was feeling anything but grateful. That’s because, just a few days before, he’d lost his mother to ovarian cancer.

The day after, going down to Starbucks for coffee and some pastries, “it was like the most intense experience ever. And I just thought, how am I even going to get through this? How am I even going to order?”

Fox was just months away from completing his Ph.D. on the neural bases of gratitude. He knew from his research how therapeutic gratitude can be — and how it could help him in his long journey recovering from grief. What he didn’t know was how to make that happen on a practical level.

Leer Más


A Power Law Keeps the Brain’s Perceptions Balanced

Researchers have discovered a surprising mathematical relationship in the brain’s representations of sensory information, with possible applications to AI research.

The human brain is often described in the language of tipping points: It toes a careful line between high and low activity, between dense and sparse networks, between order and disorder. Now, by analyzing firing patterns from a record number of neurons, researchers have uncovered yet another tipping point — this time, in the neural code, the mathematical relationship between incoming sensory information and the brain’s neural representation of that information. Their findings, published in Nature in June, suggest that the brain strikes a balance between encoding as much information as possible and responding flexibly to noise, which allows it to prioritize the most significant features of a stimulus rather than endlessly cataloging smaller details. The way it accomplishes this feat could offer fresh insights into how artificial intelligence systems might work, too.

Leer Más


Toward a New Frontier in Human Intelligence: The Person-Centered Approach

When it comes to intelligence, we all have bad days. Heck, we even have many bad moments, such as when we forget our car keys, forget a friend’s name, or bomb an important test that we’ve taken a day after staying up all night worrying about it. Truth is, none of us– including the world’s smartest human– is perfectly consistent in our cognitive functioning. Sometimes we are at our very best and feel like our brain is on fire, and at other times, we don’t even recognize ourselves.

All of this sounds so obvious, but surprisingly the field of human intelligence has not had much to say on the topic. For over the past 120 years, the field has shed far more light on how we differ from each other in our patterns of cognitive functioning than how we each differ within ourselves over time.

This is curious considering that a person-centered approach has proved fruitful in other fields, such as medicine and neuroscience. Even within the study of human behavior there has been progress, from looking at how individual emotions fluctuate over time, to how individual personality traits such as introversion and openness to new experiences and even our morality fluctuates throughout the course of the day. It has become increasingly clear that the results from the traditional individual differences paradigm– where we compare people to each other– often does not apply at the person-specific level.

Leer Más


¿Nos volvemos adultos a los 25 años? Esto es lo que dice la neurociencia

“Te encuentras ahora en otra etapa. Eres una persona adulta”.

A una determinada edad, la sociedad considera que ya tienes la capacidad de asumir ciertas responsabilidades.

¿Pero cómo se fija ese momento en que “nos volvemos adultos”?

No tiene que ver con poder casarse y votar, algo que en muchos países puedes hacer a los 16 y a los 18 años.

Para Peter Jones, profesor del instituto de neurociencia epiCentre, de la Universidad de Cambridge, no podemos decir que hay una niñez y una adultez.

“Lo que hay es un camino”, señaló Jones, quien participó este mes en una conferencia sobre el desarrollo del cerebro organizada por la Academia de Ciencias Médicas de Reino Unido.

Leer Más



Nutrition Has Benefits For Brain Network Organization, New Research Finds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutrition has been linked to cognitive performance, but researchers have not pinpointed what underlies the connection. A new study by University of Illinois researchers found that monounsaturated fatty acids – a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados – are linked to general intelligence, and that this relationship is driven by the correlation between MUFAs and the organization of the brain’s attention network. Leer Más