Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity


The ancients believed that the ‘I’ in the mind is a reflection of the body. Just as athletes and sports people develop muscle memory, the bodymind retains the imprints of experiences that shape your memories, emotions and desires, which in turn form the basis of your conscious and sub-conscious choices and actions. Who you are is a reality of your own making.

Aside from drugs, sleep deprivation, extreme physical experiences or direct physical interference, nothing or no one can reach into your head and make you do or believe something against your will – all your beliefs and actions are a result of choices you make, knowingly or unknowingly based on long held beliefs or reasoned, considered thought. The world is not simply and only something ‘out there’, you construct a view of and feelings about something ‘out there’ and make sure it suits the feeling you want or allow yourself to have about it at that moment and in that situation.

Neuroscience is a fast developing field that explores this aspect of who we are.

A very good guide is  Neuroscience of Self and Self-Regulation by Todd F. Heatherton

As a social species, humans have a fundamental need to belong that encourages behaviors consistent with being a good group member. Being a good group member requires the capacity for self-regulation, which allows people to alter or inhibit behaviors that would place them at risk for group exclusion. Self-regulation requires four psychological components. First, people need to be aware of their behavior so as to gauge it against societal norms. Second, people need to understand how others are reacting to their behavior so as to predict how others will respond to them. This necessitates a third mechanism, which detects threat, especially in complex social situations. Finally, there needs to be a mechanism for resolving discrepancies between self-knowledge and social expectations or norms, thereby motivating behavior to resolve any conflict that exists. This article reviews recent social neuroscience research on the psychological components that support the human capacity for self-regulation.


Differences between deep neural networks and human perception

Associate Professor Josh McDermott (left) and graduate student Jenelle Feather generated physically distinct stimuli that are classified identically by models, rather than by humans.


First-Ever Artificial Neuron Could Let Us Repair Brain Injuries with Silicon

First-Ever Artificial Neuron Could Let Us Repair Brain Injuries with Silicon The merging of man and machine is a staple of sci-fi and at the heart of the philosophy of transhumanism. But interfacing our brains with computers has proven incredibly hard, despite the fact that both essentially run on electrical impulses. Imagine, for example, if a brain injury could be repaired with a computer chip. That may not be too…

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Fueled by the power of stories

K. Guadalupe Cruz studies the neuroscience of decision-making and creates community in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.


Controlling attention with brain waves

MIT neuroscientists have shown that people can enhance their attention by using neurofeedback to decrease alpha waves in one side of the parietal cortex.


Two MIT professors named 2019 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors

Li-Huei Tsai, left, is the Picower Professor of Neuroscience and director of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and Christopher Schuh, is department head and the Danae and Vasilis Salapatas Professor of Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.


The Origin of Consciousness in the Brain Is About to Be Tested

The Origin of Consciousness in the Brain Is About to Be Tested Here’s something you don’t hear every day: two theories of consciousness are about to face off in the scientific fight of the century. Backed by top neuroscientist theorists of today, including Christof Koch, head of the formidable Allen Institute for Brain Research in Seattle, Washington, the fight hopes to put two rival ideas of consciousness to the test in a $20 million project. Briefly, volunteers will have their brain activity scanned while performing a series of cleverly-designed tasks targeted to suss out the brain’s physical origin of conscious thought. The first phase was launched this week at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in Chicago, a brainy extravaganza that draws over 20,000 neuroscientists each year. Both sides agree…

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Drug combination reverses hypersensitivity to noise

MIT neuroscientists have identified two brain circuits that help tune out distracting sensory information.


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Controlling our internal world

MIT neuroscientists have shown that the core elements of an internal model also control purely mental processes.


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