Neuroscience

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.

 

  • Statistical model improves analysis of skin conductance
    With electrodes strapped to two fingers, researchers can read out changes in skin conductance produced by sweat. These fluctuations reflect subconscious changes in physical or emotional state. A new statistical method of analyzing the resulting signal is faster and more accurate than previous methods because it is based on the physiology of sweat.
  • Scientists uncover new clues about Parkinson’s disease
    Helen Schwerdt, a postdoc in Ann Graybiel’s lab, builds ultrathin probes that target brain microstructures with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Scientists Found a New Way to Control the Brain With Light—No Surgery Required
    Scientists Found a New Way to Control the Brain With Light—No Surgery Required If I had to place money on a neurotech that will win the Nobel Prize, it’s optogenetics. The technology uses light of different frequencies to control the brain. It’s a brilliant mind-meld of basic neurobiology and engineering that hijacks the mechanism behind … Read More
  • Neuroscientists discover a molecular mechanism that allows memories to form
    A new MIT study reveals that encoding memories in engram cells is controlled by large-scale remodeling of the proteins and DNA that make up cells’ chromatin. In this image of the brain, the hippocampus is the large yellow structure near the top. Green indicates neurons that were activated in memory formation; red shows the neurons that were activated in memory recall; blue shows the DNA of the cells; and yellow shows neurons that were activated in both memory formation and recall, and are thus considered to be the engram neurons.
  • How a Memory Quirk of the Human Brain Can Galvanize AI
    How a Memory Quirk of the Human Brain Can Galvanize AI Even as toddlers we’re good at inferences. Take a two-year-old that first learns to recognize a dog and a cat at home, then a horse and a sheep in a petting zoo. The kid will then also be able to tell apart a dog … Read More
  • Live imaging method brings structure to mapping brain function
    A distinct thicket of vessels and myelin fibers (which wrap around the long extensions of many neurons) are evident in each color-coded visual processing region in the cortex of a mouse. The columns are formed by stacking images taken at 5-micron increments through a millimeter of depth in each of the regions.
  • Want to Decode the Human Brain? There’s a New System for That, and It’s Pretty Wild
    Want to Decode the Human Brain? There’s a New System for That, and It’s Pretty Wild Even for high-tech California, the man strolling around UCLA was a curious sight. His motion capture suit, sensor-embedded gloves, and virtual reality eyewear were already enough to turn heads. But what stopped people in their tracks and made them … Read More
  • New molecular therapeutics center established at MIT's McGovern Institute
    Lisa Yang (center) and Hock Tan ’75 (right) are pictured with their daughter Eva at the opening of the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research in 2017.
  • As information flows through brain’s heirarchy, higher regions use higher-frequency waves
    Brain waves are oscillating patterns of the activity of brain cells as they process information. A new study finds that different frequency bands are associated with encoding, or not encoding, sensory information.
  • New gene regulation model provides insight into brain development
    Some RNA-binding proteins like Rbfox (gold ellipses) help tune gene expression and control biological processes by latching onto more RNA sequences (black and gold lines) as their concentration increases (teal shading).
  • Neuralink’s Wildly Anticipated New Brain Implant: the Hype vs. the Science
    Neuralink’s Wildly Anticipated New Brain Implant: the Hype vs. the Science Neuralink’s wildly anticipated demo last Friday left me with more questions than answers. With a presentation teeming with promises and vision but scant on data, the event nevertheless lived up to its main goal as a memorable recruitment session to further the growth of … Read More
  • Face-specific brain area responds to faces even in people born blind
    MIT researchers have found that the fusiform face area, which is specialized to recognize faces, lights up in people who have been blind since birth when they touch a three-dimensional model of a face with their hands. The finding suggests that this area does not require visual experience to develop a preference for faces.
  • This Is How Your Brain Responds to Social Influence
    This Is How Your Brain Responds to Social Influence I’m a doormat when it comes to peer pressure. Jump off a 32-foot (10 meter) diving board without any experience? Sure! Propel off a cliff my first time outdoor climbing? I’ll try! Those were obviously terrible decisions for someone afraid of heights, and each ended with … Read More
  • We Need New, Safer Ways to Treat Pain. Could Electroacupuncture Be One?
    We Need New, Safer Ways to Treat Pain. Could Electroacupuncture Be One? In college, I volunteered to have a needle jabbed into the fleshy part between my thumb and forefinger in the name of acupuncture. I had bruised the area earlier in a lab experiment. I went in thinking I was completely crazy to try … Read More
  • These Scientists Just Completed a 3D ‘Google Earth’ for the Brain
    These Scientists Just Completed a 3D ‘Google Earth’ for the Brain Human brain maps are a dime a dozen these days. Maps that detail neurons in a certain region. Maps that draw out functional connections between those cells. Maps that dive deeper into gene expression. Or even meta-maps that combine all of the above. But … Read More
  • Key brain region was “recycled” as humans developed the ability to read
    A new study from MIT neuroscientists offers evidence that the brain’s inferotemporal cortex, which is specialized to perform object recognition, has been repurposed for a key component of reading called orthographic processing — the ability to recognize written letters and words.
  • Role of REM Versus Non-REM Sleep on Learning
    New research evaluates which sleep stage is most important for learning: REM or non-REM. In the new study investigators looked at two mechanisms. Does sleep improve learning by enhancing skills while people snooze, or does the sleep benefit arise from reinforcing those skills in the brain so that they’re less likely to forget them? The … Read More
  • Towards ‘Eternal Sunshine’? New Links Found Between Memory and Emotion
    Towards ‘Eternal Sunshine’? New Links Found Between Memory and Emotion Nearly a decade ago, I almost drowned. As an amateur scuba diver, I recklessly joined a group of experts for a deep—much deeper than I was qualified for—dive at night. Already exhausted from swimming my gear from shore, within minutes after I descended I lost … Read More
  • Ila Fiete studies how the brain performs complex computations
    Ila Fiete, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, uses computational and mathematical techniques to study how the brain encodes information in ways that enable cognitive tasks such as learning, memory, and neural representation of our surroundings.
  • Mapping the brain’s sensory gatekeeper
    These cross-sections of the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) show two distinct populations of neurons, labeled in purple and green. A team of researchers from MIT and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has now mapped the TRN in unprecedented detail.
  • A new way to control experimentation with dreams
    “Dormio takes dream research to a new level, interacting directly with an individual’s dreaming brain and manipulating the actual content of their dreams,” says Robert Stickgold, director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
  • Neural vulnerability in Huntington’s disease tied to release of mitochondrial RNA
    MIT neuroscientists have linked the vulnerability of neurons in Hungtington’s disease to the release of mitochondrial RNA and an associated immune system response. In this image, on the right are neurons from a Huntington’s model mouse showing much more PKR (a marker of immune response to mitochondrial RNA) in green than neurons on the left, which are from a healthy mouse.
  • Seemingly similar, two neurons show distinct styles as they interact with the same muscle partner
    The left side shows a "tonic" neuron (stained green) growing to just one muscle on the right of the panel. In the next panel, one can see a "phasic" neuron (also stained green) connecting to more than one muscle.
  • A mechanical way to stimulate neurons
    A scanning electron microscope image of cultured neural cells shows the team’s newly developed nanodiscs (colored area) arrayed along the cell surface, where they can exert enough force to trigger a response.
  • How the Brain Builds a Sense of Self From the People Around Us
    How the Brain Builds a Sense of Self From the People Around Us We are highly sensitive to people around us. As infants, we observe our parents and teachers, and from them we learn how to walk, talk, read—and use smartphones. There seems to be no limit to the complexity of behavior we can acquire … Read More