Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

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.

 

Study finds hub linking movement and motivation in the brain

An MIT study is the first to show that a brain region called the lateral septum directly encodes movement information such as speed.

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Perception of musical pitch varies across cultures

Eduardo Undurraga, an assistant professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, runs a musical pitch perception experiment with a member of the Tsimane’ tribe of the Bolivian rainforest.

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Detecting patients’ pain levels via their brain signals

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have developed a system that detects pain in patients by analyzing brain activity from a wearable neuroimaging device, which could help doctors diagnose and treat pain in unconscious and noncommunicative patients.

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New Hybrid Brain Map Reveals How Neurons Connect

New Hybrid Brain Map Reveals How Neurons Connect Projects that map the billions of connections within entire brains have always had a tinge of grandiosity. Yet to connectomists, these projects aren’t just the key to cracking the brain’s ultimate mysteries. Understanding how and why neurons form connections called synapses may be the path towards computer simulations that recreate human thoughts, memories, judgments, and even consciousness inside silicon hardware. For some brain regions, the data may even already be there. This week, a branch of the European Blue Brain Project took a step back from boots-on-the-ground brain mapping to ask an extremely provocative question: what if we already have sufficient data to build a first draft of all the connections within the mouse cortex—some 88 billion synapses—but no one has looked…

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Hearing through the clatter

The primary region of the human auditory cortex (outlined in white) responds differently (blue) to natural sound when background noise is present.

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Lab-Grown Minibrains Show Activity Similar to Babies’ Brains

Lab-Grown Minibrains Show Activity Similar to Babies’ Brains Neurons are a collective bunch. Although each neuron receives, processes, and passes on information individually, the electrical spikes only make sense when melded together in waves of oscillating activity. Like an orchestra, the notes played from each neuron matter. But only when they synchronize in specific ways do single notes transform into the music of thought, memories, and actions. By studying animals, scientists have long known that even extremely young brains—say, those still in the mother’s womb—gradually generate neural oscillations as they mature. Genetic mutations that disrupt this synchronicity causes the melody to falter, leading to neurodevelopmental problems including autism, epilepsy, or schizophrenia. Yet those ideas remain educated guesses, mostly because it’s impossible to monitor a developing human fetus’s brain. What if…

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A Brief Tour Through the Wild West of Neural Interfaces

A Brief Tour Through the Wild West of Neural Interfaces To most of us, zapping neurons with electricity to artificially “incept” memories, sensation, and movement still sounds crazy. But in some brain labs, that technology is beginning to feel old school. As a new review in Nature Biotechnology concludes: get off the throne, electrodes, there are plenty of other neural probes in town. They dance to the tune of light or chemicals, and in some cases, they’re bilingual. Here’s a brief tour into the wild west of neural implants. Some require genetic engineering, and because of that have only been proven in experimental animals. But if history is any indication, brain-manipulation technologies don’t tend to stay in the lab. Watch out, you may see some trickling down into potential human…

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Two studies reveal benefits of mindfulness for middle school students

An MIT study suggests that mindfulness can improve mental health and academic performance in middle school students.

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