link to us
from the thinking-ahead-is-a-good-thing dept.
There are some people that feel that the question "Who Gets the Smart Pills?" isn't asked often enough. This article says that the field of neurotechnology has done well in focusing on microethics -- how to do the right thing on the job -- but have failed to discuss macroethics and how the resulting technology will effect society at large. The concern arose from the National Academy of Engineering Symposium on Ethical Issues.
Wolpe also considered the implications of merging animal and machine, a particularly timely issue in light of the widely publicized research published this week describing a brain implant that enabled monkeys to control a robotic arm with their thoughts. "There's very little talk on the ethical perspectives," Wolpe said of the report.
For previous CogNews articles on the subject, check out Ethics of Cognitive Enhancement and Neuroethics.
from the non-recreational-drug dept.
"It's not either nature or nurture. It is a complex interaction of both," says Bennett Bertenthal in this brief article about how the brain and mind are intertwined, and where medicine effects them both.
"The specifics of how 'the Brain' and what we know as 'the Mind' work together may not be entirely mapped out yet, but it is clear they do. There will be momentous clinical applications of the understanding of this link," said Cynthia M. Watson, MD, who is a private family medical practitioner as well as Clinical Preceptor, UCLA Department of Family Medicine.
The news article is about this free online issue (PDF) of the Pfizer Journal, which is entirely about medicine, mind and brain.
from the it-isn't-really-common dept.
Luis von Ahn and Manuel Blum of CMU are attempting to create common sense for computers for, among other applications, search engines. Their approach is to get humans to do all the hard work for them, but in a fun fashion. Von Ahn and Blum have created a ESP game in which people get points for using the same words to describe pictures.
"If we can crack the common sense problem, then we've solved AI," Singh said. "Figuring out the common sense problem is almost the same as being able to build a person."
This article has the whole story - https://florafox.com/au/gold-coast-11582, including references to Push Singh's Open Mind Project.
from the cave-art dept.
40,000 years ago, our ancestors in Europe started wearing beads, pendants and tattoos. At the same time, they started using symbols -- a monumental moment that's thought to define the birth of the modern mind. Or so go the conventional theories, says this article. Lord Colin Renfrew is set to refute the dogma next month at a Last Word Lecture, and put forth the theory that the human mind as we know it today came into being 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.
Lord Renfrew is troubled by what he calls the "sapient behaviour paradox": genetic evidence, based on the diversity of modern humans, suggests that our big brains emerged around 150,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens evolved from Homo erectus, and were fully developed about 60,000 years ago.
from the let's-get-together-and-feel-alright dept.
Of course, violence is never a good thing. But even its presence may go so far as to effect the development of an unborn child, says this article. Earl Wright, Director of Jamaica's Ministry of Health, recently found that babies exposed to violence or violent situations in the womb were influenced by their mother's body chemestry. Subsequently, the infants minds may reflect the disorganization of their environment or symptoms of anxiety, flash back, hypervigilance, or depression.
"Exposure to stresses such as violence, living in a life-threatening environment, gunshots being fired, being involved in a motor vehicle accident, stimulates the circulation of norepinephrine and cortisol (brain chemicals) in an expectant mother's body which changes the set point of the baby's reaction to stress in the Limbic Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenalin system (the brain's nerve network). Therefore, before birth, the baby is already a victim of violence," he said.
from the poor-frog dept.
In a NYT article titled "Evolving by Accident, Not Fitness" (FRR), Michael Ryan says that he wants to know why animals are the way they are. According to Ryan, it may be a little too narrow minded to think of everything in terms of fitness and adaptation -- concepts that ignore, for example, why song birds sing to attract a mate.
People gather, for instance, in groups of 100,000 to listen to patterns of sound from loudspeakers. If Dr. Ryan and his allies are right, then immediate adaptive value is the wrong place to look for a phenomenon like rock concerts. Music may appeal to brain wiring that was in place for thousands of years before anyone sang a note. In any event, he says, anatomy, not adaptation, is the right place to start.
from the sorting-out-the-stars-from-the-planes dept.
There's a new tool in astronomy -- intelligent agents. Alasdair Allan is part of the eScience Telescopes for Astronomical Research (eSTAR) team, which developed the intelligent agents to help watch the skies for quick or rare events. Science Daily has the whole story.
Although this is not the first time that telescopes have been automated, or connected to the Internet, Dr. Allan explains "What is so important here is that we have developed an intelligent observing system. It thinks and reacts for itself, deciding whether something it has discovered is interesting enough to need more observations. If more observations are needed, it just goes ahead and gets them."
from the mozart-in-a-minute dept.
After only minutes of playing the piano, the brain starts to create linkages between finger movements and particual notes, says this article. The research, performed by Marc Bangert and Eckart Altenmuller, showed that after a few training sessions without verbal or visual cues, EEG results showed different brain maps.
Recent brain imaging studies of professional musicians have demonstrated that silent tapping of musical phrases can stimulate auditory areas of the cortex and hearing music can stimulate areas of the motor cortex. Moreover, according to anecdotal evidence, hearing music can cause pianists to move their fingers involuntarily.
from the dept.
A recent press release talks about the work of Steven Morrison and Steven Demorest, who show that patterns of brain activity are independant of the culture of the music. Subjects brains were observed through an fMRI while listening to music from different cultures. Results showed that brain activation was the same, regardless of cultural bias of the music; although, there were some differences in ability to remember certain kinds of music and brain activation varied based on musical training.
The researchers found similarities in brain activity when the musicians and untrained listeners were exposed to the Western classical and traditional Chinese musical excerpts. All subjects showed significant clusters of activation in the brain regions called the right transverse temporal gyrus and left superior temporal gyrus. However, some differences did emerge based on musical training. The musicians exhibited significantly greater activity in the right superior temporal gyrus when listening to both types of music. In addition, the musicians also showed significant brain activity in the right middle frontal gyrus when listening to Western music and in the left middle frontal gyrus when hearing the Chinese music.
from the dumb-memory dept.
You may remember Barry Gordon from such previous CogNews articles as Photographic Memory. He returns to the media in this article to talk about "intelligent memory". Gordon describes intelligent memory as the type of memory used in creative tasks, as opposed to normal memory that allows us to remember dates and where we put our car keys.
Ordinary memory is what fails when we can't find those keys, he explains. Intelligent memory contains everything else we know about our keys, such as what they're for and what else they can be used for.
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