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Macroethics of Neurotechnology
Posted by on Thursday October 16, @11:40PM
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 https://trava55.ru/cvety/piony and Neuroethics.
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Medicine and the Mind
Psychology Posted by on Thursday October 16, @11:40PM
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.
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Building Common Sense
Posted by on Thursday October 16, @11:40PM
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.
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Trail to the Modern Mind
Anthropology Posted by on Thursday October 16, @03:03PM
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.
But this hardware, though necessary, was not sufficient for modern behaviour: software (culture) is also required to run a mind and for this to be honed took tens of millennia. There is something unsatisfactory about the genetic argument that rests on the "potential" for change emerging, he argues. Ultimately, little happened – or at least not for another 30,000 years.

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Wired for Violence
Psychology Posted by on Wednesday October 15, @11:18PM
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.
"Unlike a broken bone, the mal-development of neural systems mediating empathy, impulse control, anger, trauma and so on, resulting from violence during infancy and in adulthood is not readily observable. In some cases, the stress response systems do not return to the pre-event level of homeostasis. In these cases the signs and symptoms become so severe, persistent and disruptive that they become a disorder," he said.

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Michael Ryan on Evolution
Anthropology Posted by on Wednesday October 15, @11:17PM
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.
"If we want to understand music preferences, let's look at what the brain is doing," he said. "Then we can ask, What in history made the brain like this?"

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Smart Astronomy
Posted by on Wednesday October 15, @11:17PM
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."
Dr. Allan continues "The Agents can detect and respond to the rapidly changing universe faster than any human, and make decisions to observe an object much faster than would otherwise be possible. Only then need they tell their human masters what they're doing."

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Rapid Brain Links in Music Training
Neuroscience Posted by on Wednesday October 15, @02:15AM
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.
To find out how fast links between these two brain areas could be formed Marc Bangert and Eckart Altenmüller, from the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine in Hanover, examined the effects on the brain of taking up a musical instrument from scratch. Their results showed that patterns of brain activity when listening to music or silently tapping a keyboard could be altered after just 20 minutes of piano practice. These changes were enhanced after five weeks of training.

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Music, Brain and Culture
Neuroscience Posted by on Wednesday October 15, @02:01AM
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.
These findings support the idea that formal training influences patterns of brain activity in response to culturally familiar and unfamiliar music, according to the researchers.
By contrast, brain activity was similar among all subjects when comparing English speech to Cantonese. There was significant brain activity in the left insula and lesser activity in the left superior temporal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus that was not present while listening to Cantonese.

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Barry Gordon on Intelligent Memory
Psychology Posted by on Tuesday October 14, @11:51PM
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.
Intelligent memory is largely an unconscious, lightning-fast process -- so quick most of us don't know how to access and develop it, Gordon said. His book offers ways to improve intelligent memory, from sparking connections between ideas to enhancing attention.

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Recent Articles

Thursday, October 16

    • Macroethics of Neurotechnology 
    • Medicine and the Mind 
    • Building Common Sense 
    • Trail to the Modern Mind 

Wednesday, October 15

    • Wired for Violence 
    • Michael Ryan on Evolution 
    • Smart Astronomy 
    • Rapid Brain Links in Music Training 
    • Music, Brain and Culture 

Tuesday, October 14

    • Barry Gordon on Intelligent Memory 
    • Sony's Next Robot 
    • The Benefits of Lobotomy 
    • Dopamine - The Movie 
    • Warwick Watch 

Monday, October 13

    • Genetics of Higher Thought 
    • Grossenbacher on Synesthesia 
    • Robots Do Martial Arts 
    • The Question of Free Will 
    • Grandmaster - Man or Machine? 
    • The Legal Recognition of Conscious Machines 

Sunday, October 12

  • Intelligence, Emotion Testing 
  • PLoS Goes Live 
  • What Are Suicide Bombers Thinking? 
  • AI Tracks Subtle Movements 
  • The New Language 

Recent Comments
Monday, October 13
    • Re: 'Fixing' Gays by David

Thursday, October 09

    • Re: Forgiveness, Mind and Body by Golden
    • Re: Possible Biological Basis of Sexual Preference by Golden
    • Re: Possible Biological Basis of Sexual Preference by CriX

Tuesday, October 07

    • Re: Eugenics for Intelligence by Pennywise
    • Re: Intelligence - Bad for Evolution? by James Robertson
    • Re: 'Fixing' Gays by Ribald
    • Re: 'Fixing' Gays by CriX

Monday, October 06

    • Re: Conversion Hysteria by James Robertson

Thursday, October 02

Tuesday, September 30

Saturday, September 27

    • Re: Is the Turing Test "Brain Dead" Too? by Rob Hoogers

Friday, September 26

Thursday, September 25

Wednesday, September 24

Quick Links
CogNews recommends MIT's CogNet for access to some great CogSci Resources.

Interested in Artificial Intelligence? Maybe you should become a member of the AAAI.

Want to chat with people about Artifical Intelligence, Robotics or Philosophy? Generation5 Forum is the place for you.

Interested in learning Psychology? Check out AlleyDog for introductory material.

Have a hard time keeping track of Neuroanatomy? The Whole Brain Atlas makes for a great resource.

Update: 08/18 01:38 by :

  "Science is a willingness to accept facts even when they are opposed to wishes." -- B. F. Skinner
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