Researchers at the University of Calgary tricked out an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner to react to signals such as muscle tension and eye movement in a bid to test limited brain-computer interaction between humans and robots. (Gadget Lab from Wired.com)
In an interview I did for The Washington Post in 2004, I asked McKay why so many people kept talking about the possibility that injections of stem cells into the brains of people with Alzheimer?s disease might someday cure these people when, in fact, the scientific consensus at the time (and still today) was that such injections were unlikely to benefit such patients.
From the ?herding instincts? of traders to our unselfish approach to transactions, behavioural studies are turning the economic orthodoxy of rational self-interest on its head. Pete Lunn explains what this means for consumer policy.
You wouldn't know it from the claims of companies like No Lie MRI, but we're a long way off being able to use brain scans to detect reliably whether a person is lying or not. Nonetheless, cognitive psychologists are busy beavering away in the background, testing the ways that brain activity varies when people lie compared with when they tell the truth. One such study has just been published, claiming to be the first to investigate deception in the context of face recognition.
Behind all the gore there's a profound purpose: The scientists here are mapping the brain. And while conventional brain maps describe distinct anatomical areas, like the frontal lobes and the hippocampus?many of which were first outlined in the 19th century?the Allen Brain Atlas seeks to describe the cortex at the level of specific genes and individual neurons. Slices of tissue containing billions of brain cells will be analyzed to see which snippets of DNA are turned on in each cell.
The preliminary evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis that Adderall has an overall negative effect on creativity. Its effects on divergent creative thought cannot be inferred with confidence from this study because of the ambiguity of null results. Its effects on convergent creative thought appear to be dependent on the baseline creativity of the individual. Those in the higher range of the normal distribution may be unaffected or impaired, whereas those in the lower range of the normal distribution experience enhancement.
What if they gave a war and nobody came?
That was a popular slogan for peace demonstrators of the Vietnam era (including me).
It might be repeated, with a slight revision, at some point during this century:
What if they gave a robot war and nobody came?
Phantom limbs, often described after amputation, are also experienced as an extra limb in patients who are paralyzed on one side following a stroke. Referred to as supernumerary phantom limb (SPL), patients can usually perceive these limbs as a vivid somatosensory presence of an extra limb, but generally cannot see or intentionally move them. In some unusual cases, however, patients have reported seeing their phantom limb or feeling objects or body parts with it, which indicates that multiple areas of the brain may be involved in SPLs.
The robot now gets around well enough. ?But it has a biological brain, and not a computer,? says Warwick, and so it must navigate based solely on the very limited amount of information it receives from a single sensory device. If the number of sensory devices connected to its brain increases, it will gain a better understanding of its surroundings. ?I have another student now who has started to work on an audio input, so in some way we can start communicating with it,? he says.
The visual system has limited capacity and cannot process everything that falls onto the retina. Instead, the brain relies on attention to bring salient details into focus and filter out background clutter. Two recent studies by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, one study employing computational modeling techniques and the other experimental techniques, have helped to unravel the mechanisms underlying attention.
In this EdgeVideo, evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi reports on his art/science conversation and collaboration with musician Brian Eno which began when the two sat next to each other an an Edge dinner in London. The dinner discussion began with evolution and music, proceeded to the evolution of music, and led to the following question: has anybody attempted to reconstruct the history of human song? People around the world sing in different ways. Is it possible to retrieve that history. Can we do for songs what we've done for genes, for language?
Last Monday, Nicholas Hughes, son of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, killed himself. His mother was one of the world?s most famous suicides, and news stories have mentioned the tendency of suicide and depression to run in families. But this tragic inheritance is just part of a more complex story in which our lives are shaped by genes, environment ? and unexpected connections between the two.
Take our brains, for example. In the brains of humans, chimps and many other mammals, the genes that are switched on in the brain change dramatically in the first few years of life. But Mehmet Somel from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has found that a small but select squad of genes, involved in the development of nerve cells, are activated much later in our brains than in those of other primates. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Learn about the frontiers of human health from seven of Stanford's most innovative faculty members. Inspired by a format used at the TED Conference (http://www.ted.com), each speaker delivers a highly engaging talk in just 10-20 minutes about his or her research. Learn about Stanford's newest and most exciting discoveries in neuroscience, bioengineering, brain imaging, psychology, and more.
For transhumanists, the human species is about to begin a new form of evolution. Instead of biological evolution ? slow processes of survival, reproduction, and adaptation over geological time ? it will be powered by technologies that will increasingly work their way inwards, radically transforming our bodies and minds. (The Exception Magazine)
Remember when the desktop publishing revolution gave anyone armed with a LaserWriter the power to design posters, brochures, and various other printed matter that had once been left to trained professionals? A tsunami of mismatched typefaces and ugly clip-art was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. So imagine, writes Greg Beato, what will happen when we all have the power to create our own highly customized designer babies. (Reason Magazine)
When I started teaching and having service duties, I started going to those major-information-day-events. I?ve compiled materials over the past few years that I use at those fairs, and I thought it would be good to start sharing those with the philosophical community. ( Wide Scope)
I?m now adding a flyer called ?Philosophy and Medicine? to the mix. I?ve used a longer version of this at major information day fairs, but I just managed to get the important bits crammed into a single PDF page. (Wide Scope)
It can be hard to convey the beauty, simplicity and profundity of Turing Machines to introductory cognitive science students who frequently have no background (or interest) in mathematics, logic or philosophy. Today I demonstrated a Turing Machine using students to act out the various parts. (Philosophy of Memory)
A Northwestern research group has found that people that solve anagram puzzles by sudden insight rather than by conscious search or analytic strategies have an EEG resting state that prefers the right over the left hemisphere. What's different about this finding compared to a previous study is that this hemispheric difference exists even before problem solving begins. (Eide Neurolearning Blog)
Whatever role one believes emotions should play in moral judgment, new research demonstrates that the influence of these low-level passions is profound. In fact, a study published in Science earlier this month suggests that many moral judgments are mediated by the same emotional mechanism that is activated by rotten leftovers and dirty socks. (Olivia Scheck)
many moral judgments are mediated by the same emotional mechanism that is activated by rotten leftovers and dirty socks
the authors used electromyography to compare the activation of facial muscles in response to bitter tastes, pictures of physically disgusting stimuli and, finally, moral transgressions. Not only was the disgust expression elicited in all three conditions, it was also shown to predict future moral decisions ? suggesting not only that moral disgust exists, but that it is ? to a surprising degree ? driving our behavior.
Those who are new to debates about practical rationality may find it annoying that we usually use ? and ? when we want schematic letters with which to discuss actions, rather than using p or q or f or any of the other schematic letters familiar from other areas of philosophy. ? and ? are harder to create on your keyboard and beginners who don't know any Greek often don't even know what they are.
The experience of ?looking out of the corner of the eye? using peripheral vision is commonplace but it conceals a unusual fact about attention. That is that we probably spend a lot more of our time than we might imagine with our ?mind?s eye? looking in a different direction to our eyeballs. (PsyBlog)
University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne believes that one reason people mistrust Darwinism is a lack of familiarity with the evidence. In Why Evolution Is True (Viking), Coyne draws on genetics, anatomy, molecular biology, paleontology and geology to explain why biologists find the theory so compelling. "I offer it," he writes, "in the hope that people everywhere may share my wonder at the sheer explanatory power of Darwinian evolution, and may face its implications without fear." (American Scientist)
I've now picked a favorite in the NCAA tournament. (At least I know who I want to win; I have no idea who will win.)
North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Connecticut share a No. 1 seeding in the NCAA tournament. Their graduation rates have less in common.
The numbers ranged from 86 percent at North Carolina to 33 percent at UConn, according to a report released yesterday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
Louisville was at 42 percent and Pitt at 69 percent.
Jargon or no, what has evolved to suit the requirements of grown-ups in an information-rich world is Occam's-razoresque: short sentences, simple vocabulary, logical progression. Parents who want their infants to learn language need a lot more than this. They need "motherese," that high-pitched sing-song dialect that puts everything in the third person and diminutizes it.
A public lecture by Daniel C. Dennett, Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. In his lecture, Professor Daniel Dennett discussed some of the current work in psychology bearing on this question. He also drew on Hume, Darwin and Turing, three Enlightenment heroes.
It's come time to lie about science again - this time about the reality of embryonic stem cell pluripotency - and some of the old lies are coming back out of the storage shed. For instance, Andrew Breitbart on Real Time last night, and in a video from (liar for Jesus) Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, I've heard about how adult stem cells have cured or treated 72 diseases. Oh and embryonic stem cells, they've cured none. It's been a while since we've seen this adult stem cell nonsense. (denialism blog)
However, while these cells are great at doing their job, the issue with adult stem cell research is, can they do another stem cell's job? That is, instead of making just blood, could a hematopoietic stem cell make, say, an insulin secreting pancreatic cell? The answer, despite some initial promising results around 2001, is no.
the true state of the field is that with the exception of hematopoietic stem cell transplant to replace bone marrow, adult stem cells are no farther along in application to human disease than ES cells are - they are in a purely experimental stage.
Embryonic stem cells are so promising because they don't just make one type of cell or cells from one of the three tissue layers. By definition, they can make every type of cell in the body.
So there is nothing new or radically different about human cloning (even when the technology is perfected, which it has not yet been). Human cloning in the laboratory is not what you think, and humans have been truly cloning outside of the lab for the entire human history. (Psychology Today Blogs)
People who believe that the mind can be replicated on a computer tend to explain the mind in terms of a computer. When theorizing about the mind, especially to outsiders but also to one another, defenders of artificial intelligence (AI) often rely on computational concepts. They regularly describe the mind and brain as the ?software and hardware? of thinking, the mind as a ?pattern? and the brain as a ?substrate,? senses as ?inputs? and behaviors as ?outputs,? neurons as ?processing units? and synapses as ?circuitry,? to give just a few common examples. (The New Atlantis)
In this interview we talked about neurophilosophy, which is an approach to philosophy of mind that gives high priority to incorporating the empiric findings of neuroscience. We also talk about the evolving relationship between philosophy and neuroscience. Churchland shares her enthusiasm for how the discoveries of neuroscience are changing the way we see ourselves as human beings. We also talked a little about the issues of reductionism that I first brought up in Episode 53.
The new Facebook layout is intended to make FB look and feel more like Twitter. Unfortunately it's lost a lot of its favored functionality that distinguished it from Twitter. Twitter was always a superficial FB without a brain. I'm disappointed with the changes. And so are others. Here's a list of recent blog and news posts on the layout.
The Heartland Institute wants to scare you about people who want to scare you. HI is a 'think tank' funded by tobacco and fossil fuel companies and they're quite frightened by global warming 'alarmists'. I'm not sure why we continue to call these groups 'think tanks' but I do think they are scary in their own right.
Corporations wanting help in advancing their agendas often turn to think tanks. In addition to providing the appearance of independent support for corporate policies, think tanks combine a scholarly image with expertise at how to play the media and policymakers alike.
To give just one example, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute is holding a conference in New York this week, featuring a persistent if increasingly-isolated group of global warming skeptics. Heartland has a long history of being well-funded by the tobacco industry and fossil fuel companies. Not that Heartland discloses which corporations and foundations fund its operations; it, like many think tanks, prefers secrecy. Heartland president James L. Bast recently claimed that 'by not disclosing our donors, we keep the focus on the issue.' His benefactors presumably appreciate Bast's discretion, but it should give others pause.
Many global warming skeptics directly or indirectly receive funding from the oil, coal or other industries with a stake in the dangerous status quo. Of course, revelations of such funding torpedo the skeptics' credibility. Perhaps that's why Heartland, in describing its skeptics conference, insists that "no corporate sponsorships or dollars earmarked for the event were solicited or accepted." The claim may sound reassuring, but we should take it with a grain of salt, especially since Heartland is not disclosing which foundations are funding the conference.
Here's a promotional video for their 2009 conference.
"...rules and particular inferences alike are justified by being brought into agreement with each other. A rule is ammended if it yields an inference we are unwilling to accept; an inference is rejected if it violates a rule we are unwilling to amend. The process of justification is the delicate one of making mutual adjustments between rules and accepted inferences...." (Nelson Goodman, Fact, Fiction and Forecast)