(testing signal)

Tag: brain

Vitamin B12 could protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, wiggling worm study suggests

There are currently more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, of these between 50 to 75 per cent have Alzheimer’s. If current trends continue, the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that this figure could reach 1,590,000 by…

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https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/vitamin-b12-could-protect-the-brain-against-alzheimers-wiggling-worm-study-suggests/

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How memories persist where bodies, and even brains, do not | Aeon Essays

I began exploring the concept of cellular memory – the idea that memory can be stored outside the brain, in all the body’s cells – after reading an article on Reuters headlined ‘Tiny Brain No Obstacle to French Civil Servant’ in 2007….

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https://aeon.co/essays/how-memories-persist-where-bodies-and-even-brains-do-not?utm_source=rss-feed

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Aeon | a world of ideasRead more...

Happiness in early adulthood may protect against dementia: Depressive symptoms increase risk for cognitive impairment

While research has shown that poor cardiovascular health can damage blood flow to the brain increasing the risk for dementia, a new study led by UC San Francisco indicates that poor mental health may also take its toll on cognition.

The research…

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https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210928121341.htm

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Banish Early Morning Zombification With The zom-b-gone!

[Applied Procrastination] aka [Simen E. Sørensen] has a simple project to help those of us that struggle with early-morning zombification. By leveraging the backlight optics from a broken LCD monitor, it is possible to create an excellent diffused light source to simulate daylight, before your chosen waking time. The theory is that it is less shocking to the brain to be woken more gradually than an alarm may do. The increasing light level is to prepare the brain with a slowly increasing light level, reminiscent of daybreak, before being properly awoken by an alarm, regardless of the actual light level outdoors.

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Feedback Alignment Methods

Backpropagation’s simplicity, efficiency, and high accuracy and convergence rates, make it the de facto algorithm to train neural networks. However, there is evidence that such an algorithm could not be biologically implemented by the human brain [1]. One of the main reasons is that backpropagation requires synaptic symmetry in the forward and backward paths. Since synapses are unidirectional in the brain, feedforward and feedback connections must be physically distinct. This is known as the weight transport problem.

To overcome this limitation, recent studies in learning algorithms have focused on the intersection between neuroscience and machine learning by studying more biologically-plausible algorithms.

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Using visual information to learn voluntary behavior while blind: Monkeys can still learn voluntary behavior from visual cues even if they are not aware of the cues. – Science Daily

The visual cortex makes up one of the largest regions of the brain, which is a testament to how much information we receive from our eyes. The primary visual cortex, or V1, is the first stage of processing visual input in the brain. Without a functional V1, a person is oblivious to an object that their eyes receive the visual input. However, scientists are in disagreement about whether we must be conscious of what we receive a visual input in order to learn from it. A new study in Scientific Reports by researchers at ASHBi and the University of Sheffield suggests that even if monkeys do not realize they have received a visual signal, they still change their behavior using it.… Read more...

GPT-4 Will Have 100 Trillion Parameters — 500x the Size of GPT-3

100 trillion parameters is a lot. To understand just how big that number is, let’s compare it with our brain. The brain has around 80–100 billion neurons (GPT-3’s order of magnitude) and around 100 trillion synapses.

GPT-4 will have as many parameters as the brain has synapses.

The sheer size of such a neural network could entail qualitative leaps from GPT-3 we can only imagine. We may not be able to even test the full potential of the system with current prompting methods.

However, comparing an artificial neural network with the brain is a tricky business. The comparison seems fair but that’s only because we assume artificial neurons are at least loosely based on biological neurons.

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The Science “Advances” Disproving the Mind Are Ever More Elusive

University of Sussex neuroscientist Anil Seth, author of Being You: A new science of consciousness (October 2021), is quite determined to stamp put consciousness as an immaterial idea. It’s “stubbornly mysterious,” according to Tim Adams for The Guardian. But, we are assured, “Advances in understanding how the brain functions undermine those ideas of dualism, however.”

But those advances prove increasingly elusive. From the interview:

Anil Seth: It’s the boring answer of continuing to do rigorous science, rather than proposing some eureka solution to “the hard problem” [the question of why and how our brains create subjective, conscious experience]. My approach is that we risk not understanding the central mystery of life by lurching to one or other form of magical thinking.

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Gut bacteria influence brain development

Extremely premature infants are at a high risk for brain damage. Researchers have now found possible targets for the early treatment of such damage outside the brain: Bacteria in the gut of premature infants may play a key role. The research team found that the overgrowth of the gastrointestinal tract with the bacterium Klebsiella is associated with an increased presence of certain immune cells and the development of neurological damage in premature babies.

Complex interplay: the gut-immune-brain axis

The early development of the gut, the brain and the immune system are closely interrelated. Researchers refer to this as the gut-immune-brain axis.

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Why Some Scientists Think Consciousness Persists After Death

A very significant change that happened in the last century or so has been the ability of science professionals to see what happens when people are thinking, especially under traumatic conditions.

It was not a good moment for materialist theories. Here is one finding (there are many others): Death is a process, usually, not simply an event.

Consciousness can persists after clinical death. A more accurate way of putting things might be that the brain is able to host consciousness for a short period after clinical death. Some notes on recent findings:

The short answer is, probably, yes:

Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death.

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Our Brains Break DNA in Order to Learn More Quickly

An interesting 2015 discovery sheds some light on memory issues:

The urgency to remember a dangerous experience requires the brain to make a series of potentially dangerous moves: Neurons and other brain cells snap open their DNA in numerous locations — more than previously realized, according to a new study — to provide quick access to genetic instructions for the mechanisms of memory storage.

David Orenstein, “Memory-making involves extensive DNA breaking” at MIT News (July 14, 2021) The paper is open access.

Jordana Cepelowicz explains an “unsettling” discovery made by Li-Huei Tsai’s team at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory:

… to express learning and memory genes more quickly, brain cells snap their DNA into pieces at many key points, and then rebuild their fractured genome later…

The discovery is all the more surprising because DNA double-strand breaks, in which both rails of the helical ladder get cut at the same position along the genome, are a particularly dangerous kind of genetic damage associated with cancer, neurodegeneration and aging.

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Machine learning algorithm revolutionizes how scientists study behavior

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

To Eric Yttri, assistant professor of biological sciences and Neuroscience Institute faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, the best way to understand the brain is to watch how organisms interact with the world.

“Behavior drives everything we do,” Yttri said.

As a behavioral neuroscientist, Yttri studies what happens in the brain when animals walk, eat, sniff or do any action. This kind of research could help answer questions about neurological diseases or disorders like Parkinson’s disease or stroke. But identifying and predicting animal behavior is extremely difficult.

Now, a new unsupervised machine learning algorithm developed by Yttri and Alex Hsu, a biological sciences Ph.D.

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A Neuroscience Theory That Actually Helps Explain the Brain

Many of my posts here at Mind Matters News entail debunking nonsensical materialist theories of the mind–brain relationship. It is altogether fitting and proper that I do so. But, at times, thoughtful and very promising ideas are proposed by modern neuroscientists. One of those ideas is discussed in an essay in Discover Magazine by neuroscientist Robert Epstein.

Epstein, the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today Magazine, is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California and holds a doctoral degree from Harvard University. He proposes that we re-examine a theory that has had a number of prominent proponents over the past several centuries.

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How a racing heart may alter decision-making brain circuits

Anxiety, addiction, and other psychiatric disorders are often characterized by intense states of what scientists call arousal: The heart races, blood pressure readings rise, breaths shorten, and “bad” decisions are made. In an effort to understand how these states influence the brain’s decision-making processes, scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai analyzed the data from a previous study of non-human primates. They found that two of the brain’s decision-making centers contain neurons that may exclusively monitor the body’s internal dynamics. Furthermore, a heightened state of arousal appeared to rewire one of the centers by turning some decision-making neurons into internal state monitors.… Read more...

Is Brain Science Helping Us Understand Belief in God?

A recent article about a Harvard neuroscientist’s research on the correlates of religious experience in the brain raises many familiar questions about the relevance of neuroscience to religious experience.

Michael Ferguson is a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. He grew up as a Mormon and was quite religious. But, he reports, his beliefs have changed. That’s probably fairly common at Harvard –- there is a pervasive and palpable bias against serious religious beliefs in many of our leading universities.

Nonetheless, Ferguson thought,

As a scientist, I can’t help but wonder what it is about these types of [religious] experiences that made them feel so rich and so profound.

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Interested In Deep Learning?

This section introduces the integral components of deep learning and how they operate to emulate learning commonly found amongst humans.

Perceptrons And Neurons

The brain is responsible for all human cognitive functions; in short, the brain is responsible for your ability to learn, acquire knowledge, retain information and recall knowledge.

Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

One of the fundamental building blocks of the learning systems within the brain is the biological neuron. A neuron is a cell responsible for transmitting signals to other neurons and, as a consequence, other parts of the body.

Researchers, in some way, have replicated the functionality of the biological neuron into a mathematically representative model called the perceptron.

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Non-Materialist Science Is Wanted — Dead or Alive

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.”

In the previous segment, they discussed the way in which epilepsy provides a glimpse into the way the mind is not simply the brain but has powers in its own right. In this segment, Dr. Egnor talks about the problems of being a non-materialist physician in a materialist world — death threats and all.

Here is a partial transcript and notes for the 1 hour 44 minute mark to the 1 hour 56 minute mark:

Arjuna Das: You said how scientists, if they reject physicalism, it doesn’t help their career.

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Can Science Really Engineer a Bigger Human Brain?

In a three-part series at Psychology Today, Hobart and William Smith College computational neuroscientist Daniel Graham, author of An Internet in Your Head: A New Paradigm for How the Brain Works(2021), tackles that question:

First, most parts of the human brain are already larger than they should be for an animal life form of our size. But the difference is hardly commensurate with average human intelligence vs. average chimpanzee intelligence. Sure enough:

Neuroscientists have struggled to explain what our extra brain mass actually accomplishes. The best guess seems to be that, at the species level, our extra brain mass allows us to store more lifetime memories.

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Interview: Neuroscientist Anil Seth: 'We risk not understanding the central mystery of life' – 台北時報

The professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience discusses his work to develop a scientific explanation for how the brain conjures consciousness

  • By Tim Adams / The Guardian

For centuries, philosophers have theorized about the mind-body question, debating the relationship between the physical matter of the brain and the conscious mental activity it somehow creates. Even with advances in neuroscience and brain imaging techniques, large parts of that fundamental relationship remain stubbornly mysterious.

It was with good reason that, in 1995, the cognitive scientist David Chalmers coined the term “the hard problem” to describe the question of exactly how our brains conjure subjective conscious experience.

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Brain refreshing: Why the dreaming phase matters

Scientists have long wondered why almost all animals sleep, despite the disadvantages to survival of being unconscious. Now, researchers led by a team from the University of Tsukuba have found new evidence of brain refreshing that takes place during a specific phase of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when you tend to dream a lot.

Previous studies have measured differences in blood flow in the brain between REM sleep, non-REM sleep, and wakefulness using various methods, with conflicting results. In their latest work, the Tsukuba-led team used a technique to directly visualize the movement of red blood cells in the brain capillaries (where nutrients and waste products are exchanged between brain cells and blood) of mice during awake and asleep states.

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Epilepsy: If You Follow the Science, Materialism Is Dead

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnordid a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.”

In the previous segment, they discussed the way in which people’s minds sometimes become much clearer near death (terminal lucidity). Dr. Egnor suggested that that may demonstrate that the brain constrains the mind (rather than creating it). In this segment, they look at objections raised to the view that epilepsy provides evidence for the mind as not merely a function of the brain. Dr. Egnor begins by focusing on the work of Wilder Penfield, the founder of epilepsy surgeries, who worked in Montreal in the mid-twentieth century, “a wonderful scientist, one of the best scientists that neurosurgery has produced”:

Here is a partial transcript and notes for the 1 hour 32 minute mark to the 1 hour 43 minute mark:

Michael Egnor: He [Wilder Penfield,] operated on 1100 patients with epilepsy and really developed the whole field of doing brain surgery to prevent seizures.

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Neuroscientist Anil Seth: ‘We risk not understanding the central mystery of life’ – The Guardian

For centuries, philosophers have theorised about the mind-body question, debating the relationship between the physical matter of the brain and the conscious mental activity it somehow creates. Even with advances in neuroscience and brain imaging techniques, large parts of that fundamental relationship remain stubbornly mysterious. It was with good reason that, in 1995, the cognitive scientist David Chalmers coined the term “the hard problem” to describe the question of exactly how our brains conjure subjective conscious experience. Some philosophers continue to insist that mind is inherently distinct from matter. Advances in understanding how the brain functions undermine those ideas of dualism, however.

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