Upload your consciousness into a computer with these 5 easy steps.
A fascinating report on NPR by science correspondent Jonathan Hamilton yesterday (March 16, 2015) tells the story of Jonathan Keleher, a rare individual born with a major portion of his brain missing: the cerebellum. The name in Latin means “little brain,” because the cerebellum sits separately from the rest of the brain looking something like a woman’s hair bun. Neuroscientists have long understood that the cerebellum is important for controlling bodily movements, by making them more fluid and coordinated, but researchers have also long appreciated that cerebellum does much more. Exactly what these other functions are, have always been a bit mysterious.
Felipe de Brigard is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Arts & Sciences at Duke University. His research, at the intersection of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, explores the neural mechanisms of false memories and consciousness. He joined us to discuss the nature of memory and the hard problem of consciousness. Continue reading
David H. Hubel, whose work unveiled fascinating brain processes that underlie our sense of vision, died last month at the age of 87.
Hubel’s parents were Americans, living in Detroit, Michigan. His father had a job in Windsor, Ontario. Tired of commuting across the Detroit River, he moved to Canada, where David Hubel was born. During his childhood David spent considerable effort learning to play the piano, and later the flute. In 1929, the family moved to Montreal where David Hubel grew up. Continue reading
Bob Muller, close friend and collaborator, died two weeks ago. I met Bob in the early 1980s. I was a post-doc, learning to record from single neurons in Jim Ranck’s lab at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Bob was a young faculty member who worked down the hall. Although Bob was doing esoteric work, studying the physics of single channels in membranes, his early graduate work had been in brain-behavior relations and he wanted to return to the study of behavior. Continue reading
Thinking is the weirdest thing. No one really understands how it works and neuroscience has barely begun to address how the brain creates thoughts. Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties in understanding thinking is that it is a little bit like art or cooking; there are many ways of doing it, according to every one’s culture, preferences and knowledge. But like art and cooking, there are some productive, successful ways of thinking that certain people master. The masters have done it for long enough that they have accumulated good tricks – particular ways of dipping the brush in the paint, of pressing the pedal on the piano, secret ingredients. Daniel Dennett is one of those masters and in his most recent book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, he has cataloged some of his and others’ best tools for thinking developed and learned through decades of reflection on computer science, biology and psychology. Continue reading
Even a seemingly simple behavior–like trying to remember if the name of the person you just met is “Elizabeth” or “Patricia”–can tax our memories. These short-term memory drains are part of what we neuroscientists call “working memory”.
When you think about it, it’s quite a remarkable neural feat that we can do this at all! Somehow our brains are able to take in information (like the sound waves that hit our ears in just the right way to make us perceive the sound that is the name “Patricia”), hold that information in some neural pattern/buffer/code, and then retrieve that information at will (if we’re lucky).