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THE NAKED APE

THE NAKED APE: Exploring the science and cultural evolution of human psychology, behavior, cognition, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness. (Uh, did I miss anything?)

Location: #science
Members: 56
Latest Activity: yesterday

Welcome to THE NAKED APE

Those who’ve know me for some time know that I have a moderately strong interest in human consciousness and psychology. Although mind and body cannot exist without one another – and indeed they shape one another – it does seem that the very core of the human experience of ‘self’ exists in the brain alone.

We all know that much of the functioning and maintenance of our body is controlled covertly by the brain or by biological systems that work beneath our threshold of awareness. We do not consciously decide to sweat, or digest our food, or replace our cells.

And yet, in spite of the fact that we know this, we still cling to the illusion that the functioning of our thoughts, our decisions, our perceptions, our preferences, our memories, and our reasoning are under our direct, conscious control.

But neuroscience and psychology are now showing us that this simply is not the case—that the processes of mind and awareness function just as covertly as our biological systems.

That fascinates me!

How is it that the mind – that place of concealment – is also the one place in which awareness itself is known to exist?

The truth is that we don’t know ourselves as well as we’d like to believe. We don’t control our decisions, our perceptions, our motivations, or our memories as well as we think we do.

THE NAKED APE was created to explore these important topics. I welcome any post on human psychology, behavior, cognition, perception, language, memory, intelligence, emotion, and consciousness.

 

Discussion Forum

How Not to Think About Scrotum's

Started by A place called Doone. Last reply by Don Jan 5, 2014. 1 Reply

Our Orgastic Future

Started by A place called Doone. Last reply by Neal Jun 18, 2013. 3 Replies

E.O. Wilson: Tribalism, Groupism, Globalism

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by A Former Member Jun 4, 2013. 7 Replies

Gestalt psychology

Started by A Former Member May 11, 2013. 0 Replies

On the usefulness of illusions

Started by Michel. Last reply by Chris May 6, 2013. 1 Reply

How Whites Think About Race

Started by Neal. Last reply by Adriana Mar 20, 2013. 13 Replies

How to scare someone who knows no fear

Started by Adriana. Last reply by Adriana Feb 6, 2013. 6 Replies

10 Amazing Things People's Brains Have Done

Started by Michel. Last reply by Marianne Jan 19, 2013. 2 Replies

Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everything

Started by A Former Member. Last reply by Michel Jan 2, 2013. 6 Replies

Comment Wall

Comment

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Comment by A place called Doone on April 19, 2011 at 2:20pm

TO TUG HEARTS, MUSIC FIRST MUST TICKLE THE NEURONS

From The New York Times:

MusicThe other day, Paul Simon was rehearsing a favorite song: his own “Darling Lorraine,” about a love that starts hot but turns very cold. He found himself thinking about a three-note rhythmic pattern near the end, where Lorraine (spoiler alert) gets sick and dies. “The song has that triplet going on underneath that pushes it along, and at a certain point I wanted it to stop because the story suddenly turns very serious,” Mr. Simon said in an interview. “The stopping of sounds and rhythms,” he added, “it’s really important, because, you know, how can I miss you unless you’re gone? If you just keep the thing going like a loop, eventually it loses its power.”

An insight like this may seem purely subjective, far removed from anything a scientist could measure. But now some scientists are aiming to do just that, trying to understand and quantify what makes music expressive — what specific aspects make one version of, say, a Beethoven sonata convey more emotion than another. The results are contributing to a greater understanding of how the brain works and of the importance of music in human development, communication and cognition, and even as a potential therapeutic tool. Research is showing, for example, that our brains understand music not only as emotional diversion, but also as a form of motion and activity. The same areas of the brain that activate when we swing a golf club or sign our name also engage when we hear expressive moments in music. Brain regions associated with empathy are activated, too, even for listeners who are not musicians. And what really communicates emotion may not be melody or rhythm, but moments when musicians make subtle changes to the those musical patterns.

More here.

Comment by A place called Doone on April 19, 2011 at 11:03am

Understanding "Uhs"

Christie Nicholson summarizes a recent study featured in Developmental Science. Babies between 18 and 30 months sat before a banana and an abstract made-up object:

A recorded voice said things like: I see a banana, or There is uh, um, uh a banana. When the voice stumbled, children who were more than 24 months tended to look at the made-up object more often than at the familiar object. Because children who’ve reached that age understand that uhs often precede unknowns.

Comment by A place called Doone on April 17, 2011 at 9:54pm

The Most Amazing Dream

Charles Q. Choi explores why we think our own dreams are so profound:

[Director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Harvard Medical School Robert] Stickgold notes that during REM sleep, when dreaming typically occurs, the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin is shut off in the brain. The only other time that happens is because of LSD, "when people seem to have these totally uninteresting experiences they describe as profoundly meaningful called 'acid insights.'"

This sense of meaning may be a physical phenomenon "just like hunger or thirst, save that it's the excitement we feel upon a great insight, that 'Aha!' feeling," Stickgold says. "Who knows why, for instance, fireworks often seem to trigger it — maybe there's something about the geometric patterns that evokes this sense of awesomeness, the feeling that we can almost understand something amazing but not quite that drives us to seek a better understanding of things. It's like what you feel during a religious experience — you sense the oneness of mankind."

Comment by A place called Doone on April 17, 2011 at 4:45pm

Neurological Basis for Embarrassment Described

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2011) — Recording people belting out an old Motown tune and then asking them to listen to their own singing without the accompanying music seems like an unusually cruel form of punishment. But for a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, this exact Karaoke experiment has revealed what part of the brain is essential for embarrassment.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083158.htm
Comment by A place called Doone on April 14, 2011 at 1:09pm

FILTERS THAT REDUCE 'BRAIN CLUTTER' IDENTIFIED

From PhysOrg:

Filtersthatr Until now, it has been assumed that people with diseases like ADHD,  and schizophrenia – all of whom characteristically report symptoms of ”brain clutter” – may suffer from anomalies in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Damage to this brain region is often associated with failure to focus on relevant things, loss of inhibitions, impulsivity and various kinds of inappropriate behaviour. So far, exactly what makes the prefrontal cortex so essential to these aspects of behaviour has remained elusive, hampering attempts to develop tools for diagnosing and treating these patients.

But new research by Julio Martinez-Trujillo, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Physiology and Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience, has brought new hope to these patients. He believes the key to the “brain clutter” and impulsivity shown by individuals with dysfunctional prefrontal cortices lies in a malfunction of a specific type of brain cell. Martinez-Trujilo and his team have identified  in the dorsolateral sub-region of the primate prefrontal cortex that selectively filter out important from unimportant . The key to the normal functioning of these “filter neurons” is their ability to, in the presence of visual clutter, selectively and strongly inhibit the unimportant information, giving the rest of the brain access to what is relevant. “Contrary to common beliefs, the brain has a limited processing capacity. It can only effectively process about one per cent of the visual information that it takes in,” Martinez-Trujilo said. “This means that the neurons responsible for perceiving objects and programming actions must constantly compete with one another to access the important information.

More here.

Comment by A Former Member on April 13, 2011 at 4:23pm

A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives

From Publishers Weekly
Vain, immoral, bigoted: this is your brain in action, according to Fine, a research associate at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Australian National University. Fine documents a wealth of surprising information about the brain in this readable account that adopts a good-humored tone about the brain's failings without underestimating the damage they do. The brain, she shows, distorts reality in order to save us from the ego-destroying effects of failure and pessimism. For example, an optimist who fails at something edits the truth by blaming others for the failure and then takes complete credit for any successes. The brain also routinely disapproves of other people's behavior (how could he do that?), while at the same time interpreting one's own actions in the best possible light (I would never do that!). The brain also projects stereotypes onto others that reflect prejudicial beliefs rather than objective reality. Despite the firm hold these distortions have on our brains, Fine is not a pessimist. The path to overcoming stereotypes and other distortions of the brain, she says, may be gained through self-awareness and knowledge provided by experimental psychology, a field that explores and exposes unconscious mental influences.

From Scientific American
Many psychological studies show that on average, each of us believes we are above average compared with others—more ethical and capable, better drivers, better judges of character, and more attractive. Our weaknesses are, of course, irrelevant. Such self distortion protects our egos from harm, even when nothing could be further from the truth. Our brains are the trusted advisers we should never trust. This "distorting prism" of selfknowledge is what Cordelia Fine, a psychologist at the Australian National University, calls our "vain brain." Fine documents the lengths to which a human brain will go to bias perceptions in the perceiver’s favor. When explaining to ourselves and others why something has gone well or badly, we attribute success to our own qualities, while shedding responsibility for failure. Our brains bias memory and reason, selectively editing truth to inflictless pain on our fragile selves. They also shield the ego from truth with "retroactive pessimism," insisting the odds were stacked inevitably toward doom. Alternatively, the brain of "selfhandicappers" concocts nonthreatening excuses for failure. Furthermore, our brains warp perceptions to match emotions. In the extreme, patients with Cotard delusion actually believe they are dead. So "pigheaded" is the brain about protecting its perspective that it defends cherished positions regardless of data. The "secretive" brain unconsciously directs our lives via silent neural equipment that creates the illusion of willfulness. "Never forget," Fine says, "that your unconscious is smarter than you, faster than you, and more powerful than you. It may even control you. You will never know all of its secrets." So what to do? Begin with self-awareness, Fine says, then manage the distortions as best one can. We owe it to ourselves "to lessen the harmful effects of the brain’s various shams," she adds, while admitting that applying this lesson to others is easier than to oneself. Ironically, one category of persons shows that it is possible to view life through a clearer lens. "Their self-perceptions are more balanced, they assign responsibility for success and failure more even-handedly, and their predictions for the future are more realistic. These people are living testimony to the dangers of self-knowledge," Fine asserts. "They are the clinically depressed." Case in point.

Comment by Michel on April 13, 2011 at 2:19pm
@doone - ...this is more than just being smart with kids, it's the Complete Art of Debate summed up in a couple of words...
Comment by A place called Doone on April 13, 2011 at 1:45pm
How to be smarter than the average 4 year old
Comment by A Former Member on April 12, 2011 at 5:36pm
Humans, Like Animals, Behave Fearlessly Without the Amygdala

In the 1930s, researchers discovered that when a certain part of monkeys’ brains was removed, the animals became fearless. They approached snakes, started batting them around like sticks and played with their hissing tongues.

Very short article on the NYT.
Comment by Adriana on April 11, 2011 at 10:25am
I love Sapolsky; I wish i had more time to listen to all his talks. In person he is even better; I saw him talk a couple of times in NYC. Fun speaker.
 
 
 

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