From Decapitation to Consciousness: How One Nerve Connects Body, Brain, and Mind

What we learned from gruesome decapitation experiments.

ANDREW H KEMP, THE CONVERSATION

The relationship between mind, brain, and body has kept philosophers and scientists busy for centuries. Some of the first interesting – albeit gruesome – experiments on the role of the body in human consciousness considered life after decapitation. The Conversation

In 1905, French physician Gabriel Beaurieux believed he had communicated with prisoner Henri Languille after his head had been severed from his body.

Writing of the experience, Beaurieux said:

“I called in a strong, sharp voice: ‘Languille!’ I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions – I insist advisedly on this peculiarity – but with an even movement, quite distinct and normal, such as happens in everyday life, with people awakened or torn from their thoughts.”

Almost two decades later, Soviet scientist Sergei Brukhonenko reportedly kept a dog’s severed head alive for nearly six months using a primitive heart-lung machine.

Video footage allegedly shows the head responding to light, sound and citric acid stimuli.

But while Brukhonenko’s research may have been an important in the development of cardiac surgery – it is more often regarded as faked Soviet-era propaganda.

Consciousness and non-physical properties

Investigations into human consciousness have moved on since these initial observations – though we haven’t got away from decapitation just yet. More recently, however, neuroscientists have questioned just how it is that physical matter comes together to make the mind.

In 1995, Francis Crick wrote in The Astonishing Hypothesis that we are nothing more than an “immensely complex collection of neurons”.

This hypothesis is a form of reductive physicalism – a philosophical position to which modern neuroscience typically subscribes – that everything in existence is no more than its physical properties.

Again using animal decapitation, though this time with rats, neuroscientists have explored the question of how long brain activity is observed after death – a step forward from just consciousness.

In a 2011 experiment, it was reported that decapitated rats’ time to unconsciousness – defined by a decrease in cognitive activity of 50 percent – was 4 seconds.

The researchers also observed a very large and much later slow wave in brain activity. This was interpreted as what they called a “wave of death” – when all the brain’s neurons died at the same time – and perhaps, the ultimate border between life and death.

But some believe that the mind is more than just the sum of its physical brain cells. A contrasting position to physicalism is the dualist assumption that the physical and the mental are fundamentally different substances.

Furthermore, some philosophers and scientists have suggested that “information may be the key to consciousness“.

Consistent with this idea is integrated information theory, which accepts the existence of consciousness, but controversially implies that anything at all may be conscious – even a smartphone – if it possesses a sufficiently high “phi”: a measure of information in a system which cannot be reduced to that specified by its parts.

From psychological moments to mortality

While I have left out many important details in this fascinating discussion, better understanding the link between mind, brain and body has been the focus of my own research, in recent years through looking at the functions of the vagus nerve.

Higher vagus nerve function (measured and indexed by heart rate variability) supports a person’s capacity for emotion regulation, social engagement and cognitive function.

By contrast, impaired vagal function – and lower heart rate variability – may play a role in the onset of depression

more…

http://www.sciencealert.com/is-there-one-nerve-that-connects-the-body-brain-and-mind

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Top 37 Regrets People Have As They Grow Older (Pay Attention To #15)

When people look back and reflect on their lives, what are some of the most common regrets reported as they grow older?

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai

When people look back and reflect on their lives, what are some of the most common regrets reported as they grow older?

1. Not traveling when you had the chance.

Traveling becomes infinitely harder the older you get, especially if you have a family and need to pay the way for three-plus people instead of just yourself.

2. Not learning another language.

You’ll kick yourself when you realize you took three years of language in high school and remember none of it.

3. Staying in a bad relationship.

No one who ever gets out of a bad relationship looks back without wishing they made the move sooner.

4. Forgoing sunscreen.

Wrinkles, moles, and skin cancer can largely be avoided if you protect yourself. You can use Coconut oil!

5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.

“Nah, dude, I’ll catch Nirvana next time they come through town.” Facepalm.

6. Being scared to do things.

Looking back you’ll think, What was I so afraid of, comfort zone?

7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.

Too many of us spend the physical peak of our lives on the couch. When you hit 40, 50, 60, and beyond, you’ll dream of what you could have done.

8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.

Few things are as sad as an old person saying, “Well, it just wasn’t done back then.”

9. Not quitting a terrible job.

Look, you gotta pay the bills. But if you don’t make a plan to improve your situation, you might wake up one day having spent 40 years in hell.

10. Not trying harder in school.

It’s not just that your grades play a role in determining where you end up in life. Eventually you’ll realize how neat it was to get to spend all day learning, and wish you’d paid more attention.

11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.

Too many of us spend our youth unhappy with the way we look, but the reality is, that’s when we’re our most beautiful.

12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”

When you’re old, you won’t care if your love wasn’t returned — only that you made it known how you felt.

13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.

You don’t want to hear it when you’re young, but the infuriating truth is that most of what your parents say about life is true.

14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.

You’ll be embarrassed about it, frankly.

15. Caring too much about what other people think.

In 20 years you won’t give a darn about any of those people you once worried so much about.

16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.

Supporting others is a beautiful thing, but not when it means you never get to shine.

17. Not moving on fast enough.

Old people look back at the long periods spent picking themselves off the ground as nothing but wasted time.

18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.

What’s the point of re-living the anger over and over?

19. Not standing up for yourself.

Old people don’t take sh*t from anyone. Neither should you.

20. Not volunteering enough.

OK, so you probably won’t regret not volunteering Hunger Games style, but nearing the end of one’s life without having helped to make the world a better place is a great source of sadness for many…

21. Neglecting your teeth.

Brush. Floss. Get regular checkups. It will all seem so maddeningly easy when you have dentures.

22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.

Most of us realize too late what an awesome resource grandparents are. They can explain everything you’ll ever wonder about where you came from, but only if you ask them in time.

23. Working too much.

No one looks back from their deathbed and wishes they spent more time at the office, but they do wish they spent more time with family, friends, and hobbies.

24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.

Knowing one drool-worthy meal will make all those dinner parties and celebrations that much more special.

25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.

Young people are constantly on the go, but stopping to take it all in now and again is a good thing.

26. Failing to finish what you start.

“I had big dreams of becoming a nurse. I even signed up for the classes, but then…”

27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.

You will go to hundreds, if not thousands, of parties in your life. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the life of them all?

28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Don’t let them tell you, “We don’t do that.”

29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.

People grow apart. Clinging to what was, instead of acknowledging that things have changed, can be a source of ongoing agitation and sadness.

30. Not playing with your kids enough.

When you’re old, you’ll realize your kid went from wanting to play with you to wanting you out of their room in the blink of an eye.

31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).

Knowing that you took a leap of faith at least once — even if you fell flat on your face — will be a great comfort when you’re old.

32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.

Networking may seem like a bunch of crap when you’re young, but later on it becomes clear that it’s how so many jobs are won.

33. Worrying too much.

As Tom Petty sang, “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

34. Getting caught up in needless drama.

Who needs it?

35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.

Our time with our loved ones is finite. Make it count.

36. Never performing in front of others.

This isn’t a regret for everyone, but many elderly people wish they knew — just once — what it was like to stand in front of a crowd and show off their talents.

37. Not being grateful sooner.

It can be hard to see in the beginning, but eventually it becomes clear that every moment on this earth — from the mundane to the amazing — is a gift that we’re all so incredibly lucky to share.

Sources used:
Simple Capacity

http://yournewswire.com/regrets-grow-older/

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What Do Animals See in a Mirror?

Wald_BREAKERILLUSTRATION BY EMMANUEL POLANCO

A controversial test for self-awareness is dividing the animal kingdom.

The idea for a tool to probe the basis of consciousness came to Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. while shaving. “It just occurred to me,” he says, “wouldn’t it be interesting to see if other creatures could recognize themselves in mirrors?”

Showing chimpanzees their reflections seemed like a fascinating little experiment when he first tried it in the summer of 1969. He didn’t imagine that this would become one of the most influential—and most controversial—tests in comparative psychology, ushering the mind into the realm of experimental science and foreshadowing questions on the depth of animal suffering. “It’s not the ability to recognize yourself in a mirror that is important,” he would come to believe. “It’s what that says about your ability to conceive of yourself in the first place.”

Gallup was a new professor at Tulane University in Louisiana, where he had access to the chimps and gorillas at what would later be known as the Tulane National Primate Research Center. The chimpanzees there had been caught as youngsters in Africa and shipped to America, where they were used mainly in biomedical research. By comparison, his experiment was far less invasive. He isolated two chimps in cages, and placed a mirror in each cage for eight hours at a time over 10 days. Through a hole in the wall, Gallup witnessed a shift in the chimps’ behavior. First they treated the reflection like it was another chimp, with a combination of social, sexual, and aggressive gestures. But over time, they started using it to explore their own bodies. “They’d use the mirror to look at the inside of their mouths, to make faces at the mirror, to inspect their genitals, to remove mucous from the corner of their eyes,” Gallup says.

MIRROR TEST: Kitties and puppies see a playmate in the mirror. Are animals that recognize themselves somehow smarter?Video was compiled from various clips. Full credit info is below.

Gallup was sure that the chimps had learned to recognize themselves in the mirror, but he didn’t trust that other researchers would be convinced by his descriptions. So he moved on to phase two of the experiment. He anesthetized the chimps, then painted one eyebrow ridge and the opposite ear tip with a red dye that the chimps wouldn’t be able to feel or smell. If they truly recognized themselves, he thought he knew what would happen: “It seemed pretty obvious that if I saw myself in a mirror with marks on my face, that I’d reach up and inspect those marks.”

That’s exactly what the chimps did. As far as Gallup was concerned, that was proof: “the first experimental demonstration of a self-concept in a subhuman form,” he wrote in the resulting 1970 report in Science. “It was just clear as day,” he remembers. “It didn’t require any statistics. There it was. Bingo.”

But the result that really blew Gallup’s mind came when he tested monkeys, and discovered that they did not do the same. The ability to recognize one’s reflection seemed not to be a matter of learning abilities, with some species being slower than others. It was an issue of higher intellectual capacity. Gallup had obtained the first good evidence that our closest relatives share with us a kind of self-awareness or even consciousness, to the exclusion of other animals. Here, finally, was an experimental handle on a topic that had been the subject of speculation for millennia: What is the nature of human consciousness?

DIY Mirror Test

Gallup wasn’t the first to come up with the notion that it might be significant if a person or animal recognizes itself in the mirror. He would only later learn that Charles Darwin had shown mirrors to orangutans, but they didn’t figure the mirror out, at least while he was watching. Darwin had also noted that, for their first few years, his children couldn’t recognize themselves in their reflections. In 1889, German researcher Wilhelm Preyer became the first to posit a connection between mirror self-recognition and an inner sense of self in people.

More than 50 years later, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan conceived of a childhood “mirror stage,” in which mirrors contribute to the formation of the ego. By 1972, developmental psychologists started using mark tests similar to Gallup’s to pin down the age at which children begin to recognize themselves in the mirror: 18 to 24 months.

Meanwhile Gallup, who moved to the University at Albany-SUNY, became interested in whether any non-primates could pass. In the early 1990s, he encouraged one of his Ph.D. students, Lori Marino, to explore the question. Working with Diana Reiss at Marine World Africa USA in California, Marino exposed two bottlenose dolphins at an aquarium to a mirror. Like the chimpanzees, the dolphins learned to use the mirror in a variety of ways, even “having sex in front of the mirror with each other, which we call our dolphin porno tapes,” Marino says. The three researchers published the results, saying they were “suggestive” of mirror self-recognition.

Still, they were missing the crucial mark test for another decade. The biggest hurdle was anatomical: The dolphins didn’t have hands to touch a mark. But Reiss and Marino, by then at the New York Aquarium, designed a modified test. When marked with black ink on various parts of their bodies, the dolphins flipped and wriggled in an attempt to see it, convincing the researchers and many others that they recognized themselves…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/47/consciousness/what-do-animals-see-in-a-mirror-rp

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Anarchy vs. Minarchy: Do You Want a Little Government or None at All?

Makia Freeman, Contributor
Waking Times

Anarchy vs. minarchy is the contrast between the idea of a society with no government (anarchy) or a small, limited government (minarchy). For many awake and aware people, the current state of the world is so dysfunctional that they have gone beyond the point of trying to justify our current governmental structures. For this growing number of people of all nations and cultures, it’s no longer about left vs right, Democrat vs Republican, socialism vs conservatism or all the other false dichotomies that abound on the political spectrum. For many of us, there’s simply no point in investing time and energy into an illusion – the political illusion – while pretending it actually makes a difference. Why argue who is going to be the better slavemaster or the lesser of 2 evils? We are really only left with 2 choices: between having a small government or having no government. So which would be better for humanity, minarchy or anarchy?

Definitions of Anarchy, Minarchy and Voluntaryism

First of all, the words anarchy and minarchy come from the Greek words “an-” (meaning without), “arkhos” (meaning rule, chief or ruler) and the Latin prefix “min-” (meaning small). Thus, anarchy is a society or nation with no rules (i.e. government-sanctioned law), rulers or a ruling class, whereas minarchy is one with a minimal amount of rules, rulers and a ruling class. Care must be taken not to confuse minarchy with monarchy! Also, instead of the term anarchy, it may be more apt to use the word voluntaryism, which describes a stateless society where all human interactions are voluntary and where no central authority exists to make or enforce laws.

Anarchy ≠ Chaos

Before we begin, it’s important to address a common misconception, that anarchy = chaos. Anarchy does not equal chaos! You can still have organization, cooperation, harmony and trust in a society where there is no central authority. It is up to the individual members to act in such a way to create that society. You can even have hierarchy in a voluntary society, where members voluntarily choose to structure an organization like that (e.g. for purposes of speed, coherence and efficiency). However, such hierarchy would never be forced on anyone, because the organizations containing it would be voluntary associations.

Likewise, it’s important to stress that anarchy does not mean utopia either. It’s naive to think that everyone will just magically get along and there will be no criminals or evil if we just remove government. However, as I will get to later, the point is about humanity evolving in terms of responsibility so that we can face these problems in a different way.

The Pros of Minarchism: Arguments For a Small, Limited Government

Many people who become anarchists or voluntaryists first become minarchists, because the idea of imagining the abolition of all government in a single step is very daunting for most. Minarchists believe that we can’t do away with government altogether, because it’s necessary and fulfills too many vital, essential roles that would be difficult or impossible to otherwise fulfill. These are the top reasons and justifications usually proposed for minarchy:

– Need for a central register in society (e.g. to be the one “official” list of titles to property, which plays a key part in dispute resolution);

– Need for central planning and centralized authority for good organization;

– Need to have some mechanism to control and offset other power gangs in society, such as the Mafia and the Corporatocracy;

– Criminal justice (i.e. catching criminals, providing the arena and the judge for trials of suspects); and

– Health safety protection (e.g. forcing quarantine in case of an outbreak).

Some people also advance the claim that government (and governmentally-approved corporate structures) are the reason that Western nations evolved faster than other nations. In this entertaining debate at Anarchapulco, Mark Skousen makes the points that we need minarchy to force a criminal suspect to actually come to the courtroom and stand trial, to ensure quarantine in emergency situations, and to enforce eminent domain (the right government takes upon itself to be able to force buy anyone’s property for national and municipal organizational purposes).

The Cons of Minarchy: Arguments Against a Small, Limited Government

His opponent, Larken Rose, vehemently denies that minarchy is a good idea. He points out the following reasons why:

– Minarchists advocate the “arch” or the existence of a ruling class. All monarchists are statists. They still believe in external authority. They still advocate some kind of government; they just think or want that such a government only do what they want it to do;

– Who decides what the “minimum” amount of power is that a government is allowed to wield? It will always be arbitrary;

– The constitutional limits written down to supposedly restrain minarchy governments don’t work. No one pays attention to the limits, and it’s ultimately not possible to enforce them;

– A constitution almost always provides for its own amendment, so anyone can “legally” and “constitutionally” change the entire constitution piece by piece. Look at how the Weimar Republic “legally” gave Hitler massive power and became the totalitarian state of Nazi Germany;…

more…

About the Author

Makia Freeman is the editor of The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com (FaceBook here), writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance

**Sources embedded throughout article.

This article (Anarchy vs. Minarchy: Do You Want a Little Government or None at All?) was originally created and published by The Freedom Articles and is re-posted here with permission. 

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/04/14/anarchy-vs-minarchy-want-little-government-none/

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14,923 nukes: All the nations armed with nuclear weapons and how many they have

by Skye Gould and Dave Mosher

When it comes to the threat of nuclear war, 2017 is shaping up to be a watershed moment.

Relations between the US and Russia — the two foremost nuclear superpowers — has reached a “low point” because of the US’s accusations that Russia meddled in the US election and is involved with the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Meanwhile, North Korea draws ever closer to constructing a device that could threaten Washington.

President Donald Trump has also inherited a $1 trillion program to modernize US nukes, and Russia now strains its budget to do the same for its arsenal. (In regard to Russia’s nuclear modernization, Trump has even said, “Let it be an arms race.”)

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists took note of these and other developments in January by advancing its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds. The symbolic shift implies that humanity is now just 2 minutes 30 seconds away from an apocalyptic “midnight.”

World events since January would do little to improve that outlook.

Tensions between the US and North Korea have soared in recent months, with the isolated nation threatening to rain down “nuclear thunderbolts” if the US follows through on rumblings of preemptive strikes — all while the isolated nation reportedly gears up for another test of a nuclear device.

Experts disagree on how many deliverable nuclear weapons North Korea possesses, but more is known about other arsenals around the world. Below is a map that shows the best estimates of which countries have them and how many they have.

BI Graphics_Nuke CountSkye Gould/Business Insider

http://www.businessinsider.com/nuclear-weapons-stockpiles-world-map-2017-4

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