Inside your dreamscape

Dream-hacking techniques can help us create, heal and have fun. They could also become tools of commercial manipulation Adam Haar Horowitz is a PhD student in the Fluid Interfaces group at MIT, whose research focuses on sleep and embodied cognition. Robert Stickgold is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is the co-author of When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep (2021) (with Antonio Zadra) and co-editor of The Neuroscience of Sleep (2009). Antonio Zadra is a sleep and dream researcher at the Hôpital du … Continue reading Inside your dreamscape

Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine’

Results from neural networks support the idea that brains use predictions to create perceptions—and that they work that way to conserve power. HOW OUR BRAIN, a three-pound mass of tissue encased within a bony skull, creates perceptions from sensations is a long-standing mystery. Abundant evidence and decades of sustained research suggest that the brain cannot simply be assembling sensory information, as though it were putting together a jigsaw puzzle, to perceive its surroundings. This is borne out by the fact that the brain can construct a scene based on the light entering our eyes, even when the incoming information is noisy … Continue reading Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine’

Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

Quantum mechanics + consciousness: There is nothing better than mixing two great mysteries to produce an even bigger one. KEY TAKEAWAYS Despite the tremendous success of quantum physics, its interpretation remains uncertain.  The brain, which is made up of neurons, which themselves are made up of molecules, is likely influenced by quantum effects.  Can quantum mechanics and neuroscience be merged into a theory of “quantum consciousness”? by Marcelo Gleiser Few mysteries are more persistent and inscrutable than the mystery of who we are. Granted, there are many ways to go about exploring this question, and science is not the only … Continue reading Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

It’s Not Irrational to Party Like It’s 1999

Contrary to what the philosopher said, passion can be a slave to reason. BY STEVEN PINKER Must we always follow reason? Do I need a rational argument for why I should fall in love, cherish my children, enjoy the pleasures of life? Isn’t it sometimes OK to go crazy, to be silly, to stop making sense? If rationality is so great, why do we associate it with a dour joylessness? Was the philosophy professor in Tom Stoppard’s play Jumpers right in his response to the claim that “the Church is a monument to irrationality?” The National Gallery is a monument to irrationality! … Continue reading It’s Not Irrational to Party Like It’s 1999

How do you know?

Correct information doesn’t always come with its own bright halo of truth. What makes something worth believing? Nate Sheff is a writer and an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Edited bySam Dresser You can’t be wrong on purpose. To see this, try one of my favourite philosophical parlour tricks. Right now, believe something you think is false: that the Sun is just a big lightbulb, for instance. Don’t imagine you believe it – really believe it. Become so confident in it that you’d bet good money that it’s true. When I try this, I feel a funny cognitive … Continue reading How do you know?

The Day I Got Old

It just suddenly happened, and there isn’t a sports car in the world I can buy to make it otherwise. By Caitlin Flanagan I turn 60 today, and I feel vaguely embarrassed about it, like I’ve somehow let myself go, like I’ve been bingeing on decades and wound up in this unappealing condition. Chances are, most of you haven’t crossed this border station yet, so you’d better listen up. Because if you play your cards right, it’s going to happen to you too. Here’s what it feels like to turn 60: weird. On the one hand, you’re still going to the … Continue reading The Day I Got Old

A Massive New Study of 88,000 People Says This Is When You Should Go to Bed, According to Science

It turns out, there’s a magic hour. Here’s why it matters. BY BILL MURPHY JR. I traveled cross-country for a conference last week, marking my first time dealing with jet lag since before the pandemic. Result? I was in bed and asleep at 10 p.m. almost every night for several days. It felt good, and it turns out that without even planning to, I’d made a simple lifestyle change that reflects a reduced risk of developing heart disease. This study behind this finding starts with something called the UK Biobank, which involved tracking the health and habits of more than 500,000 British people over 30 years, beginning in 2006.  … Continue reading A Massive New Study of 88,000 People Says This Is When You Should Go to Bed, According to Science

Homo imaginatus

Imagination isn’t just a spillover from our problem-solving prowess. It might be the core of what human brains evolved to do Philip Ball is a British science writer, whose work appears in Nature, New Scientist and Prospect, among others. His latest books are The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science (2021) and The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination (2021). Edited by Sally Davies ‘To me,’ wrote William Blake in 1799, ‘this world is all one continued vision of fancy or imagination.’ The imagination, he later added, ‘is not a state: it is the human existence itself.’ Blake, a painter as well as … Continue reading Homo imaginatus

2. NEUROSURGEON AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST AGREE: BRAIN IS NOT MIND

Michael Egnor tells Mark Solms: Neuroscience didn’t help him understand people; quite the reverse, he had to understand people, and minds, to make sense of neuroscience By NEWS Recently, distinguished South African neuropsychologist Mark Solms discussed the real state of brain research with Stony brook neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Theology Unleashed (October 22, 2021). In the first portion, Solms, author of The Hidden Spring (2021), proposed in his opening statement that “the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem,” not the cerebral cortex, as is almost universally assumed. Dr. Egnor now responds that his clinical experience supports that view — and also the view … Continue reading 2. NEUROSURGEON AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST AGREE: BRAIN IS NOT MIND

How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the ‘Do-Over’ to Travel Back in Time and Fix Mistakes

Think time travel is impossible? Think again. BY JUSTIN BARISO “Are you upset with me?” My wife’s words cut deep. They hurt because she was right: I sounded angry. The problem was one many have faced since the Covid-19 pandemic first struck over a year and a half ago. Stressed out, facing new problems and challenges, the smallest thing is enough to send us over the edge. In this case, my wife had done nothing wrong. She was struggling with a lingering cold. The problem was, my wife is a bit of a superwoman…In addition to supporting me in running our small business, … Continue reading How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the ‘Do-Over’ to Travel Back in Time and Fix Mistakes