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’

The body is not a machine

Modern biomedicine sees the body as a closed mechanistic system. But illness shows us to be permeable, ecological beings Nitin K Ahuja is an assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Philadelphia. Edited by Pam Weintraub Ms Smith is a 40-year-old woman who comes to see me in clinic, having suffered for years with nausea, bloating and irregular stools. She’s been to two gastroenterologists before me, and nothing they recommended was any help. All her tests came back normal – but something’s wrong, no question, and getting worse. There’s pain … Continue reading The body is not a 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?

Cancers are in an evolutionary battle with treatments – evolutionary game theory could tip the advantage to medicine

Author Anuraag Bukkuri PhD Student in Integrated Mathematical Oncology, University of South Florida Disclosure statementAnuraag Bukkuri receives funding from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. 1746051. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Cancer was the second leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020. Although billions of dollars have been poured into cancer research, the results are still disappointing for many patients who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend their lives for just a few more … Continue reading Cancers are in an evolutionary battle with treatments – evolutionary game theory could tip the advantage to medicine

10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

Studying death can improve life. By Kevin Dickinson Black cloak. Scythe. Skeletal grin. The Grim Reaper is the classic visage of death in Western society, but it’s far from the only one. Ancient societies personified death in a myriad of ways. Greek mythology has the winged nipper Thanatos. Norse mythology the gloomy and reclusive Hel, while Hindu traditions sport the wildly ornate King Yama. Modern science has de-personified death, pulling back its cloak to discover a complex pattern of biological and physical processes that separate the living from the dead. But with the advent of these discoveries, in some ways, death … Continue reading 10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

The posthuman dog

If humans were to disappear from the face of the Earth, what might dogs become? And would they be better off without us? by Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist and writer. She is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her books include A Dog’s World (2021) and Unleashing Your Dog (2019), with Marc Bekoff, and Run, Spot, Run (2016). She also writes the blog All Dogs Go to Heaven for Psychology Today. She lives in Colorado. Edited by Pam Weintraub If you share your home with a dog, you may have found yourself rolling your eyes … Continue reading The posthuman dog

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

From Cows to Covid: The Spooky Origins of Vaccines

Like many life-saving innovations in medicine, vaccination emerged long before we understood how it worked. BY BRENDAN BORRELL BACK IN THE 18TH century, it was a wonder how anyone ever survived a trip to the doctor. Many didn’t. England’s drug stores were stocked with bulls’ penises, frogs’ lungs, and powdered Egyptian mummy, which was evidently used against tuberculosis. Syphilis, known as the “Great Pox,” was treated with mercury. Never mind that it made you slobber and eventually go mad. The Scottish physician John Brown, the author of “Elementa Medicinae,” simply gave his patients roast beef, opium, and booze. Many people thought he … Continue reading From Cows to Covid: The Spooky Origins of Vaccines

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