Understanding morality decision making.

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It is wartime. You and your fellow refugees are hiding from enemy soldiers, when a baby begins to cry. You cover her mouth to block the sound. If you remove your hand, her crying will draw the attention of the soldiers, who will kill everyone. If you smother the child, you’ll save yourself and the others.

If you were in that situation, which was dramatized in the final episode of the ’70s and ’80s TV series “M.A.S.H.”, what would you do?

The results of a new UCLA study suggest that scientists could make a good guess based on how the brain responds when people watch someone else experience pain. The study found that those responses predict whether people will be inclined to avoid causing harm to others when facing moral dilemmas.

“The findings give us a glimpse into what is the nature of morality,” said Dr. Marco Iacoboni, director of the Neuromodulation Lab at UCLA’s Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center and the study’s senior author. “This is a foundational question to understand ourselves, and to understand how the brain shapes our own nature”. (1)

Understanding morality.

Via understanding the brain.

We believe we are just pawns in the hands of our brain cells.

But morality is something more than a chemical interaction.

Morality is not just obeying to your brain. But more about disobeying it!

And choosing to die, even when every cell in your body says otherwise…

Let the baby be.

Yes, you will die.

But for a brief moment of time, you will be alive…

Look at the baby again.

It is smiling now…

Plants “deciding”. Death and Life.

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Animals facing competition have been shown to optimally choose between different behaviors, including confrontation, avoidance and tolerance, depending on the competitive ability of their opponents relative to their own. For example, if their competitors are bigger or stronger, animals are expected to “give up the fight” and choose avoidance or tolerance over confrontation.

Similar responses are documented for plant as well. Plants can detect the presence of other competing plants through various cues, such as the reduction in light quantity or in the ratio of red to far-red wavelengths (R:FR), which occurs when light is filtered through leaves. Such competition cues are known to induce two types of responses: confrontational vertical elongation, by which plants try to outgrow and shade their neighbors, and shade tolerance, which promotes performance under limited light conditions. Some plants, such as clonal plants, can exhibit avoidance behavior as a third response type: they grow away from their neighbors.

To learn if plants can choose between these responses and match them to the relative size and density of their opponents, researchers used the clonal plant Potentilla reptans in an experimental setup that simulated different light-competition settings. They used vertical stripes of transparent green filters that reduce both light quantity and R:FR and could therefore provide a realistic simulation of light competition.

The results demonstrated that Potentilla reptans can indeed choose its response to competition in an optimal way. (1)

We have named simple interactions “decisions”.

And yet, a decision is not to do what you are programmed to do. A decision is not to just obey to your genes or your… chemistry. True decisions are those made against all genetics or environmental input. True decisions are those made against the result of “laws” or rules.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

A lifeless universe.

True decisions are the rare moments when rules are rendered unimportant due to the sheer will to decide. True decisions are those made independently of the “interactions”. When you decide to die for what you believe, even though everything and everyone tells you the opposite. When you decide to love someone, even though everything in your brain tells you this is crazy.

Imagine a cold universe.

Full of plants. Full of interactions.

A universe dark and empty.

This universe will never be alive.

Until a person decides to die in it…

Forcing people to enjoy (or dislike) music. Free will. As long as it is… free!

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Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University have proven it is possible to increase or decrease our enjoyment of music, and our craving for more of it, by enhancement or disruption of certain brain circuits.

In order to modulate the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits, the researchers from the lab of Robert Zatorre used a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to either stimulate or inhibit selected parts of the brain. In this case, the researchers applied TMS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Brain imaging studies have shown that stimulation over this region modulates the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits, leading to the release of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter in reward processing.

The researchers found that, compared to the control session, liking of music, psychophysiological measures of emotion and participants’ motivation to buy music were all enhanced by excitatory TMS, while all of these measures were decreased by inhibitory TMS. (1)

Loving someone. Forcing him not to love someone.

Changing things.

Because if you change something then it will… change.

If someone loves someone and you change that then he will… not love her. That is obvious – a tautology. The point is: why care? Does that even mean anything? What do we want to demonstrate with that? We are what we choose to do. Not we are forced to do. Free will is free as long as it is… free.

The most difficult concepts to understand are the simple ones.

Luck… Chance… Gods…

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Its mostly luck, which determined the success of a person in life, according to a new research. [1] It is mostly luck which determined reproductive success. [2] Its mostly luck which determines the survivability of a species. [3]

In a world of chance, we insist on believing that it is us who determine our future. In a world dominated by random events, we keep insisting that it is us who make things happen. We know that there is Logos governing the universe. Because we are part of it. We feel it constantly. We have just misjudged what is the source of that Logos.

It is not logos within us.
It is logos transcending the cosmos.

Stay humble and you will see.
You cannot control anything.
Because you are everything…

Itching brain. Gods becoming mice.

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Itching is a highly contagious behavior. When we see someone scratch, we’re likely to feel itchy, too. A research shows contagious itching is hardwired in the brain.

For this study, Chen’s team put a mouse in an enclosure with a computer screen. The researchers then played a video that showed another mouse scratching.

“Within a few seconds, the mouse in the enclosure would start scratching, too,” Chen said. “This was very surprising because mice are known for their poor vision. They use smell and touch to explore areas, so we didn’t know whether a mouse would notice a video. Not only did it see the video, it could tell that the mouse in the video was scratching”.

Next, the researchers identified a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a brain region that controls when animals fall asleep or wake up. The SCN was highly active after the mouse watched the video of the scratching mouse. When the mouse saw other mice scratching – in the video and when placed near scratching littermates – the brain’s SCN would release a chemical substance called GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide). In 2007, Chen’s team identified GRP as a key transmitter of itch signals between the skin and the spinal cord.

“The mouse doesn’t see another mouse scratching and then think it might need to scratch, too,” Chen said. “Instead, its brain begins sending out itch signals using GRP as a messenger”.

Chen’s team also used various methods to block GRP or the receptor it binds to on neurons, while maintaining the ability to scratch normally when exposed to itch-inducing substances. Chen believes the contagious itch behavior the mice engaged in is something the animals can’t control. “It’s an innate behavior and an instinct,” he said. “We’ve been able to show that a single chemical and a single receptor are all that’s necessary to mediate this particular behavior. The next time you scratch or yawn in response to someone else doing it, remember it’s really not a choice nor a psychological response; it’s hardwired into your brain. (1)

So “the brain” sent the signals. Without the mouse even “seeing” (how do we know?) or even “wanting” (how do we know?) to do anything. The brain “sees” (what?!?) the other mouse scratching and decides on its own.

Really?!

Are we so much loving the idea of the brain controlling what we do that we are ready to believe into a brain which does things on its own without even an optical stimulus? Are we so much intoxicated by the idea of us not having free will, of us being just slaves to matter, that we are ready to attribute abilities of conscious beings to lifeless substances?

We believe into an ever-seeing brain with a “free will” of its own.

And yet we despise the idea of an ever seeing free will spirit.

We are what we want to be.

We were gods.

And we have chosen to be mice.

Now starting to feel a bit itchy…

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