Implanting information directly in the brain… So?

Two neuroscientists at the University of Rochester say they have managed to introduce information directly into the premotor cortex of monkeys. The researchers published the results of the experiment in the journal Neuron. Although the research is preliminary, carried out in just two monkeys, the researchers speculated that further research might lead to brain implants for people with strokes.

“You could potentially bypass the damaged areas and deliver stimulation to the premotor cortex”, said Kevin A. Mazurek, a co-author of the study. “That could be a way to bridge parts of the brain that can no longer communicate”.

Dr. Mazurek and his co-author, Dr. Marc H. Schieber, trained two rhesus monkeys to play a game. The monkeys sat in front of a panel equipped with a button, a sphere-shaped knob, a cylindrical knob, and a T-shaped handle. Each object was ringed by LED lights. If the lights around an object switched on, the monkeys had to reach out their hand to it to get a reward. (a refreshing squirt of water)

Each object required a particular action. If the button glowed, the monkeys had to push it. If the sphere glowed, they had to turn it. If the T-shaped handle or cylinder lit up, they had to pull it.

After the monkeys learned how to play the game, Dr. Mazurek and Dr. Schieber had them play a wired version. The scientists placed 16 electrodes in each monkey’s brain, in the premotor cortex. Each time a ring of lights switched on, the electrodes transmitted a short, faint burst of electricity. The patterns varied according to which object the researchers wanted the monkeys to manipulate. As the monkeys played more rounds of the game, the rings of light dimmed. At first, the dimming caused the monkeys to make mistakes. But then their performance improved.

Eventually the lights went out completely, yet the monkeys were able to use only the signals from the electrodes in their brains to pick the right object and manipulate it for the reward. And they did just as well as with the lights.

This hints that the sensory regions of the brain, which process information from the environment, can be bypassed altogether. The brain can devise a response by receiving information directly, via electrodes. (1)

Another example which shows the main problem with all brain-related research: All experimental results will always be dependent of specific out-of-the-brain circumstances which will dictate how we interpret what happens inside the brain. Our analysis or our ways of affecting the brain will always be related to things the subjects do. We will never examine of affect the brain per se, independently of the environment or outside of the context of a “story” in which the subjects think of something and then do something.

The scientists did not inject any information directly into the brains of the monkeys. They created an experiment with the monkeys, they trained the monkeys, they gradually changed the experiment parameters and they at some point made the experiment work without the initial parameters present.

Sometimes you have to say things as they are. With no simplifications.

The devil lies hidden in the shadows of the details.

And science does an excellent work in playing in the dark…

While not believing in the devil, but in an imaginary enlightened man…

Yes, everything can be done. Everything can be affected.

But in the context of a cosmos in sync.

In the context of a universe in harmony.

You are not God.

Accept that.

And you will become one…

Anxiety. Modern civilization. Timelessness. Eternity. [Don’t be anxious, the river is not there, it is inside you]

About a year ago, Sarah Fader, a 37-year-old social media consultant in Brooklyn who has generalized anxiety disorder, texted a friend in Oregon about an impending visit, and when a quick response failed to materialize, she posted on Twitter to her 16,000-plus followers. “I don’t hear from my friend for a day — my thought, they don’t want to be my friend anymore,” she wrote, appending the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike.

Thousands of people were soon offering up their own examples under the hashtag; some were retweeted more than 1,000 times. You might say Ms. Fader struck a nerve. “If you’re a human being living in 2017 and you’re not anxious,” she said on the telephone, “there’s something wrong with you.”

It was 70 years ago that the poet W. H. Auden published “The Age of Anxiety,” a six-part verse framing modern humankind’s condition over the course of more than 100 pages, and now it seems we are too rattled to even sit down and read something that long (or as the internet would say, tl;dr). (1)

We are slaves to our age. We have been taught that things need to be done now. And when they are not, we feel “anxious”. We are taught that the universe is in constant movement. So when things are not moving we feel “anxious”.

And yet the river is not moving.

Close your eyes and you will stop seeing it.

No, it is not a trick. You really do not see it.

But even with closed eyes the river is still there.

Still. Eternal.

The truth is that you do see the river.

But long before you saw it…

Luck… Chance… Gods…

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…

Bark! Bark! (Admitting your limits)

A dog thought-to-speech device! The future! Technology! Hip Scandinavians! A thing that translates your dog’s thoughts into people-speak! Open up your check-book and post-date one for The Future! But wait. Isn’t there something missing in the promotional video? Something important?

Right. It doesn’t show a real demonstration. (1)

“What I saw in their video can’t work,” says Bruce Luber, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. Luber specializes in brain stimulation and neurophysiology, trying to do, in some sense, what the people in this video (the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery) are trying to do: translate what’s happening in the brain directly to behavior. But Luber says it’s not that simple: “We can’t instantaneously tell very much”.

Some feelings are relatively easy to determine (and this applies to humans as well as animals). Phases of sleep, for example, can maybe be determined with only a few scalp electrodes attached to the head. (Although the animal might have to actually be falling asleep for that to be detected.) Feelings like hunger happen deep in the brain–physically deep, as in well below the surface. “You can’t detect hunger, at least as we know it right now, with EEG”.

We are coming close to realizing the limits of material-based science. After the initial hype that we can “read minds” we are now much more careful in our declarations of the powerfulness of neurology. Good steps towards the right path. Small steps. Heads up. Admitting your weaknesses is not always easy. But it has a weird luminous magnificence in it…

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