Neuroscientists have revealed that a simple brain region, known for processing basic sensory information, can also guide complex feats of mental activity. The new study involving mice demonstrated that cells in the somatosensory cortex, the brain area responsible for touch, also play a key role in reward learning. It is the basis for how we connect our work in the office to that paycheck, or that A+ to the studying we did in preparation for the test. (1)
Even the simplest forms of thinking result in complex results.
But to understand the complexity of the cosmos we must think simple.
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.
It seems that after vaccines started spreading, diseases started declining too. (2) But what a minute! See how the decline in diseases started even before the vaccines started? (the graph is small if you do not pay for the article, but again it shows) At the same time vaccines started spreading, public hygiene programs (including the introduction of sewage systems) were also initiated! (3) Better living conditions also started to be important. Fresh water too. What did really happen? Could it be that something is overestimated here? (4)
Vaccines are good, but we also know that being ill is not a “bad” thing on its own. People in Mediterranean are protected against malaria because of a gene “problem” which causes anemia. (5)
And why do we see statistics about the effectiveness of common vaccines all the time? There are new vaccines coming out every year. Wouldn’t be important to hear the effectiveness rates of these vaccines too?
Over-simplification is killing science. Over-simplification is killing medicine. We are complicated beings. It would really be nice to have ONE method protect against everything. But this is not true and will never be.
When we stop advertising the same and the same again, when Marketing is separated from Medicine, a new day will dawn…
Relative scientific papers:
“The questionable contribution of medical measures to the decline of mortality in the United States in the twentieth century“. McKinlay JB, McKinlay SM, Milbank Mem Fund Q Health Soc. 1977 Summer; 55(3): 405-28. (6)
“Symposium: Accomplishments in Child Nutrition during the 20th Century. Infant Mortality in the 20th Century, Dramatic but Uneven Progress” Myron E. Wegman School of Public Health, University of Michigan: J. Nutr. 131: 401S–408S, 2001. (7)
Evolution does not necessarily form species. (“species” based on the ‘similar genes’ definition) (1)
This applies to Meiofauna and probably to other large-populated organisms like bacteria. Latest theories have found that not even human cells within the same brain have the same genome. (2)
And the same applies for the gens into our body. (3)
Harmonia Philosophica (@Wordpress or @Blogger) has for a long time pointed out the subjectivity of definitions and the problems with the term “species”. How can one built such an “important” theory of life based on something so subjective? When something is complicated, trying to simplify it ends in disaster.
Occam’s razor needs replacement with something like… Occam’s brain!
A leaked climate report shows that food shortages and poverty rise. (1)
Typical stupid research focusing on the symptoms and not on the cause. But what is the cause of these phenomena?
Some postulate a rather “simple” theory: How can the same Earth cater and provide for all of us while we keep on increasing in numbers? Could the equation be so simple? Should we just wait for nature to find its balance? Or should we seek another planet? Or maybe just… don’t throw away so much food as we every day do?
The most gruesome situations are simple in nature… Something our complex western rational cannot comprehend…