Stories tagged mind

Jun
09
2008

Eat no beans!: Researchers have discovered the cause of brain farts.
Eat no beans!: Researchers have discovered the cause of brain farts.Courtesy WriterHound

Totally different.

Ever make a mistake while performing a simple task over and over? The scientific term for these is “brain farts,” and I’m surprised JGordon didn’t jump all over this story. Anyway, researchers have found that that up to 30 seconds before the far… er, lapse in concentration, the brain starts relaxing. This may be related to the phenomenon of sensory fatigue, when your brain stops registering a persistent input (such as a droning noise in the background, or the feel of clothes against your skin).

Anyway, the amazing mind-reading hat could, at some foreseeable point in the future, sound an alarm whenever it recognized brain gas building, and jolt you back to concentration. It would be a great benefit to me in meetings, except I’m afraid it would go off so often no one could get anything done.

A few months back, we reported on a machine that can read the images in your brain. Now comes exciting news of a machine that can read the words you are thinking. Because I know I have just way too much privacy as it is.

Dec
03
2007

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all      Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.: Or, as the poets say, "hubba-hubba."
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.: Or, as the poets say, "hubba-hubba."Courtesy beardenb

Is there an objective standard of beauty which everyone agrees on? Or does every individual have their own definition of “beauty”? Turns out it’s a bit of both.

Researchers showed images of famous sculptures to test subjects and monitored their brains’ response. When shown images that had normal proportion, a certain part of the brain was active. When shown distorted images, that brain region was silent. This implies that our brains are hard-wired to recognize and respond to beauty.

However, when asked to judge whether an image was beautiful or ugly, a different part of the brain, one associated with learning and emotion, became active. The researchers conclude that, while our reaction to an image may be hard-wired, what we think about the image is up to us.

Feb
19
2007

Are prisons doing more harm than good?: Photo Library of Congress
Are prisons doing more harm than good?: Photo Library of Congress

A few weeks ago, Time magazine ran an article on supermax prisons – ones where every prisoner is held in solitary confinement. The article noted that sensory deprivation is known to cause mental breakdowns, and asked if these prisoners weren't driving prisoners insane.

Blogger Steven K. Erickson of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation feels the comparison is inapt. The experience of the prisoner in solitary, though boring, is nothing like being sealed in a sensory deprivation tank.