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Exploring particular issue themes, articles will be created by contributors via invitation, commission and open submission from subscribers.

How the brain builds a sense of self from the people around us – new research

Sam Ereira is a Postdoctoral researcher of Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL. Between 2015 and 2019 he did his PhD in computational and cognitive neuroscience at the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging. His research used behavioural modelling and brain imaging to try and understand how the human mind distinguishes between Self and Other, and how this process might go wrong in mental health disorders.

Better People Through Chemistry?

Many psychedelic proponents feel a need to ground their claims for the evaluative significance of chemically induced mystical experience in prior metaphysical claims about higher realities endowed with special moral authority. Herein, I recommend a shift in perspective according to which we need not posit moral supernature to justify the revelatory capacity of such experiences to tell us how to best act and be.

The Beautiful Brain

Katharine Dowson’s inspiration comes from nature, medicine and the scientific world as she often collaborates with scientists as part of her artistic practice. These include researchers investigating genetics, dyslexia and Parkinson’s disease, producing intricate casts of her own heart and brain from MRI scans. Her sculptures are made in various media but especially transparent materials and glass, which she uses as a metaphor for a membrane, a fragile yet robust skin that allows light to pass through and reveal the hidden interior within.

These artists paint with their feet – scans show how unique their brains are

Harriet Dempsey-Jones is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Cognitive Neurosciences, UCL. She is a researcher in the field of cognitive psychology at University College London, looking at how our brains and particular cognitive processes cause our subjective psychological and perceptual experience.

“My research looks at how the body processes touch and other sensory inputs. Particularly, I am interested in plasticity in the area of the brain that processes sensory inputs from your body – the somatosensory cortex. I look at how this system is shaped by adding or removing sensory inputs.”

Neuroscience in pictures: the best images of the year

Wei Luan is a Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of Queensland. His current research studies how the dopamine neuronal system is affected in schizophrenia from the beginning of embryonic brain development.

Merja Joensuu is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Single Molecule Neuroscience Lab, The University of Queensland, lead by Prof Frederic A Meunier. The overall aim of research is to study how neurons communicate in health and disease by using super-resolution microscopy techniques.

Ravi Kiran Kasula is a PhD Student, The University of Queensland.

Consciousness: how can I experience things that aren’t ‘real’?

Philip Goff is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Durham University. A philosopher and consciousness researcher, his research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.

“My first academic book, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality (Oxford University Press), was published in 2017 and my first book aimed at a general audience, Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness (Rider in UK, Pantheon in US), was published in November 2019.

I argue that the traditional approaches of materialism (consciousness can be explained in terms of physical processes in the brain) and dualism (consciousness is separate from the body and brain) face insuperable difficulties. On the basis of this I defend a form of panpsychism, the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world. It sounds a bit crazy, but I try to show that it avoids the difficulties faced by its rivals.”

Richard Paton: Exploring Magnetism as a Metaphor for Humanity’s Disconnect with Nature.

As one of the four fundamental forces in physics it has been harnessed to shape our modern world of electronics and how we interact with each other. For the last four years Fine Artist Richard Paton has explored various enigmatic aspects of magnetism and completed an MA in Art & Science at UAL in 2020. By researching Geomagnetism and Magneto Reception Paton’s artwork looks at how magnetism can be seen as a metaphor revealing a fundamental human disconnection with the earth itself and the animal’s which inhabit the natural world.
In recent pieces he tackles some of the most pressing issues of our times such as habitat degradation and species extinction which draw upon the evolution of the compass, mechanical automata and interactive electronics.

Jason deCaires Taylor’s Underwater BioCulture Sculpture at the Museo Atlantico, Lanzarote Island

A leading figure in art and ecology, John K. Grande is author of a range of books that include ‘Balance: Art and Nature’ and ‘Art Space Ecology’. In this article he discusses the work of sculptor and environmentalist, Jason deCaires Taylor, in particular his major project Museo Atlantico, a collection over 300 submerged sculptures and architectural forms in Lanzarote, Spain, the first of its kind in European waters. His pioneering public art projects are not only examples of successful marine conservation, but works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world.

Marie Tharp pioneered mapping the bottom of the ocean 6 decades ago – scientists are still learning about Earth’s last frontier

Suzanne OConnell is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University. She studies Antarctic paleoclimate using marine sediment cores from IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program). This is to understand how Antarctica has changed in the past, information that will help researchers to understand and model future climate change. Her current research focuses on Antarctic climate change using sediment cores from the Weddell Sea, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 113. She has authored or co-authored over 60 refereed publications and edited the JOIDES Journal as well as ODP Initial Reports and Scientific Results. In 2015, she co-edited and co-authored the book “Women in the Geoscience: Practical, Positive, Practices Toward Parity”