Tag Archives: Brain

How we identified brain patterns of consciousness

Davinia Fernández-Espejo is a Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology and Centre for Human Brain Health, University of Birmingham. Her main goal is to understand how the brain supports consciousness and what goes wrong for patients to become entirely unaware after severe brain injury. She uses techniques such as MRI (structural and functional), tDCS, and behavioural approaches in both healthy volunteers and patients with a disorder of consciousness to test hypotheses about the role of different brain structures in the clinical deficits they present. This research is directly translated into the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers to be used in clinical settings, as well as the development of novel treatment approaches.

On ‘PRESENCE: The science and true stories of the unseen other’

Ben Alderson-Day is an Associate Professor at Durham University and member of the Developmental Science research group at Durham. He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Early Career Hallucinations Research (ECHR) group, a network of over 250 ECRs in 24 countries conducting research on hallucinations and related topics. His most recent research has concerned “felt presence”: the sensation that someone is present without any sensory cues. In this interview, he discusses his latest book ‘PRESENCE: The strange and true stories of the unseen other’ (Manchester University Press, March 2023).

Unlocking a shift in perspective: The secret is hidden deep within the folds of our brains

‘Hidden in the Folds’ is an interactive, textile exhibition by Chrys Zantis that explores the mystery and complexity of our brains and different perspectives of (un)conscious experiences. The works extend on current neuroscience research–conveying the internal workings of our brains.
Cutting edge brain scanning technology inspired many of the works, such as two elaborate headdresses using electro-encephalography (EEG) caps, and large textile sculptures where thoughts flutter like birds among silky folds of grey matter.
The topology of landscapes tells of the lifelong journey we undertake toward self-awareness, while an expansive murmuration of Australian Budgerigars becomes a metaphor for consciousness.

Where are memories stored in the brain? New research suggests they may be in the connections between your brain cells

Don Arnold is Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He studies how information is encoded in synapses. Modifying the network of synaptic connections between neurons is thought to be the main mechanism for storing information in the brain.
“The Arnold laboratory has developed novel recombinant probes known as FingRs that allow us to visualize and ablate synaptic connections in living organisms. We are using this technology to study how synapses change when a memory is formed in a behaving animal. We are also adapting this technology to enable the modification or erasure of memories in vivo through the ablation of synapses in a light-dependent manner. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms by which maladaptive memories, such as associative memories that can lead to PTSD or addiction, are formed. Ultimately, our goal is to use our technology to erase or modify such memories.”

Eye movement science is helping us learn about how we think

Szonya Durant is a Senior Lecturer of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London and Director of the Virtual Reality Lab, joint between Psychology, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at Royal Holloway University of London.
“My research is focused on human visual perception and attention, using eye tracking, fMRI, EEG, virtual reality and computational modelling. My background is interdisciplinary training in Mathematics in areas of Biology for my PhD, which resulted in my work on empirical and computational investigations of space and time representation in humans. My recent work is concerned mainly with spatial exploration and representation in 3D space. This has included projects on attention guidance in 360 degrees with tech production companies. I have recently received funding for a project using eye tracking combined with agents to guide attention in multi-tasking situations. I have recently supervised PhD projects on the use of depth if field to guide attention, using eye tracking data from social media to predict personality and situation awareness in remote operators. I am also working on the biological mechanisms involved in combining eye and head movements in 360 degree visual search.”

Cross-pollination among neuroscience, psychology and AI research yields a foundational understanding of thinking

Paul S. Rosenbloom is Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, University of Southern California.
“Before I retired, I was also Director for Cognitive Architecture research at the Institute for Creative Technologies. I have pursued research in artificial intelligence for most of the last 45 years, focused on integrated cognition/intelligence; that is, on how to combine the core mechanisms necessary to yield general human-like intelligence. I am a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Cognitive Science Society.”

Christian Lebiere is a Research Faculty in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon University, having received his Ph.D. from the CMU School of Computer Science. Since 1991, he has worked on the development of the ACT-R cognitive architecture and was co-author with John R. Anderson of the 1998 book ‘The Atomic Components of Thought’. Most recently, he has been involved with John Laird and Paul Rosenbloom in defining the Common Model of Cognition, a community-wide effort to consolidate and formalize the scientific progress resulting from the 40-year research program in cognitive architectures.

John E. Laird is the John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering, University of Michigan.
“My major research interest is in creating human-level artificial intelligent entities, with an emphasis on the underlying cognitive architecture. As part of my research, I study both artificial and natural intelligence.”

Dolphins use signature whistles to represent other dolphins – similarly to how humans use names

Jason Bruck is Assistant Professor of Biology, Stephen F. Austin State University.
“I focus on the interplay of evolution, cognition and sociality in animals. Specifically I examine how complex social systems in cetaceans, primates and other vertebrates drive the evolution of complex learning and memory skills. Animals with fluid, complex social dynamics have a greater need to remember many social partners over unpredictable lengths of time. Therefore animals with complex social systems like humans, dolphins, chimps, elephants, corvids and some parrots for example should display something called long-term social recognition, which allows them to remember many social partners, sometimes for life.”

The tongue: how one of the body’s most sensitive organs is helping blind people ‘see’

Mike Richardson is a Research Associate in Psychology, University of Bath.
“I’ve had somewhat of a zigzag path through academia. I left sixth form intent on being a ‘professional’ kayaker (this meant living out the back of a van somewhere near a river). Then I studied Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, where I discovered that science was awesome and I wanted to do that instead. Specifically, I found that the brain is pretty crazy and I wanted to know more! I then proceeded to complete a Master’s in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and recently finished my PhD in Psychology at the University of Bath, where I studied visual impairment and exercise. I currently work as a Research Associated at the University of Bath, where I study audience experiences in live performance and immersive technology (which isn’t really anything to do with visual impairment or kayaking).
I currently produce content for the science communication platform: ‘SENSE(LESS) Psychology).”

Can consciousness continue after death? A Neuroscientific Perspective

What happens when we die? Unless we accept a religious explanation, the only remaining possibility seems to be the annihilation of consciousness. But another possibility is consistent with evidence from neuroscience. Our brains easily form predictive models of the behavior of close friends and loved ones, which emulate these other selves much as advanced computers can emulate other electronic devices. Whether these emulations are conscious is an open question, but there is preliminary evidence from several sources that the brain can host multiple independent spheres of consciousness. This opens up the possibility of survival through the medium of other brains.

The Unsettled Sense

The eye is a sense organ and an affective organ. It receives and is moved. We see and we cry. This essay focuses primarily on the eye which sees and, in particular, on seeing as a presence to our experience of the world and others. It considers how there is an inherent unsettledness and instability in the phenomenology of seeing. Drawing on the phenomenological investigations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, it explores how the phenomenal richness of seeing is, by its nature, in flux and susceptible to disequilibrium; how seeing is therefore also a steadying and bound up with our experience of spatiality and openness.