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notes from SlowTV

posted 6 Jun 2012, 04:31 by NicolaAvery   [ updated 10 Jun 2012, 12:31 ]

neural dynamism - cells compete with each other to make connections, so that pathways are refined and facilitated. we have developed mechanisms to forget things and block them so that we can function in our current states

now relieved of the burden of carrying huge amounts of information

neuroplasticity gets hijacked - addictions - pleasure pathway - nucleus occumbens e.g. for dopamine release

problem with addiction e.g. drug addiction is not stopping but relapsing when in a situation which is familiar to them using it. one of predictors of relapse is anhedonia suffered (pharmacokinetics?)

Huntington's - Environmental enrichment shows delay in onset of motor deficits, neural stem cells impaired in their response due to lack of BDNF, environment partially rescues this, exercise repairs some neuro-degenerative activity.

Susan Greenfield - Personalisation of the brain, relationship - immune system, endocrine and nervous system - embodiment of brain in a body. Something physical - highly unique.

Dan Siegel - should we look at interpersonal relationships - system view - regulates energy and information flow - interconnected.

Michael Valuenzela - mind & brain never static, does stable concept of 'mind' exist. hierarchy of mindedness. May be neurologically distinct.

Jane Burns - brain & way mind develops is shaped by social environment.

SG Actions don't have consequences in video game - just play again. In life not so easy to undo action. Loss of meaning of past, present and future.

DS - concept of meaning - what has significance in our lives - evolved human brain over millions of years, in last 40,000 primary evoloution is cultural Inner way of integrating experiences in a path that allows us to go across time. Need for contingent communication - quality of interactions - responses that show being tuned into internal world. Meaning in a relational sense - mindsight - inner subjective world seen in another person - make sense of the narrative. Illusion that connections are what people are seeking - but not getting f2f information flow which is basis for social and emotional intelligence. Don't fully develop kindness and compassion

MV - lot of positive implications with technology for older people. Dealing with individual who is already well socialised - didn't grow up in 'toxic' environment. e.g. clinical trial - internet based cognitive training - indicating that can slow the decline by simple interventions & clinical trials in PD rely in person coming into lab and measuring tremor, gait - now
using wii's to record this movement at home. very powerful insight into physiology.

DS - one research - children watching videos - much poorer development skills shown - not video by itself but loss of time in relationships - f2f interactions (

SG - young people - privacy - feel emboldened by more distant, sanitised environment - if not doing those things when have to do these things - tendency to avoid because of embarassment - self fulfilling prophecy.

JB - Pew Internet American Life - do our online connections mean that we have less offline ? for those people in the study/surveyed with online - have more offline connections. May enhance online connections. Yes there are a group who use games in an inappropriate way - only 25% playing game which considered harmful. Not an either / or - how can we navigate
and use it meaningfully

MV - technology - another manifestation of human culture and endeavour - within the lineage with changing media - same inherent human desires and creativity is fundamental

SG - games - always been vehicle for social interaction - to achieve - first time adult spent time and money to purchase an experience with no consequences. first time that games have been end in themselves

Ancient origins of the cerebral cortex

posted 4 Jun 2012, 05:06 by NicolaAvery

"there are genes that differentiate nervous system tissue from the rest of the embryo, that differentiate forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain and that differentiate later subdivisions, including the cerebral cortex.

These genes act as “transcription factors”, controlling the expression of sets of proteins which define the mature characteristics of any particular region. While it is relatively easy for one of these effector proteins to change over evolution – affecting some specific characteristic of the region – it is much harder for the master regulatory genes to change. This is because they do not work alone – each area is defined by the expression of a combination of such genes, which are often turned on or off in a specific sequence. These genes interact in a complicated network of feedforward and feedback loops to orchestrate this complicated sequence."

Over evolution tend to keep complex regulatory systems and structures. The common ancestor of annelids, insects and vertebrates already possessed some brain structures from these defined genes involved in sensory and associative information processing and functioning. The genetic mechanisms in major organs relate to this brain structure.

Voytek Neuron paper: "Dynamic Neuroplasticity after Human Prefrontal Cortex Damage"

posted 4 Jun 2012, 04:41 by NicolaAvery

PFC lesions - fine when good stimuli enter PFC areas where no lesion but when bad stimuli - show behavourial differences.
", when we increased the memory load for our subjects with PFC lesions they showed increasing activity over the undamaged PFC. The greater the memory load, the harder the intact PFC seemed to be working. What was new in our study was that we showed that this compensation occurs for cognitive tasks, and it occurs very rapidly (within 600 milliseconds) and only as needed. That is, the intact PFC seems to be "recruited" when the task is too hard."

What is...

posted 18 Jul 2010, 05:12 by NicolaAvery   [ updated 6 Jun 2012, 01:33 ]

Historically wide thought published that the brain does not change after maturity - however more recently published thought says this is incorrect - plasticity in the brain does exist after maturity - through changes in synapses (neurons process signals down axon and release chemical hormone - neurotransmitter into the synapse) which increase or decrease the number of connections between the neurons. Plastic change does not necessarily mean good, once something has changed, if not for better, can still take a long time to do differently 1 - known as synaptic, brain circuits rewiring. Amount of interest in neuroplasticity probably down to advances in brain imaging especially fMRI although limitations of fMRI need to be taken into account (fMRI needs separate page)"We cannot make any conclusions from any one psychology experiment - it is important to remember that when examining cortical function, whether as part of a neurological exam of the patient or a psychology experiment - we cannot peer into the brain and see what different parts of doing. Rather we look at tasks and then infer from those tasks which brain functions are working and which are impaired. No one tasks perfectly isolates one definable brain function. We are still figuring out what all the different brain "modules" are - identifiable parts of networks within the brain that subsume a definable function." 

The brain develops and changes maps of where every anatomical and physical feature is and how they are related / connected. Injuries, illness can cause cross wiring (and also collisions?) In some cases the existing brain map of an injured area may still be 'alive' processing nerve signals even after e.g. a limb has been removed.

History of neuroplasticity (MindHacks -todo)- examples of neuroplastic thought etc & link to anatomy brain illustration

Interesting for diseases such as Parkinsons which are degenerative - loss of dopamine neurons which affect motor function such as gait freeze - unable to move, tremor - e.g. loss of motor function often beginning in arm, movement of facial muscles etc

1.establishes control of its own development (series of critical periods), unregulated - anything goes plasticity - primarily studied in auditory cortex. master at responding when inputs at lower rates. Baby born into unpredictable language - cortex creates plasticity processor ...phonemic ... through exposure, brain achieving initial sorting in every domain - control its operations selectively. Permits change to occur only when brain judges it in its best interest 

2. acquires its primary skill repertoire - controls its own plasticity, strengthens connections that contribute to 'good tries' - good? behavioural - release of dopamine, also good try recorded in working memory - continuously creating model of what success is all about. Acquisition of specialisation. 

3. user of thousands of mastered skills and abilities - cochlear implant example of adult plasticity. (stimulate to DBS) when first applied is unintelligible but then wks, mths later people have good ability to understand continuous speech incl' phones, back turned etc. 

At any age we can improve - fidelity / accuracy of brain representations, 

power/strength, co-ordination/neuronal teamwork, richness/complexity, noise-immunity/reliability ( or hear tweets or SM updates...also ambient noise pressure...),  speed/efficiency of brain operations at every level of processing.

How cortex adapts to similar stimuli and how adapts to stimuli that is different - ability to adapt complex to differentiate between stimuli - became restored in rat, myelin experiment. What is not reversible? (neurodegeneration link to Parkinsons how...experiments are done in rats..if start to reverse and degeneration starts to slow or stop, how to continue stimulus so that it doesn't continue to degenerate / memory of denegeration resurfacing, after initial stimulus, how exactly has brain adapted..discipline...behavioural...martial / boxing...)

Meditation and neuroplasticity - research e.g. Richard Davidson, Jon Kabat Zinn, digital technology delocalising everything, stone age mind in digital world. Unless can self-educate can get stuck (stuckness - neuron behaviour - don't migrate, don't fire, collision ) mind is a sense without sensing (link to buddhist), universe and no boundaries (plastic?), Proprioception and respiratory system - relationships to internal / external martial arts positions.

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