Tag Archives: Mind

How the body and mind talk to one another to understand the world


By Sarah Garfinkel – When considering the senses, we tend to think of sight and sound, taste, touch and smell. However, these are classified as exteroceptive senses, that is, they tell us something about the outside world. In contrast, interoception is a sense that informs us about our internal bodily sensations, such as the pounding of our heart, the flutter of butterflies in our stomach or feelings of hunger.

The brain represents, integrates and prioritizes interoceptive information from the internal body. These are communicated through a set of distinct neural and humeral (ie, blood-borne) pathways. This sensing of internal states of the body is part of the interplay between body and brain: it maintains homeostasis, the physiological stability necessary for survival; it provides key motivational drivers such as hunger and thirst; it explicitly represents bodily sensations, such as bladder distension.

But that is not all, and herein lies the beauty of interoception, as our feelings, thoughts and perceptions are also influenced by the dynamic interaction between body and brain.

The shaping of emotional experience through the body’s internal physiology has long been recognized. The American philosopher William James argued in 1892 that the mental aspects of emotion, the ‘feeling states’, are a product of physiology. He reversed our intuitive causality, arguing that the physiological changes themselves give rise to the emotional state: our heart does not pound because we are afraid; fear arises from our pounding heart. more>

Negative capability

By Paul Tritschler – The unconscious can perform astonishing feats of memory, but it can also play a remarkable role in creativity: sudden insights, solutions and life-enhancing ideas sometimes surface unbidden when the mind is adrift in unconscious reverie. If such chance awakenings are possible, how can you replicate those conditions to become more the author, and less the reporter, of your own meaningful life story? To find that elusive voice, we’ve got to search in the ‘now’, in the moment of true, lived experience that fleetingly exists between past and future. It is within that space that we must seek the locus of personal transformation and change.

But being in the moment, developing an awareness of ‘now’, means gaining control over our thoughts and the unconscious patterning of memory so that they don’t intrude. If we can’t wrestle control over things, then something has gone awry in the master-servant relationship – there is truth in the old aphorism: ‘The mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master.’

To overcome this complex bind, we must identify how the mind constrains us, and then we must break free. Among the traps of the mind, there is preoccupation with the past (including attachment to intrusive memories) and preoccupation with the future (including continual desire). By definition, these lures are incompatible with being in the moment. We must offload this excess baggage to glimpse what we are and what we might become. more>

Updates from GE

Could You Soon Fly An Airplane With Your Mind?
By Geoffrey Ling – Imagine we are at the very early stages of the original cellphone. In the 1980s, they were large bricks and all they could do is make phone calls. That’s sort of where we are with brain science.

We can measure reliably certain signals associated with individual functions. We can see how to move an arm, or what is happening during a specific emotional state. We can measure those things fairly well.

The technology is still bulky and expensive. It’s still not amenable for everyday use: normal people doing real things in real time.

Much like the cellphone though, the progress is going to be staggering. We will learn to measure the signals better, and find more functionality associated with those signals. The innovation is going to explode.

This technology could take human relationships to a whole new level. We could cross boundaries of language, understanding. Misunderstandings could be a thing of the past. more> https://goo.gl/R6yvXh

The mind isn’t locked in the brain but extends far beyond it

BOOK REVIEw

Kinds of Minds, Author: Daniel Dennett.

By Keith Frankish – Where is your mind? Where does your thinking occur? Where are your beliefs?

The brainbound view pictures the brain as a powerful executive, planning every aspect of behavior and sending detailed instructions to the muscles.

But, as work in robotics has illustrated, there are more efficient ways of doing things, which nature almost certainly employs.

The more biologically realistic robots perform basic patterns of movement naturally, in virtue of their passive dynamics, without the use of motors and controllers. Intelligent, powered control is then achieved by continuously monitoring and tweaking these bodily processes, sharing the control task between brain and body.

Language is a particularly powerful means of extension and enhancement, serving, in Andy Clark‘s phrase, as scaffolding that allows the biological brain to achieve things it could not do on its own. Linguistic symbols provide new focuses of attention, enabling us to track features of the world we would otherwise have missed, and structured sentences highlight logical and semantic relations, allowing us to develop new, more abstract reasoning procedures (as in long division).

With pen or laptop, we can construct extended patterns of thought and reasoning that we could never formulate with our bare brains. In writing, we are not simply recording our thinking but doing the thinking. (As the physicist Richard Feynman [2] once observed: ‘I actually did the work on the paper.’)

You might want to ask why we should think of minds extending into bodies and artifacts, rather than merely interacting with them. more> https://goo.gl/lFTD3P

You Can Heal Yourself With Your Mind (For Real)

BOOK REVIEW

Cure: A Journey Into The Science Of Mind Over Boday, Jo Marchant

By Jo Marchant – Let’s be clear: Claims that the mind can heal aren’t harmless.

When made in the absence of evidence they raise false hope, and if people reject conventional treatment they need, they can die. That includes cancer patients, but less dramatic cases risk lives, too. Homeopaths regularly caution parents not to vaccinate their children against potentially fatal childhood infections, for example, and advise travelers against conventional drugs to protect against malaria.

Because the brain controls physiological functions from digestion to the immune system, the mind doesn’t simply determine our subjective experience; it can be relevant for the physical progression of disease, too.

These processes aren’t generally under voluntary control; we can’t “wish” ourselves better. But we can influence them, particularly by modulating our response to stress. more> http://goo.gl/ig0LBD

Related>