Posts Tagged ‘Brain’

Quote note (#283)

Peter Watts on the neurology of psychological integrity:

This thing you think of as you: it spreads across two cerebral hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum, a fat meaty pipe more than 200 million axons thick. Suppose I took a cleaver to that pipe, split it down the middle. (That’s no mere thought experiment: severing the corpus callosum is a last-ditch measure against certain forms of epilepsy.) In the wake of such violent separation, each hemisphere would go its own way. It would develop its own tastes in clothes, music, even its own religious beliefs. […] … Even when the corpus callosum is severed, the hemispheres can communicate via the brainstem. It’s a longer route, though, and a much thinner pipe: think dial-up versus broadband. The essential variables, once again, are latency and bandwidth. When the pipe is intact, signals pass back and forth across the whole brain fast enough for the system to act as an integrated whole, to think of itself as I. But when you force those signals to take the scenic route – worse, squeeze them through a straw – the halves fall out of sync, lose their coherence. I shatters into we. […] You might expect that an established personality, built over a lifetime and then split down the middle, might take some time to develop into distinct entities. Yet hemispheric isolation can also be induced chemically, by anaesthetising half the brain – and the undrugged hemisphere, unshackled from its counterpart, sometimes manifests a whole new suite of personality traits right on the spot. …

(There’s much more in the article.)

September 11, 2016admin 61 Comments »



Darren Schreiber, a political neuroscientist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, first performed brain scans on 82 people participating in a risky gambling task, one in which holding out for more money increases your possible rewards, but also your possible losses. Later, cross-referencing the findings with the participants’ publicly available political party registration information, Schreiber noticed something astonishing: Republicans, when they took the same gambling risk, were activating a different part of the brain than Democrats.

Republicans were using the right amygdala, the center of the brain’s threat response system. Democrats, in contrast, were using the insula, involved in internal monitoring of one’s feelings. Amazingly, Schreiber and his colleagues write that this test predicted 82.9 percent of the study subjects’ political party choices — considerably better, they note, than a simple model that predicts your political party affiliation based on the affiliation of your parents.

When you consider what hereditarian realism makes of “the affiliation of your parents” (with its massive confounding effect when brought into comparison with neurological characteristics) the level of correlation looks even more preposterous.

(The insula sounds like an intrinsically leftist neurological structure, I mean — does ‘feels monitoring’ really count as doing anything? Radical insulectomy in exchange for blockchain credits and Neocameral residency privileges has to be worth a test.)


December 4, 2015admin 27 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations

Quote note (#133)

Hugo de Garis on the irrelevance of cyborgs:

Let’s start with some basic assumptions. Let the grain of sand be a 1 mm cube (i.e. 10^-3 m on a side). Assume the molecules in the sand have a cubic dimension of 1 nm on a side (i.e. 10^-9 m). Let each molecule consist of 10 atoms (for the purposes of an “order of magnitude” calculation). Assume the grain of sand has been nanoteched such that each atom can switch its state usefully in a femto-second (i.e. 10^-15 of a second). Assume the computational capacity of the human brain is 10^16 bits per second (i.e. 100 billion neurons in the human brain, times 10,000, the average number of connections between neurons, times 10, the maximum number of bits per second firing rate at each interneuronal (synaptic) connection = 10^11*10^4 *10^1 = 10^16. I will now show that the nanoteched grain of sand has a total bit switching (computational) rate that is a factor of a quintillion (a million trillion) times larger than the brain’s 10^16 bits per second. How many sand molecules in the cubic mm? Answer:– a million cubed, i.e. 10^18, with each of the 10 atoms per molecule switching 10^15 times per second, so a total switching (bits per second) rate of 10^18 times 10^15 times 10^1 = 10^34. This is 10^34/10^16 = 10^18 times greater, i.e. a million trillion, or a quintillion.

OK, but that’s coarse sand …

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November 26, 2014admin 23 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology