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Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

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http://nautil.us/issue/59/connections/why-is-the-human-brain-so-efficient

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Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?
The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often…

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The human brain vs. the computer

The human brain vs. the computer

When we contemplate which has more problem-solving power, the brain or the computer, we might think that the modern computer would come out on top. Indeed, computers have been built and programmed ...

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Advantages of computers

Comparing the computer and the brain has been instructive to both computer engineers and neuroscientists.

  • Computers are faster with basic operations, at a speed of 1...

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Serial and parallel processing

The brain is not slow nor imprecise in performing calculations.

For example, a professional tennis player can follow the trajectory of a tennis ball after it is served ...

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Parallel processing

The brain takes advantage of the large number of neurons (100 billion neurons) and the large number of connections each neuron makes. (100 trillion synapses)

Each neuron collects i...

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Signaling mode

In the signaling mode of their elementary units, the computer and the brain have similarities and differences. The transistor in a computer employs digital signaling, which uses ze...

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Improving computer design

Over the years, engineers have taken inspiration from the brain to improve computer design.

The principles of parallel processing and use-dependent modification of connection strength have ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

About Consciousness

About Consciousness

Consciousness is everything you experience - taste, pain, love, feeling. Where these experiences come from is a mystery.

Many modern analytic philosophers of mind either d...

Searching For Physical Footprints

What is it about brain matter that gives rise to consciousness? In particular, the neuronal correlates of consciousness (NCC) - the minimal neuronal mechanisms jointly sufficient for any conscious experience.

Consider this question: What must happen in your brain for you to experience a toothache?

Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC)

The whole brain can be considered an NCC because it generates experience continually.

  • When parts of the cerebellum, the "little brain" underneath the back of the brain, are lost to a stroke or otherwise, patients may lose the ability to play the piano, for example.  But they never lose any aspect of their consciousness. This is because the cerebellum is almost wholly a feed-forward circuit. There are no complex feedback loops.
  • The spinal cord and the cerebellum are not enough to create consciousness. Available evidence suggests neocortical tissue in generating feelings.
  • The next stages of processing are the broad set of cortical regions, collectively known as the posterior hot zone, that gives rise to conscious perception. In clinical sources of causal evidence, stimulating the posterior hot zone can trigger a diversity of distinct sensations and feelings.
  • It appears that almost all conscious experiences have their origin in the posterior cortex. But it does not explain the crucial difference between the posterior regions and much of the prefrontal cortex, which does not directly contribute to subjective content.

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The Priming Effect

Your mind is able to fill in missing details by matching them to existing information. It also cross-references and bounces between linked associations. This priming effect even works when you are ...

Conscious Priming

Being aware of the priming effect presents us with huge benefits for personal growth. By actively guiding your priming influences, you can create a permanent and lasting improvement in your life.

For instance, writing words on a board like flow, focus, success, complete will prime you to ensure that your work meets that criteria.

Think Improvement, Not Perfection

With the knowledge of how priming is influencing you, don't nitpick every detail of your environment. Pace yourself and tackle the most frequent influences first. 

For instance, prime the place where you spend most of your time. Clear out clutter or put up pictures you enjoy to ensure your office is relaxing and pleasurable.

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Sleep And The Process Of Keeping Our Brains Healthy

Sleep And The Process Of Keeping Our Brains Healthy
  • Quality sleep is the one universal factor that can keep our brain healthy.
  • Sleep is so important that mammals die in about a week if they are completely deprived of sleep.

Neurophysiology 101

  1. Neurons are the nervous system cells transmitting electromagnetic signals using action potentials and neurotransmitters.
  2. Glia is the non-neuronal system cell keeping the neurons healthy and working.
  3. Cerebrospinal Fluid or CSF is the fluid that our brain lives in.
  4. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood to an organ.
  5. Veins are the blood vessels carrying blood from the organ.

The Brain Is Like A City

Complex cycles and systems operate in the brain. The Glymphatic (or Glial Lymphatic) system, discovered recently, takes care of the brain waste much like a complex sewer system.

The system is only active when one is asleep, and it clears our brain of all neurotoxic substances that have collected during the day.

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Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Understanding consciousness and how it fits in the universe is a perennial puzzle for decades. Some call it the holy grail of science.

Quantum physics is able to describe the atomic and...

The Observer Effect

Modern science is hesitant to talk about consciousness due to it opening a pandora’s box, putting their previously ‘bulletproof’ theories under suspicion.

Quantum Theory had a similar ‘uh oh’ moment when it was found that the behaviour of atomic level particles changes when we (a conscious observer) are looking at it, or not. This is known as the Observer Effect.

Objectivity Vs Consciousness

Physicists argue that objectivity might as well be an illusion, and consciousness has to be put in the picture of its worldview.

The two puzzles of Science, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics, might as well be closely related, with one arising because of the other.

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Untreated trauma and its negative effects

All individual who has ever dealt with trauma knows that healing can take a lot of time if it eventually happens. Untreated trauma seems to leave scars on our brain, altering the way we perceive...

Trauma changes our brain

After having experienced trauma, our brain can not function properly anymore, at least for a while. 

Among the negative effects that trauma leads to there is the risk of developing physical illnesses or the so-called Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

When dealing with PTSD, the three parts of our brain, which are responsible for processing stress, suffer changes: the hippocampus, the amygdala function and the prefrontal/ anterior cingulate function.

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The Neuroscientist Karl Friston

The Neuroscientist Karl Friston
  • Karl Friston, a neuroscientist, published a radical theory called the ‘Free Energy Principle’ that has the neuroscience field in a tizzy. His papers, published in various journals, are heavil...

The Free Energy Principle

It states that the world is uncertain and full of surprises. Our brain, through perception, beliefs and action are trying to remain stable by minimizing the spikes, triggers and surprises.

We live inside our brains, and each of us has a unique perception of the outside world. Anything we say or document is just our way to explain the world we have lived. It has nothing to do with reality.

The Beautiful Mind

  • Our mind is programmed to sample the world so that the immediate future can be predictable, as a way to survive it with minimum surprises and disruptions, and as a way to conserve energy.
  • Free energy, outside the mind, maybe incomprehensible and even impossible to grasp fully, but our mind filters and curates much of the information and presents it to us in palpable format.
  • Our mind, when seen neurologically, is infinitely vast, much like the universe, which it even resembles visually.

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Using 10% of our brains

The source of this figure isn't entirely clear.

People's capacity to develop any skill is a combination of practice and talent. A person can get quite good at almost any skill if they practic...

Left-brained or right-brained

People used to speak of being left or right-brain dominant (where the left brain is more logical and algorithmic, and the right brain more artistic and intuitive).

However, both hemispheres of your brain are involved in all of the complex work you do. The most effective thinkers are the ones who learn to rely on both their intuitive judgments as well as their reasoning.

Emotions and rational thinking

The theory goes that emotions reflect a more primitive form of thinking and that good thinking is only logical.

However, when faced with risky decisions, it is possible to talk yourself into almost anything. But, even a little anxiety in that situation can provide information too valuable to ignore.

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Mind Replay

Mind Replay

While we sleep, our brain is on to housekeeping. It is weeding through the experiences of the day and identifying stuff that needs to be put into long-term storage.

A new study which involv...

The Mind At Work

  • During the day, all our senses are busy collecting information, which includes sights, smells and sounds.
  • When we sleep, the new memory traces are consolidated and ‘de-fragmented’ into a permanent form of long-term storage, combining the recent experience with existing semantic memory networks.
  • This also proves that when we sleep after learning something, we tend to remember it better as it gets processed and digested inside our minds.

Ketosis

Is a metabolic state. Think of being in or out of ketosis like the settings in a hybrid car; you can rely on gas or electricity to different degrees.

In ketosis, we...

The function of ketones

Ketones aren’t just a form of energy, they’re powerful signaling molecules. They regulate the expression of genes and dampen inflammatory processes.
Your body is always producing a very low level of ketones, irrespective of your diet. You start producing more of them when following a diet that’s high in fat and low in carbs.

Getting in ketosis

  • The stricter you restrict carbs (or total calories), the quicker you will be in ketosis.
  • Restricting your carb intake to 20g per day is a good heuristic (loose rule) for entering ketosis. It will generally get you into ketosis within a few days.
  • Fasting gets you into ketosis very quickly.

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Simplicity is a sign

The process of simplification can be a sign of aging.

Our youthful health depends on complexity. Bones get strength from detailed scaffolds and connective tissue. Even the heartbeat rel...

The meaning of "complexity"

A complex process involves various components interacting across multiple scales in time and space. To lift a foot requires electrical, chemical, and mechanical parts to coordinate across molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels.

Complexity loss

A large and growing body of research suggests that biological complexity breaks down with aging.
Various tissues and organs and their communication pathways gradually diminish and lead to disease or disability.

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