Unique species - Deepstash

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5 neuroscience reality checks, from a top neuroscientist

Unique species

Humans are a quick blip in the long history of species. The factors that truly make humans unique: language, autonoesis, complex emotions. 

The dangers of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism should always be taken into consideration. Fitness means adapting to the environment. Over the course of the last century, we've arguably accomplished the opposite.

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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.
Friedrich Nietzsche

"Society tames the wolf into a dog. And man is the most domesticated animal of all."

Friedrich Nietzsche
Depression in the era of infinite possibilities

Although we are currently experiencing the highest living standards in the history of mankind:

  • Depression rates are constantly rising in the US since the mid-1930s.
  • Approximately 40 million American adults are dealing with anxiety disorder.
  • Over 600,000 children of 5 and under are on some type of psychiatric drug in the US.
Depression and anxiety

According to the existential psychologist, Rollo May:

  • “Depression is the inability to construct a future.”
  • "Anxiety comes from "not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence.”
Spicy foods and "constrained risks"
Spicy foods and "constrained risks"
Eating spicy foods triggers a mild defense response in us. Our heart rates rise, our breathing increases, and our adrenaline starts to flow. We feel alive. It's the same thrill-seeking behavior exhibi...
Spicy foods-an acquired taste

Spicy foods have antifungal and antibacterial properties. In this light, humans have culturally and genetically evolved a preference for spicy foods because they protect us from microscopic assailants. When our taste buds encounter pungency, it's a signal to our brains that the food is cleaner.

Preference for spicy foods, like all foods, is the result of a complex interplay of genes, culture, memory, and personality,  a complex design that scientists are only now beginning to u...

Preference for spicy foods, like all foods, is the result of a complex interplay of genes, culture, memory, and personality,  a complex design that scientists are only now beginning to understand