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76 STASHED IDEAS

Some researchers envision the brain as an operating system that is ‘installed’ on neural hardware. This naive viewpoint assumes that brains and minds are identical in all living creatures, and can be separated into neat categories like hardware and software.

Even to simulate such a hypothesis requires a kind of deep understanding that we lack.

Holding a single thought is a miracle in itself, and a neural network that makes this happen cannot be mimicked, at least until the far, far future.

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  • Modern science does not yet have an official framework regarding the brain being able to produce consciousness.
  • Scientists are still on the lookout for a unified, acceptable theory of brain function in any living species on earth, even worms.
  • The brain is not a singular entity but is both integrated and composite at the same time.
  • Scientists do not yet have a precise definition of what the brain really is, as it does not fit any physical analogy.
  • Even cutting-edge advancements in science and technology: Quantum supremacy, Nanotech or Blockchain, cannot fully explain what the brain can do.

Certain phenomena cannot be explained by a single activity, where individual components work in tandem with each other and it is hard to pinpoint where the process starts or ends. The workings of such a phenomenon, known as Strong Emergence, cannot be categorized or bracketed in a single explanation.

Strong emergence is one of the few ways a brain can be explained. When we read a book, the page is made up of atoms, and so are we, but labelling it as simply an interaction of atoms cannot explain our ability to read, or the book’s ability to shape our mind into higher-level structures. This strong emergence does not take into account the complexities of understanding, language and how millions of neurons interact.

Even understanding the simplest parts of the brain is beyond our reach.

Recent experiments trying to reverse-engineer a computer chip from the 70s(those used to play Atari and Nintendo games) showed that one cannot even detect the hierarchy of how the information is processed inside, despite having a clear understanding of how chips work in a computer.

This provides a glimpse of the vastness of the brain and how little we know about it.

We have been taught that our brain is just a biological computer. It is actually an integrated and highly evolved structure that is shape-shifting and extremely adaptive towards all kinds of stimulation.

New discoveries provide us with a glimpse of the brain’s previously unknown powers, like reading minds or detecting criminal behaviour. Despite new technologies and breakthroughs, our understanding of the brain is still minuscule and maybe in the wrong direction.

Neuroscientists Working On The Brain

Scientists have been carrying out experiments and tests on the brain to understand its many functions and also to manipulate brain activity. New, increasingly detailed maps of the brain are now being drawn out.

Breakthroughs in technology let us change the brain’s structure, or plug it to external components, like a paralysed man controlling a robotic arm by simply commanding the brain.

  • As technology has completely taken over our lives, some believe that the current advancements like Neurolink or A.I. can eventually lead to singularity, when machines become conscious.
  • This hypothesis ignores how consciousness works and believes that the mind is a product of matter, just like any other organ.
  • The scale, vastness and complexity of the brain is still thousands of years ahead of our most powerful supercomputers.
  • The brain as a computer argument can at best be taken as a metaphor.

Neuroscience handling big data still lacks a theoretical framework or even a basic principle that convert brain data into basic knowledge and understanding. Vast amounts of information end up being counterproductive by injecting uncertainty into existing global understanding while adding new levels of complexity.

A creative application of the new and emerging technologies is required, along with further advances in data analysis methods.

By considering the brain as a computer, we assume that it functions as a series of linear steps. However, the brain is a visually breathtaking three-dimensional network of complex neural nodes that are interconnected both internally and externally.

It is not a simple input-output response mechanism that processes data and represents information, but an active organ that constructs information.

Certain activities in nature, such as how a group of tiny fish move in response to an attack from a bigger fish, are based on the behaviour of individuals who influence their entire group.

These activities are known as Weak Emergence, and are commonly observed in many behavioural and seasonal studies by scientists.

  • Your brain will be most alert between 10 AM and 3 PM. That is when your best work or learning is done.
  • If you still don't feel awake, you may need even more early sunlight. You need at least 1 hour of daylight exposure outside to reduce sleepiness and stay happy and productive throughout the day.
  • If you still feel tired throughout the day, 150 minutes of moderate activity a week can affect how well you sleep and how energetic you feel the next day.

You need around seven hours of sleep a night. Children need more, and older folks less. Sleeping much more or notably less than seven hours is associated with a shorter lifespan.

Consistency is as important. You need a regular schedule for when you wake up, when you have your first and last meal, when you dim the lights and when you go to bed. If any of these factors shift by two hours over a week, it's an issue.

Light at night means less melatonin - which means poor sleep and a foggy brain the next day. Blue light sends a powerful signal to your brain that it is daytime, but it's not the only problem. All light is a problem. After dark, all light should be reduced, with as little light as possible after 8 PM.

While we probably won't sit around during the evening in the dark, we can reduce overhead lighting and reduce the blue light on your screens.

As soon as you wake up, go outside and get sunlight onto your eyes. (Don't stare directly into the sun.)

Your retinas get more sensitive as the day goes on, and they are less sensitive in the morning. You need to spend about 2 - 10 minutes outside, depending on how bright it is. Getting some sunlight will set your internal clock properly.

Every cell and organ in your body has a clock. If things are working right, they are in sync with your brain. But if things aren't in sync, your hormones are out of whack, causing problems with your energy levels, hunger, stress and overall health.

The most important factor to your circadian rhythm is light. We have complete control over the amount of light we're exposed to. This essentially makes us shift workers. If we want to fix this, we have to focus on what we do at night.

Eating signals to your body it's daytime.

People who eat in an 8 - 11 hour window and stop eating 3 hours before bed are healthier and are better able to pay attention the next day.

We don't sleep when we should

Many people live like shift workers to some degree. The majority of people either go to bed after midnight or wake up early without getting enough sleep.

Shift work is a probable carcinogen, according to the WHO. Moreover, there is a list of health problems associated with shift work. The reason is that shift work interferes with your circadian rhythm. Humans are diurnal - we are designed to be awake in the day and asleep at night. While we can be nocturnal, we weren't built for it long term.

  • The frenetic worker. Despite feeling overloaded and overwhelmed with work, you work increasingly harder, ignoring your own needs to the point of exhaustion.
  • The under-challenged worker. You have to cope with monotonous conditions that fail to provide satisfaction. You feel that your work lacks opportunities to develop your abilities.
  • The worn-out worker. You are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. You become passive and unmotivated.
The traditional definition of burnout

Burnout can be defined as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency. People who feel burned out may experience a lack of emotional energy to attend to their work, withdraw from colleagues and customers, and may feel incompetent as a result.

But not everyone experiences burnout in the same way. A better framework can help to understand the many subtypes of burnout.

Researchers listed fifteen different coping strategies commonly used by people experiencing burnout. Not all coping mechanisms are constructive.

  1. Social support
  2. Humour
  3. Better planning of workload
  4. Restraint
  5. Focus on solving the problem
  6. Personal growth
  7. Positive reinterpreting of your challenges
  8. Distracting activities
  9. Religion
  10. Acceptance
  11. Substance abuse
  12. Behavioural disengagement
  13. Venting of emotions
  14. Denying the situation
  15. Cognitive avoidance

Regardless of the coping strategies you use, try not to push through burnout. Attempt to get support, take a break, and make space for self-reflection.

Ultrasound for clinical purposes: The history
  • Ultrasound was first used for clinical purposes in 1956 in Glasgow.
  • Obstetrician Ian Donald and engineer Tom Brown developed the first prototype systems based on an instrument used to detect industrial flaws in ships.
  • They perfected its clinical use, and by the end of the 1950s, ultrasound was routinely used in Glasgow hospitals..
  • It really took off in British hospitals in the 1970s, and it was well into the 1970s before it became widely used in American hospitals.
  • By the end of the 20th century, ultrasound imaging had become routine in maternity clinics throughout the developed world.
  • Ultrasound imaging involves bouncing "ultrasonic" sound waves at body structures or tissues, and detecting the echoes that bounce back.
  • Obstetric ultrasonography is used to image a human fetus inside its mother's womb.
  • Based on the angle of the beam, and the time it takes for echoes to return, an image of body structures inside the fetus can be generated.
  • It's used to confirm a pregnancy, to identify the sex and number of fetuses and to detect fetal abnormalities such as microcephaly, absence of kidneys, and spinal problems.

Warning signs from your body that it is underperforming: you're achy, tired, gaining weight, and not sleeping well.

However, the right choices can radically change and even reverse some of the symptoms. Studies show that it's never too late to start new habits and experience improvements.

Ageing well

How people age has everything to do with the life choices they make now - what they eat and how they view the world.

One of the simplest ways to age well is to understand that what you put into your body and mind will affect every part of your body.

Researchers state that there are about 20 longevity genes with the potential to help us live longer and healthier lives. The pathways of many of these genes respond to lifestyle habits such as what, when, and how much you eat, how you move your body, how much good sleep you get, and how much stress you endure.

Recent research suggests that we should eat more protein from plants and less from animals as we age. Younger people who are still growing need more meat and dairy.

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