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Noelle H.

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The Superhuman Power Of The Brain

A simple look at our brain, we would see a blob of jiggly meat, however, this blob of jiggly meat is extremely powerful. Through years of evolution, our brains are responsible for conjuring our pasts and predicting our futures, control our bodies, and create our experiences in the past and the present.

It can also modify our physical reality through a social reality where we can make up something out of nothing and convince other people to treat it as real.

@noe_vhh41

The mind-blowing science behind how our brains shape reality

sciencefocus.com

Our brains rely on memories when faced with ambiguous data whereas it guesses the causes of the data received as it plans what to do next in order to keep us alive and well.

An esteemed neuroscientist described our daily experience as "the remembered present" where our brains will constantly and invisibly guess future actions based on memories that are similar to the present moment. Our brain's guesses, may they be right or wrong, manifests as our actions and senses.

Our brains can actually consider physical objects and impose new or different functions on it even if it is not a part of its physical nature, using only our collective minds. This phenomenon is called social reality.

It has an amazing level of influence on our lives, not only on an individual level but the effects can be felt globally. Where we believe a certain stereotype, soon it creates a self-fulling prophecy which perpetuates the stereotype in a vicious cycle.

The brain makes categories based on context. Say an elephant, a fountain, and a water gun are all three different objects, however, the brain can categorize them as "objects that can shoot water."

The categories made by the brain are extremely flexible and are what drives many of our actions and experiences. this is also the engine behind social reality because when we share such categorizations and make them real it is able to influence people as well as our genetic evolution as a species.

Lisa Feldman-Barrett
"We have more control over reality than we might think, and more responsibility for reality than we might realize or want".
ASMR 

ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is a pleasurable feeling or a sensation that people experience during a stimulating audio-visual activity, that is relaxing and deeply personal, or an activity that involves a simple, therapeutic role-play. It is a kind of art-form that is soothing and sleep-inducing.

ASMR, explained: why millions of people are watching YouTube videos of someone whispering

vox.com

ASMR: The tingling sensation

ASMR is a personal, individual experience, with very little science behind it. People enjoy a deeply relaxing whispering video or a role-play, which gives them a tingling sensation on the back of their head and spine. It may be a mundane, monotonous activity like tapping, stirring, or crinkling objects, but they kick in a pleasure sensation in many.

The feeling varies and is somewhat similar to a sexual turn-on, in many cases.

Having ASMR

People get tingles through different kinds of sensory inputs.

Some people find out at an early age that they feel a therapeutic high when they are touched or tickled and love the attention they are given.

Others find that some simple activities or role-plays put them in a trance-like state. 

ASMR Videos

Thousands of creative videos can be found on YouTube for ASMR.

They mostly involve soothing visuals and sounds, like someone whispering a story in the microphone, or using something seemingly dull like a hairdryer, or someone acting as a nurse or a beautician to help people relax.

ASMR in the news

ASMR is a growing creative outlet with millions of viewers and followers.

Reddit has a subreddit on it with 130,000 subscribers. The New York Times, Washington Post, and BuzzFeed have covered it.

ASMR for relaxation

Similar to people liking cat videos or political debates on the internet, ASMR, which is a newly discovered 'likeness', makes people relax and at ease. 

Watching someone whispering to relax, is a need for some, which is now taken care of by the internet.

The Future of ASMR

ASMR will most likely remain a niche for a number of people on the internet since not everybody experiences it.

But there are some technological advancements that could greatly advance ASMR. Virtual reality, in particular, has a lot of ASMR video makers and viewers excited since it could bring a whole new level of immersion to the experience.

Dance Movement Therapy
  • It is the type of therapy that uses the entire body through dance and movement to boost one's well-being. It helps the brain with regulating its emotions through body posture changes and movements.
  • It allows the clients to be creative using its body movements as a medium and the message.
  • It has shown to be effective in treating patients who have Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and even depression.

How dancing can boost mental health

weforum.org

DMT can be applied in various ways. It could involve talking, with music or without. It can also be done in group sessions which involves checking in on where they are mentally, physically, and emotionally.

In practicing DMT it allows the person to explore movements, new and old, that can evoke peculiar perceptions and emotions undiscovered. It makes the client release repressed feelings and better understand oneself.

Dancing generally involves learning sequences of variations of steps and gestures that is in sync with music, but it could also be done performatively without music.

It involves the person's physical and cognitive behavior. It helps to enhance one's muscle strength, balance and coordination, memory, and attention span.

Since dancing is involved in many aspects of the brain, it augments the person's memory, motor control, and it improves the performance of the communicative process of the two hemispheres in the brain.

It has been asserted that the body is inseparable from the constant alternating synergy with the brain. Due to this, varying feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect our bodies thought movements.

In addition to this, dance movement therapy could also awaken repressed memories, restructure our brains, and dispense our whims and creativity. New ways of moving and dancing may produce new ways of feeling and perceiving the world.

Our Food Senses Aren’t Accurate

Our brains are not reliable food sensors, and our taste buds are affected not just by the food that we put in our mouths, but a variety of electrical signals from our brain, body and all the other sense organs.

‎TED Talks Daily: What happens in your brain when you taste food | Camilla Arndal Andersen

podcasts.apple.com

When we drink a cup of coffee, we detect it using the receptors of our bodies, and that information is then converted into activated neurons. Waves of light are converted into colors, with the mouth receptors trying to classify the beverage as one of the five basic tastes: salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami (the pleasant, savory taste).

All these signals are then woven together and recognized by the brain, and it is still not the absolute reflection of reality but is a highly subjective experience.

When we see someone else do something, we sometimes think we could do better, and probably recognized the food taste in a more objective way. The problem is that most of us are suffering from various biases, like the common bias blind spot: We think we are less biased than others.

Another bias could be the courtesy bias, where we tell our aunt we like something she made because it’s socially polite to do so.

The vanilla flavour does not contain sugar. Yet the taste of vanilla tricks the brain into thinking that it is having something sweet.

This is due to the fact that almost all the desserts we had since we were born, like cakes and pastries, probably were sweet and did have that particular flavour, making the brain associate it with sweetness.

A neuroscientist specializing in food conducted an elaborate EEG brain scan test that measures the electrical impulses of feelings, emotions, thoughts, sensory input and even muscle movement while the tongue tastes a particular food.

The results showed that the brain figures out the food within the first 100 milliseconds, and can tell the taste of various foods apart when all the other noise is minimized.

Apart from the various signals being measured, there are other things like sweat, pupil dilation and gastronomical signals that are recent discoveries of how the brain works, as the scientists try to bypass the biases of people and capture the subjective taste differences.

The research can help create better, healthier foods, as we get new insights on how we sense our food. We can also find out if there are other basic tastes, like fat, for instance.

Foods that affect your sleep

Researchers found that eating a diet high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbohydrates can negatively affect your sleep.

Foods rich in unsaturated fat, such as nuts, olive oil, fish, and avocados, seem to promote sound sleep.

How Foods May Affect Our Sleep

nytimes.com

Researchers found that eating more saturated fat and less fibre from foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains led to reductions in slow-wave sleep - the deep restorative kind of sleep.

People who consume a high-carbohydrate diet fall asleep much faster at night, but the quality of carbs matters. People who eat simple carbs and sugar tend to wake up more frequently throughout the night while eating complex carbs that contain fibre may help you obtain more deep, restorative sleep. This is because complex carbohydrates provide a more stable blood sugar level.

As people lose sleep, they may seek out more junk food. Healthy adults who sleep only four or five hours a night end up eating more calories and snacking on sweet foods more frequently.

Another study found that proper sleep can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods.

Jet lag

Jet Lag is a debility similar to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind.

Our biological clocks are synchronized to a 24-hour period. Our internal clocks drive our circadian rhythms, which anticipate dawn and dusk, and control everything from blood pressure to how hungry we are. When we fly to a different time zone, (or work night shifts), our internal clocks go out of sync.

The science of jet lag... and how best to beat it

bbc.com

We take a few days to adjust

Our bodies take a few days to fully adjust, depending on not only how many time zones have been crossed, but also the direction of travel.

Usually, it would take five or six days to adjust to a six-hour shift in time zone. When you travel east, your body has a shorter time to synchronize with the regular 24-hour sun cycle. When you travel west, your body has extra time to adjust.

Generally, the best way to fool your biological clock is to shift your internal rhythms before the flight.

  • Restrict light exposure to specific times.
  • Restrict rest and meals.
  • Adjust activities such as walking and running to specific times.
  • Use melatonin - the hormone that makes us sleepy - in small amounts. However, certain people should avoid melatonin.
Fear as a defense mechanism

Fear protects organisms against a perceived threat to their integrity or existence. Fear can be as simple as moving away from a negative stimulus, or as complex as existential anxiety in a human.

Some of the brain's main chemicals that contribute to the "fight or flight" response are also involved in other emotional states such as happiness and excitement. It makes sense that the high arousal state we experience during a scare may also be seen in a more positive light.

What Happens in the Brain When We Feel Fear

smithsonianmag.com

The main factor in how we experience fear has to do with the context.

When the "thinking" part of the brain gives feedback to the "emotional" brain, and we know it isn't really a threat, we can quickly shift from fear to enjoyment or excitement, such as in a haunted house during Halloween season. However, if you were walking in a dark alley at night and a stranger started following you, both your emotional and thinking areas of the brain would agree that the situation is dangerous and that it's time to escape.

The fear reaction starts in the brain's amygdala region and spreads through the body to prepare the body for the best defense or flight reaction. Fear also triggers the release of stress hormones and the sympathetic nervous system.

During a dangerous situation, the brain becomes hyperalert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate, breathing accelerates, heart rate and blood pressure rise, blood flow and a stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase, and organs not vital in survival slow down, such as the gastrointestinal system.

We learn fear through observation, personal experiences, and through the instruction of spoken or written notes. The perception of control is vital to how we experience and respond to fear.

When you look to your friend at the haunted house, and she's quickly gone from screaming to laughing, socially, you're able to pick up on her emotional state, which can influence your own state.

An imbalance between excitement caused by fear and the sense of control may cause too much or too little excitement.

If the experience is seen as "too real," an extreme fear response can overcome the sense of control. But if the experience is not triggering enough to the emotional brain, or is too unreal to the thinking brain, the experience can end up feeling boring.

Oreos: The best-selling cookies in the world

Oreos have been around since 1912. They are the best-selling cookies in the world and sold in over 100 countries.

When they were introduced in 1912, they were known as Oreo Biscuit, then changed names to Oreo Sandwich in 1921, and 1937 took on the name of Oreo Crème Sandwich. The final change came in 1974 when the cookie became known as the Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie.

The untold truth of Oreos

mashed.com

Food scientist Sam J. Porcello invented the newer version of the Oreo. He was one of the world's foremost experts on cocoa and helped develop the extra indulgent chocolate and white chocolate-covered Oreo.

The original recipe for Oreo cookies contained lard (pork fat). With the changing climate of the low-fat 1990s, the lard was replaced, and the cookie became kosher and unexpectedly also vegan.

  • In 1984, The Oreo Big Stuf was launched. Individually wrapped, the snack was a massive 316 calories (a single Oreo contains about 53 calories) and took around 20 minutes to eat.
  • Oreo cookies are also used in pie crusts, churros, and ice cream cones.
  • In January 2017, Virginia-based The Veil Brewing Company released a version of their chocolate milk stout infused with real Oreo cookies. It was sold out within a week.
  • Game of Thrones Oreo: One winter, a special edition Oreos came out embossed with the crests of the four remaining (at the time) houses. The cookie company went to the production company that made the main titles for GoT Elastic. The Oreo-meets-GoT universe took about 2,750 computer-generated Oreos with 20 million crumbs scattered throughout the Oreo-scape.

William Turnier was responsible for designing the Oreo. He initially worked at the company mailroom, shadowed creative employees within the company and learned industrial engineering. He was later asked to update Oreo's design.

The design goes back to monks in Medieval times. The monks used the design on the bottom of manuscripts copied. It was a sign of craft, saying they did the best they could. The company liked the look and the meaning, and Oreo received its new design.

The human microbiome

The human body is made up of trillions of human cells. There are possibly three times as many microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and other microbes) living in and on the human body. The microbial communities in and on the human body are known as the human microbiome.

The microbiome contributes considerably to human growth, development, and function. The most well known is the gut microbiome, which impacts human digestive health.

What Is the Human Microbiome, Exactly?

nautil.us

Metaphors that scientists use to talk about the microbiome influence scientific understanding and can shape medical treatment. For example, viewing the microbiome as an "organ" or a "part of the immune system."

Some physicians support fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) - treating the malfunction of the gut microbiome by swallowing a pill full of someone else's poo. It follows the same basic principles as an organ transplant, and the treatment is probably a consequence of understanding the microbiome as an organ.

To think of a microbiome as an organ creates a limited perspective because organs are relatively set. Generally, a heart will develop and remain the same in each person. But a microbiome is not one thing. It's trillions of things and responds to small changes in our diet, environment, and behavior. It works together with the human body in a symbiotic relationship.

Each metaphor can only capture a part of what the microbiome is. We need all the metaphors to understand the complexity of the microbiome and its role in our bodies.

Philosophy of food

Philosophy of food is found on the idea that food is a mirror.

Eating reflects the making of a self - the many decisions and circumstances that lead us to eat the way we do. Philosophy of food mirrors on the ethical, political, social, artistic, identity-defining aspects of food. It makes us think and reflect on our diets and eating habits.

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

thoughtco.com

Food is a relation to organism and circumstance.

  • Food is bound to vary from moment to moment. Coffee and pasty are a fine breakfast or afternoon snack. Yet, most of us won't enjoy it for dinner.
  • Circumstances are bound to involve contradictory principles. You may buy only organic food, but on vacation, you crave burgers and fries.

Therefore, any given food relation is the mirror of an eater, and it represents the eater's needs, habits, convictions, deliberations, and compromises.

Ethical convictions can shape our diets.* Would you eat a cat or a horse? Why or why not?* Your reasons are likely rooted in ethical principles, such as feeling outraged that someone can do such a thing.

Vegetarians conform to a particular diet to prevent unjustified violence being done to animals.

Food as art has spurred heated debates. Some argue that food is a minor art at best for three reasons:

  • Foods are short-lived in comparison to, for instance, long-lasting art carved out of marble.
  • Food is intrinsically linked to a practical purpose - nourishment.
  • Food depends on its material constitution that is different from music, painting, or sculpture.

At best, cooks can be very good artisans and can be paired with fancy hairdressers or skilled gardeners.

Americans highly esteem the role of food experts while the French and Italians do not. It's possibly because of different ways to regard the evaluation of a food.

Is there a truth when it comes to judgments about food? On the one hand, my tasting experience is different from yours and completely subjective. On the other, an expert can challenge a reviewer's opinions about a wine or a restaurant.

Most foods at the supermarket carry on their labels "nutritional facts." We use it to guide how we eat.

But what do those numbers have to do with what we put in our stomachs? We don't really know the rules regarding metabolism or understand the implications of the funding of studies on nutritional facts.

Some concerns for political philosophy include:

  • The challenges that food consumption poses to the environment. For example, factory farming produces more pollution than airfare travel.
  • Food trades, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, raise issues of fairness and equity in the global market.
  • Food production, distribution, and retail is an opportunity to talk about the condition of workers across the globe.

A refusal to consider eating habits in a meaningful manner is similar to a lack of self-understanding or authenticity.

Since self-understanding and authenticity are some of the chief aims of philosophical inquiry, food is a key to philosophical insight. The philosophy of food is then the pursuit of an authentic diet.

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