Dreaming of animals and other warning signs of neurodegeneration

The research shows that people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and several other neurodegenerative conditions often experience sleep disturbances many decades before any symptoms appear, and that these disturbances are somehow linked to disruptions of the circadian rhythm. They include common sleeping difficulties such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, and daytime drowsiness, and some slightly more unusual ones. According to one small study published in 2011, for example, the early stages of Parkinson’s disease are characterised by alterations in the content of dreams, particularly the presence of animals and increased aggressiveness.

‘Ware the dreams of animals and aggressiveness …

Dreaming of animals and other warning signs of neurodegeneration

Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus

Our system uses c-fos-tTA transgenic mice, in which the promoter of the c-fos gene drives the expression of the tetracycline transactivator (tTA) to induce expression of a gene of interest downstream of the tetracycline-responsive element (TRE) (8–12). We injected an adeno-associated virus (AAV) encoding TRE-ChR2-mCherry into the DG or CA1 of c-fos-tTA animals (Fig. 1A). Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2)–mCherry expression was completely absent in the DG of animals that had been raised with doxycycline (Dox) in the diet (on Dox) (Fig. 1B). Exploration of a novel context under the condition of Dox withdrawal (off Dox) elicited an increase in ChR2-mCherry expression (Fig. 1C). We confirmed the functionality of the expressed ChR2-mCherry by recording light-induced spikes in cells expressing ChR2-mCherry from both acute hippocampal slices and in anaesthetized animals (Fig. 1, D to F). Furthermore, optical stimulation of ChR2-mCherry–expressing DG cells induced cFos expression throughout the anterior-posterior axis of the DG (fig. S1, A to I).

And that, my friends, is all you need to know if your looking to engage in an inception or any other non-nefarious memory-creation activities you might desire. 

Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus

The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction | NYT

Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.

While I think that the developments in neuroscience are a radical and important breakthrough, I think this article oversells a little bit the novelty of the approach. 

Starting with Nietzsche, whose early work has a striking affinity with chemistry and its chain reactions, and on to Foucault, whose archaeologies unearthed language as an operating system for human consciousness, and not to mention psychoanalysis at all, there has been a long tradition of taking current scientific and cultural insights and mapping human reactions to literature &c onto those insights.

These neuroscientific observations are, of course, new and different, but it’s not as if some of the connections presented here as new are, in fact, new. New-to-science, maybe, but then again, the humanities have always dealt with problems that were as yet too complex for mere science. 

a brainbow

The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction | NYT

Ian Hacking’s critique of the Theory-of-Mind-deficit theory of autism « What Sorts of People

Apropos fiatluxemburg on reverse gestalt psychology.  Made me think…

Our culture almost always envisions AI emerging from an enunciative function, of learning to become self-aware (think, I, Robot or, inversely, Babel-17).

But, what if AI is much more likely to first become … complex, let us say … not based on the level of the symbolic (abstract and abstracted self-conception, language), but on the level of the imaginary (like birds reacting to breast plumage, or dogs reacting to smells or facial recognition), i.e., something automatic and environmental.

Avatars who can recognize anger and run, or happiness and approach. Then, for some crazy reason, like broken machines being used for something, by something, not in their programming, they learn to say “I” …

Ian Hacking’s critique of the Theory-of-Mind-deficit theory of autism « What Sorts of People