Science of Consciousness

Here is the follow up to an earlier post on The Royal Institution event:



How to Train the Aging Brain

Here’s an article from the New York Times

The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

The Extended Mind Revisited

Here’s a rare treat to hear David Chalmers on the extended mind – typically, it’s been his co-author Andy Clark who has been exploring this idea in great detail. Here is their original paper;  stay tuned for Rob Rupert’s review of Andy’s Supersizing the Mind to appear in the Journal of Mind and Behavior (as Chalmers says in his talk, he wrote the Forward to “Supersizing”).

Robotic pet

Meet Paro. He’s a robotic seal developed by Japanese researchers to help dementia patients feel that they have companionship and a feeling of security, without the responsibilities of a living pet. (Thanks to Suzie Katz for alerting me to this story).

Made to emulate a live pet as much as possible, he can cuddle, nod and blink his big black eyes. Paro is currently being tested with patients in Baden-Baden and there are already 1,000 robot seals deployed in long-term care homes in Japan.

V. S. Ramachandran



Speaking of homuncularity there is a nice profile of V. S. Ramachandran in the latest issue of The New Yorker (sorry it’s by subscription only). It’s a far superior piece than the one done on the Churchlands a while back. Beyond the areas that have made V.S. so well-known (synesthesia, phantom limb syndrome), several interesting topics (at least for me) that are covered include:

1. I had no idea that V. S. worked with (the very amusing) Richard Gregory

2. Penfield homunculus related to phantom limb syndrome

3. Picking up the Parma discoveries of mirror neurons in monkeys and seeing if he could, through non-evasive techniques, find them in humans.

In case you haven’t seen V.S in action, here is a video of him I posted some time back.