Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia—hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundreds of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding.
The cells are connected to one another in a network of such staggering complexity that it bankrupts human language and necessitates new strains of mathematics. A typical neuron makes about ten thousand connections to neighboring neurons. Given the billions of neurons, this means there are as many connections in a single cubic centimeter of brain tissue as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
The three-pound organ in your skull—with its pink consistency of Jell-o—is an alien kind of computational material. It is composed of miniaturized, self-configuring parts, and it vastly outstrips anything we’ve dreamt of building. So if you ever feel lazy or dull, take heart: you’re the busiest, brightest thing on the planet.
↳ David Eagleman - Incognito.
Occasionally, scientists turn everyday beliefs into facts, or explain the workings of intuitively obvious things with their experiments. But facts about the workings of the universe, including the one inside your head, are not necessarily intuitively obvious. Sometimes, intuitions are just wrong—the world seems flat but it is not—and science’s role is to convert these commonsense notions into myths, changing truisms into “old wives’ tales.” Frequently, though, we simply have no prior intuitions about something that scientists discover—there is no reason why we should have deep-seated opinions about the existence of black holes in space, or the importance of sodium, potassium, and calcium in the inner workings of a brain cell. Things that are obvious are not necessarily true, and many things that are true are not at all obvious.
↳ The Emotional Brain by Joseph LeDoux.
Images produced with Diffusion spectrum magnetic resonance imaging (DSI) a new tool developed by Van J Wedeen. Here’s an interview, and here’s a slide show.
Shark brain. (via)
lochkamera asked for a brain + shark post and here it is.
Variability of brain size and external topography.
Photographs and weights of the brains of different species. Primates: human (Homo sapiens, 1.176 kg), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes, 273 g), baboon (Papio cynocephalus, 151 g), mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx, 123 g), macaque (Macaca tonkeana, 110 g). Carnivores: bear (Ursus arctos, 289 g), lion (Panthera leo, 165 g), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus, 119 g), dog (Canis familiaris, 95 g), cat (Felis catus, 32 g). Artiodactyls: giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis, 700 g), kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros, 166 g), mouflon (Ovis musimon, 118 g), ibex (Capra pyrenaica, 115 g); peccary (Tayassu pecari, 41 g). Marsupials: wallaby (Protemnodon rufogrisea, 28 g). Lagomorphs: rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus, 5.2 g). Rodents: rat (Rattus rattus, 2.6 g), mouse (Mus musculus, 0.5 g). (via Frontiers)
IMPOSSIBLE FIGURES, GRIEF≠DEPRESSION, MATH+CHILDREN, REVERSE ENGINEERING, NUMBER HYGIENE, SPACEWALK & SPACE MUSIC.
When we admire the artwork of M.C. Escher, or we see some impossibile figure like the Pensore triange, how does the brain processe impossible objects?
"The DSM-5 Mood Disorders Work Group has proposed eliminating in DSM-5 the major depression criterion E, “bereavement exclusion” (BE), which recognizes that depressive symptoms are sometimes normal in recently bereaved individuals.”
The failing in recognizing the difference between a proportionate response to a devastating emotional event and a mental illness carry the risk to make a caricature of psychiatry. Psychiatrists must think better.
"Children as young as three to five years of age have the potential to learn mathematics that is surprisingly complex and sophisticated”, and, more impressive, infants by two months understand that unsupported objects will fall, and that hidden objects still exist and by five months of age they expect non-cohesive substances like water and sand to pour. This suggests that babies born with a basic understanding of how things in their environment operate.
Ray Kurzweil is convinced that ”[…] by 2020 we’ll have computers that are powerful enough to simulate the human brain […] By 2029 […] we will have completed the reverse engineering of the human brain.”
Mh. I’m not sure.
The Royal Statistical Society proposes 12 rules of “number hygiene” for journalists to at least achieve a basic understanding of numbers, statistics, graphs and so on (all of which are far too loved by journalists).
"An EVA is probably the most physically demanding task an astronaut can undertake."How astronauts learn to “spacewalk”.
The Sounds of Space.
"Musics in space is something very important for the moral of the crew and for the psychological support of the crew."
Pretty as a Peacock by DanaKai Bradford
The molecular layer of a region of the brain known as the cerebellum (via QBI Microscopy)
A light micrograph reveals a weblike pattern of cells called astrocytes in the cerebellum, a brain structure involved in motor control. (via Scientific American Mind)