Science, Technology, and Current Futurism
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Science, Technology, and Current Futurism
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How to blame less and learn more | Matthew Syed

How to blame less and learn more | Matthew Syed | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism |
Successful organisations have discovered a precious truth: it pays not to penalise people for mistakes
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Matthew Syed<>;

"One of the most well-established human biases is called the fundamental attribution error. It is about how the sense-making part of the brain blames individuals, rather than systemic factors, when things go wrong. When volunteers are shown a film of a driver cutting across lanes, for example, they infer that he is selfish and out of control. And this inference may indeed turn out to be true. But the situation is not always as cut-and-dried.

"After all, the driver may have the sun in his eyes or be swerving to avoid a car. To most observers looking from the outside in, these factors do not register. It is not because they don't think such possibilities are irrelevant, it is that often they don't even consider them. The brain just sees the simplest narrative: "He's a homicidal fool!""

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Imagination and reality flow in opposite directions in the brain

Imagination and reality flow in opposite directions in the brain | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism |

As real as that daydream may seem, its path through your brain runs opposite reality. Aiming to discern discrete neural circuits, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have tracked electrical activity in the brains of people who alternately imagined scenes or watched videos.


"A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally connected. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?" says Barry Van Veen, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering. "We know that the brain does not function as a set of independent areas, but as a network of specialized areas that collaborate."


Van Veen, along with Giulio Tononi, a UW-Madison psychiatry professor and neuroscientist, Daniela Dentico, a scientist at UW-Madison's Waisman Center, and collaborators from the University of Liege in Belgium, published results recently in the journal NeuroImage. Their work could lead to the development of new tools to help Tononi untangle what happens in the brain during sleep and dreaming, while Van Veen hopes to apply the study's new methods to understand how the brain uses networks to encode short-term memory.


During imagination, the researchers found an increase in the flow of information from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe -- from a higher-order region that combines inputs from several of the senses out to a lower-order region. In contrast, visual information taken in by the eyes tends to flow from the occipital lobe -- which makes up much of the brain's visual cortex -- "up" to the parietal lobe.


"There seems to be a lot in our brains and animal brains that is directional, that neural signals move in a particular direction, then stop, and start somewhere else," says. "I think this is really a new theme that had not been explored."


The researchers approached the study as an opportunity to test the power of electroencephalography (EEG) -- which uses sensors on the scalp to measure underlying electrical activity -- to discriminate between different parts of the brain's network.

Brains are rarely quiet, though, and EEG tends to record plenty of activity not necessarily related to a particular process researchers want to study.


To zero in on a set of target circuits, the researchers asked their subjects to watch short video clips before trying to replay the action from memory in their heads. Others were asked to imagine traveling on a magic bicycle -- focusing on the details of shapes, colors and textures -- before watching a short video of silent nature scenes.

Using an algorithm Van Veen developed to parse the detailed EEG data, the researchers were able to compile strong evidence of the directional flow of information.


"We were very interested in seeing if our signal-processing methods were sensitive enough to discriminate between these conditions," says Van Veen, whose work is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. "These types of demonstrations are important for gaining confidence in new tools."

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Vloasis's curator insight, November 22, 2014 11:10 AM

So imagination input flows from the parietal to the occipital lobe, while visual input flows vice versa.

Diane Johnson's curator insight, November 23, 2014 8:46 AM

Interesting findings from electrical and computer engineering studies. Useful connections to the information processing DCI's.

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Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech

Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism |
Building on previous studies targeting the amygdala, a team of researchers has found that some brain cells recognize emotions based on the viewer's preconceptions rather than the true emotion being expressed.
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"These are very exciting findings suggesting that the amygdala doesn't just respond to what we see out there in the world, but rather to what we imagine or believe about the world," says Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Caltech and coauthor of a paper that discusses the team's study.  "It's particularly interesting because the amygdala has been linked to so many psychiatric diseases, ranging from anxiety to depression to autism.  All of those diseases are about experiences happening in the minds of the patients, rather than objective facts about the world that everyone shares."

Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, March 2, 2015 12:49 AM

emotions are the products of our mind, as much as they are of objective reality out there!

Miklos Szilagyi's curator insight, March 4, 2015 3:29 AM

Another, deeper roots to our biases... on the brain-cell level... well, that might be a challenge...

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Main/Super Speed - Television Tropes & Idioms

Main/Super Speed - Television Tropes & Idioms | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism |

When it's not incorporated with Flight, it's at least the next best thing. Super speed means super speed. Super speedsters are not just faster than your average human (otherwise, they might as well be cheetahs). They're faster than a speeding bullet.


Sharrock's insight:

Time perception of the SuperMind

I’m not saying that Orson Scott Card was THE first, but he was the first author I have come across who dealt with the time perception differences of a sentient artificial intelligent machine and how it impacts its social needs. The “character” felt loneliness and rejection and other emotions in moments of disconnect because of its high-speed cognitive processing. This will impact how super AI machines minds interact with unenhanced humans. This kind of “time perception” also has implications in characters when they have superspeed powers—Superman, Flash, Quicksilver, etc. We know that superspeed cognitive processing is a weapon for solving problems in a crisis, but what is it “like” for everyday socializing and recreation when their superfast thinking is always “on”, a part of them?  Also, have you come across any books that deal with these issues? What are your thoughts?

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