A neural circuit that covaries with social hierarchy A neuroimaging study reveals that individual variation in brain circuits in structures below the cerebral cortex of macaques is associated with experience at different ends of the social hierarchy.
A forensic psychiatrist examines the possibility that alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could try to fend off the death penalty by pointing to neuroscience on the immaturity of teen brains and the effects of marijuana use, but concludes that what will matter most is his behavior, not his brain.
Nima Dehghani's insight:
All decisions made by all humans are made by their brains. Hitler's brain did cause what he did. So did Alexander the great's, so did Marco Polo's, so does the average baker's who goes to work everyday, so did the brain of those who went to the marathon and were killed or injured. So will do the brain of the jury and the judge that will decide on his verdict. Additionally, did all pot-heads blow-up random people?
At first glance, it may seem that relying on "pot-induced brain malfunction" could be a weak defense argument in this case. But a very interesting point, at least for the future of judicial system, comes up. Let's assume that there is a day in which we could recognize mis-wiring/malfunction of the cognitive system, yet still, the "justice" implemented by the society will aim to first eliminate further dangers toward the society by that criminal, and if possible, to give criminals a chance to recover and be part of the society again. Cases like this fall into a weird zone. If, let's say, there is someone whose ideology is in clash with a given society, and has carried out dangerous acts, the society's judicial system eliminates their physical presence in the society (currently the options are imprisonment or execution in certain states, some cases). But these choices are only valid because we yet do not have the tools to fix a malfunctioning brains (i.e. source of the ideology in clash with the norms of the society). However, at some point in future, there will be tools to erase memory, induce new ones, re-wire the malfunctioning brain and etc. Should we do it? Is it even moral to overwrite ones memory/beliefs to subdue them? to what degree, a society is allowed to force-shape the mind of the criminal? that is a very deep philosophical issue worth thinking.
homological structure of the brain's functional patterns undergoes a dramatic change post-psilocybin, characterized by the appearance of many transient structures of low stability and of a small number of persistent ones that are not observed in the case of placebo.
As the movie The Imitation Game celebrates British mathematician Alan Turing's contributions to the Allied victory in World War II, the artificial intelligence (AI) community is rethinking another of his legacies: the Turing Test. At a 25 January workshop at the 29th Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference in Austin, researchers will discuss proposals for a new Turing Championship composed of three to five research challenges. In contrast with Turing's single litmus test, the proposed challenges acknowledge that intelligence has multiple dimensions—from language comprehension to social awareness—that are best tackled piece by piece. The new Turing Championship would motivate researchers to develop machines with a deeper understanding of the world, argue the workshop organizers. By early 2016, they hope to stage a set of trial competitions that will be revised and repeated regularly.
My dear friend, Arash Afraz, has written an interesting piece titled "We could all be astrologers how publication bias can delay scientific revolutions". I highly recommend reading it. http://bit.ly/1G67q8Q Though I agree with him that the lack of visibility of the negative results, certainly, misleads us to hold on to certain ideas for longer than we should, (and perhaps even to extend them into arbitrary directions), but I do believe that there is a distinct contrast between how ancient scholars deduced facts and how post-enightenment era led (and leads) to flourishing theories that are fundamentally better. Arash ascribes much of the success of the new age theories to statistical proofs. That could be a misstep. It is not far fetched to assume that, statistically, one can prove that Baron Münchhausen pulled himself out of a swamp by pulling his own hair. But Münchhausen trilemma fails to stand fallibalism and the relative objectivity of truth in the light of uncertainty. At the end, Popper wins that argument.... What contrasts the new age of scientific explorations from that of the ancient scholars, roots in a different dimension. It is the search for the difficult to alter reasoning that is the root of advancement that happened during and after enlightenment. Untestable theories of the ancient scholars and the observation of statistical trend have one thing in common, "explanations that can easily be altered", as David Deutsch puts it elegantly. Thus they both are not adding any closer-to-truth explanatory information about the world. It is only when one provides the hard to vary assertions about the truth that his theory is worth being considered a step forward. Thus the triumph of the modern age science is not due to statistically significant observations, but rather it is the rendition of such observations into a robust construct that separates the elegant scientists from astrologers (of the modern day and the ancient times). I believe that biological sciences have been vastly centered around the statistical trends of observations rather than solid theories. That is where the contrast of biological sciences and physical sciences becomes vividly apparent. There are very few hard theories in biology, partly due to its inherent complexity and in part due to the difficulty of (not just good experimentation but also) theoretically-driven experimentation. Perhaps we are at the dawn of seeing a transition from scattered fragments of observation to the formation of real theories in biological sciences. In my own field, lately, there has been a parallel birth of momentous forward-thinking projects; the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, Europe’s Human Brain Project and Japan’s Brain/MINDS http://ow.ly/Epnnl . Though these projects will enhance the pace of discoveries and will push our knowledge forward, they do not provide the path for departure from beholding the statistical trends in observations as the truth to real hard theories. Perhaps the pioneers that will light the way in biological sciences (and in neuroscience) will be those who will have the deep insight in how to weave the products of such upcoming observations into cohesive hard-to-vary explanations. What happened in the 20th century in Physics, is a dream to come true for the 21st century in Biology.
How genes affect intelligence is complicated. Multiple genes, many yet unknown, are thought to interact among themselves and with environmental factors to influence the diverse abilities involved in intelligence.
Our consciousness is a fundamental aspect of our existence, says philosopher David Chalmers: “There’s nothing we know about more directly…. but at the same time it’s the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe.” He shares some ways to think about the movie playing in our heads.
Human interactions give rise to the formation of different kinds of opinions in a society. The study of formations and dynamics of opinions has been one of the most important areas in social physics. The opinion dynamics and associated social structure leads to decision making or so called opinion consensus. Opinion formation is a process of collective intelligence evolving from the integrative tendencies of social influence with the disintegrative effects of individualisation, and therefore could be exploited for developing search strategies. Here, we demonstrate that human opinion dynamics can be utilised to solve complex mathematical optimization problems. The results have been compared with a standard algorithm inspired from bird flocking behaviour and the comparison proves the efficacy of the proposed approach in general. Our investigation may open new avenues towards understanding the collective decision making.
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