Learning Sciences of Change

… for your learning: +350 posts

Learning Change Project

Written by learningchange

15/06/2012 at 12:30

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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

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For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist. The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics.  One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net“; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.  Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness. With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

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Written by learningchange

18/04/2014 at 12:05

Triggering Resilience to Depression

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Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have reversed depression-like behaviors in mice in an unexpected way. Rather than silencing the hyperactive neurons that triggered the rodents’ symptoms, the team boosted their activity even further. This triggered a compensatory, self-tuning response that brought the neurons’ firing—and the rodents’ behaviors—back to normal. “There’s a saying in Chinese: If you push something to an extreme, the only way it can go is in the opposite direction,” said Ming-Hu Han, who led the study, published today April 17 in Science. Although his team needs to confirm their results in humans, Han added, “it could give us new avenues for treating depression that are conceptually very different to the classical therapeutic strategy.” Rather than identifying the cause of an illness and reversing it, it may be possible to push those causes even harder and get the body to right itself.

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Written by learningchange

18/04/2014 at 11:01

Posted in Depression

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Citizen social science and citizen data? Methodological and ethical challenges for social research

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This article examines the value of observation data collected by volunteers as they go about their daily activities. Many citizens are already creating digital data archives of their own lives through online activity including via social media communication. Citizens now have the potential to be the default fieldworkers of their own lives. This can be extended to examine the value of citizens systematically collecting data on the world around them for social science research. This pilot observation study required volunteers to follow a protocol and record the number of people seen begging. The study produced important findings on begging which informed a larger research project. However, challenging methodological and ethical issues are raised concerning the observation of public life. Even so, it is clear there is potential for what can be termed ‘citizen social science’, including continuous data collection where volunteers collaborate in social science research and observe and record data as they go about their daily lives. This approach to the way evidence can be collected and integrated into research has implications for the interfaces between being a citizen, knowledge processes and the state and presents an opportunity for a renewed idea of emancipatory social science.

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Written by learningchange

17/04/2014 at 15:09

Mapping social responsibility in science

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The vast majority of scientists want their research to be of use to society. They just disagree on how much society should interfere with what it is they study, and how they carry out their research,” says Glerup, who is working on a PhD project on scientific sociology at the Copenhagen Business School. Her research has shown that there are two different ideologies when it comes to research and public utility in the scientific community:

  • An ideology of internal control – the researchers know how the world works, so they are in a good position to find out how it should be. Therefore, they are ideally placed to judge about the public utility of their research.
  • An ideology of external control – social actors, such as politicians and organisations, know what is best for society, and this makes them ideally placed to determine what research should be done and how.

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Written by learningchange

16/04/2014 at 13:33

Quelles Synergies Sciences-Société pour Demain?

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Parce qu’elles visent à placer la recherche au cœur des enjeux les plus contemporains, les Rencontres Université–Société sont articulées autour de quatre thèmes faisant écho à la demande sociale : 1) Bien-être, handicap et santé; 2) Développement et durabilité; 3)  Qualité de vie et travail; 4) Art, culture, société. Universitaires, acteurs socio-économiques et culturels, grands témoins et médias ont proposé une restitution des travaux réalisés dans le cadre des ateliers et ont engagé la discussion avec le public à travers 4 tables rondes et un débat final.

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Written by learningchange

14/04/2014 at 20:40

Posted in Science, Society

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Brains plus Brawn and The Evolution of the Human Head

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of whether or not human evolution is a story of brains over brawn. I study the evolution of the human body and how and why the human body is the way it is, and I’ve worked a lot on both ends of the body. I’m very interested in feet and barefoot running and how our feet function, but I’ve also written and thought a lot about how and why our heads are the way they are. The more I study feet and heads, the more I realize that what’s in the middle also matters, and that we have this very strange idea —it goes back to mythology—that human evolution is primarily a story about brains, about intelligence, about technology triumphing over brawn.

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Read also: The Evolution of the Human Head

Written by learningchange

14/04/2014 at 14:34

Posted in Brains, Evolution, Head

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Neuro-aesthetics: Beauty Is in the Brain of the Beholder

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There are few things more personal than one’s aesthetic taste. When you really connect to a piece of art or music, it touches something deep inside. It moves you in a way that often escapes words. But what’s going on in your brain when you are moved like this? This question is explored in the recently-published paper,  Art reaches within: aesthetic experience, the self and the default mode network.  The study, undertaken by researchers from NYU and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.  The burgeoning field of  neuro-aesthetics attempts to address the mysteries of the human preoccupation with art by studying the underlying brain mechanisms. And,while understanding the artistic creative process itself is certainly a formidable challenge, many of the open questions concern the response to works of art by their viewers, listeners, and readers. What makes us so drawn to certain artistic creations, so influenced and moved by them? In recent years,we have learned a considerable amount from brain imaging studies about the neural correlates of aesthetic experience and how they relate to sensory, reward,and emotion neural processes.

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Read also: Art reaches within: aesthetic experience, the self and the default mode network

Written by learningchange

14/04/2014 at 14:22

Posted in Arts, Brains, Neuroaesthetics

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The Cognitive Behavioral Miracle – Controlling your Emotions

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The principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are based on a very simple idea: we feel according to what we think, in other words, our thoughts and cognitive constructions are at the root of our emotions and behavior patterns. CBT is based on three fundamental propositions:

  • Cognitive activity affects behavior;
  • Cognitive activity may be monitored and altered; and
  • Desired behavior change may be effected through cognitive change.

CBT is a fundamentally empowering approach, in that it has successfully identified certain ways of thinking that can make the difference between sanity and insanity, between happiness and unhappiness, and it has developed a variety of techniques to teach patients to substitute these dysfunctional patterns of thinking, which are often at the root of their problems.

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Written by learningchange

14/04/2014 at 13:43

Posted in Cognition, Emotions

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The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain

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As human beings, we cherish our individuality yet we know that we live in constant relationship to others, and that other people play a significant part in regulating our emotional and social behavior. Although this interdependence is a reality of our existence, we are just beginning to understand that we have evolved as social creatures with interwoven brains and biologies. The human brain itself is a social organ and to truly understand being human, we must understand not only how we as whole people exist with others, but how our brains, themselves, exist in relationship to other brains.

Our understanding of mirror neurons and their significance to human relationships has continued to expand and deepen and is discussed here. Additionally, this edition reflects the gradual shift in focus from individual brain structures to functional neural systems — an important and necessary step forward. A great deal of neural overlap has been discovered in brain activation when we are thinking about others and ourselves. This raises many questions including how we come to know others and whether the notion of an “individual self” is anything more than an evolutionary strategy to support our interconnection. In short, we are just beginning to see the larger implications of all neurological processes—how the architecture of the brain can help us to better understand individuals and our relationships.

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Written by learningchange

10/04/2014 at 21:54

The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

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In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people’s thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In these cutting-edge contributions, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience. Chapters include a critical examination of the various definitions of the empathy construct; surveys of major research traditions based on these differing views (including empathy as emotional contagion, as the projection of one’s own thoughts and feelings, and as a fundamental aspect of social development); clinical and applied perspectives, including psychotherapy and the study of empathy for other people’s pain; various neuroscience perspectives; and discussions of empathy’s evolutionary and neuroanatomical histories, with a special focus on neuroanatomical continuities and differences across the phylogenetic spectrum. The new discipline of social neuroscience bridges disciplines and levels of analysis. In this volume, the contributors’ state-of-the-art investigations of empathy from a social neuroscience perspective vividly illustrate the potential benefits of such cross-disciplinary integration.

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Written by learningchange

10/04/2014 at 21:37