Neuroscience

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INTRODUCTION

Dealing with the issue Body, soul and science in www.kinberg.net/wordpress/stellan/body-soul-and-spirit/

I am myself of microbiologist and physiologist, having studied these issues at Göteborg University and after that,  teached Biology in Sweden for 29 years in K9 schools.
I have also myself experience of multiple strokes, the last one and biggest in Insula in september 2014.

Writing about body, sould and spirit, I understood that I needed to take a look at cognitive neuroscience to find biological explanations of the religious and philosophical  terms of soul and spirit. I started with a section about neuroscience in www.kinberg.net/wordpress/stellan/body-soul-and-spirit/ but I decided to create a separate page for neuroscience due to the extent of this scientific issue.

Phineas Gage with his horrible accident 1848 and his drammatic change in personality, had doctors discover that brain parts were responsible for specific human behaviours.

Phineas Gage  case and the symptoms he got, started the cognitive neuroscience research.

I share in this page my notes and screenshots from two videos. One with Dr Octavio Choi and one with a neuroanathomist Jill Bolte Tailor, who got a severe stroke on her right brain hemisphere.

Dr Octavio Choi starts his lecture (see video below under cognitive neuroscience) with the Gage case.

I will on this page collect data on the various parts of the brain and their functions.

 

INDEX

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Neuroscience -definition

About neuroscience , Merriam Websters says that it is

a branch  (such as neurophysiology) of the life sciences that deals with the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, or molecular biology of nerves and nervous tissue and especially with their relation to behavior and learning

I would add that there are different parts of neuroscience like

  • neuroanatomy
  • neurotheology and
  • cognitive neuroscience.

neuroscience has use of other disciplines like

  • biochemistry of substances like neurotransmittors
  • cellular biology, cytology about  neurons 
  • psychology
  • psychiatrist working with drug addiction and mental diseases

Recent neuroscientist like Susan Greenfield, now ask for cooperation with 

  • mathematicians
  • quantum physics

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Neurotheology

This issue was dedicated to in August 1018:

This part of neuroscience look at brain activity with MRT  during  spiritual exercises and meditation. Popoe Francis was among other religious people examined. Read more at 
www.kinberg.net/wordpress/stellan/2018/08/06/neurotheology/

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Cognitive neuroscience

This part of neuroscience tries to understand the brain activity of varioius conscious states, like awakenes, sleeping, dreaming, sedation and drug intake and other euphoric activities.

Before going into cognitive neuroscience it is good to define what counsciousness and conscience are , like Octavio Choi in his lecture  below.

I dedicated a separate page on conciosusness. read about these definitions in www.kinberg.net/wordpress/stellan/consciousness/

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Brain basics

Dr Octoavio Choi, Chief Academic Psychiatrist, Oregon State Hospital Director, Forensic Evaluation Services, made a good and short presentation of some brain basics. All images are screenshots from his video.

The triun brain

Cortex  means covering. the cortex is above and covers the limbic system and the reptilean complex, the brainstem

So in other words, the brain has three different complex.

Cortex – the thinking brain

The cortex manages all the computations that are required for higher cognition stuff, stuff like language, stuff like high order object recognition telling the difference between a Vag Gogh and a Rembrandt, consciousness being consciously aware of your thoughts, consciously aware of your feelings, all that fancy stuff we consider to be human, this tends to be computed and instansiated in the cerebral cortex

The orbitofrontal cortex

The orbitofrontal cortex is not part of the limbic system. But it is involved in evaluating the signals that are coming from the amygdala and from the ventral striatum in the limbic system. It adds context to those drives telling you to do things, e.g. by telling there is a cage around the spider ore by telling you should not take those drugs or donuts… it helps inhibit those drives that should be inhibited.

the orbital frontal cortex was damaged inPhineas Gage. He got emotional amnesia.

The limbic system

Between the two parts of the limbic system is the corpus callosum. Read more at wiki

Limbic system does many things. but one of the key things it does is core evaluation, it scans everything on the outside, hearing, sight, sounds, touches, feelings inside your body. It scans everything that you might want to pay attention to because it’s going to help you survive. So things like donuts, things like spiders, things like sexual partner. It warns so you for example go away from the spider. it creates a feeling of craving, like the feelings you want to go forward to something or feeling for terror or fear to move. 

These core evaluations are computations done at a very low level that scan the entire external or internal environment in order to give your cerebral contour, your cortex a signal to move towards things and move away from things and those signals feels like feelings.

Another picture of the limbic system is this with the orbitalfrontal cortex in front.

the amygdala in the limbic system activates when there is danger you should move away from.

The ventral striatum is the pleasure area that makes you move toward things, like drugs, sexual partner

The reptilian complex – brain stem

The brainstem controls hearth rate, respiration, basic sensory possessing, chemical environment in blood (acidity – CO2). If you broke your brainstem you generally die.

Three hierarchical / function levels

the brain is hierachically organized. You do are not informed about lover levels as the limbix system and the brainstem. You only get aware when the brainstem has measured high acidity (high levels of CO2 ) in the blood (air) as you need to move away and eg open a window to get fresh air.

The cortex regions/centers

The idea of centers is old and not applicable anymore.

There is no visual region

Susan Greenfield said that there are at least 30 regions related to vision, color, form, motion (video min 18:05)

As Dan Bennett explains confirms, visual  aspects, like motions, location, shape, colors are evaluated in different subareas as described with the image below, this image makes it looks like a detailed view of a visual center:

( Source: screenshot from Dan Bennetts video)

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There is no consciousness area.

If anaestetic is given to a patient, a single area should shot down. This is not the case as this image shows:All areas are shot down.

( Source: screenshot Susan Greenfields video )

 

 

Another proof of the no consciousness area hypothesis isy the hydrocephalus case I describe below. 

Axel Cleeremans (AC) is a cognitive psychologist at the Université Libre in Brussels. Learning from hydrocephalus cases, AC answers in a interview that

AC: [There’s a] second lesson perhaps, if you’re interested in consciousness — that is the manner in which the biological activity of the brain produces awareness … One idea that I’m defending is the idea that awareness depends on the brain’s ability to learn.

SB (ed. interviewer): So, does that mean then that there is not one region of the brain responsible for consciousness?

AC: Precisely. These cases  are definitely a challenge for any theory of consciousness that depends on very specific neuro-anatomical assumptions.” Read more in www.cbc.ca

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The nervous system

Images and info from  Tony Naders video

The nervous system is divided in these main parts:

  • The brain has
    • cortical areas
    • associative regions
      that takes in subconscious information from the primary sensory areas, transfer it through  different associative region levels and finally to the cortex where we become aware/conscious about the information.
    • the Talamus and subcortical areas
  • the brainstem has a 
  • the reticular formation
    that has the function to modulate consciousness among others wakening us up from sleep.

When we see an image, the  image comes to the information goes through the primary vision sensory area, the occipital lobe in the back of the brain. You are not aware about it yet. But it is first when the image information goes though the associated area levels for vision, that you become conscious of the image. Each associative area are nearby and is divided in several levels. See the arrows from the different primary sensory areas. the same consciousness mechanism is valid also for touch and auditory signals.

You must be awake to get conscious of signals. The reticular formation is a modulator for consciousness, like a thermostat that turns up and down awareness.

A alarm clock  activates the reticular formation that acrivate you associative areas so you understand that  the clock alarm is ringing.

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  • right and left hemisphere

  • Two present the two hemispheres, I use this video from 2008 where neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor shares her neuroscience knowledges and experience of a stroke in her left hemisphere 1996.
  • She gives a new perspective on consciousness, that thereis a left hemisphere consciousness.

( Image source: Jill Bolte Taylor in her video )

The two hemispheres
do communicate with one another
through the corpus callosum,

which is made up of some 300 million axonal fibers.

But other than that,
the two hemispheres are completely separate.
Because they process information differently,

each of our hemispheres think about different things,

they care about different things, and, dare I say,
they have very different personalities. (Source: video transcript.)

the right hemisphere

functions like a serial processor. ill Bolte said:

“Our right human hemisphere is all about this present moment.

It’s all about “right here, right now. Our right hemisphere, thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. Information, in the form of energy, streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems.

And then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks like, what this present moment smells like and tastes like,
what it feels like and what it sounds like. I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere.

(Source: video transcript.)

 

The left hemisphere

functions like a parallell processor. ill Bolte said:

“Our left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically.
Our left hemisphere is all about the past and it’s all about the future.
Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment (ed. shared by the right hemisphere) and start picking out details, and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language.
It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world
to my external world.” (Source: video transcript.)

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Missing 90% of the brain

Another curious case is the Frenchman that was

missing 90% of his brain but could lead a normal life.
When a 44-year-old man from France started experiencing weakness in his leg, he went to the hospital. That’s when doctors told him he was missing most of his brain. The man’s skull was full of liquid, with just a thin layer of brain tissue left. The condition is known as hydrocephalus. “He was living a normal life. He has a family. He works. His IQ was tested at the time of his complaint. This came out to be 84,” Read more in www.cbc.ca  and in
www.newscientist.com

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Hypnosis

I have been hypnotized myself as I told about in the introduction. I wonder what neuroscience say about that state.

Albert Nerenberg explain in this Ted how hypnosis works and what happens during hypnosis.

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conclusions

I find ill Bolte’s experience and witness extraordinary. She reminds us about Bhuddhist meditation talking about her Nirvana experience.

 

A agnostic pluralist seeker

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