Category: brain

“Great strides have since been made in the art of anatomy, physiology and all branches of science,…

“Great strides have since been made in the art of anatomy, physiology and all branches of science, and the workings of the man-machine are now perfectly clear. Yet the very fewest among us are able to trace their actions to primary external causes. It is indispensable to the arguments I shall advance to keep in mind the main facts which I have myself established in years of close reasoning and observation and which may be summed up as follows:

  1. 1. The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea.
  2. There is no memory or retentive faculty based on lasting impression. What we designate as memory is but increased responsiveness to repeated stimuli.
  3. It is not true, as Descartes taught, that the brain is an accumulator. There is no permanent record in the brain, there is no stored knowledge. Knowledge is something akin to an echo that needs a disturbance to be called into being.
  4. All knowledge or form conception is evoked through the medium of the eye, either in response to disturbances directly received on the retina or to their fainter secondary effects and reverberations. Other sense organs can only call forth feelings which have no reality of existence and of which no conception can be formed.
  5. Contrary to the most important tenet of Cartesian philosophy that the perceptions of the mind are illusionary, the eye transmits to it the true and accurate likeness of external things. This is because light propagates in straight lines and the image cast on the retina is an exact reproduction of the external form and one which, owing to the mechanism of the optic nerve, can not be distorted in the transmission to the brain. What is more, the process must be reversible, that in to say, a form brought to consciousness can, by reflex action, reproduce the original image on the retina just as an echo can reproduce the original disturbance If this view is borne out by experiment an immense revolution in all human relations and departments of activity will be the consequence.”

–Nikola Tesla

“How Cosmic Forces Shape Our Destines.” New York American, February 7, 1915

The conversation turned to the subject of the human brain. “We…

The conversation turned to the subject of the human brain.

We are all automatons,” he reflected, “obeying external influences. We are entirely under the control of agents that beat on our senses from all directions of the outside world. Being merely receivers from the outside, it is a very important question how good the receivers are – some are sensitive and receive accurately. Others are sluggish and their reception is blurred. The individual who is a better machine has so much greater chance of achieving success and happiness. An individual who is an offender of law is a machine in which one or another organ has been deranged, so that the responses are no longer accurate.

There is no chance in nature, although the modern theory of indeterminacy attempts to show scientifically that events are governed by chance. I positively deny that. The causes and effects, however complex, are intimately linked, and the result of all inferences must be inevitably fixed as by a mathematical formula.

I also absolutely deny the existence of individuality. It took me not less than twenty years to develop a faculty to trace every thought or act of mine to an external influence. We are just waves in time and space, changing continuously, and the illusion of individuality is produced through the concatenation of the rapidly succeeding phases of existence. What we define as likeness is merely the result of the symmetrical arrangement of molecules which compose our body.”

“How about the soul – the spirit?” he was asked.

Ah,” he exclaimed, “but there is no soul or spirit. These are merely expressions of the functions of the body. These life functions cease with death and so do soul and spirit.

What humanity needs is ideals. Idealism is the force that will free us from material fetters.”

–Nikola Tesla.

“Tesla Seeks to Send Power to Planets.” New York Times, July 11, 1931.

Researchers Have Finally Connected The Human Brain To The Internet!: The Mind Can Now Transfer Information to the Digital World

“In the future, this technology could be used to transfer information back and forth between mind and computer.”

For the first time in history, researchers have connected the human brain to the internet. 

The invention links a small Raspberry Pi computer to a headset with 14 nodes that correspond to different parts of the brain. 

Each brain wave can be monitored on a screen. In the future, this technology could be used to transfer information back and forth between mind and computer.

Brainternet” came about as the fourth year project of biomedical students Jemma-Faye Chait and Danielle Winter from the Wits School of Electrical and Information Engineering in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The students were supervised by Wits professor Adam Pantanowitz.

According to Pantanowitz, the technology is much less scary than it sounds. “Brainternet is a new frontier in brain-computer interface systems. 

There is a lack of easily understood data about how a human brain works and processes information. 

Brainternet seeks to simplify a person’s understanding of their own brain and the brains of others. It does this through continuous monitoring of brain activity as well as enabling some interactivity”.

Watch the video here!

Brainternet uses EEG (electroencephalogram) technology to monitor the tiny electrical signals transmitted between the brain and the surface of the skull. 

Various regions of the brain control different bodily functions and actions. Brainternet is entirely portable and can be used while in motion. The device gathers information, transmits it to a public access site on the internet and learns about the user as it is worn.

“Ultimately, we’re aiming to enable interactivity between the user and their brain so that the user can provide a stimulus and see the response. Brainternet can be further improved to classify recordings through a smart phone app that will provide data for a machine-learning algorithm. In future, there could be information transferred in both directions – inputs and outputs to the brain,” says Pantanowitz.

The potential of a brain-computer connection is a highly controversial subject with serious ethical implications. 

People worry, for example, that the technology could be hacked and used for mind control. 

Pantanowitz agrees– “Any sort of attack that could take over the stream and use it in a non-desirable way would be a disaster for the individual involved and, more generally, it could be a real risk for society,” he says.


Sleep Deprivation Makes The Brain Go Into Overdrive And “Eat Itself”


The never-ending quest for the secrets of sleep have taken us to a point where the brain explores its very self. 

Now, a new study suggests that chronic sleep deprivation can make the brain “eat itself”, as the cells that digest cellular debris go into overdrive.

As we know, sleep is crucial to the proper functioning of the brain. While we slumber, toxic byproducts from the day are cleared out – a bit of neural housekeeping, if you will, to keep things in working order.

Part of this hardworking team is microglia cells, whose job it is to ingest waste products from the nervous system, gobbling up the cellular debris of worn-out and dead cells. 

Another worker, astrocytes, are the multi-taskers of the brain, performing a range of functions and duties – one of which includes pruning unnecessary synapses to help rewire the brain (and you thought your job was important).

For the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the team tested four groups of mice: 

The first were allowed to sleep for as long as they wanted, the second were periodically woken up, the third stayed awake for an extra eight hours, and the fourth were sleep-deprived for five days in a row.

In the well-rested mice, astrocytes were active in 6 percent of the synapses, whereas the eight-hour group showed 8 percent astrocyte activity, and the five-day group a whopping 13.5 percent. 

Essentially, this system goes into overdrive in sleep-deprived brains.

“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” neuroscientist Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy told New Scientist.

 However, the team didn’t specify whether this activity is detrimental or helpful during dire sleep loss.

The discovery that was more intriguing, worrying, and in need of follow-up was the activity of the microglia. 

They too were more active, but only after chronic sleep loss – a sustained activation previously linked to Alzheimer’s and other forms of neurodegeneration.

As the authors write: 

“Chronic sleep loss activates microglia cells and promotes their phagocytic [digesting waste] activity, apparently without overt signs of neuroinflammation, suggesting that extended sleep disruption may prime microglia and perhaps predispose the brain to other forms of insult.”

The most complex organ of all, the brain is constantly creating, strengthening, and deconstructing an intricate labyrinth of passages in our brain. 

It is a never-ending project where some biological structures get constructed and others get broken. 

Further work will help clarify whether this astrocyte activity and microglia activation protects or hinders the brain in times of distress. But just in case, get more sleep!

[This article was originally published by IFL Science]