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  • drdianehamilton 11:55 am on May 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brain implant, Daily News, , Guardian, Human brain, Johnny Mnemonic, Matrix, Medical device,   

    Brain Implants: Is the Matrix Becoming Reality? 

    Intelligence has been defined by many, yet completely understood by few.  In Jeff Hawkin’s book On Intelligence, he explained that the way computers process information is not the same way a brain may process information.  This led to his life-long desire to better understand what he referred to as real intelligence.  He explained that human intelligence is far different from artificial intelligence.

    The transfer of data from machine to man is not as easy as movies have led the public to believe. In the Matrix, megabytes of data were simply uploaded into the human brain.  This data then allowed for increased knowledge and abilities. In the past, this was just fun science fiction.

    However, now neural implants linking our brains to machines have become a reality. In a study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, microchips were inserted into rats’ brains with wires threaded to their hippocampus. This has been a major study in the area of artificial working memory.

    Samsung has also been working on developing a technology that strategically implants electrodes into the human brain called Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs). IMDs could monitor a person’s psychological and pathological state. It may even be able to notify emergency personnel if necessary.

    Researchers are gaining new insight as to how the brain processes language through the use of a new technology that translates brain activity into words. The Guardian reported that “devices could transform the lives of thousands of people who lose the ability to speak as a result of a stroke or other medical conditions.”

    While humans have used their brains to control prosthetic robotic arms, new technology used on monkeys has focused on gaining even more dexterity down to the finer movements at the level of fingers.  Scientists hope that brain implants can eventually be of great help to people with paralysis. The Daily News reported that recent studies showed that monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains and arms were able to grasp and move the ball despite having had their hand anaesthetised.

    While science may not be at the Matrix level yet, there have been strides made in research.  Hawkins predicted in his 2004 book, that this decade could be the time that truly intelligent devices/machines are created that may make an important difference for mankind.

    Samsung thinks up mind-reading brain implant(news.cnet.com)

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  • drdianehamilton 4:44 pm on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gender differences, Human brain, , Mensa International, Newhart,   

    Important Facts about IQ Tests 

    In the old Bob Newhart Show where Newhart plays a psychologist, there is a great episode where his wife Emily takes an intelligence test and discovers she is smart enough to be included in Mensa Society.  Newhart’s score was not nearly as high as his wife’s which leads to his feeling of insecurity.  At a Mensa convention, this painful reality is driven even further home as he mingles with other Mensa members that show off how they can say their name backward.  When they all have an interesting way of announcing their reversed names, they ask him how to say his backward, where he disappointingly replies, “Bob”. 

    How important are IQ tests?  According to NursingDegree.com, “Even though its accuracy and reliability have been criticized over the past few decades, the IQ test continues to be the most widely used test for assessing mental ability.”  In their article 10 Interesting Facts about IQ Tests, the authors cover areas such as:  The difference between men and women’s intelligence; how IQ relates to breastfeeding; birth order and IQ; and much more.  To see this list, click here.

     
  • drdianehamilton 8:58 pm on March 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Gender, , Human brain, , National Institute of Mental Health, , , ,   

    The Human Brain: Gender Differences in Intelligence and Maturity 

    For explanation of the meaning of this chart see:  online.wsj.com
     
    Experts continue to research what makes individuals unique.  Is there a difference between human intelligence in males vs. females?  Ask a woman and you might get a different answer than if you ask a man?  According to Hedges, ” IQ tests, regarded by psychometricians as measures of intelligence, have shown that differences between men and women are minimal or negligible, but men are often overrepresented at extreme scores, both very high and very low.”

    Rueven Bar-On, a leading expert in emotional intelligence, reported that “no differences appeared between males and females regarding overall emotional and social competence.”  That is not to say that both sexes were identical.  “Females appear to have stronger interpersonal skills than males, but the later have a higher intrapersonal capacity, are better at stress management, and are more adaptable.”

    Scientists have now looked at the brains of both sexes at the age of 10, 16 and 20 to see if there truly are differences in maturity levels between the two.  WJSOnline reported “Although boys’ and girls’ brains show differences around age 10, during puberty key parts of their brains become more similar.”  By measuring the brain’s cortex and how it may change as boys and girls age, the National Institute of Mental Health Child’s Psychiatric Branch studied 284 people and found “boys’ and girls’ brains, on average, differ significantly at age 9, but by the time the participants reached 22, the brains of the two sexes grew more alike in many areas critical for learning.”

    Some interesting differences in Gender Development noted in the article included:

    Gender Development

    Some typical milestones and when boys and girls tend to hit them:

    At birth: Girls are a few weeks more mature neurologically and have more advanced hearing. Boys on average weigh half a pound more.

    First words: Girls typically utter their first word at 11 or 12 months, one month ahead of boys.

    Vocabulary: At 18 months, girls on average know 86.8 words, more than double boys’ 41.8 words. By 30 months, boys’ and girls’ language skills have converged, at about 500 words.

    Walking: Caucasian girls and boys tend to walk around 12 months. African-Americans walk sooner, at nine to 10 months.

    Potty training: Girls are fully trained by 36 months, according to one study. Boys took a bit longer, training by 38 months.

    Onset of puberty: For girls, the process can start at age 9 to 10. For boys, it’s closer to 11 to 12.

    Source: WSJ research

     
  • drdianehamilton 5:49 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Body Worlds, , Cropreservation, Cryogenics, , Human brain, , Plastination, , , Ted Williams   

    CryoPreservation: Having Your Brain Preserved After You Die 

    Ted Williams help to bring to light cryogenics and the procedure of freezing a human head.  While preserving parts of us after we die may seem bazaar, there may be some things we can learn from brain preservation. 

    According to the Brain Preservation Organization, “Due to a series of recent scientific developments, human beings may soon have an inexpensive and reliable way to preserve their brains, including the molecular features that give rise to their memories and identities, in room-temperature storage after they die. This technology is called plastination (chemopreservation), or chemical fixation and embedding in plastic, and is a distant cousin of the process seen in such exhibits as Body Worlds. Today, “perfect” plastination is routinely done for very small amounts of brain tissue (one millimeter cubed), and soon it will be attempted for whole animal and human brains. Cryopreservation (involving very low temperature storage) is another, more expensive process that also deserves to be carefully evaluated for its ability to preserve the critical structures of our brains. Today, leading-edge neuroscience is identifying the synaptic structures that store and generate our unique memories and identity, and new imaging techniques are allowing us to verify when these special structures have been successfully preserved, starting with general synaptic connectivity all the way to the signal states of individual brain proteins.”

    This organization is even offering a prize of $106,000 to those teams that can actually preserve a large animal brain.  Their hope is to preserve the human wisdom and diversity that dies with us along with our brains. 

    As one might guess, not everyone is thrilled with this idea.  For those with objections to such a project, this site has created a page for overcoming objections

    Their mission is to, “promote scientific research and services development in the field of whole brain preservation for long-term static storage. Through outreach to appropriate scientific communities, online activities, presentations and articles, directed research grants, challenge prizes, and other methods, we seek to explore the scientific hypothesis of whether a reliable surgical procedure exists that is capable of preserving the precise neural circuitry of the human brain at nanometer scale.”

    For those interested in reading more about cryopreservation, chemical preservation or scanning and circuit mapping click here for more information.

     
  • drdianehamilton 4:26 pm on January 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Charles Spearman, Cro-Magnon, David Geary, , , , Flynn Effects, , Human brain, , , , National Public Radio,   

    Are Humans Getting Dumber as Our Brains are Shrinking? 

    Did you know that our brains are actually shrinking? NPR.org reported, “Cro-Magnon man, who lived in Europe 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, had the biggest brains of any human species.  In comparison, today’s human brain is about 10 percent smaller.”

    The human brain is still an enigma is many respects.  Are there differences in the human brain that cause people like Einstein to achieve so much?  Studies were completed on Einstein’s brain and they actually found he had some differences.  There is speculation that due to the way that Einstein’s brain was missing a part of a bordering region, that this enabled neurons to communicate more efficiently.  

    With all of the technological inventions, one might think that people should be getting smarter. However, in the NPR article, this decreasing in brain size may have a negative impact, “The experts aren’t sure about the implications of this evolutionary trend.  Some think it might be a dumbing-down process. One cognitive scientist, David Geary, argues that as human society grows increasingly complex, individuals don’t need to be as intelligent in order to survive and reproduce.” 

    If this is true, the movie Idiocracy may be foreshadowing some frightening possibilities.  The movie displays what life would be like if people continue on their current path of finding entertainment in reality shows, tattooing, partying and enjoying other less than useful activities.  This movie seemed to play off of studies done by Lentz in 1927 that claimed the intelligent people were having fewer children than the less intelligent people.  This would lead to a society of less intelligent people.  The Examiner claims Lentz’s work has merit, stating “This conjecture has been confirmed by studies like that of Hernstein and Murray (1994), who demonstrated that in the U.S. females with an average IQ of 111 had 1.6 children, whereas females with an average IQ of 81 had 2.6 children.”

    The Examiner claims that there is hope for improvements, though, due to something called the Flynn effect. “Even if genotypic IQ is heading towards a decline across the world, there is still phenotypic intelligence that has increased over the last few generations. This phenomenon, also known as Flynn effect, is attributable to advancements in nutrition, education, and a more intellectually stimulating environment. The Flynn effect has led to gains of 7.5 IQ points a generation, much greater than .43 IQ points decline in genotypic IQ.”
    There is something called Spearman’s g that refers to one’s general intelligence that was postulated in 1904 by Charles Spearman.  g, written in lower case like, now refers to general intelligence. A neuroscientist named John Duncan explained Spearman’s work in his book How Intelligence Happens.  The Wall Street Journal explained, “Mr. Duncan makes a convincing case that these brain areas constitute a special circuit that is crucial for both Spearman’s “g” and for intelligent behavior more generally. But his book elides the question of whether this circuit is also the source of IQ differences. That is, do people who score high on IQ tests use the frontal and parietal areas of their brains differently from people who score lower? The answer, discovered by other researchers, turns out to be yes.”

    It appears that our brains are decreasing in size, more people with lower IQ scores are having children, but we can increase our education and nutrition.  We can also learn more about how our frontal and parietal areas can be improved.  There is hope that we are not necessarily headed for an Idiocracy-like future.

     
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