Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:04 Written by
Neuroscientists Word-Map Brain

Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ. Like a colourful quilt laid over the cortex, the atlas displays in rainbow hues how individual words and the concepts they convey can be grouped together in clumps of white matter. “Our goal was to build a giant atlas that shows how one specific aspect of language is represented in the brain, in this case semantics, or the meanings of words,” said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

No single brain region holds one word or concept. A single brain spot is associated with a number of related words. And each single word lights up many different brain spots. Together they make up networks that represent the meanings of each word we use: life and love; death and taxes; clouds, Florida and bra. All light up their own networks.

Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:35 Written by
Prince, Legendary Musician, Dies at 57

Prince died earlier today (April 21) at age 57 at his Paisley Park home and studio, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press. Prince was hospitalized last week after his plane for was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill. Released a few hours later, a rep told reporters that he had been battling a bad case of the flu. 

One of the most iconic musicians in music history, Prince's extensive career grew out of the music scene of his native Minneapolis, where he lived his entire life. His 1978 debut album For You and self-titled second LP, released in October 1979, kicked off an incredibly prolific run of albums that included 1999, Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Sign O The Times and Batman, among others, throughout the 1980s at a clip of nearly one per year, evolving with each release.

Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Wednesday, 20 April 2016 22:43 Written by
Canada to Decriminalize Recreational Cannabis

Canada’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to decriminalise and regulate recreational marijuana in spring 2017, according to the health minister, Jane Philpott. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, promised during last year’s election campaign that his government would legalise recreational marijuana, following the US states of Washington and Colorado, but the time frame has been unclear.

Philpott, speaking on Wednesday at a special session of the UN general assembly in New York on drug problems around the world, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and will keep criminals from profiting from its sale.

Creativity - Far More than Deliberate Practice

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 17:58 Written by
Creativity - Far More than Deliberate Practice

Speed of expertise acquisition may matter, but so do a whole host of other traits.  The "10-Year Rule" makes for a sensational TED talk; however, the idea that it takes 10 years to become a world-class expert in any domain is not a rule. Creativity doesn't have an expiration date. Creativity seems to happen when it's ready to happen.  While expetise or technique certainly contribute, talent and personality are very relevant to creative accomplishment. 

Successful, creators are not mere masters of technique. Instead of deliberately practicing down an already existing path, they often create their own path for others to follow.  In his new book "Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise", psychologist Anders Ericsson and journalist Robert Pool distill an impressive body of research on "mastering almost any skill."

Ancient Egyptian Demons Found

Saturday, 16 April 2016 17:04 Written by
Ancient Egyptian Demons Found

A Belgium-based Egyptologist has discovered the oldest of ancient Egyptian demons -- demonic entities populated the ancient Egyptians’ imaginations as far back as 4,000 years ago.  The discovery, presented recently at the International Conference on Ancient Egyptian Demonology, these demons gripped their victims and cut off their heads.

Wael Sherbiny, an independent scholar who specializes in the ancient Egyptian religious texts, found two demons on two Middle Kingdom coffins presumed to be about 4,000 years old.  The third demon was identified in a 4,000-year-old leather roll the researcher had previously discovered in the shelves of the Egyptian museum in Cairo, where it was stored and forgotten for more than 70 years. This leather roll was the oldest and longest Egyptian leather manuscript.

LSD is Curative

Thursday, 14 April 2016 00:44 Written by
LSD is Curative

New studies given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by one of the most powerful drugs ever created. One study could pave the way for LSD or related chemicals to be used to treat psychiatric disorders. Researchers suggest the drug could pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.

Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation that helped fund the study said, said: “We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself.”  A study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals how LSD reverses the more restricted thinking we develop from infancy to adulthood.

How to be Good

Sunday, 13 March 2016 01:53 Written by
How to be Good

An Oxford philosopher thinks he can distill all morality into a formula. Is he right?

The philosopher Derek Parfit believes that neither of the people is you, but that this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you have ceased to exist, because what has happened to you is quite unlike ordinary death: in your relationship to the two new people there is everything that matters in ordinary survival—a continuity of memories and dispositions that will decay and change as they usually do. Most of us care about our future because it is ours—but this most fundamental human instinct is based on a mistake, Parfit believes. Personal identity is not what matters.

Painkillers - Now Deadlier than Illegal Drugs

Wednesday, 09 March 2016 15:03 Written by
Painkillers - Now Deadlier than Illegal Drugs

It's a terrifying fact: More than 47,000 people in America died of drug overdoses in 2014 — in what's been widely called an epidemic. But the biggest killer of this epidemic isn't cocaine, meth, or even heroin; it's totally legal opioid painkillers. Here's how it happened:

Since the 1990s, doctors have been under more and more pressure to treat pain as a serious medical issue. Pharmaceutical companies took advantage of this desire, marketing opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin as a safe, effective solution to pain.

The result: Millions of Americans got hooked on the drugs, and tens of thousands have died from overdoses. In 2014, nearly 19,000 died from overdoses linked to opioid painkillers.

Fasting Diets Are Gaining Acceptance

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 20:41 Written by
Fasting Diets Are Gaining Acceptance

In a culture in which it’s customary to eat three large meals a day while snacking from morning to midnight, the idea of regularly skipping meals may sound extreme. But in recent years intermittent fasting has been gaining popular attention and scientific endorsement.

Across the world, millions of people fast periodically for religious and spiritual reasons. But some are now looking at the practice as a source of health and longevity. Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, initially studied fasting in mice that showed that two to five days of fasting each month reduced biomarkers for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The research has since been expanded to people, and scientists saw a similar reduction in disease risk factors.

Predestination - A False Doctrine

Sunday, 06 March 2016 15:32 Written by
Predestination - A False Doctrine

Predestination is a bit of a thorny thicket for theologians.  Today, strict predestinarianism (to include double predestination) is a minority view.  Among the broad theological community, predestination is widely understood to be heresy.

Why?

As this paper will illustrate, that free will does not exist (the premise of strict predestination) is simply not supported in scripture and in many places directly contradicts scripture.  Then there is the notion of paradox.

The doctrine reduces the eternal salvation of the elect as well as the eternal damnation of the reprobate to one cause alone -- namely to the sovereign will of a Higher Power, Being, or God.  It thereby denies and excludes the free co-operation of man as a secondary factor in bringing about a happy or unhappy future in the life to come.

Predestination and Wicca

Sunday, 06 March 2016 15:17 Written by
Predestination and Wicca

The juxtaposition of predestination with the exercise of free will is as old as human thought itself.  Prior to Western civilization, the disperse pagan world, at times, (conveniently) embraced the idea of predestination and, at other times, (conveniently) rejected the idea of predestination.  It was widely believed that certain Pagan gods actively meddled in the affairs of human lives and human events.

Today, however, most Wiccans don’t believe in predestination (or other kinds of determinism, not inclusive of broadly accepted (loosely defined) karma).  The idea of a predestined elect was a gnostic idea.  That said, most Wiccans honor and revere a Goddess and God, there is a strong knowing among practitioners that they are free souls with full control and responsibility for their individual lives, actions, and consequences. The rational Wiccan, whether a believer in Transmigration of Souls or not, sees each new life as a tabula rasa, a clean slate, and shuns all beliefs that smack of predestination.

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