I’ve never cared much for dream interpretation. Most of our remembered dreams have always seemed like our minds filling gaps in dreams with our previous experiences and perceptions. Sorry to the psychoanalytic/psychodynamic people out there, but I never bought into it.
This is actually pretty amazing. Scientists have begun to reconstruct images from dreams and hallucinations.
It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.
The reconstructions are blends of the YouTube snippets, which makes them blurry. Some are better than others. If a human appeared in the original clip, a human form generally showed up in the reconstruction. But one clip that showed elephants walking left to right led to a reconstruction that looked like “a shambling mound,” Gallant said. The YouTube clips hadn’t shown elephants and so “we just had to make do with what we had.”
The quality could be improved by better techniques to blend human forms, as well as a bigger storehouse of moving images, he said.
Still, the overall results are “one of the most impressive demonstrations of the scientific knowledge of how the visual system works,” said Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University.
Think about the possibilities. How much would you pay to have your dreams reconstructed? What about visual representations of schizophrenic hallucinations? Could we apply this technology to coma patients and see what they are experiencing? This is a peek inside the human mind AND the human visual system.
The key to pleasant music may be that it pleases our neurons. A new model suggests that harmonious musical intervals trigger a rhythmically consistent firing pattern in certain auditory neurons, and that sweet sounds carry more information than harsh ones.
Laughter is regularly promoted as a source of health and well being, but it has been hard to pin down exactly why laughing until it hurts feels so good.
The answer, reports Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, is not the intellectual pleasure of cerebral humor, but the physical act of laughing. The simple muscular exertions involved in producing the familiar ha, ha, ha, he said, trigger an increase in endorphins, the brain chemicals known for their feel-good effect.
… Social laughter, Dr. Dunbar suggests, relaxed and contagious, is “grooming at a distance,” an activity that fosters closeness in a group the way one-on-one grooming, patting and delousing promote and maintain bonds between individual primates of all sorts.
REPORTS of dolphins interacting with dead members of their pod are raising questions about whether cetaceans understand the concept of death. Bottlenose dolphins in western Greece have been seen reacting to death differently depending on whether a pod member has died suddenly or after a longer period of illness, New Scientist has learned.
Interpreting animal behaviour after the death of a companion is fraught with difficulty. Death is rarely observed in the wild, and it is easy to erroneously attribute human emotions to animals. Nevertheless, several species of intelligent, social animals, such as gorillas, chimps and elephants can display particular behaviours when an animal dies - behaviours which some have interpreted as akin to mourning. Taken together with a growing number of reports of cetaceans interacting with dead animals and the discovery that they have specialised neurons linked to empathy and intuition, the Greek study suggests dolphins may have a complex - and even sophisticated - reaction to death.