Showing posts tagged brains

If you are a carrier of a particular set of genes, the probability that you will commit a violent crime is four times as high as it would be if you lacked those genes. You’re three times as likely to commit robbery, five times as likely to commit aggravated assault, eight times as likely to be arrested for murder, and 13 times as likely to be arrested for a sexual offense. The overwhelming majority of prisoners carry these genes; 98.1 percent of death-row inmates do… As regards that dangerous set of genes, you’ve probably heard of them. They are summarized as the Y chromosome. If you’re a carrier, we call you a male.
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Posted at 1:00pm • Permalink  • Tags: brains law general


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Posted at 10:22pm • Permalink  • Tags: genitals and jello brains biology advertising


Listen to the questions asked by philosophers but don’t be distracted by their answers.
Christof Koch, The Quest for Consciousness
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Posted at 12:17am • Permalink  • Tags: general brains science philosophy quotes


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Posted at 9:04pm • Permalink  • Tags: prohibition sustainability animal rights brains technology sex
Reblogged (Link reblogged from ilyagerner)


Music and cool graphs are my cocaine

Listening to a favorite pop song or classic rock hit can trigger the same chemical reactions in the body as having sex, eating good food or taking drugs…

A team of scientists from Montreal’s McGill University found that the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine was released when people listened to their favorite tunes, the newspaper reported.

Neuroscientist Robert Zatorre, who led the research, said the findings helped explain why music was important throughout history. He said it was well-known that dopamine is produced when people eat and have sex, reinforcing acts essential to survival.

“For reasons that we don’t entirely understand, somehow music was able to kick in with the same system, and that gives it power that it might not otherwise have,” Zatorre said. [Fox News]

Check out the graph below (c) which shows activity in two brain areas against time while subjects listen to music [from Nature Neuroscience]. ‘Experience’ is the section of a track that gives them ‘chills’ and ‘anticipation’ is the music just before it. Given that the subjects’ choices of music included Yann Tiersen, Tiesto, various classical pieces and even Explosions in the Sky’s ‘First Breath After Coma’, I’m not surprised they got such a kick! Now I’ll have to go listen to them: just one more hit, I promise.

Here’s the abstract of the paper if you’re neuroscientifically inclined:

Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. Using the neurochemical specificity of [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography scanning, combined with psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system activity, we found endogenous dopamine release in the striatum at peak emotional arousal during music listening. To examine the time course of dopamine release, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging with the same stimuli and listeners, and found a functional dissociation: the caudate was more involved during the anticipation and the nucleus accumbens was more involved during the experience of peak emotional responses to music. These results indicate that intense pleasure in response to music can lead to dopamine release in the striatal system. Notably, the anticipation of an abstract reward can result in dopamine release in an anatomical pathway distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself. Our results help to explain why music is of such high value across all human societies.

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Posted at 11:51pm • Permalink  • Tags: music prohibition brains


Posted at 12:30pm • Permalink  • Tags: brains


Atheists know more about religion than religious people

(In America, at least)

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.
…The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.
…“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge.”

There’s a lot I don’t know about religions, as I can’t spare the time to learn the details of all 4000+ of them, but I did at least know the following!:

¶ Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.

¶ Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

That suggests to me that there an awful lot of people who blindly accept the religion they inherit while not even learning the basics of what it’s about, let alone what views others have. I hope this is just an American thing as it would be painful to consider a world full of such narrow-minded people, apparently never instilled with any curiosity or questioning spirit.

45% of people surveyed know the names of the four gospels, 27% know that Indonesia is mostly Muslim (the biggest Muslim population in the world, in fact), 54% know the Koran is the Islamic holy book… (Pew)

It’s worth mentioning here the interesting results of (peer-reviewed) IQ & Belief studies. Anything to do with IQ as a measure is hugely controversial (and even more so on the scale of whole countries) and the authors may be biased, but here are the numbers: atheists are on average 6 IQ points above those of ‘dogmatic persuasions’; highly statistically significant correlation between atheism rates and level of intelligence in countries;

"I’m not saying that believing in God makes you dumber. My hypothesis is that people with a low intelligence are more easily drawn toward religions, which give answers that are certain, while people with a high intelligence are more skeptical

I think this study is really interesting:

…suggests that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences (such as liberalism and atheism and, for men, sexual exclusivity) than less intelligent individuals

[two studies show that] adolescent and adult intelligence significantly increases adult liberalism, atheism, and men’s (but not women’s) value on sexual exclusivity.

"Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess. In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are "evolutionarily familiar." The thinking is that we "are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends" but that with enough general intelligence, some can come up with the novel solutions of "being liberal [and/or] caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with".

Back to the subject of breadth of religious knowledge, I was entertained the other night to learn that Mohammed was taken to Jerusalem and the heavens on a winged horse, or Buraq (to be fair, this is in the Hadith rather than the Qur’an, and “‘some scholars say it happened spiritually through a dream or metaphorical vision”). Bellerophon and Pegasus anyone? I’m tempted to take up ancient Greek religion but for some reason (reason, in fact) people wouldn’t accept that I could believe in something so ridiculous. Funny that.

(Source: The New York Times)

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Posted at 8:34pm • Permalink  • Tags: religion brains