Neurophilosophy

Archives for September, 2009

Flight of the remote-controlled cyborg beetle

REMOTE-CONTROLLED insects may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they have already been under development for some time now. In 2006, for example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development branch) launched the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems program, whose ultimate aim is to turn insects into unmanned aerial…

THE vegetative and minimally conscious states are examples of what are referred to as disorders of consciousness. Patients in these conditions are more or less oblivious to goings-on in their surroundings – they exhibit few, if any, signs of conscious awareness, and are usually unable to communicate in any way. It is, therefore, extremely difficult…

LANGUAGE contains many sayings which link our feelings and behaviour towards others to temperature. We might, for example, hold “warm feelings” for somebody, and extend them a “warm welcome”, while giving somebody else “the cold shoulder” or “an icy stare”. Why is that we have so many metaphors which relate temperature to social distance? According…

A dual-use fluorescent calcium sensor virus

A paper by researchers from Princeton University, just published in the open access journal PLoS One, describes a new virus-based technique for probing the connections between neurons while simultaneously monitoring their activity in live animals. Various methods are available for studying the activity of neurons and how they are connected to one another, but examining…

Eye movements reveal unconscious memory retrieval

THIS short film clip shows two images of the same scene. Watch it carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle differences between them. As you watch, your eyes will dart back and forth across the images, so that you can perceive the most important features. And even though you might not be consciously…