brains!
Image by cloois via Flickr

Förra årets kanske bästa bok om psykologi, Mindfield, är en kittlande resa i hjärnans vindlande vrår. Neurovetenskapen har blivit arenan för de ”stora frågorna” där vetenskap möter existentialism. Låter det det minsta intressant bör du definitivt köpa boken, den kräver inga förkunskaper för att uppskatta! :)

Eftersom jag ändå kände mig tvungen att dokumentera mina favoritavsnitt i boken för framtiden, tänkte jag dela med mig av dem här, så har du chansen att lära dig nåt nytt om mänsklig natur omedelbart.

Mindfield highlights

Kap 1: Brainy revolution
s. 9
”Know thyself”, it said above the entrance to the oracle at Delphi, and more than two thousand years later, we’re still on the same quest. ”Who am I and what does it mean to be human?” we ask. But we are asking in a new way. /…/
Neuroscience is the new philosophy, some say, and there is no doubt that brain research is the hottest topic a scientist can dabble in, and the most distinguished thing you can put on your calling card.
s. 13
What sort of shake-up are we facing with the neurorevolution? This is where Tom Wolfe puts his finger on the most profound and central question of our time: What happens when the human mind comes to know itself completely?
s. 14f.
It is almost inconcievable, but every second something in the range of a million new links are formed [i hjärnan]. Simultaneously, more subtle processes are at work that strengthen or weaken existing links, prioritizing or de-prioritizing information. Finally, there are cells that die and cells that are born. A deeper understanding of this constant flux and especially an understanding of how it all connects with inner lives and external behavior also opens up possibilities for modulating the processes of the brain. And thereby, in the final instance, for molding the self – the core that for each of us is ”me”. In that way neurocentrism represents a big step away from a deterministic view of who we are and what our lives can be.
Kap 2: Finding god in the synapses
s. 31
…our brains have a fantastically well-developed ability to understand other individuals, to see the world from their point of view and attribute motives and intentions to them. This ability can very quickly create beliefs that there are also motives, intentions and individuals – invisible agents with causal force – behind all the effects for which we cannot immediatly see the cause. Religious concepts fit, hand in glove, with the way we think. Or as Boyer so beautifully phrased it: ”Religion is a parasite on our cognitive apparatus.”
Kap 3: The brain as ethics council
s. 77
”I think it’s possible there is a universal set of principles and parameters that are with us from birth. These are very general, basic principles into which we can gain some insight with our dilemmas. For example, there seems to be a principle we call the intention principle – people generally always beleive that, morally, the same harm is worse if it happens intentionally than in if it happens as the by-product of an action with a different intention. Correspondingly, there is an action principle. A harm is more morally despicable if it happens through a positive act than from an omission to act. ” – Marc Hauser, professor of psychology and biological anthropology, Harvard
Kap 4: Happiness is a cognitive workout
s. 117
…gratitude, good deeds and a conscious appreciation of the good things about life. [om vad som visat sig boosta lyckonivåer mest]
s. 143
…I can still experience episodes of real depression. But I’ve installed a brake system to make sure I avoid a descending spiral of thoughts that ends in the muck. A cognitive break. In the form of the simple acknowledgement that all of my feelings and moods are, in the end, ”just chemistry.” Pain, jealousy, anger and hopelessness are ultimately just particular patterns of activity in the labyrinth of my brain. No more, no less. This is a powerful acknowledgement when it sinks in, because it allows you to step back and observe yourself with a cool and analytical pair of eyes.
Kap 6: Economics
s. 192
It is this surprising teaching that has come out of neuroresearch over the past decade – especially from work done with people suffering from brain damage, whose cognition and intelligence are intact but who are unable to engage emotionally. Without feelings, our choices fall apart and actually become irrational. The passions are a necessary engine in this intricate machinery.
/…/
The same reward system [dopamin] kicks in when it comes to our darker side. You can see this is one of the most interesting contributions of neuroeconomics, which reveals that we enjoy punishing cheaters. A rational economic person would only punish others if she recieved some material benefit from it, either directly or as a deterrent. Reality shows that we gladly punish, even though it may cost us in purely material terms.
s. 200
”…we believe the person’s degree of activity in those areas [caudate nucleus] reflects how curious they are, and this is what’s interesting. We can see that people who are very curious but answered our questions wrong reacted with significant activity in the areas surrounding the hippocampus. /…/ Apparently, they start encoding information into memory. And in later tests, they were far better at remembering the answers than the others. We believe that hunger for information actually increases our ability to remember and learn. Understood in this way, people learn more from their mistakes and store new information more effectively, if curiosity is stimulated than if you aren’t quite so curious. /…/ I’m thinking along the lines of internal motivation among knowledge workers.”  – Colin Camerer, CalTech

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One Response to Highlights från ”Mindfield”, Lone Frank

  1. […] Lone Franks ”Mindfield: How Brain Science is Changing Our World” (läs mina favoritstycken ur den) som är späckad med spännande exempel från det senaste inom neurovetenskap, berättat i […]

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