Summary of “What Happens When We Reach the Limits of Science?”

A second, more worrying possibility is that we’ll reach the limits of what our brains can grasp.
There might be concepts, crucial to a full understanding of physical reality, that we aren’t aware of, any more than a monkey comprehends Darwinism or meteorology.
Astronomy is far simpler than the biological and human sciences.
So how do we define complexity? The question of how far science can go partly depends on the answer.
“Ordering” the sciences is uncontroversial, but it’s questionable whether the “Ground-floor sciences”-particle physics, in particular-are really deeper or more all-embracing than the others.
New concepts are particularly crucial to our understanding of really complicated things-for instance, migrating birds or human brains.
Efforts to understand very complex systems, such as our own brains, might well be the first to hit such limits.
The chess champion Garry Kasparov argues in Deep Thinking that “Human plus machine” is more powerful than either alone.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Can neuroscience rehabilitate Freud for the age of the brain?”

Following his death in 1939, the British author W H Auden was able to declare in his poem ‘In Memory of Sigmund Freud’ that Freud had represented ‘a whole climate of opinion’, and the subsequent two decades represented the heyday of psychoanalysis.
Adherents to this amorphous research programme – spearheaded by the South African neuropsychologist and psychoanalyst Mark Solms of the University of Cape Town – are keen to rehabilitate Freud’s reputation for the age of the brain.
‘We don’t need Freud; we need an approach which takes seriously the mental nature of the mind’.
This is why Freud is less important to the field than what Freud represents.
Researching this piece, I kept wondering: why hang on to Freud? He is an intensely polarising figure, so polarising that through the 1980s and ’90s there raged the so-called Freud Wars, fighting on one side of which were a whole team of authors driven by the ‘heartfelt wish that Freud might never have been born or, failing to achieve that end, that all his works and influence be made as nothing’.
Within neuropsychoanalysis Freud symbolises the fact that, to quote the neuroscientist Ramachandran’s Phantoms in the Brain, you can ‘look for laws of mental life in much the same way that a cardiologist might study the heart or an astronomer study planetary motion’.
As Solms himself put it to me: ‘We don’t need Freud; we need an approach which takes seriously the mental nature of the mind.
It feels like, Freud or no Freud, we should try.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Breathing Calms Your Brain, And Other Science-Based Benefits Of Controlled Breathing”

A brief review of the latest science on breathing and the brain, and overall health, serves as a reminder that breathing deserves much closer attention – there’s more going on with each breath than we realize.
While the admonition to control breathing to calm the brain has been around for ages, only recently has science started uncovering how it works.
While it’s unclear whether you can entirely manage blood pressure with controlled breathing, research suggests that slowing your breathing increases “Baroreflex sensitivity,” the mechanism that regulates blood pressure via heart rate.
Over time, using controlled breathing to lower blood pressure and heart rate may lower risk of stroke and cerebral aneurysm, and generally decreases stress on blood vessels.
Participants were asked to count how many breaths they took over a two-minute period, which caused them to pay especially focused attention to their breathing.
A 2016 study showed for the first time that the rhythm of our breathing generates electrical activity in the brain that influences how well we remember.
Controlled breathing may boost the immune system and improve energy metabolism.
Controlled breathing triggers a parasympathetic response, according to the theory, and may also improve immune system resiliency as a “Downstream health benefit.” The study also found improvements in energy metabolism and more efficient insulin secretion, which results in better blood sugar management.

The orginal article.

Summary of “This Is How To Use Mindfulness To Make Better Decisions”

A lot of smart psychologists took mindfulness and science-tized it and created ACT Let’s see how ACT can help you deal with your negative thoughts so you can make smarter decisions based on what’s really important to you.
Here’s some good news: the negative thoughts aren’t really the problem when it comes to decision-making.
Thus in ACT, we may talk with clients of being “Pushed around by your thoughts” or “Allowing thoughts to tell you what to do,” or we may talk of thoughts as bullies, or we may compare the mind to a fascist dictator, or we may ask, “What happens when you let that thought run your life?” Similarly, when our thoughts dominate our attention, we often talk about being “Hooked,” “Entangled,” “Caught up,” or “Carried off” by them.
In other words, defusion means looking at thoughts rather than from thoughts; noticing thoughts rather than being caught up in thoughts; and letting thoughts come and go rather than holding on to them.
Okay, let’s round it up and learn how to quickly keep negative thoughts at a distance – and make even better decisions going forward.
You can’t prevent negative thoughts: Stop trying.
The real problem is “Fusion”: When you treat your negative thoughts as indisputable facts and not merely ideas produced by your brain, that’s when they cause problems.
Ask “What is my brain telling me right now?”: Get some distance from your thoughts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Black holes are simpler than forests and science has its limits”

A second, more worrying possibility is that we’ll reach the limits of what our brains can grasp.
Today, we can convincingly interpret measurements that reveal two black holes crashing together more than a billion light years from Earth.
Astronomy is far simpler than the biological and human sciences.
So how do we define complexity? The question of how far science can go partly depends on the answer.
‘Ordering’ the sciences is uncontroversial, but it’s questionable whether the ‘ground-floor sciences’ – particle physics, in particular – are really deeper or more all-embracing than the others.
In reality the analogy between science and a building is really quite a poor one.
Each layer of science has its own distinct explanations.
Efforts to understand very complex systems, such as our own brains, might well be the first to hit such limits.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Breathing Calms Your Brain, And Other Science-Based Benefits Of Controlled Breathing”

A brief review of the latest science on breathing and the brain, and overall health, serves as a reminder that breathing deserves much closer attention – there’s more going on with each breath than we realize.
While the admonition to control breathing to calm the brain has been around for ages, only recently has science started uncovering how it works.
While it’s unclear whether you can entirely manage blood pressure with controlled breathing, research suggests that slowing your breathing increases “Baroreflex sensitivity,” the mechanism that regulates blood pressure via heart rate.
Over time, using controlled breathing to lower blood pressure and heart rate may lower risk of stroke and cerebral aneurysm, and generally decreases stress on blood vessels.
Participants were asked to count how many breaths they took over a two-minute period, which caused them to pay especially focused attention to their breathing.
A 2016 study showed for the first time that the rhythm of our breathing generates electrical activity in the brain that influences how well we remember.
Controlled breathing may boost the immune system and improve energy metabolism.
Controlled breathing triggers a parasympathetic response, according to the theory, and may also improve immune system resiliency as a “Downstream health benefit.” The study also found improvements in energy metabolism and more efficient insulin secretion, which results in better blood sugar management.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet with a Brain Implant”

It’s a topic that Leuthardt, a 44-year-old scientist and brain surgeon, has spent a lot of time imagining.
Encouraging enough to instill in Leuthardt the certitude of a true believer-one who might sound like a crackpot, were he not a brain surgeon who deals in the life-and-death realm of the operating room, where there is no room for hubris or delusion.
Leuthardt knows better than most that brain surgery is dangerous, scary, and difficult for the patient.
To install them, Leuthardt performed an initial operation in which he removed the top of the skull, cut through the dura, and placed the electrodes directly on top of the brain.
After the initial surgery, the patient stops taking anti-seizure medication, which will eventually prompt an epileptic episode-and the data about its physical source helps doctors like Leuthardt decide which section of the brain to resect in order to forestall future episodes.
Leuthardt recruited 12 bedridden epilepsy patients, confined to their rooms and bored as they waited to have seizures, and presented each one with 36 words that had a relatively simple consonant-vowel-consonant structure, such as “Bet,” “Bat,” “Beat,” and “Boot.” He asked the patients to say the words out loud and then to simply imagine saying them-conveying the instructions visually, with no audio, and again vocally, with no video, to make sure that he could identify incoming sensory signals in the brain.
Leuthardt has attempted to push on into the next realm: identifying the way the brain encodes intellectual concepts across different regions.
Leuthardt can achieve far more transformative feats using his implanted electrodes that sit directly on the cortex of the brain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “No Family Is Safe From This Epidemic”

Jonathan grew up as the introverted, but creative, younger kid in a career Navy officer’s family.
The moment was deeply meaningful to him because it signaled equal recognition among family; Jonathan had to pedal hard in the shadow of a successful father and a brother now carrying on the tradition of military service.
Like many of the 40 percent or more of teenagers who have reportedly suffered from one mental-health issue or another, Jonathan started on the road to addiction early.
With no available spaces in treatment facilities in Washington, D.C., Jonathan detoxed in Richmond, Virginia, for a week while we frantically searched for an inpatient center that would accommodate his dual diagnosis of depression/anxiety and addiction.
Because the military’s Tricare medical system would not adequately cover treatment for a dual diagnosis, we dug in and spent more than the equivalent of four years’ tuition at a private college for 15 months of treatment for Jonathan, a sum that would be well beyond the reach of most American families.
In his last few months in treatment, Jonathan sought and earned his emergency-medical-technician qualification.
Drug overdoses, like the one that took Jonathan from us, are now the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 50 years old.
The final sentence of Jonathan’s University of Denver freshman essay reads, “I now live my life with a newfound purpose: wanting to help those who cannot help themselves.” Jonathan was very serious about his recovery.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit”

Simple right? Well after a while our creative brains say, “You know what? You can use this for more than just remembering where food is. Next time you feel bad, why don’t you try eating something good so you’ll feel better?” We thank our brains for the great idea, try this, and quickly learn that if we eat chocolate or ice cream when we’re mad or sad, we feel better.
In my lab we studied whether mindfulness training could help people quit smoking.
Just like trying to force myself to pay attention to my breath, they could try to force themselves to quit smoking.
We even said go ahead and smoke just be really curious about what it’s like when you do.
Now she knew cognitively that smoking was bad for her.
What she discovered just by being curiously aware when she smoked was that smoking tastes like shit.
She moved from knowing in her head that smoking is bad for her too knowing it in her bones and the spell of smoking was broken.
Now the prefrontal cortex, that youngest part of our brain from an evolutionary perspective, it understands on an intellectual level that we shouldn’t smoke and it tries its hardest to help us change our behavior, to help us stop smoking, to help us stop eating that second, that third, that fourth cookie-we call this cognitive control, we’re using cognition to control our behavior.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Zombie Fungus Takes Over Ants’ Bodies to Control Their Minds”

When the fungus infects a carpenter ant, it grows through the insect’s body, draining it of nutrients and hijacking its mind.
Over the course of a week, it compels the ant to leave the safety of its nest and ascend a nearby plant stem.
To speed things up, Hughes teamed up with computer scientist Danny Chen, who trained an artificial intelligence to distinguish ant from fungus.
When the fungus first enters its host, it exists as single cells that float around the ant’s bloodstream, budding off new copies of themselves.
Hughes’s team found that another parasitic fungus, which fatally infects ants but doesn’t manipulate their minds, also spreads into muscles but doesn’t form tubes between individual cells, and doesn’t wire itself into large networks.
You could also think of the fungus as a colony, much like the ants it targets.
“But manipulation of ants by Ophiocordyceps is so exquisitely precise that it is perhaps surprising that the fungus doesn’t invade the brain of its host,” Weinersmith says.
Hughes thinks the fungus might also exert more direct control over the ant’s muscles, literally controlling them “As a puppeteer controls as a marionette doll.” Once an infection is underway, he says, the neurons in the ant’s body-the ones that give its brain control over its muscles-start to die.

The orginal article.