Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 28 Feb 2021
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit
Map

Info

Both sides of the brain help adults learn a new language says study

Brain Study
© caracterdesign / Getty Images
Learning languages is a breeze for young children, but once that window of opportunity closes it becomes notoriously difficult. Now, Spanish scientists have shed more light on how we get around this.

While it's thought that language is specialised in the left side of the brain, the researchers found that the right side also helps out when learning a new language as an adult, providing further evidence of the brain's remarkable flexibility.

"The left hemisphere is widely considered to be more or less hardwired for language, but there is plenty of evidence that it is not quite as simple as that," says Kshipra Gurunandan from the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language, lead author of a paper published in the Journal of Neurology.

This is seen, for instance, in the unpredictable nature of language impairment and recovery after brain damage to either hemisphere, especially in people who are multilingual.

Gurunandan and colleagues noted that adults can memorise lists of foreign or nonsense words but struggle to distinguish or pronounce foreign sounds or tones. They reasoned that this difficulty could arise from non-linguistic, sensorimotor aspects of language.

SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Brainwashing Is Easy, Thinking Isn't

thought control
Covid-19. Trump. Social Justice. War. Human rights. Economics. Whatever the issue, it seems that every day we are being told we must adopt a particular position. And to do so "or else". Under incredible pressure to be in the right and to feel good about ourselves, we are bombarded with "ways to think" that are quite often delivered by overt propaganda, but that are also, perhaps more than we realize, covert and not aware to us consciously. How do the social programmers do this? Who are they? And what knowledge of psychology do they use to meet their agendas? Is it possible that many of the views which we hold dear are actually prefabricated for us?

This week on MindMatters we delve into some of the big social, cultural and political issues of the day, the perspectives we take on them, and how it is we come to a specific understanding or stance on something. Questioning what we believe - and why we do - is a responsibility we all take upon ourselves, for ourselves - but also for others. At a time in human history when truth is under egregious attack, how might one effectively examine one's own thinking? And how do we know when our thoughts are or aren't our own?

Show sources:

Running Time: 01:13:20

Download: MP3 — 67.1 MB


Brain

Hypnosis experts cast doubt on famous psychological experiments

fake hand
© Getty Images
Psychology has taken some hits in recent years — most famously in the form of the "replication crisis." Multiple failures to reproduce high-profile findings prompted a reexamination of methods that can inadvertently generate apparently significant findings that are actually just statistical artifacts. Now a new challenge has arisen to a series of renowned psychological studies that purported to provide a window into how the brain processes internal representations of our physical "self." The questioning of this research comes from an unlikely quarter: the study of hypnosis.

Long seen as a fringe topic, hypnosis has become surprisingly well established in the cognitive sciences today as a measurable, repeatable phenomenon. Hypnosis is the induction of a seemingly altered state of consciousness in which a person appears to relinquish voluntary control, becoming highly responsive to suggestion. Findings from hypnosis research show that the practice all boils down to how suggestible people are, which the researchers behind the new investigation call "trait phenomenological control." Their paper suggests this trait may offer an alternative explanation for some key studies that invoke neural mechanisms underlying representation of the self or of the actions and experiences of others. The work also suggests new ways in which psychologists could improve the rigor and reliability of future studies.

Brain

Why, as a neurosurgeon, I believe in free will

Epilepsy
© Peter Schreiber/AdobeStock


The spiritual aspect of the human soul, sadly, leaves its signature in epilepsy.


In his classic book, Mystery of the Mind, (1975) epilepsy surgery pioneer Dr. Wilder Penfield, asked a significant question: "Why are there no intellectual seizures?"

Epileptic seizures can be experienced in a variety of ways — convulsions of the whole body, slight twitching of a muscle, compulsive memories, emotions, perceptions of smells or flashes of light, complex motor behaviors such as chewing or laughing or even walking, or subtle moments of inattention.

But seizures never have intellectual content. There are no intellectual seizures, which is odd, given that large regions of the brain are presumed by neuroscientists to serve intellectual thought. It is all the more remarkable when we consider that seizures commonly originate in these "intellectual" areas of the brain. Yet the outcome is never intellectual seizures.

Comment: See also:


Evil Rays

How the MEAN psychologists got us to comply with coronavirus restrictions

mind control
Introduction

The British public's widespread compliance with the Government's draconian diktats has arguably been the most remarkable aspect of the coronavirus crisis. The unprecedented restrictions on our basic freedoms - in the form of lockdowns, travel bans and mandatory mask wearing - have been passively accepted by the large majority of people. Despite the lack of evidence for effectiveness of these extreme measures, and the growing recognition of their negative consequences, it seems most of us continue to submit to the ongoing restrictions on our lives. Why have we witnessed such capitulation?

A major contributor to the mass obedience of the British people is likely to have been the activities of government-employed psychologists working as part of the 'Behavioural Insights Team' (BIT). After outlining the structure and stated remit of the BIT, I will describe the strategies deployed by this group of psychological specialists to shape our behaviours in line with the Government's public health approach to coronavirus. In particular, I will highlight the four main tactics used in their COVID-19 communication campaigns to 'nudge' us towards compliance: a focus on the MESSENGER, EGO, AFFECT and NORMS (or 'MEAN' as an acronym), providing specific examples to illustrate how these influencers were put to work so as to get us to obey the Government's directives. Finally, the questionable ethics of resorting to these psychological interventions to promote compliance with an increasingly contested public health policy will be addressed.

The Behavioural Insights Team - structure and remit

The BIT was conceived in the Prime Minister's Office in 2010 as 'the world's first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural science to policy' (Hallsworth et al., 2018). It is collectively owned by the UK Government, Nesta (a charity that views itself as an 'innovation foundation' and a 'champion of radical thinking'), and BIT's own employees. According to the BIT website, their team has rapidly expanded from a seven person unit working with the UK government to a 'social purpose company' operating in many countries around the world.

Chess

Tactics: The psychology behind the Trump-Biden debate interruptions

Trump Biden Debate
© Getty Images
US President Donald Trump • Former VP Joe Biden • 2020 Presidential Debate
The real psychological power of interrupting may lie in the way that it disrupts the other person's thought patterns. So, when US President Donald Trump interrupted Joe Biden in the two debates, there was a lot more going on beneath the surface than simple rudeness.

The US Commission on Presidential Debates muted the microphones of President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden during portions of their second and final televised encounter on October 22, in order to prevent the candidates from interrupting each other. The panel's decision followed the widespread negative audience reaction to Trump's extensive interruptions in the first debate on September 29.

But there is a powerful hidden psychology behind the tactic of interjecting and interrupting. Could these two experienced campaigners - and Trump especially - have used it to their advantage in an attempt to appear more dominant and assertive?

SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Our Place in the Cosmos, and Why the New Atheists Are Wrong

as above
Today on MindMatters, Harrison and Adam use one of David Ray Griffin's recent books as a jumping-off point to bring together many threads from previous episodes. What is our place in the cosmos? What can the study of nature tell us about ourselves, and about the cosmic mind? From the smallest bits of 'matter' and energy, to animals, minds, and meaning, we tie together our previous discussions with Ken Pedersen, John Buchanan, James Carpenter, along with ideas from Gurdjieff, Ibn Arabi, Stoicism, Jordan Peterson and more, to attempt an initial answer to the question.

Along the way we discuss the merits of the anthropic principle and 'fine-tuning', the self-destructing arguments of the new atheists, one of Rupert Sheldrake's coolest ideas, and why importance is perhaps the most important thing for philosophy.


Running Time: 00:58:44

Download: MP3 — 53.8 MB


Hearts

Chimps pare down their social circle in later years

chimpanzee
© John Lower/Harvard University/PA Science editor
Three male chimpanzees grooming together.
There is more that comes with older age than greying hair and wrinkled skin. When humans reach their later years, they favour more established friends and their social circle is pared down.

Now, for what appears to be the first time, scientists have seen the same behaviour in another species. More than two decades of observations of chimpanzees reveal that older males choose to hang out with their long-term friends at the expense of other relationships.

"What we've shown is that chimpanzees and humans share the same pattern of social ageing," said Zarin Machanda, a primatologist at Tufts University in Massachusetts. "We know that as humans age, their social networks shrink but their social bonds grow stronger, and we see the same thing here in chimpanzees."

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:And check out SOTT radio's:


Info

How the brain recognises objects

To recognise a chair or a dog, our brain separates objects into their individual properties and then puts them back together. Until recently, it has remained unclear what these properties are. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have now identified them - from "fluffy" to "valuable" - and found that all it takes is 49 properties to recognise almost any object.

Brain Studies
© Shutterstock
The human brain breaks down the environment into a total of 49 properties, which are sufficient to categorise all objects. Depending on how similar the observed object is to a known category, it is then recognised as a dog or, for instance, a piece of furniture.
We live in a world full of things that we have to identify and classify into different categories. Only when you are able to identify the things around you, you can communicate with others about them and act in a meaningful way. If we see something in front of us that we recognise as a chair, we can sit on it. Once we have identified an object as a cup, we can lift it up and drink from it.

In order to carry out this mapping and make sense of our environment, we have to constantly compare the input to our senses with the information we have already learned. To do this, the brain breaks down an object into its individual properties, compares them with those that are already known, and puts these properties back together. Depending on how similar the observed object is to a known category, it is then recognised as a piece of furniture or a vessel. So far, however, it has remained unclear how we consider things to be similar or less similar. In other words, what are the characteristics that make us recognise objects?

Brain

Neuroscience can help us understand why free will is real

free will
Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder and biologist Jerry Coyne, who deny free will, don't seem to understand the neuroscience

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne seems obsessed with denying free will. In a recent post on his blog, Why Evolution Is True, he supported the claim of theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder that we do not have free will:
If you've read this site, you'll know that my own views are pretty much the same as hers, at least about free will. We don't have it, and the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum mechanics doesn't give it to us either.

Hossenfelder doesn't pull any punches:

"This means in a nutshell that the whole story of the universe in every single detail was determined already at the big bang. We are just watching it play out."...

QED!

Jerry Coyne, "Sabine Hossenfelder says we don't have free will, but its nonexistence shouldn't bother us" at Why Evolution Is True
Both Coyne and Hossenfelder are atheists, materialists, and determinists — a sort of intellectual dark triad — and their beliefs are scientifically and logically uninformed. They use denial of free will to prop up their materialist and determinist irreligion. It is not science; it is an ideological project, without a shred of science or logic to back it up.

Comment: See also: