The Amazing Brain

When I picked up this magazine in Waitrose and absent-mindedly threw it into the trolley, I had no idea it cost £9.99. I also had no idea how many awe-inspiring articles could be contained within the pages of one magazine.

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Inbetween beautiful images of neural networks are articles that address everything from intelligence to insanity. Below are a few of my favourites.

Free will

The question of free will is a special one, spanning the subjects of neuroscience, philosophy and even physics. Physicist Jim Al-Khalili highlighted the butterfly effect, where the smallest action, like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings, can eventually lead to massive consequences, like a hurricane. With this in mind, it is difficult to see how we could live in a deterministic universe, when our smallest decisions lead to entirely different outcomes. Unless even the smallest of decisions are predetermined…

Read Jim Al-Khalili’s article here.

Memory

This article looked at research that is currently underway in this mysterious part of the mind, an example being the possibility of implanting false fear memories in mice. A mouse was put in a box and the cells that memorised the environment were labelled. The mouse was then removed but the cells that memorised the box were activated and electric shocks were given. When the mouse was returned to the box, it showed signs of fear, indicating that false fear memories had been created.

Music

I found it very interesting to learn that music can affect behaviour, an example being the power of background music that made French wine five times more popular when French music was played.

Final thoughts…

I mentioned earlier that the magazine was illustrated with beautiful pictures of neurons in the human brain, an example given below:

neurons-transmit-electrical-impulses_15e17c39d5f0e17b

This picture immediately reminded me of something from my Physics days, a picture of the Universe…

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Is it such a coincidence that they look so similar?!

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