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How our neuronal mechanisms work to give us consciousness is the subject of zealous pursuit. Breaking the ‘consciousness code’ is an obsession for scientists and brain institutes around the world.⠀

A recent Michigan University study (Science Advances) shows ‘a clear relationship between two brain networks critical to consciousness.’ ⠀

The default mode network (DMN) is active during internal focus, triggering our imagination and memories; while the dorsal attention network (DAT) is active when we process the environment around us. The interplay between DMN and DAT is the basis of consciousness but they are anti-correlated: when one is suppressed the other is active. ⠀

The constant switching between these two, using the physical networks: frontoparietal and visual, helps us analyse and react. When we want to suppress our egos, problems or negativity we look to quieten the DMN, and focus on DAT. Meditation and psychedelics like psilocybin can help: that’s why they are suggested treatments for depression, PTSD, addiction, and neurological disorders. ⠀

The study used an M/L model to analyse fMRI brain activity data to validate their hypothesis. It’s not easy traversing the path of consciousness, but no bed of roses is expected when attempting to unravel the ‘seat of consciousness’.

It was a fabulous experience to share a panel with some amazing #CEOs at the #Forbes #India Virtual Roundtable. Thank you Rono Dutta, RM Vishakha, Sanjay Gupta KaranBajwa_IN, Dr Nandakumar Jairam for making it memorable! #ForbesIndiaOneCEOClub #GoogleCloud ...

#Loneliness has always nibbled away at the soul of humans. It makes living an onerous task, robbing us off the rainbow of joy, and bringing us face to face with our #mortality.⠀

In these times of the #pandemic, the sane thing is to maintain distance; yet that could easily translate to the feeling of being isolated. Feelings of #anxiety, irritability, #depression and suicidal tendencies can get aggravated to the detriment of many amongst us. ⠀

The problem is that loneliness is subjective and varies from person to person. The #biology of the subjective experience of loneliness is yet to be understood.⠀

Speaking evolutionarily, humans need groups for protection, and survival. Julianne Holt-Lundstad, professor at #BYU, says “It's very distressing when we are not a part of a group. We have to deal with our environment entirely on our own, without the help of others, which puts our #brain in a state of alert, but that also signals the rest of our body to be in a state of alert.” ⠀

When under #stress, hormones like #cortisol and #norepinephrine can exacerbate, #sleeplessness, #anxiety, #weight gain. You can help by having meaningful conversations with friends and family. ⠀

It’s the need of the times!

#COVID19 has fuelled the use of technology in a big way. #WFH, classroom lectures, webinars, collaborative medical research, staying in touch with family, and online retail have choked-up both bandwidth and free time.⠀

#VR and #AR have traipsed into #videochats, entertainment platforms, and surveillance in a big way. Now, doctors are using #MR to collaborate with peers and reduce physical contact with patients inside hospital-wards.⠀

At Imperial College, London, doctors are donning MR headsets, mainly Microsoft’s Hololens 2, to “help reduce the number of persons necessary at the bedside, while at the same time enhancing communication, and ultimately reducing usage of PPE by healthcare providers.” https://buff.ly/2YerEPf⠀

Sharing of lab-test results, patient reports, and anatomical images (#holographic images of #Xrays, #CTscans and #MRI) has become easy. According to Dr. Kinross, Consultant Surgeon, “It was an attempt to innovate in response to two principal problems—the first was a high rate of staff illness due to COVID19 and the second was accessing PPE and training all staff in its proper use.”⠀

This hands-free, distributed, video #telemedicine environment was slowly hooked up to both the hospital’s and NHS’s network. These protocols are now here to stay as SOP for hospitals.

Anne #Harrington’s “#MindFixers: Psychiatry's Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness” (#Norton) is not only a narrative of the quixotic history of #Psychiatry but a page-turner as well. ⠀

The brain is perhaps the most complex thing in the universe. While #Psychiatrists and #Psychoanalysts have been at the vanguard of societal change (#Freud, #Jung, Pliny #Earle), the science has remained under the twin covers of mystery and fog. The biological basis of most #mental disorders stills remains unknown, and newer technologies further expose the lack of solid #scientific grounding. ⠀

Anne writes about the waves of Psychiatric development, how each development was believed to be the ultimate solution, but was swept aside as soon as another treatment caught the fancy of the establishment. The #lobotomy, #Prozac, #electroconvulsive therapy, #Freudian psychoanalysis, #antidepressant drugs, all had their moments in the sun but failed to explain how the treatments were arrived at.⠀

By the 1980s American Psychiatrists were ready to move on: from #Freudian couches to ‘#brain science, #bio-chemistry and #drugs’ but even this hubris was not backed by any major scientific breakthroughs. The book (which is available on Amazon) also puts into perspective the effects the developments have had on patients, families and society.

Man’s quest to achieve transhumanism continues unabated. #Bionic #eyes, #BMIs, robotic prostheses, #ASI and other high-tech endeavours fuel our #cyborgian utopia of the future. ⠀

Along the way, these technologies have also been helping us correct or cure diseases, excel in or automate tasks, spur inventions, and augment our memory. ⠀

Researchers at the #HongKong University of Science and Technology claim that they have created a bionic eye that is more sensitive than the human eye. According to researcher, Zhiyong Fan, “In the future, we can use this for better vision prostheses and #humanoid #robotics.” ⠀

An artificial #retina attached to a dense array of light-sensitive #nanowires supports the eye. A “curved aluminium oxide membrane, studded with nanosize sensors made of a light-sensitive material called a #perovskite” mimics the eyeball. The nanowires relay the visual information to a computer. ⠀

This bionic eye reacts to changes in light faster and, in theory, can perceive a much higher resolution than the human eye. The #field of view though, is narrower: 100 degrees vs. 150 degrees. The stumbling block is the attachment of millions of nanowires to the sensors – the #technology isn’t quite there yet.⠀

#WhereWillManTakeUs? provides a greater perspective on developments in #transhumanism. (link in bio)

The #DeadSeaScrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near the #DeadSea are considered to be the source for the #Hebrew #Bible, #Apocrypha and mystical liturgical texts. Only a few of the scrolls are intact, while the rest are in scraps, totalling 25000. ⠀

Piecing them using traditional historical, #archaeological and literary information has been a challenge. Two researchers from Tel Aviv University, Oded Rechavi and Noam Mizrahi, have developed a #DNA #fingerprinting method which could obviate the problem.⠀

This sensitive #paleogenomic technique is being used to #sequence ancient cow and sheep DNA from #parchments and artefacts to understand the “social fabric of the Essenes, the ascetic #Jewish sect widely believed to have written the scrolls.” ⠀

In collaboration with Uppsala University, Sweden, DNA from 26 different fragments, leather items, sandals, a garment and water skins was examined. Findings indicate the Book of #Jeremiah was written both in the #Qumran region as well as outside (because cattle husbandry was not possible in the dry Judaean desert). This contradicts the belief that there was only one common #Hebrew Biblical text. ⠀

Importantly, this DNA-fingerprinting technique could become indispensable to reconstruction of #histories from #ancient #artefacts all over the world.

Collecting private #data, monetizing it, and then justifying it as Universal Basic Income (#UBI) is a #social experiment that is bound to raise the hackles of many. But ‘Project Exograph’ does just that. ⠀

A brainchild of Japanese company, Plasma Inc., the project is filming participants 24/7 in their homes (all spaces except bathrooms) for a month and paying them 200,00 yen (USD 1832). CEO, Hiroko Enno, says he is collecting consumer behaviour data which can be analysed by businesses for commercial use.⠀

And here is his justification: “I have a world-view based on science fiction. As artificial intelligence #robots develop into the future, there will come a time when people will no longer have to work for a living.” ⠀

In effect, what he means is that people could #monetize their private data as a form of UBI to subsidize their current standard of living.⠀

Hiroko feels that the big tech companies are already tracking the #digital footprints of people and using the data for their own purposes. His experiment is merely giving the people the right to monetize their own data. The critics are still out there, but experiment is ongoing.⠀

#AI #UBI, #Data privacy and monetization elucidated in #WhereWillManTakeUs? #nonfiction #bestseller (link in bio)

Ernest #Hemingway had a Near #Death Experience (NDE) when a shell exploded near him in a battlefield in #WW1. Later, he used his artful language to transpose his experience onto the protagonist of his gripping short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro. ⠀

An NDE occurs when someone experiences a life-threatening situation: #heart attack, shock, or #trauma due to an explosion or accident. The events during a NDE are commonly reported in #spiritual terms: “becoming pain-free, seeing a bright light at the end of a tunnel, or detaching from one's body and floating above it and even flying off into space.” ⠀

Christof Koch, chief scientist, Allen Institute, delved into historical accounts of NDEs to understand why the recollections tend to be blissful. He’s at odds, and believes that “all our thoughts, memories, percepts and experiences are an inescapable consequence of the natural causal powers of our #brain rather than of any supernatural ones.” ⠀

Koch hypothesizes that lack of oxygen causes regions of the brain to ‘go offline’ and the mind, which only consists of the remaining active neurons, builds a sketch around a person’s experience, #memory and cultural mores. ⠀

Perhaps also, positive recollections are glorified and the bad ones remain closeted.

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