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A Novel Look at How Stories May Change the Brain | Neuroscience News Research Articles

wildcat2030:

Many people can recall reading at least one cherished story that they say changed their life. Now researchers at Emory University have detected what may be biological traces related to this feeling: Actual changes in the brain that linger, at least for a few days, after reading a novel.

Their findings, that reading a novel may cause changes in resting-state connectivity of the brain that persist, were published by the journal Brain Connectivity. “Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” says neuroscientist Gregory Berns, lead author of the study and the director of Emory’s Center for Neuropolicy. “We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.” His co-authors included Kristina Blaine and Brandon Pye from the Center for Neuropolicy, and Michael Prietula, professor of information systems and operations management at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. Neurobiological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has begun to identify brain networks associated with reading stories. Most previous studies have focused on the cognitive processes involved in short stories, while subjects are actually reading them as they are in the fMRI scanner. The Emory study focused on the lingering neural effects of reading a narrative. Twenty-one Emory undergraduates participated in the experiment, which was conducted over 19 consecutive days. All of the study subjects read the same novel, “Pompeii,” a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris that is based on the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ancient Italy. “The story follows a protagonist, who is outside the city of Pompeii and notices steam and strange things happening around the volcano,” Berns says. “He tries to get back to Pompeii in time to save the woman he loves. Meanwhile, the volcano continues to bubble and nobody in the city recognizes the signs.”

Source: wildcat2030
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tedx:

Nature from the inside out — beautiful X-ray images show the hidden complexity of the natural world

Radiation physicist Arie van’t Riet never thought he’d be an artist. But after a colleague asked him to X-ray a painting, Arie saw a world of possibilities for X-ray imaging outside the hospital. He began to X-ray all sorts of atypical subjects — flowers, plants, bugs, snails, lizards — seduced by the challenge of recreating natural scenes.

In a fascinating talk at TEDxGroningen, Arie explains his journey from physicist to artist, and shares the process behind his beautiful, sometimes-tricky art. Says Arie, “I try to combine the visible world, with color and surface, with the X-ray world — the inner.”

All photos copyright Arie van’t Riet. To see more of Arie’s work, visit his website.

Source: tedx
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"The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part and the possessive impulses the smallest."

- Bertrand Russell (via wildcat2030)
Source: wildcat2030
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wildcat2030:

Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators working to create “protocells” – primitive synthetic cells consisting of a nucleic acid strand encased within a membrane-bound compartment – have accomplished an important step towards their goal. In the November 28 issue of Science, the investigators describe a solution to what could have been a critical problem – the potential incompatibility between a chemical requirement of RNA copying and the stability of the protocell membrane. “For the first time, we’ve been able to do nonenzymatic RNA copying inside fatty acid vesicles,” says Jack Szostak, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. “We’ve found a solution to a longstanding problem in the origin of cellular life: RNA copying chemistry requires the presence of the magnesium ion Mg2 , but high Mg2 levels can break down the simple, fatty acid membranes that probably surrounded the first living cells.” (via Researchers find a missing component in effort to create primitive, synthetic cells)

Source: phys.org
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wildcat2030:

Do We Live in the Matrix?

Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know…

In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines. 

The action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.” 

Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space. As fanciful as it sounds, some philosophers have long argued that we’re actually more likely to be artificial intelligences trapped in a fake universe than we are organic minds in the “real” one. 

But if that were true, the very laws of physics that allow us to devise such reality-checking technology may have little to do with the fundamental rules that govern the meta-universe inhabited by our simulators. To us, these programmers would be gods, able to twist reality on a whim. 

So should we say yes to the offer to take the red pill and learn the truth — or are the implications too disturbing?

Source: wildcat2030
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explore-blog:

Happy birthday, Sherwood Anderson! Celebrate with his timeless advice on art and life in a 1927 letter to his teenage son.

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7knotwind:

Newton’s notebook pages

(via fuckyeahbookarts)

Source: 7knotwind