Scanning Dreams

Brain scans let computer reconstruct movie scenes
It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.

Scientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday.

Frightening and exciting possibilities: could be used as a self-discovery tool, and by psychoanalysts to unlock dreams, by the military to discover secrets, to establish guilt or innocence in courts of law…

And I am sure plenty of idiots will upload their dreams to Facebook, which in turn will enable advertisers to custom tailor commercials…


A Key Concept for Neurodiversity: Niche Construction
When I suggest that neurodiverse individuals, such as those with autism or ADHD, might have been labeled gifted in other times and in other cultures, the quick retort is: “Well, we don’t live in other times or cultures. People have to adapt to the culture they’re in right now.” So what does the person who is a round peg have to do to fit into a square hole? Answer: Shave off enough of its wood to fit, uncomfortably, usually, into the square hole. That’s one solution. The other solution is to round off some of the square hole so that the round peg can stay a round peg and still fit in. That’s niche construction. In other words, I’m saying that people with neurodiverse brains can create special niches for themselves where they can be their unique selves. An example would be a person with ADHD in a job that requires novelty, thrills, and creativity. Instead of suffering in a 9 to 5 desk job (an example of poor niche construction), they create a career for themselves that allows them to be who they are. Another example: a person on the autistic spectrum who has keen mathematical skill working as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, instead of wasting away in a group home somewhere. Niche construction is what animals have done for eons: the bird building a nest, the beaver building a dam. They’re modifying the environment to suit their unique needs. We need to make niche construction a key tool in improving the lives of individuals with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other neurological conditions. Yes, there will always be the need to adapt to the way the world is, and there are medications, behavior modification programs, and other adaptational programs that can help accomplish this. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we can also help neurodiverse individuals be who they are and still fit in.
(Via Neurodiversity – The Book)

Temple Grandin spoke brilliantly on that theme at TED. Check this out:

Two Years Ago: Practice-Space

We practice to create space. This is true for playing a musical instrument, but applies to everything else as well, I think. Practicing creates familiarity. Familiarity creates intimacy.

When we practice playing a piece of music or a scale, we train our brain by using our body. We scrub those neural pathways by moving our fingers. And that creates space. If moving from this note to that note has been trained and ingrained, we no longer have to think about that move and are free to consider other or additional moves. If moving from point A to point B has become utterly natural, then I have established space between those two points in which I can make additional moves. Or, imagine jumping from a rock to another rock. Once that jump has become easy, we might add a turn, a twist or a salto. In music, we might add a new note, a trill, a tremolo, a vibrato… We have created space (or time) in which to make additional moves – or choose not to! The more natural that jump or that piece of music becomes, the more space we have created. Then we have more time and more choice.

I find it important that the space we have thus created should not necessarily be filled with additional notes as we can use that space to embue the sound with more intent or emotion instead. When we no longer have to work at getting to the next note or musical sound, we can enjoy playing the current note with complete conviction.

Saturday Thoughts

I have been turning that comment over and over in my mind:

1. Victor Hornback Says:
“…in my view nothing is ever lost…”

I sometimes wonder if anything is ever created. If not then collective consciousness is not so much a collection growing over time as a shifting in and out of form whatever is already there.

To which I answered:

3. Ottmar Says:
Victor, that’s a mighty big thought and I like it.

Just consciousness shifting, turning, dancing, flexing, shining, fractalizing…

Methinks one would find examples of this thought in Hindu and Buddhist texts, don’t you think? Maybe some Googling is in order.

Haven’t googled anything, but listened to this talk by Alan Wallace at Upaya – part od the free podcast series at I don’t think it’s a very good talk. Mr. Wallace goes on and on and appears to enjoy hearing himself talk, but does not actually say much. But, I had to stay in the studio to make sure a candle wasn’t falling over and burning the place down (here and here) and so I listened to the entire 90+ minute podcast. (((yes, that’s my bell that starts the podcast – I gave the sound to Upaya)))

Mr. Wallace mentions that while we can observe the physcial changes in the brain – e.g. see the Wikipedia list of different Neurotransmitters – when it comes to studying the interior life we have to depend on a research subject’s word. Two subjects experience and relate the same situation very differently. I find it’s useful to know Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant Model – I, We, It and Its, or the Subjective and Objective view of an individual, and the intersubjective and the interobjective view of the collective – check it out here if you like. (((are you feeling sleepy?)))

Alan Wallace draws an interesting comparison with Science around Galileo’s time. Before Galileo no powerful telescopes existed, therefore astronomy depended on naked-eye observations. If I remember the talk correctly, before Galileo the most powerful telescop had 3x magnification, but Galileo was able to devise one with 30x magnification. With the help of this telescope Galileo was able to observe that Venus had moons orbiting around it. That, of course, started trouble for Galileo, because since Aristotle it was understood that the Earth was the center of the universe.

Well, in terms of studying the interior world of our Minds we are still using naked-eye observation. We have to take a subject’s word for what they are experiencing. We can observe what is going on in the brain objectively, by measuring currents and chemistry, but we can’t look into the interior life of Mind. Yet. Will someone invent the equivalent of a telescope – for the mind? Or is that just not possible?

So, from there my mind jumped to thinking that nothing every REALLY happens. TIme is a construct. And, as Victor wrote, Collective Consciousness is not so much a collection growing over time as a shifting in and out of form whatever is already there. (((that does sound like something Nagarjuna might have expressed – must look for Stephen Batchelor’s translation, which is somewhere among my stacks of books…)))

We discover “new” definitions, based on the current culture, data and knowledge, but I would venture to guess that in terms of the mind’s interior, we don’t know any more than some of the monks, hermits or philosophers in India or China thousands of years ago. On the other hand we can certainly distract ourselves better than they were able to… :-)

I wish I could express myself better. I swear, sometimes this stuff aligns wordlessly and miraculously in my mind while I am meditating, but holding on to that experience and putting it into words, that’s a whole other matter. Well, I tried and by now you are probably asleep, so no harm done…

No mind

the music of sound » No mind
“The river has no shape, but it takes on the boundaries which it carves out for itself,
so is the mind boundless, until it creates a prison for its own thoughts.”

Can’t find the original source of that quote, but it’s a good one.