Joseph P Farrell on Mind, Heart, & Memory

DISTRIBUTED MEMORY: THE BRAIN IN THE HEART

DISTRIBUTED MEMORY: THE BRAIN IN THE HEART

You may recall that yesterday I blogged about an allegedly successful experiment in the “freezing”, or at least, “extreme cooling” of a human being, and his or her successful “reanimation.” The key to the allegedly successful experiment was, you might also recall, the removal of the patient’s blood and its replacement by an “ice-cold saline solution.” And I speculated that the whole procedure, since it was performed with the consent of the government, might have had as a hidden goal to discover what happened to that individual’s consciousness while undergoing the “procedure.”  We may now also wonder if, indeed, the removal of the individual’s blood was part of my hypothesized “consciousness experiment”; was the individual’s own blood even restored to him or her? Or was it someone else’s?

We don’t know, because there was scanty information provided about the whole alleged success; we were told only that its performer, Dr. Samuel Tisherman, promises to deliver a paper on the whole thing in 2020.

But in that respect, there’s another odd story that was spotted by M.C., who is due a big thank you for sending it along:

Second Brain Found in Heart Neurons – Trust Your Gut Feelings

Now, this is not exactly new; I have in fact blogged about the unusual nature of this “heart-brain” idea before; neurons are not confined merely to the brain, but appear in the heart as well. There was, however, something that caught my eye in this article, and I rather suspect it’s what caught M.C.’s eye as well and compelled M.C. to send the article along; you’ll note that the article enumerates various cases of individuals who have received heart transplants, and whose behavior suddenly changes to embrace habits and behaviors associated with the donor of the heart. While the article does not mention them, similar experiences have been recorded for other types of organ transplants. One wonders if a similar phenomenon can be associated with blood transplants.

But in any case, what caught my attention in this article was this statement:

Neurologist Dr. Andrew Armour from Montreal in Canada discovered a sophisticated collection of neurons in the heart organised into a small but complex nervous system. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons called sensory neurites that communicate with the brain. Dr. Armour called it “the Little Brain in the Heart”. It has been known for many years that memory is a distributive process. You can’t localize memory to a neuron or a group of neurons in the brain. The memory itself is distributed throughout the neural system. So why do we draw a line at the brain? (Emphasis added)

This idea of distributed memory sounds a bit like a hologram, and the article quickly proceeds to try to avoid the unpleasant aspects of that by quickly trying to tie it all to good-old-fashioned-and-purely-materialistic speculations:

Other medical experts offer different explanations, but all agree that it is not so much mystical as it is science, and a science that needs further exploration.Professor Pr Paul Pearsall and Pr Gary Schwarz got together.

Professor Gary Schwartz says that “Feedback mechanisms are involved in learning. When we talk, for example, about how the brain learns, we talk about what we call neural networks in the brain. It turns out that the way a neural network works is that the output of the neurons feeds back into the input of the neurons. And this process goes over and over again. So long as the feedback is present the neurons will learn. If you cut the feedback, there is no learning in the neurons.”

The Mind is Not Just in the Brain

Dr. Candace Pert, a pharmacologist at Georgetown University believes that the mind is not just in the brain, but also exists throughout the body. This school of thought could explain such strange transplant experiences. “The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides. These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, in muscles and in all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another”.

Now I’m all for feedback loops as I’ve talked about them in all sorts of contexts. And for that matter, the idea of the heart being part of a kind of “distributed brain” also appeals to me; for one thing, octopuses appear to have this type of structure to their nine brains. But more importantly, I’ve always been an advocate of the more ancient idea that human reason is not mere ratiocination, but incorporates and includes what the ancients would have called the passions, a deeper word than “emotions.” So it appeals to me for this reason as well.

But it’s that “distributed memory” idea and its “holographic” overtones that really appeals, for lurking deeply within that idea is the idea that memory is not local, existing or concentrated in this or that area of the brain, or the body. It rather as if what is implied by that idea is the opposite: that the body exists within a memory, and is imprinted with it like a psychotronic object. If it’s distributed, and non-local, then perhaps it’s also an indicator that the body, in order to be a body, is integrated at the quantum level, by quantum tunneling, perhaps, and that memory may be a function of this somehow. Whatever one makes of my speculations here, I strongly suspect that this idea of distributed memory means that those old Cartesian dualisms and epiphenomena are, like all over-simplified dualisms, going to go the way of the dodo bird, and that the relationship between the tangible physical body and the immaterial intangible world of things like memory are going to turn out to be far more complex than we imagined, and that those “feedback loops” between the two are the key.

See you on the flip side…

from:    https://gizadeathstar.com/2019/11/distributed-memory-the-brain-in-the-heart/

How DO You Spell “Berenstein Bears”?

What’s Behind the Meteoric Rise of the Mandela Effect

Written by August 8, 2016

Unless you’ve been on an extended retreat, you’ve likely heard the term “Mandela Effect” recently. ” While many are surprised by the recent surge of interest in the “Mandela Effect,” those of us who have been researching and writing about this phenomenon of reality shifts and alternate histories have long been anticipating just such a rise of interest. The “Mandela Effect” is named after South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who became a topic of interest in the year 2010 by people noticing with surprise that he was alive at that time–since many people remembered him having died while incarcerated. I had published similar accounts of the dead being observed alive again in my 1999 book, Reality Shifts, and reporting first-hand accounts on the RealityShifters website from people all around the world noticing many dead people alive again. Observations of dead people alive again are just one of many types of Mandela Effects, with other notable examples including changes to song lyrics, movie dialogue, movie scenes, physical geography, physiological anatomy, and product names.

The Mandela Effect is one of those things most people won’t believe in until it happens to them. Like falling in love or going through heartbreak, the Mandela Effect is something you have to experience in order to fully embrace. And even then, it often takes more than one or two experiences to break through the resistance most of us have to accepting the existence of something that fundamentally challenges our unspoken foundational assumption that facts and historical events don’t change. This bias has been poetically expressed in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:

“The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on:
nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.” 

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Google trend graph for “Mandela Effect”

When we encounter something indicating evidence that in fact, history has changed–it feels shocking to discover some of the lines have been canceled and washed out! We seem to be approaching ‘tipping point’ where it’s getting harder for scoffers to say there’s no such thing as the Mandela Effect / reality shifts / alternate histories. The term “Mandela Effect” originated with blogger Fiona Broome in 2010 after she attended a conference where many people talked with her about remembering how Nelson Mandela had died many years earlier–though official recorded history at that time indicated no such thing had actually occurred.

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Dolly and Jaws in “Moonraker”

Thanks to articles written by some Mandela Effect experiencers, the Mandela Effect shows evidence of increasing in popular awareness. Mandela Effect articles have been written by experiencers including the Lewiston Sun Journal’s Mark LaFlamme (“The Mandela Effect is Freaking Me Out“) who noticed a change on which side of his father he’s standing by in an old family photo;the New Zealand Herald’s Karl Puschmann (“Berenstein or Berenstain? The Riddle Making Book Lovers Mad“) who is certain the popular children’s books ought to be spelled “Berenstein” and not the way they’ve supposedly ‘always been spelled’ as Berenstain; and San Diego City Beat’s Tom Siebert (“Technology and Memory Down the Rabbit Hole“) who noticed a change to a memorable scene in a James Bond movie, “Moonraker,” in which the girl with the braces who fell in love with another character with shining teeth no longer has braces. I watched The James Bond film “Moonraker” several times while in college, and also remember the memorable scene in which the blonde girl named “Dolly” who wears glasses and braids shares a cheesy moment with Richard Kiels’ character, “Jaws,” when they notice how his shiny teeth complement the shiny braces on her teeth. Except now, she doesn’t have any braces on her teeth.

Taken individually–the way such observations of discrepancies between what we remember and recorded historical evidence have always been noted up until now–a single person feeling unsettled by noticing such a change would have been chalked up to their having made some kind of cognitive error. When such “mis-remembered” recollections are considered collectively, we are presented with the possibility that we are witnessing collectively agreed-upon awareness of differently remembered historical facts that we can start to take notice of.

Some scoffers have leapt to the conclusion that Mandela Effect experiencers who are noticing long-familiar words in movies, TV shows, books, and products are most likely suddenly sharing ‘false memories,’ due to the fact that human memories are not fully reliable. Such an explanation allows us to leave unquestioned some old assumptions that have quietly started to crumble at their very foundations since the advent of quantum physics just over a hundred years ago. While quantum physics shows us there can be no such thing as an objective observer, and now that two thirds of physicists recently surveyed agree that you and I and everything that exists does so in a superposition of states–we clearly need to revise both our scientific methodology and our assumptions about reality.

While I agree with the observation that human memories often do not match current historical records, it’s clear that stopping the thought process at that point is premature, and does not match what we are learning about the primacy of quantum logic in the natural world.

I’ve been researching this phenomena since the 1990s. It was originally called “reality shifts,” and first appeared in print in the book “Future Memory” by PMH Atwater to describe common (yet strange) experiences that near-death experiencers frequently have. I have been reporting on individual recollections of alternate histories involving everything from changes in books, to dead people alive again, to changes in the way motor memory works since 1999, in the earliest edition of my first book on this subject, Reality Shifts: When Consciousness Changes the Physical World, and in my free monthly Realityshifters ezine. I’m currently pursuing this Mandela Effect / reality shift topic in interviews with experts in the fields of quantum biology such as JohnJoe McFadden, quantum cognition such as Jerome Busemeyer, and quantum cosmology such as Yasunori Nomura on my blog and “Living the Quantum Dream” radio show. What I’m noticing is that this phenomenon appears to not be new, but rather we have reached a point in society where for the first time we are able to share memories with others that are different from the collective whole–and sometimes our memories show the same kind of alternate pasts that physicists such as Stephen Hawking have told us exist.

When we consider the matter of “confabulation” and “false recollections” at this dawning of the new Quantum Age, we see that we may eventually call such things “alternate recollections,” in recognition of awareness of the fact that we know that each and every one of us exists in a superimposed state, with access to many possible alternate histories, presents, and futures. The idea that the many worlds of quantum physics might be one and the same as the multiverse has been proposed by such esteemed physicists as Dr. Yasunori Nomura and Dr. Raphael Bousso of UC Berkeley, and increasing numbers of scientists are feeling optimistic that we might yet find evidence that we indeed live in a multiverse.

Finding Evidence of Many Worlds in Alternate Histories

There is an exciting human side to the subject of alternate histories and parallel worlds. While we don’t yet have technology to show photos from your past with evidence of parallel universes impinging on the very fabric of reality since the day you were born, we can look to see what kinds of evidence we are able to collect more easily. If we were feeling the effects of parallel universes, we would expect to occasionally notice that history doesn’t stay put. Occasionally, we’d have very different ideas of what happened than we’ve had before, or than others have had before. What would such alternate histories be like?

JFKcar1963nov22Dr. Robert A. Burton recounts a fascinating experience in his book, On Being Certain, of attending a medical school reunion dinner in which conversation turned to where people were when they heard the news that Kennedy was assassinated. Burton and his classmates had all been in their second year of medical school, attending similar classes and hanging out together. An argument broke out amongst the reunion attendees as a urologist thought they were all at lunch, an internist remembered they’d been in the lab, and a pathologist remembered being at a pub down the street from the med center. With classmates turning to Burton to be the tie-breaker, setting history straight, the pathologist and urologist both agreed on one thing as they announced in unison, “Everyone remembers the Kennedy assassination.”

If this was the first time such differences of memory related to significant events occurred, we might dismiss it as a humorous aside. But the fact of the matter is that researchers are increasingly becoming aware of what they call “false recollections.” With the advent of the Quantum Age, we may eventually call them “alternate recollections,” indicating awareness of the fact that we know that each and every one of us exists in a superimposed state, with access to many possible alternate histories, presents, and futures.

Challenger_1AUlric Neisser and Nicole Harsch conducted studies of Emory University students’ accuracy of recollections of events at the time of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, starting by collecting first-hand accounts from 106 students the day after the disaster detailing how they’d heard of the explosion, what they’d been doing at the time, where they were, and how they felt. The researchers followed up with the same students two and a half years later, and were startled to find that students achieved a mean score of 2.95 compared to a perfect score of 7. Less than 10% of the students were able to exactly match their original recollection of events, and over half of the students got a score less than 2.

The most noteworthy findings in this “flashbulb” memory study were student reactions when confronted with conflicting accounts. Many students persisted in confidently claiming that their current memories of events were completely accurate, even when confronted with their own hand-written journal entries. One student summed up what happened succinctly,

“That’s my handwriting, but that’s not what happened.”

It’s important to note that in this new Quantum Age, such cases of alternate histories are to be expected. They provide evidence of the superposition of states that we and everything around us exists within, so we can expect to occasionally see documented records from the past that differ from what we recall. In the Quantum Age, we understand that seeing our own handwritten notes that aren’t at all what we remember is one way that alternate histories become known.

Physicists Agree: You’re in a Superposition of States

When we understand that our belief structures are creations of our minds, we start noticing how varied individual belief structures can be from person to person. What one person considers to be realistic and matter-of-fact might seem outrageously peculiar to another. Even the idea that other people actually see images in their minds may seem outlandish to some people, let alone what those people see. When enough people shift their belief structures to look at the world in fresh, new ways, cultural paradigms shift.

Staying current with new scientific findings can help. While most non-physicists would likely see a solid physical object such as a table or a chair as only what it currently appears to be, a remarkable 2/3 majority of physicists interviewed in 2011 stated they believe that all objects can exist in superimposed states—much the way we know quantum ‘particles’ exist as energetic probabilities as much as physical particles we can measure and observe. University of Portland, Oregon, physics professor, Maximilian Schlosshauer summarized this remarkable agreement thus,

“More than two-thirds believed that there is no fundamental limit to quantum theory—that it should be possible for objects, no matter how big, to be prepared in quantum superpositions like Schrödinger’s cat. So the era where quantum theory was associated only with the atomic realm appears finally over.”

A Scientific Basis for Instantaneous Adaptation in Stressful Times

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John Forster Cairns

The scientific assumption that organisms experienced random mutations was seriously shaken by Harvard professor John Forster Cairns 1988 proposal that the organisms themselves were preferentially producing beneficial mutations. Cairns conducted experiments with E. coli bacteria that demonstrated that in times of stress, when the bacteria were starved from food they were capable of digesting, they made “adaptive mutations” to be able to receive nutritive sustenance from a food source they’d never been able to consume before. This phenomenon in which E. coli mutated exactly the most optimal genes precisely when that mutation was required had no known basis nor explanation from established theories in genetics–and indeed seemed to contradict one of the central dogmas of molecular biology, that information only flows in one direction during transcription from DNA out to proteins to a cellular organism environment. John Cairns and Julie Overbaugh and others proposed a mechanism that what might be happening is that “the cell could produce a highly variable set of mRNA molecules and then reverse-transcribe the one that made the best protein.”

If reverse-engineering mutations by bacteria in times of starvation so they can start digesting lactose sounds crazy, it might help to know there exists a similar proven case of successful quantum biological adaptation: photosynthesis. Those who expect modern human technology to be faster and more efficient than the rustic natural world are quite surprised to learn that our best photovoltaic cells are only 20% efficient, compared with photosynthesizing plants and bacteria that regularly achieve 95% efficiency rates for transforming sunlight into energy. Plants have existed on Earth for millions of years, so it’s not too surprising to find that their natural process of photosynthesis likely utilizes quantum coherence to speed things up. In decades past, scientists believed that excited electrons carried energy randomly through photosynthetic systems in plants, hopping from one molecule to the next. More modern measurements of energy in the new field of quantum biology studying photosynthesizing plants indicates something much more efficient is going on. What appears to be happening is that electrons take advantage of the fact that energy can move not just in the material form, but in pure energy form, too, and entire systems of molecules can become entangled to allow the formation of a coherent wave that tries out different pathways simultaneously, until the most efficient route is very quickly determined. The quantum magic happens in each of a photosynthetic cell’s millions of antenna proteins that are surprisingly efficient and robust at routing energy with very little lost in transit.

University of Toronto biophysicist Greg Scholes published his findings of room-temperature quantum coherence behavior in common marine algae in Nature. Scholes describes an analogy of driving home through rush hour traffic to explain what these cells are doing:

“… you have three ways of driving home through rush hour traffic. On any given day, you take only one. You don’t know if the other routes would be quicker or slower. But in quantum mechanics, you can take all three of these routes simultaneously. You don’t specify where you are until you arrive, so you always choose the quickest route.”

Advantages of experiencing alternate realities

My point is that everyone is experiencing reality shifts that usually get brushed aside with the assumption from most social settings being that there has been confusion or misperception (with both parties assuming the other has made some kind of mental mistake). The reason I raise the topic of flashbulb memories in my book, Quantum Jumps, is to share the extraordinary findings of researchers who asked college freshmen immediately following the Challenger space shuttle explosion to write down where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with when they heard the news of this disaster very soon after it first occurred. Then some time later, these same students were again asked the same question before they were allowed to look at their own hand-written accounts. As some put it, “That’s my handwriting, but that’s not what happened.” Thanks to this research and stunning placebo effect results, we now have an opportunity to acknowledge that rather than explaining such reality shifts away as ‘memory lapses’ or confusion, we have always been witnessing the way quantum phenomena occurs at ALL levels of reality, and not only below the so-called “von Neumann cut.” I have a sense that research in these fields is about to lead us to a new level of awareness that facts can change–yet understanding of our true identity as being consciousness can help us best find our way forward in experiencing various possible realities.

What Would You Notice if You’re in a Superposition of States?

What would it feel like to exist in a superposition of states? How could you tell? You might notice things like: markedly different childhood memories from your siblings; spontaneous or speedy healing from illness or injury; different movie dialogue, writing in books, product names, song lyrics, TV shows, and celebrities alive again after being reported dead. In fact, this is precisely what people are reporting with such commonly recognized examples as:

BerensteinBearsBerenstein Bears VS Berenstain Bears

SnowWhiteQueenMirror

• “Mirror mirror on the wall” VS “Magic mirror on the wall”

• Mr. Rogers sings, “It’s a beautiful day in THE neighborhood” VS “It’s a beautiful day in THIS neighborhood”

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• Darth Vader says to Luke Skywalker, “Luke, I am your father” VS “No, I am your father”

Mandela Effect Reports on the Rise

In addition to some of these commonly reported shared experiences of alternate histories, some people are also remembering other things differently, such as: “If you build it, they will come” instead of now, “If you build it, he will come” and “Jiffy” peanut butter instead of “Jif.” As increasing numbers of honest reporters and authors start running into their own experiences with the Mandela Effect–both the private experiences that only they recognize, and the more publicly shared varieties–we will continue the growing conversation about the Mandela Effect, and why increasing numbers of people are noticing it now.

And in the meantime, I recommend that you keep asking “How good can it get?” to harness imagination and your ability to provide yourself with self-guidance from your highest levels of consciousness. Asking this question helps ensure we are honoring a longer-term, fuller and more harmoniously interconnected optimal experience. We can trust our highest, largest, most comprehensive levels of consciousness, and in so doing we will continue to experience different pasts and instantaneous transformations as we move through these stressful times to more optimal realities.

from:    http://consciouslifenews.com/whats-behind-meteoric-rise-mandela-effect/11124116/

Where Does Memory Lie?

PROOF OF MEMORY IN THE DNA

MIT DNA BreakA new study reported in the prestigious journal Cell (June 18, 2015) has found evidence that neurons break their own DNA to enable us to learn and to form memories. Up till know it has widely been assumed that a breakage in the DNA means damage and if the breakage remains then the DNA’s own repair systems are defective.

These researchers have found that “damage” is necessary to allow the expression of the so-called “early response” which are actually responsible for the regulation of processes crucial for the formation of long-lasting memories. The astounding conclusion to be drawn from this research is not only that this break in the DNA of neurons is not “damage” in the normal sense of the word, but also it is the routine process that results in the storage of the memory. The fact that the DNA is altered in this way clearly indicates that the memories are actually stored in the DNA and not in the neural network as has always been assumed.

These lesions or breaks in the DNA are immediately repaired, and what’s more it has been found that these repair systems become less effective in aging subjects which again clearly affirms that it is actually the DNA and not the neurons which are responsible for the storage of memory and thus accounts for the common loss of memory capability later in life. Earlier studies have actually foreshadowed this research when they found that the DNA of mice with Alzheimer’s disease had a significantly large occurrence of these unrepaired breaks or lesions. These earlier studies conducted by Li-Huei Tsai at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found the unrepaired lesions occurred specifically in the hippocampus of these mice which is known precisely to be a region of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

To further test this link between the breakage of the DNA and memory storage the researchers actually isolated neurons in a petri dish and exposed them to an agent that caused these double strand breaks in the DNA. When they examined the DNA in these isolated neurons they found that while the expression of the genes in general had been reduced, astoundingly expression had increased in these early-response genes responsible for memory storage, which would indicate that the DNA had committed this experiment to memory in these dead and lifeless neurons.

The early response genes are known to be rapidly expressed after neuronal activity and the researchers set out to ascertain whether the breaks in the DNA where a part of this process. When an organism is exposed to a new experience information flows across the gaps in the neural network known as the synapse. The scientists exposed the neurons to a substance which mimics the flow of this information after a new experience. “Sure enough, we found that the treatment very rapidly increased the expression of those early response genes, but it also caused DNA double strand breaks,” Tsai said in a statement. That is to say a false memory had been stored in the DNA of the organism.

The researchers used computers that scrutinized the DNA sequences adjacent to these breaks. When the DNA is intact there are minute kinks in the DNA caused by the binding of an architectural protein. These kinks prevent crucial signaling with distant DNA regions, and thus inhibits the expression of the early response genes. The breaks in the DNA remove this barrier to gene expression thus enabling the memory to be stored.

It has been known all along that aging results in a decline in the expression of the genes involved in learning processes as well as the storage of memories, and it would now appear that the problem is actually caused by the DNA repair processes becoming defective with age which means that these breaks in the DNA tend to accumulate thus hindering the retrieval of the information.

In another article on this website Memory Storage in the DNA you can learn how the expression of genes can be controlled by our brain waves, thus indicating that ultimately the occurrence of these breakages in the DNA must come from the mental image of the memory to be stored. These scientists have found a breakage in the chemical structure of the DNA but it must be obvious to all that the breakage cannot of itself explain the storage of a memory. Rather the breakage withdraws the barrier that enables the early response genes to pick up a certain precise frequency of brain wave which obviously would be capable of transmitting a precise mental image. A certain precise frequency of brain waves would most certainly be generated by the specific firing of a precise cluster of neurons, thus explaining all stages of the process from the formulation of a mental image to its ultimate storage as data in the DNA.

from:    http://www.spiritualgenome.com/index.php/articles/54-proof-of-memory-in-the-d

On Remembering & Forgetting

Health Check: can your brain be ‘full’?

The brain is truly a marvel. A seemingly endless library, whose shelves house our most precious memories as well as our lifetime’s knowledge. But is there a point where it reaches capacity? In other words, can the brain be “full”?

The answer is a resounding no, because, well, brains are more sophisticated than that. A study published in Nature Neuroscience earlier this year shows that instead of just crowding in, old information is sometimes pushed out of the brain for new memories to form.

Previous behavioural studies have shown that learning new information can lead to forgetting. But in this study, researchers used new neuroimaging techniques to demonstrate for the first time how this effect occurs in the brain.

The experiment

The paper’s authors set out to investigate what happens in the brain when we try to remember information that’s very similar to what we already know. This is important because similar information is more likely to interfere with existing knowledge, and it’s the stuff that crowds without being useful.

To do this, they examined how brain activity changes when we try to remember a “target” memory, that is, when we try to recall something very specific, at the same time as trying to remember something similar (a “competing” memory). Participants were taught to associate a single word (say, the word sand) with two different images – such as one of Marilyn Monroe and the other of a hat.

They found that as the target memory was recalled more often, brain activity for it increased. Meanwhile, brain activity for the competing memory simultaneously weakened. This change was most prominent in regions near the front of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, rather than key memory structures in the middle of the brain, such as the hippocampus, which is traditionally associated with memory loss.

Allan Ajifo/Flickr, CC BY

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a range of complex cognitive processes, such as planning, decision making, and selective retrieval of memory. Extensive research shows this part of the brain works in combination with the hippocampus to retrieve specific memories.

If the hippocampus is the search engine, the prefrontal cortex is the filter determining which memory is the most relevant. This suggests that storing information alone is not enough for a good memory. The brain also needs to be able to access the relevant information without being distracted by similar competing pieces of information.

Better to forget

In daily life, forgetting actually has clear advantages. Imagine, for instance, that you lost your bank card. The new card you receive will come with a new personal identification number (PIN). Research in this field suggests that each time you remember the new PIN, you gradually forget the old one. This process improves access to relevant information, without old memories interfering.

And most of us will be able to identify with the frustration of having old memories interfere with new, relevant memories. Consider trying to remember where you parked your car in the same carpark you were at a week earlier. This type of memory (where you are trying to remember new, but similar information) is particularly susceptible to interference.

When we acquire new information, the brain automatically tries to incorporate it within existing information by forming associations. And when we retrieve information, both the desired and associated but irrelevant information is recalled.

If the hippocampus is the search engine, the prefrontal cortex is the filter determining which memory is the most relevant. Playing Futures: Applied No/Flickr, CC BY

The majority of previous research has focused on how we learn and remember new information. But current studies are beginning to place greater emphasis on the conditions under which we forget, as its importance begins to be more appreciated.

The curse of memory

A very small number of people are able to remember almost every detail of their life in great detail; they have hyperthymestic syndrome. If provided with a date, they are able to tell you where and what they were doing on that particular day. While it may sound like a boon to many, people with this rare condition often find their unusual ability burdensome.

Some report an inability to think about the present or the future, because of the feeling of constantly living in the past, caught in their memories. And this is what we all might experience if our brains didn’t have a mechanism for superseding information that’s no longer relevant and did indeed fill up.

At the other end of the spectrum is a phenomenon called “accelerated long-term forgetting”, which has been observed in epilepsy and stroke patients. As the name suggests, these people forget newly learnt information at a much faster rate, sometimes within a few hours, compared to what’s considered normal.

It’s believed this represents a failure to “consolidate” or transfer new memories into long-term memory. But the processes and impact of this form of forgetting are still largely unexplored.

What studies in this area are demonstrating is that remembering and forgetting are two sides of the same coin. In a sense, forgetting is our brain’s way of sorting memories, so the most relevant memories are ready for retrieval. Normal forgetting may even be a safety mechanism to ensure our brain doesn’t become too full.

from:    https://theconversation.com/health-check-can-your-brain-be-full-40844

On Brain & Mind

The Nature Of Mind And The Holographic Brain

https://i2.wp.com/themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/minddd.jpg?w=584
By: Brandon West

What is the true nature of mind, and what is the real function of our brains?

The purpose of this article is to provide evidence that strongly indicates that you are not your brain, or your body for that matter, and that the nature of mind, of memory, and of our brains may actually be vastly different than we have been lead to believe.

Since time immemorial, man has been fascinated by the mind, leading great thinkers from Hippocrates to Descartes to ponder the nature of mind with wonder. Fast forward to modern times and observe how the mind is still revered and is dominating our culture. We have a lot of firm beliefs about the nature of mind, and I believe the ego – our limited perception of ourselves – and thus human ignorance, is intricately tied in with these beliefs.

But the truth of the matter is that we only understand a fraction of the minds potential, i.e. it’s capability of rote memorization and other analytically orientated functions, and we use even less.

We know hardly anything about the brain let alone the nature of mind. Is it possible that we are missing crucial aspects of its function and entire areas of development and potential that simply slide under the radar because they are not accepted by modern thought?

In this article we will explore the idea that the brain itself, with its tissue and neurons that we have until now deemed the source of our thoughts and identity, is actually just a tool, a receiver of human intelligence and consciousness, but not its source; and that the human mind is not sourced in the brain any more than the internet can be found in your laptop or your modem.

“My brain is only a receiver. In the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” – Nikola Tesla

Projected Memory on the Screen of Consciousness

To begin I would like to delve into the work of a Canadian neurosurgeon named Wilder Penfield. Through his work with epileptic patients spanning from the 1930′s into the 1970′s he found that “stimulation of the human cerebral cortex with a gentle electrical current sometimes awakens specific memories, at other times dreams.” His work gave him insight into the function of the brain, memory, mind, and the interactions between them.

(This information on Wilder Penfield’s experiments is from his lectures The Mechanism of Memory, and Some Mechanisms of Consciousness Discovered During Electrical Stimulation of the Brain unless otherwise specified.)

During brain surgery once the brain was exposed, he found that by using an electrode that produced a “gentle” electrical current, he could stimulate areas of the brain and get specific, repeatable, intriguing and often times simply fascinating results. The patients were kept conscious throughout the procedure so that the doctors could carry out a conversation throughout the operation and receive immediate feedback on the nature of the experience these electrical currents would produce.

In one case an area he stimulated caused a man to not only hear a piano being played, but also to see the man sitting in front of him playing the piano. In another case a boy reported seeing men sitting on a chair and singing, and in yet another case the patient heard a complete orchestra. In each of these situations the individuals involved didn’t see fleeting shapes of people, or the wisp of a song, but they saw the image as vivid and clear as if they were actually there in the room.

One woman even heard a song, which turned out to not even have been one of her favorite songs, being played when an area of her brain was being stimulated. When stimulated at intervals without her knowledge (because the brain has no tactile sensation), the same song began playing again from the exact same spot.

The sound was so clear and flawless that she mistook a device in the operating room as a musical device that they were stopping and starting at intervals.

In all cases the patients recalled the events not like you would commonly recall a memory, which is usually as a fleeting mental image, but rather in such explicit detail that it was literally like they were reliving the event in question. Some patients literally saw people in front of them, and heard them just as clearly as if they were actually there.

As Dr. Penfield phrased it, it was like the mind was able to “project a memory or a dream upon the screen of consciousness.” Moreover he found that when he stimulated the brains of individuals and they remembered something, an image, or sound, or a feeling, those memories were always accompanied by the thought processes that accompanied them at the time. Therefore our brains record sensory data as a whole unit.

Holographic Memory and the Nature of Mind

In my article the unified field and the illusion of time, we explored some evidence supporting the understanding that all information is encoded directly into the field – the energy density of space/time – all around us (which unfortunately is beyond the scope of this article). But if we apply that understanding to the perception going on in this circumstance when Wilder Penfield stimulated the brains of his patients, what occurred was that his patients seemed to have perfect recall of past events and in visual cases, 3D or holographic memory.

This is not normal perception.

What if the stimulation of the brain itself caused his patients to project their memory onto the field? Or what if that information was already present in a holographic sense meaning that those images, and those songs and memories were encoded within the field, possibly recording directly into the field by the brain itself, and the stimulation by chance allowed them to perceive the memory directly in the field?

This not only suggests the possibility of holographic memory in human beings, but a very different understanding of memory itself (which we shall explore later).

The other thing that is interesting is that the events which were brought back were entirely mundane, meaning they were generally ordinary events of no significance. This suggests that our brains actually record every detail of our lives, even the mundane and ordinary, and that they are accessible to us if we could figure out how to access it, or in other words, how to tap into the full potential of our minds.

Wilder Penfield himself remarked that if the brain was indeed recording all of experience, then it is only natural that when dipping into this massive archive of information and memory that we happen upon ordinary events considering the vast quantity of information recorded in our lifetime (from How To Know God by Deepak Chopra).

In Deepak Chopra’s book How To Know God, he also cites how Wilder Penfield noted that the brain even retains memory while dormant, such as the fact that when patients are under deep anesthesia during surgery, about one percent of the population has a recollection of what the doctors were saying, and even some details of the procedure. It is interesting that…

“Under deep anesthesia, there are practically no higher brain waves at all, making it impossible for the cerebral cortex to accomplish anything so complex as remembering what a surgeon is saying.”(How to Know God, p. 217)

This is one of the reasons why Wilder Penfield concluded after nearly 40 years of research that the mind was an entity separate from the brain, and which did not rely on the brain to function.

Who Is The One Doing The Moving?

Deepak Chopra in his lecture series with Wayne Dyer entitled Living Beyond Miracles tells of another of Wilder Penfield’s experiments where he is stimulating the motor cortex of a patient’s brain which causes the patient to raise their arm in front of them. If we were to ask the man if it is him moving his are, he would reply that ‘No, I AM not.’

But when Penfield asked him to move his arm to the side the patient could move his arm, and he responded with something akin to ‘I AM moving my arm’, or ‘now I AM moving my arm’. Who is this I AM presence who is doing the moving? And why is it not activated when the body is moving on its own?

If our brain is the source of who we are, then any stimulation thereof which resulted in motion should give us the perception that it is us who is moving, but as Deepak Chopra states, because that is not the case this is indicative that our brain is not who we are, that the brain and body is only superficially related to who we are, and that the brain most certainly is not the source of who we are.

Brain Tissue Is Apparently Optional

Removing a hemisphere. Evidence for the holographic brain concept, and that our brain is only a recorder of experience and not the source of the mind can be found in a study done by Johns Hopkins University (J.H.U.) where they worked with brain-damaged children. They found that they could improve their level of intelligence and physical coordination by removing the damaged hemisphere of their brain. In essence, they literally cut out the damaged chunk of the children’s brain.

Within our current understanding of the brain this operation should significantly damage, if not irreparably hinder the child’s ability for memory and cognitive functions. From conventional understanding all of the functions which that hemisphere of the brain took care of would no longer be implemented leaving the child mentally deficient, or fragmented in some form.

If memories are stored in the brain, then after this operation those children should have lost those memories pertaining to the removed portion of their brain … if memories are stored in the brain. Yet the results were astonishing, and once again defied conventional thought.

Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining of J.H.U. studied 54 of the children who underwent the operation and she was simply astounded by the “retention of memory, and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humour.” A new version of the study was published in 2003 by John Hopkins University that dealt with 111 kids who had the operation between 1975 and 2003. Out of these 111 children 86% of them were seizure free or no longer needed medication (David Wilcock, The Source Field Investigations).

The mystery of hydrocephalus. For more evidence we move towards the work of Dr. John Lorber who is one of the world’s top experts on the condition known as hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is due to a problem with the flow cerebral spinal fluid which surrounds and cushions the brain, and when there is a blockage in this flow the pressure within the individual’s cranium is increased. Hydrocephalus means literally “water on the brain,” and brain swelling in this case leads to an oftentimes dramatic compression of brain tissue.

Dr. Lorber studied a total of 253 people with this condition. In the most severe cases, the pressure in the brain would increase to such a high level that the brain tissue would be compacted leaving the patient with only a fraction of their original amount of brain tissue. In Dr. Lorber’s study 9 people reached this severity with around only 5% of their total brain tissue left. That means only 5% of their neurons, brain cells, synapses, and so one were available in the patient’s brain.

Amazingly 4 out of 9 of those people with less than 5% of their brain tissue had an IQ over 100, and 2/9 had an IQ greater than 126. In other words 66.6% of them were fine. Given the drastic loss of brain tissue the obvious question is how is this possible? How can someone with almost literally no brain be intelligent at all, let alone above average?

Dr. Lorber was directed to a student at his university by his peers, literally based on the intriguingly large size of his head, they thought he may be of potential interest. This student had an IQ of 126 and had a “first-class honours degree in mathematics, and is socially completely normal.”

A brain scan was done on this individual with surprising results. It was found that out of the normal 4.5 cm of brain tissue, his condition had been compressed to only a few millimeters. In other words his head filled with cerebral spinal fluid, and only a few millimeters of brain tissue, yet he was still high functioning with above average intelligence (David Wilcock, The Source Field Investigations).

I have no technical understanding of how this is even possible except to simply suggest that possibly the conductivity and crystalline nature of water may be a contributing factor. Yet what this should clearly illustrate that we know very little of the true nature of mind, or the brain. Both of these once again demonstrate that the mind is independent of the brain.

The Nature of Mind-Brain Connection

This evidence raises some important questions:

What is the real function of our brains? Is it the brain tissue itself that creates our intelligence, or is it the electrical and conductive nature of the brain that allows us to connect to intelligence? More or less like a sophisticated antennae, just like Nikola Tesla observed of himself early in the 20th century.

All of this information so far creates a lot of friction with the current propagated understanding of the brain, if it doesn’t debunk it altogether. The information that Penfield discovered is suggesting that our brains are independent of our minds, and that all our memories are recorded in their entirety, and with the same detail that we experienced them. From where we do not yet know.

I also suggest that this is evidence that we have the potential for holographic memory. This hypothetically is a possible function of our minds where our memory is projected powerfully onto reality (onto the screen of the universal consciousness) so that we can experience and relive our memories in 3D. After all, this is what Wilder Penfield’s patients experienced.

As Johns Hopkins University, and John Lorber’s research found, it may not be that our brains are really that important. If children can have half their brains removed and retain their memories and personality, and if people can function with less than 5% of their brain tissue with above average intelligence, then what is the true purpose of the brain but as a vehicle for intelligence, not as the source of intelligence?

Like a highly sophisticated bio-technology that we use to experience this level of reality, create reality, and express ourselves. Like in the movie Avatar, maybe we are not actually our bodies but are just operating them.

Is our brain really where memories are stored? There is actually no evidence to support that even our memories are stored in the brain, and never has there been a memory discovered in the brain. This is because our brains are constantly changing and are not fixed structures.

The evidence is finally lining up with ancient spiritual truths from every culture which expressed explicitly that we are divine, and that our true nature is conscious awareness, and that we are merely a fragment of that divine consciousness expressed in physical form.

Conclusion

We may be vastly underestimating the power of our minds, and our true abilities to use them. If our minds can remember entire songs to perfection or orchestral performances that we only heard in passing then what is stopping us from accessing this on a conscious level?

It seems that every single detail of our lives is recorded with our brain, so the question I have is how do we access that information, and from where do we access it?

This evidence provides a truly exciting shift in the way we can view our minds, and more importantly our potential. If an electrode in our brain is able to stimulate such vivid recollection, is it not possibly that we can develop our imagination and our mental abilities to this point naturally so we can use that ability at will?

Is it not possible that there is much more going on during a simple thought process or recollection of an event than we give ourselves credit for? That is exactly what Wilder Penfield found which caused him at the end of his career to see the nature of mind as a field of energy or information which Deepak Chopra (I believe) termed the ‘mind-field’.

What if your essence is not in your brain, or in your body, but in a formless field of energy?

About the Author

Brandon West is the creator of Project Global Awakening. A website dedicated to the research of a variety of scientific and spiritual disciplines, and applying that knowledge to help you live an inspired life and change the world. Follow Project Global Awakening on Facebook, and Twitter.

from:     http://themindunleashed.org/2015/01/nature-mind-holographic-brain.html

On Memory and the Elderly

Forget about forgetting: The elderly know more and use it better

What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? If your think our brains go into a steady decline, research reported this week in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science may make you think again. The work, headed by Dr. Michael Ramscar of Tübingen University, takes a critical look at the measures usually thought to show that our cognitive abilities decline across adulthood. Instead of finding evidence of decline, the team discovered that most standard cognitive measures, which date back to the early twentieth century, are flawed. “The human brain works slower in old age,” says Ramscar, “but only because we have stored more information over time.”

Computers were trained, like humans, to read a certain amount each day, and to learn new things. When the researchers let a computer “read” only so much, its performance on cognitive tests resembled that of a young adult. But if the same computer was exposed to the experiences we might encounter over a lifetime – with reading simulated over decades – its performance now looked like that of an older adult. Often it was slower, but not because its processing capacity had declined. Rather, increased “experience” had caused the computer’s database to grow, giving it more data to process – which takes time.

Technology now allows researchers to make quantitative estimates of the number of words an adult can be expected to learn across a lifetime, enabling the Tübingen team to separate the challenge that increasing knowledge poses to memory from the actual performance of memory itself. “Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly. Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?” asks Ramscar.

The answer appears to be “no.” When Ramscar’s team trained their computer models on huge linguistic datasets, they found that standardized vocabulary tests, which are used to take account of the growth of knowledge in studies of ageing, massively underestimate the size of adult vocabularies. It takes computers longer to search databases of words as their sizes grow, which is hardly surprising but may have important implications for our understanding of age-related slowdowns. The researchers found that to get their computers to replicate human performance in word recognition tests across adulthood, they had to keep their capacities the same. “Forget about forgetting,” explained Tübingen researcher Peter Hendrix, “if I wanted to get the computer to look like an older adult, I had to keep all the words it learned in memory and let them compete for attention.”

The research shows that studies of the problems have with recalling names suffer from a similar blind spot: there is a far greater variety of given names today than there were two generations ago. This cultural shift toward greater name diversity means the number of different names anyone learns over their lifetime has increased dramatically. The work shows how this makes locating a name in memory far harder than it used to be. Even for computers.

Ramscar and his colleagues’ work provides more than an explanation of why, in the light of all the extra information they have to process, we might expect older brains to seem slower and more forgetful than younger brains. Their work also shows how changes in test performance that have been taken as evidence for declining in fact demonstrates older adults’ greater mastery of the knowledge they have acquired.

Take “paired-associate learning,” a commonly used cognitive test that involves learning to connect words like “up” to “down” or “necktie” to “cracker” in memory. Using Big Data sets to quantify how often different words appear together in English, the Tuebingen team show that younger adults do better when asked to learn to pair “up” with “down” than “necktie” and “cracker” because “up” and “down” appear in close proximity to one another more frequently. However, whereas older adults also understand which words don’t usually go together, notice this less. When the researchers examined performance on this test across a range of word pairs that go together more and less in English, they found older adult’s scores to be far more closely attuned to the actual information in hundreds of millions of words of English than their younger counterparts.

As Prof. Harald Baayen, who heads the Alexander von Humboldt Quantitative Linguistics research group where the work was carried out puts it, “If you think linguistic skill involves something like being able to choose one word given another, seem to do better in this task. But, of course, proper understanding of language involves more than this. You have also to not put plausible but wrong pairs of words together. The fact that older adults find nonsense pairs – but not connected pairs – harder to learn than young adults simply demonstrates ‘ much better understanding of language. They have to make more of an effort to learn unrelated word pairs because, unlike the youngsters, they know a lot about which words don’t belong together.”

The Tübingen research conclude that we need different tests for the cognitive abilities of older people – taking into account the nature and amount of information our brains process. “The brains of older people do not get weak,” says Michael Ramscar. “On the contrary, they simply know more.”

from:    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-01-elderly.html

Time Passages….

Why Time Slows Down When We’re Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation

by

“Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality.”

Given my soft spot for famous diaries, it should come as no surprise that I keep one myself. Perhaps the greatest gift of the practice has been the daily habit of reading what I had written on that day a year earlier; not only is it a remarkable tool of introspection and self-awareness, but it also illustrates that our memory “is never a precise duplicate of the original [but] a continuing act of creation” and how flawed our perception of time is — almost everything that occurred a year ago appears as having taken place either significantly further in the past (“a different lifetime,” I’d often marvel at this time-illusion) or significantly more recently (“this feels like just last month!”). Rather than a personal deficiency of those of us befallen by this tendency, however, it turns out to be a defining feature of how the human mind works, the science of which is at first unsettling, then strangely comforting, and altogether intensely interesting.

That’s precisely what acclaimed BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond explores in Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (public library) — a fascinating foray into the idea that our experience of time is actively created by our own minds and how these sensations of what neuroscientists and psychologists call “mind time” are created. As disorienting as the concept might seem — after all, we’ve been nursed on the belief that time is one of those few utterly reliable and objective things in life — it is also strangely empowering to think that the very phenomenon depicted as the unforgiving dictator of life is something we might be able to shape and benefit from. Hammond writes:

We construct the experience of time in our minds, so it follows that we are able to change the elements we find troubling — whether it’s trying to stop the years racing past, or speeding up time when we’re stuck in a queue, trying to live more in the present, or working out how long ago we last saw our old friends. Time can be a friend, but it can also be an enemy. The trick is to harness it, whether at home, at work, or even in social policy, and to work in line with our conception of time. Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it.

 

Discus chronologicus, a depiction of time by German engraver Christoph Weigel, published in the early 1720s; from Cartographies of Time. (Click for details)

Among the most intriguing illustrations of “mind time” is the incredible elasticity of how we experience time. (“Where is it, this present?,” William James famously wondered. “It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.”) For instance, Hammond points out, we slow time down when gripped by mortal fear — the cliche about the slow-motion car crash is, in fact, a cognitive reality. This plays out even in situations that aren’t life-or-death per se but are still associated with strong feelings of fear. Hammond points to a study in which people with arachnophobia were asked to look at spiders — the very object of their intense fear — for 45 seconds and they overestimated the elapsed time. The same pattern was observed in novice skydivers, who estimated the duration of their peers’ falls as short, whereas their own, from the same altitude, were deemed longer.

Inversely, time seems to speed up as we get older — a phenomenon of which competing theories have attempted to make light. One, known as the “proportionality theory,” uses pure mathematics, holding that a year feels faster when you’re 40 than when you’re 8 because it only constitutes one fortieth of your life rather than a whole eighth. Among its famous proponents are Vladimir Nabokov and William James. But Hammond remains unconvinced:

The problem with the proportionality theory is that it fails to account for the way we experience time at any one moment. We don’t judge one day in the context of our whole lives. If we did, then for a 40-year-old every single day should flash by because it is less than one fourteen-thousandth of the life they’ve had so far. It should be fleeting and inconsequential, yet if you have nothing to do or an enforced wait at an airport for example, a day at 40 can still feel long and boring and surely longer than a fun day at the seaside packed with adventure for a child. … It ignores attention and emotion, which … can have a considerable impact on time perception.

Another theory suggests that perhaps it is the tempo of life in general that has accelerated, making things from the past appear as slower, including the passage of time itself.

But one definite change does take place with age: As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer. Similarly, we tend to think of events that took place in the past 10 years as having happened more recently than they actually did. (Quick: What year did the devastating Japanese tsunami hit? When did we lose Maurice Sendak?) Conversely, we perceive events that took place more than a decade ago as having happened even longer ago. (When did Princess Diana die? What year was the Chernobyl disaster?) This, Hammond points out, is known as “forward telescoping”:

It is as though time has been compressed and — as if looking through a telescope — things seem closer than they really are. The opposite is called backward or reverse telescoping, also known as time expansion. This is when you guess that events happened longer ago than they really did. This is rare for distant events, but not uncommon for recent weeks.

[…]

The most straightforward explanation for it is called the clarity of memory hypothesis, proposed by the psychologist Norman Bradburn in 1987. This is the simple idea that because we know that memories fade over time, we use the clarity of a memory as a guide to its recency. So if a memory seems unclear we assume it happened longer ago.

And yet the brain does keep track of time, even if inaccurately. Hammond explains the factors that come into play with our inner chronometry:

It is clear that however the brain counts time, it has a system that is very flexible. It takes account of [factors like] emotions, absorption, expectations, the demands of a task and even the temperature .The precise sense we are using also makes a difference; an auditory event appears longer than a visual one. Yet somehow the experience of time created by the mind feels very real, so real that we feel we know what to expect from it, and are perpetually surprised whenever it confuses us by warping.

In fact, memory — which is itself a treacherous act of constant transformation with each recollection — is intricately related to this warping process:

We know that time has an impact on memory, but it is also memory that creates and shapes our experience of time. Our perception of the past moulds our experience of time in the present to a greater degree than we might realize. It is memory that creates the peculiar, elastic properties of time. It not only gives us the ability to conjure up a past experience at will, but to reflect on those thoughts through autonoetic consciousness — the sense that we have of ourselves as existing across time — allowing us to re-experience a situation mentally and to step outside those memories to consider their accuracy.

But, curiously, we are most likely to vividly remember experiences we had between the ages of 15 and 25. What the social sciences might simply call “nostalgia” psychologists have termed the “reminiscence bump” and, Hammond argues, it could be the key to why we feel like time speeds up as we get older:

The reminiscence bump involves not only the recall of incidents; we even remember more scenes from the films we saw and the books we read in our late teens and early twenties. … The bump can be broken down even further — the big news events that we remember best tend to have happened earlier in the bump, while our most memorable personal experiences are in the second half.

[…]

The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty. The reason we remember our youth so well is that it is a period where we have more new experiences than in our thirties or forties. It’s a time for firsts — first sexual relationships, first jobs, first travel without parents, first experience of living away from home, the first time we get much real choice over the way we spend our days. Novelty has such a strong impact on memory that even within the bump we remember more from the start of each new experience.

Most fascinating of all, however, is the reason the “reminiscence bump” happens in the first place: Hammond argues that because memory and identity are so closely intertwined, it is in those formative years, when we’re constructing our identity and finding our place in the world, that our memory latches onto particularly vivid details in order to use them later in reinforcing that identity. Interestingly, Hammond points out, people who undergo a major transformation of identity later in life — say, changing careers or coming out — tend to experience a second identity bump, which helps them reconcile and consolidate their new identity.

So what makes us date events more accurately? Hammond sums up the research:

You are most likely to remember the timing of an event if it was distinctive, vivid, personally involving and is a tale you have recounted many times since.

But one of the most enchanting instances of time-warping is what Hammond calls the Holiday Paradox — “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.” (An “American translation” might term it the Vacation Paradox.) Her explanation of its underlying mechanisms is reminiscent of legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory of the clash between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self”. Hammond explains:

The Holiday Paradox is caused by the fact that we view time in our minds in two very different ways — prospectively and retrospectively. Usually these two perspectives match up, but it is in all the circumstances where we remark on the strangeness of time that they don’t.

[…]

We constantly use both prospective and retrospective estimation to gauge time’s passing. Usually they are in equilibrium, but notable experiences disturb that equilibrium, sometimes dramatically. This is also the reason we never get used to it, and never will. We will continue to perceive time in two ways and continue to be struck by its strangeness every time we go on holiday.

Like the “reminiscence bump,” the Holiday Paradox has to do with the quality and concentration of new experiences, especially in contrast to familiar daily routines. During ordinary life, time appears to pass at a normal pace, and we use markers like the start of the workday, weekends, and bedtime to assess the rhythm of things. But once we go on vacation, the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences injects a disproportionate amount of novelty that causes these two types of time to misalign. The result is a warped perception of time.

Ultimately, this source of great mystery and frustration also holds the promise of great liberation and empowerment. Hammond concludes:

We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special.

Time Warped, a fine addition to these essential reads on time, goes on to explore such philosophically intriguing and practically useful questions as how our internal clocks dictate our lives, what the optimal pace of productivity might be, and why inhabiting life with presence is the only real way to master time. Pair it with this remarkable visual history of humanity’s depictions of time.

Photographs: Public domain images unless otherwise noted

from:    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/15/time-warped-claudia-hammond/

On Maintaining Brain Health As One Ages

Maintain Your Brain: The Secrets to Aging Success

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2012) — Aging may seem unavoidable, but that’s not necessarily so when it comes to the brain. So say researchers in the April 27th issue of the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences based on counterintuitive evidence that it is what you do in old age that matters when it comes to maintaining a youthful brain rather than what you did earlier in life.

“Although some memory functions do tend to decline as we get older, several elderly show well-preserved functioning and this is related to a well-preserved, youth-like brain,” says Lars Nyberg, Professor of Neuroscience at Umeå University in Sweden.

Education won’t save your brain — PhDs are as likely as high school dropouts to experience memory loss with old age, the researchers say. Don’t count on your job either. Those with a complex or demanding career may enjoy a limited advantage, but those benefits quickly dwindle after retirement. Engagement is the secret to success. Those who are socially, mentally and physically stimulated reliably show greater cognitive performance with a brain that appears younger than its years.

“There is quite solid evidence that staying physically and mentally active is a way towards brain maintenance,” Nyberg says.

The researchers say this new take on successful aging represents an important shift in focus for the field. Much attention in the past has gone instead to understanding ways in which the brain copes with or compensates for cognitive decline in aging. The research team now argues for the importance of avoiding those age-related brain changes in the first place. Genes play a role, but life choices and other environmental factors, especially in old age, are critical.

Elderly people generally do have more trouble remembering meetings or names, Nyberg says. But those memory losses often happen later than many often think, after the age of 60. Older people also continue to accumulate knowledge and to use what they know effectively, often to very old ages.

“Taken together, a wide range of findings provides converging evidence for marked heterogeneity in brain aging,” the scientists write. “Critically, some older adults show little or no brain changes relative to younger adults, along with intact cognitive performance, which supports the notion of brain maintenance. In other words, maintaining a youthful brain, rather than responding to and compensating for changes, may be the key to successful memory aging.”

from:    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120427163335.htm

Why Did I Come In Here?

Forget Why You Walked in a Room? Doorways to Blame, Study Finds

By Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
21 November 2011 3:43 PM ET

 

Credit: Dreamstime

 

“So … what am I doing here, anyway?”

Even the most nimble-minded among us have pondered that question after walking into a room with some purpose in mind — to get something, perhaps? — only to blank on what that purpose was. Now a new study suggests that it’s the very act of walking through a doorway that causes these strange memory lapses.

“Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” said lead researcher Gabriel Radvansky, a psychologist at the University of Notre Dame. “Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”

In our minds, like in the movies, threshold-crossing signals the end of a scene.

As detailed in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the explanation follows from a series of experiments that probed the relationship between memory and various types of home wandering. First, Radvansky assigned a group of study participants the task of selecting an object from one table and exchanging it for an object at a different table in another room. He then had a second group perform the same task between tables that were an equal distance apart, but in the same room.

The difference in the two groups’ performances was “big enough to drive a truck through,” Radvansky told Life’s Little Mysteries. Despite the simplicity of their task, “people were two to three times as likely to forget what they were supposed to do after walking through a doorway.” This suggested that doorways acted as mental blocks, impeding our ability to retrieve memories formed elsewhere.

The finding held true when the participants navigated both real-world and virtual settings.

But was it actually threshold-crossing that caused their memory lapses, or was it simply being in a different environment than the one in which they learned their task? To find out, Radvansky had the volunteers perform another object-exchanging task, but this time, the task required them to pass through several doorways leading back to the room in which they started. As it turned out, their memories failed them in this scenario just as they did in the other threshold-crossing scenarios. “When they went through multiple doorways, the error rate increased,” he said. This suggests that the act of passing through doorways, rather than the fact of being in a different environment, kills memory, he said.

So why does this happen? “When we are moving through the world, it is very continuous and dynamic and to deal with it more effectively, we parse things up,” Radvansky said. Neuroscientists have begun imaging the brains of people crossing event boundaries and, from these studies, are just beginning to piece together how the brain performs this function. “There are a lot of [brain] areas that light up at different kinds of event boundaries.”

Mental event boundaries are useful because they help us organize our thoughts and memories. But when we’re trying to remember that thing we were intending to do… or get… or maybe find… they can be annoying.

“I think architects are interested in this research because they want to design spaces that are more effective,” Radvansky said. “For example, they might need to consider where you need doorways and where you don’t.”

from:   http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/walking-doorways-forgetting-2192/

Time and Meditation

Susan Morales, M.S.W.

Psychotherapist and student/practitioner of meditation

 Can Meditation Change Our Perception of Time?
Posted: 11/13/11 11:58 AM ET

I often hear, “I don’t have time to meditate.” In our society where time equals money, this statement is hard to dispute. The new movie “In Time” takes this concept to the extreme. Time has become the currency. A cup of coffee costs four minutes of one’s life.

The very fact that time is precious is the reason we should meditate. I have found that taking time to meditate gives me time — the same way that exercising takes energy but ultimately helps one have more energy.

#1: We See The Big Picture

When we close our eyes and focus inside, we are able to see get an overview, a broader perspective of our lives. We step away from the minutiae and see the broad-brush strokes that make up our days. Meditation gives us the opportunity to see what is really important. Try this exercise: Imagine a day in which you were very over-scheduled. You felt overwhelmed. (I hope this isn’t every day!) Now let your mind float over the activities without trying to judge them. Which stand out as important and/or meaningful? Which could you have done without? Perhaps there were some phone calls you didn’t really have to make or a lunch date that could have been postponed.

When we’re overwhelmed we have less energy to focus on the important tasks. Sometimes we end up rushing things that need more attention. We may even make mistakes that cost us more time.

Meditation can help you sort out what is important, help you prioritize so that your time is spent where you really want it and not on activities that are less important to you.

#2: Our Perception of Time Is Expanded

When we are busy and engaged, time flies. When we are bored or not where we want to be, time drags. Of course, time doesn’t change, it is merely our experience of it that changes. During peak performances athletes describe being in “the zone.” This phenomenon also occurs in traumatic events. Time seems to expand, slow down. I stumbled this last spring while playing tennis, going up and back to hit an overhead. The fall that took my head to the concrete probably took a split second, but I had time to think at least a dozen thoughts, including “Is this how my life is going to end?” I had time to break the fall with my hip so my head only bounced off the court causing a moderate concussion. This sensation of time slowing can also happen in meditation. By focusing on our internal sensations, or our breath, our brain waves shift to a slower rhythm allowing the sense of time to expand.

When time seems to slow down, we feel we have time for whatever we want. Our bodies and minds relax and stress is reduced. Not stressing means more time!

#3: We Focus On The Present Moment

Our thoughts, our feelings and our actions happen in the present moment. So why are we so focused on the past and the future? Consider how often you anticipate what is going to happen or worry about something that might happen. Conversely,
how much do you dwell on the past? Obsess about how you should have done something or said something differently. Or how so-and-so did you wrong?

This past or future focus can be a huge drain on our energy and our time. Being in the present moment gives us the chance to channel all our energy on what we’re doing, on whom we’re with. Meditation can teach you this kind of focus and concentration. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that I am more efficient, less distracted. The pay off is more time for what’s important to me.

There’s also a big bonus to keeping your attention in the present moment: Your memory improves. What I’ve experienced — granted after many years of a regular meditation practice — is that I retrieve information more quickly, forget things less often and find misplaced items more easily. All of this translates into more time.

My life is extremely full. Often I’m asked, “How do you do all of it?” My answer is simple. “I meditate.”

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-morales-msw/making-time-for-meditation_b_1083308.html?ref=healthy-living