Human Exceptionalism Claims, from Yale and Kavli Inst. – of course

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These claims seem contradicted by other experiments in motor control but here it is below.  Yale Seems firmly in the human exceptionalism camp as an institution and Kavli Institute funding the same.  The money would seem better spent understanding how human brain > behavior processes are similar to other animals and thus much easier to study, duh…

“While we often think of the human brain as a highly innovative structure, it’s been surprising that so many of these regulatory elements seem to play a role in ancient processes important for building the cortex in all mammals…”

Yale Maps Evolutionary Changes of the Human Brain

New research from Yale University reveals a detailed catalog of human-specific changes in gene regulation and pinpoints several biological processes potentially guided by these regulatory elements that are crucial to human brain development.

Thousands of genetic “dimmer” switches, regions of DNA known as regulatory elements, were turned up high during human evolution in the developing cerebral cortex, according to new research from the Yale School of Medicine.

Unlike in rhesus monkeys and mice, these switches show increased activity in humans, where they may drive the expression of genes in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that is involved in conscious thought and language. This difference may explain why the structure and function of that part of the brain is so unique in humans compared to other mammals.

In addition to creating a rich and detailed catalog of human-specific changes in gene regulation, Noonan and his colleagues pinpointed several biological processes potentially guided by these regulatory elements that are crucial to human brain development.

“Building a more complex cortex likely involves several things: making more cells, modifying the functions of cortical areas, and changing the connections neurons make with each other. And the regulatory changes we found in humans are associated with those processes.  This likely involves evolutionary modifications to cellular proliferation, cortical patterning, and other developmental processes that are generally well conserved across many species.”.

While we often think of the human brain as a highly innovative structure, it’s been surprising that so many of these regulatory elements seem to play a role in ancient processes important for building the cortex in all mammals.  However, this is often a hallmark of evolution, tinkering with the tools available to produce new features and functions.”

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“Since 2002, a series of ten such studies have reported that individuals who used cannabis at the baseline evaluation had a greater risk of subsequently developing psychotic symptoms and indeed full-blown schizophrenia than non-users. “

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  • …”Since 2002, a series of ten such studies have reported that individuals who used cannabis at the baseline evaluation had a greater risk of subsequently developing psychotic symptoms and indeed full-blown schizophrenia than non-users. Other studies of cannabis users who had sought medical care showed that they had a marked increased risk of subsequent schizophrenia. Such unanimity is rare in psychiatric epidemiology.”
  • “Cannabis is now generally accepted as a cause of schizophrenia (though less so in North America, where this topic has received little attention). Argument does continue over just how significant cannabis-associated psychosis is. In different countries, the proportion of schizophrenia attributed to cannabis use ranges from 8 to 24 percent, depending, in part, on the prevalence of cannabis use.”
  • “Nevertheless, the vast majority of users won’t become psychotic.…It appears that some people are especially vulnerable. Not surprisingly, people with a paranoid or “psychosis-prone” personality are at greatest risk, alongside people with a family history of psychosis. Research also suggests that inheriting certain variants of genes that influence the dopamine system, which is implicated in psychosis, may make some users especially susceptible…”
  • “the increasing availability of high-potency types of cannabis explains why psychiatrists should be more concerned about cannabis now than they were in the 1960s and 1970s.”
  • “In picking their way through the conflicting views, politicians and regulators need to recognize that “medicinal marijuana” has become largely a cover for introducing recreational use by the marijuana industry”

Appraising the Risks of Reefer Madness
By: Sir Robin Murray, M.D.

Editor’s Note: Studies that have tied cannabis use to schizophrenia in the developing brain are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marijuana. Continue reading

Philosophy is Just More Magical Thinking, Like Voodoo

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The core (false) promise of all magical beliefs is everyday language-based “Mind over matter.”  and “Action at a difference.”  Praying, to some god, is just subjective reports of individual experience.  So is voodoo, belief in the tooth fairy, belief in free will, philosophy, etc.

Well, philosophy is just more of the same.  It presumes that words and everyday language matter to human behavior and explain the world.  Well, it doesn’t and never really has.  But, it is a very popular marketing/sales promise – look at religion!  VERY profitable.   Economists make the same false promise.

Cognitism, Philosophism, Theism and the Cult of Subjectivity

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Brains science, animal ethology and biology have proven our subjective sense of self and Felt experiences, including consciousness, decision making, values, thinking, deciding, etc are mere cultural constructs and myths.  Yet, the Western value of the primacy of individual experience still dominates cultural and academic thinking are work. Continue reading

The Silliness that Is Epigenetics

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With medical, physiological and biological getting much better very quickly, there are all sorts of rear-guard attacks on the inarguable determinism.  The idea that everyday effects can change the genes, along with brain plasticity are two of the most popular.  These are not science-based but designed to sooth pop fears about.

Here we dispense with epigenetics: Continue reading

Good Starter Biological Model of Brain and Behavior

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Beyond the Computer Metaphor: Behaviour as Interaction – Paul Cisek, 1999

Summary
We need to step back from the input-output metaphor of computationalism and ask what kind  of information processing the brain does, and what is its purpose.  The answer, suggested numerous times throughout the last hundred years, is that the brain is exerting control over its environment.  It does so by constructing behavioral control circuits which functionally extend outside of the body, making use of consistent properties of the environment including the behavior of other organisms. These circuits  and the control they allow are the very reason for having a brain.

Behavior as Control – “”Behavior Is the Control of Perception.”
We begin with a fundamental premise: The brain evolved…The evolution of a biological system such as the brain is…a rich source of constraints for anyone theorizing about how the brain functions and about what it does. It is a source of insight that is too often overlooked…we should expect to gain insight into the abilities of modern brains by considering the requirements faced by primitive brains, and the sequence of evolutionary changes by which these primitive brains evolved into modern brains. Continue reading

“I think/feel, therefore I buy” — Probaby Not

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Here’s a good rule of thumb for brain stuff, psychology, econ, etc – what we all naturally , talk about, tell ourselves and each other and our subjective experiences, feelings, etc are probably bad indicators of how our brains operate to control behavior.  It seems more likely that the opposite of what we believe is true!  So critical thinking is really necessary.  It’s hard.

Let’s, briefly, look at our beliefs about why we ourselves, and everyone else buy stuff.

Pretty much everyone, including most economists, scientists, policy folks, business folks and marketers – go along with the naive realism view that the subjective experiences we all chat about cause buying behavior.  That is likely an illusion.  A set of illusions that waste a lot of marketing time and money. Continue reading