Saturday, December 15, 2007

Extract from a book I read recently. The extract has some interesting information on neuroscience. The book is called "The Echo Maker" by Richard Powers. Published in 2006 by Vintage.

Page 449:

"… A few years back, Giacomo Rizzolati's group in Parma had been testing motor-control neurons in a macaque's premotor cortex. Every time the monkey moved its arm, the neurons fired. One day, between measurements, the monkey's arm-muscle neurons began firing like crazy, even though the monkey was perfectly still. More testing produced the mind-boggling conclusion: the motor neurons fired when one of the lab experimenters moved his arm. Neurons used to move a limb fired away simply because the monkey saw another creature moving, and moved its own imaginary arm in symbol-space sympathy.

A part of the brain that did the physical things was being cannibalized for making imaginary representations. Science had at last laid bare the neurological basis of empathy: brain maps, mapping other mapping brains. One human wit quickly labeled the find the monkey-see monkey-do neurons, and all others followed suit. Imaging and EEG soon revealed that humans too, were crawling with mirror neurons. Images of moving muscles made symbolic muscles move, and muscles in symbol moved muscle tissue.

Researchers rushed to flesh out the staggering find. The mirror-neuron system extended beyond this surveillance and performance of movement. It grew tendrils, snaking into all sorts of higher cognitive processes. It played roles in speech and learning, facial decoding, threat analysis, the understanding of intention, the perception of and response to emotions, social intelligence, and theory of mind. …"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Notes on the book “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, Copyright 2006

Pages 297-299

Before the father dies, he talks to his son. There are some interesting thoughts here on the imagination and prayer.

"The boy thought he smelled wert ash on the wind. He went up the road and came dragging back a piece of plywood from the roadside trash and he drove sticks into the ground with a rock and made of the plywood a rightly leanto but in the end it didn’t rain. He left the flare pistol and took the revolver with him and he scoured the countryside for anything to eat but he came back empty handed. The man took his hand, wheezing. You must go on, he said. I cant go with you. You need to keep going. You dont know what might be down the road. You were always lucky. You'll be lucky again. You'll see. Just go. It's all right.

I cant.

It's all right. This has been a long time coming. Now it's here. Keep going south. Do everything the way we did it.

You're going to be okay, Papa. You have to. No I'm not. Keep the gun with you at all times. You need to find the good guys. But you cant take any chances. No chances. Do you hear?

I want to be with you.

You cant.


You cant. You have to carry the fire.

I don’t know how to.

Yes you do.

Is it real? The fire?

Yes it is.

Where is it? I don’t know where it is.

Yes you do. Its inside you. It was always there. I can see it.

Just take me with you. Pease.

I cant.

Please, Papa.

I cant. I cant hold my son dead in my arms.

I thought I could but I cant.

You said you wouldnt ever leave me.

I know. I'm sorry. You have my whole heart. You always did. You're the best guy. You always were. If I'm not here you can still talk to me. You can talk to me and I'll talk to you. You'll see.

Will I hear you?

Yes. You will. You have to make it like talk that you imagine. And you'll hear me. You have to practice. Just don’t give up. Okay?



I'm really scared Papa.

I know. But you'll be okay. You're going to be lucky. I know you are. I've got to stop talking. I'm going to start coughing again.

It's okay. You don't have to talk. It's okay."

Visit my Homepage