Biology 202
Neurobiology and Behavior
Spring 2004

Forum 12


Name:  Chelsea
Username:  clphilli@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  serial dreams
Date:  2004-04-06 09:34:30
Message Id:  9200
Comments:
I once had an entire series of dreams with the same characters and a continuous plot line; even though the six or ten dreams were spread out over several months, each dream progressed logically from the last. It was kind of like continuity in a movie- if something happened in one dream without a logial conclusion (I went on a road trip and didn't return before the end of the dream), it gave itself a conclusion in the next dream (I "physically" got in the car and came back, or I came into my dorm with bags and someone would ask how the trip was).

Because these dreams were so consistant and so spread out, it makes me think that there must have been something enormous floating around in my mind for a LONG time, and it was resolving itself in mini-series form for some reason. I'm fascinated by the fact that instead of recurring dreams, it was recurring people and plot- something in me must of been obsessed with getting this problem (what ever it was) to a specific conclusion. The best part was that my mind thought of it as already written, but I didn't know what was going to happen in the next episode- made sleeping VERY exciting.


Name:  
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  de-stress
Date:  2004-04-06 09:41:25
Message Id:  9201
Comments:
It's that time of year again, and Maja and I wanted to make a public service announcement: cuddling is good for the soul! It reduces stress and triggers "good-feelings" chemicals, such as dopamine, to be released in your brain, calming you giving a sense of security. SOOO, grab a friend (or four) and de-stress!
Name:  Chelsea
Username:  clphilli@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-06 09:47:41
Message Id:  9202
Comments:
ok, we were trying to post a picture of a bunch of our friends cuddling, but it's not working, so here are some puppies instead:)

http://www.bluetrick.com/romyandroxy/


Name:  Ginger
Username:  gkkelly@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  No pain no gain
Date:  2004-04-06 10:04:03
Message Id:  9203
Comments:
All this talk of pain this week, although slightly unpleasant to think of, has been fascinating. After reading Mridula's post, I was struck by how odd the phenomena of "pain" is... Pain is a feedback mechanism in place to prevent us from hurting ourselves right? So why, in a case where you're gushing blood, does your brain hide this injury? Does the brain try to only use pain in the case of something that is life threatening? But if, that's true how come paper cuts hurt so much (may have something to do with the number of pain receptors in that part of the body)? I wonder if Mridula's experience is a symptom of a brain protection response. Depending on the injury, the brain will initiate various protection sequences that can be help or even harmful. Perhaps, because it was an artery injury, the brain did not activate pain feelings under the worry that her blood pressure would go up, and more blood would be lost. It was only after she saw a visual cue that the brain had to explain what was happening.... Does this mean that we can't always depend on the brain to make the best decisions for our bodies?
Name:  prachi
Username:  pdave@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-06 23:08:04
Message Id:  9222
Comments:
Mridula's comments about pain remind me of a theory in emotion posited by William James quite a while ago and he said that emotions are experiences felt as a result of the perception of a physiological event. Since it arose, it has been revised especially as it received a great deal of criticism for being implausible but it seems to have some truth to it, there is no reason that the body should pre-emptivley experience emotion, rather, waiting and verifying the input and it's consequences seems like an intelligent way to manage various types of stress...
Name:  Millie
Username:  mbond@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  memories of the way we were
Date:  2004-04-08 00:26:31
Message Id:  9243
Comments:
I read the New York Times article we talked about in class and the writer seems to think that painful memories can be some of the most difficult to forget. A scientist in the article claims that this is true because, of the hormones released during times of stress or importance. A study is mentioned which "found that certain memories -- the ones associated with the strongest emotions -- tend to stay locked in longer, sometimes for life. You can't possibly remember every time you and your wife kissed, but you probably remember the first time"(http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/magazine/04MEMORY.html?pagewanted=all&position=). This analysis of memory seems believable to me because my most memorable moments are those from really important times in my life. For example I can remember details about my eighth grade graduation in great detail even though it was seven years ago. At the same time I can't remember what I did the day before the event or the day after.
Name:  Eleni
Username:  ekardara@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  vision
Date:  2004-04-10 13:54:56
Message Id:  9258
Comments:
It was very interesting to learn how the eye works on Thursday's lecture. And how the picture on your retina (the "Physics side" of light rays hitting a lens) and the picture in your head are really different. The simple "blind spot" test with the cross and the dot on a piece of paper was shocking! I did not realize one's brain just infers information it does not recieve. This idea of "just completing a pattern" seems like such a sophisticated thing for our brains to be able to do. Does our brain need to learn to complete the pattern? For example, if a baby took this test, would he or she also have the dot turn into white paper? I am just wondering if the pattern is learnt, as so many other patterns are, and gets easier with time. Another totally unrelated question that came to mind after thinking about this: you know sometimes when you are looking straight at something but you don't see it? Could you really not be seeing it-i.e. it is in your blind spot and your brain just covers it up w/ the background it infers is there? I was a little confused-I think we said in class that the eyes don't cover each other's blind spots, but why then could we only see the blind spot when we covered one eye?
Name:  Dana
Username:  dbakalar@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-10 16:12:19
Message Id:  9259
Comments:
We did not say thet we can see the blindspot if we cover one eye. The point was that we NEVER see the blindspot, because our brains make stuff up to fill it in. Also, if you are looking right at something, the image is in your fovea, not your blindspot, so if you are not seeing it you are probably missing it for a different reason.

On the subject of baby's vision, they DO have to learn to interperet these patterns. At least, they are born with blurry vision, whicg clears as they get older. This might be from eye development, but it could also be that their brains cant interperet the input yet. This idea is supported by a guy Oliver Sacks studied who regained his vision as an adult, with fully functional eyes, and still had to learn how to see.

To see how a baby sees, check out http://tinyeyes.com/tinyeyes/ . You can put in your own images and see what a baby of various ages sees it like


Name:  Anjali
Username:  gvaidya@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-11 13:56:39
Message Id:  9264
Comments:
In response to Lindsey's post: I think I remember learning about that- about the temporary disorientation you have while you're falling asleep. If I'm thinking of the same thing you're talking about. They're called "sleep spindles" - sudden and brief bursts of activity in the nervous system, while you're falling asleep, that make a part of your body suddenly move. In my experience it's generally my foot that moves. And I jolt awake thinking I've slipped and fallen.

Also, reading all the postings about pain, it made me remember an experiment I heard about a long time ago. The people who took part in this experiment were told that they were going to be putting their hands in buckets filled with boiling hot water. Except that when the time came to do the experiment, the buckets were filled with ice cold water. And when the subjects reached their hands into the buckets, expecting the water to be hot when it was actually cold, they still received third degree burns. I thought that was interesting- how our reactions have so much more to do with our expectations than with what's actually perceived, so much of the time.


Name:  cham
Username:  chamovitz@aol.com
Subject:  whoa
Date:  2004-04-11 23:50:42
Message Id:  9273
Comments:
whoa whoa whoa hold on a sec....people thought they were putting their hands in hot water but instead they were put in cold water and that was enough to cause actual third degree burns? with all due respect, i dont believe that for a second. is it really true? if it is, ill be completely blown away....
Name:  Maryam
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  "Fillng in"?
Date:  2004-04-12 00:21:47
Message Id:  9276
Comments:
I think it is misleading to use the term "filling in" to talk about what the brain does with the lack of information it receives from the blind spot. The term "fillng in" implies that the brain fabricates a representation of data for itself- as Daniel Dennett puts it, creating evidence from which to draw judgments.But this would be more work than it would need to do. All the brain does is draw the judgments about the blindspot. In the absence of information to the contrary, it makes a generalization about what is probably there. It doesn't need to first "fill in" the missing information in the sense of constructing pseudo sense data. It would be more accurate to talk about the brain "interpreting", "generalizing", or making a judgment about what is there.
I guess we are tempted to talk in terms of filling in because it describes the way the "end" result seems to us, from a subjective point of view. I guess the reason the brain makes these generalizations for us is to save us the energy of worrying about what might be in our blindspot, so the whole point is for it to seem to us that we are interpreting what is in fact sense data gathered- otherwise there wouldn't be any point to this brain function. But as long as we're going through the trouble of understanding what the brain does (and from an objective third person point of view) we might as well take it for what it is.
Name:  Liz
Username:  epowell@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 16:52:48
Message Id:  9289
Comments:
I found the discussion and the experiments done in class very interesting. One summer I spent working on fMRI scanning for a grad student. He was mapping the neurons used in the visual cortex for different stimuli to the eye for normal individuals as well as those who had a specific type of disorder. We studied the recognition of stimuli by various parts of the visual cortex and mapped these stimuli with fMRI. Here's a link to read more...
http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/snrc/mendola.htm
Name:  Sarah
Username:  scaldwel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  More on dreams
Date:  2004-04-12 20:01:32
Message Id:  9293
Comments:
So all this talk about dreams I have found really interesting. But there is still one thing that I don't really understand. What determines what we remember? Millie made a point that most important events are remembered, that's true. But people also remember really wierd things. Like I can remember a specific outfit I wore when I was young, or I can remember "flashes" of things I used to do, or activities I used to play. What determines this, if there is anything? Also, is this type of memory (I say type because I really think it differs from the other memories we have of big/important occasions) related at all to the feeling of deja vu? Just some thoughts I had.
Name:  Mike
Username:  mfichman@haverford.edu
Subject:  Behavioral Transmission
Date:  2004-04-12 21:59:52
Message Id:  9301
Comments:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/13/science/13BABO.html

Just a change of pace here. The article in the link above pertains to a new study which shows a shift in the behavioral norms of a baboon troop after the death of several bellicose members of the group.
This got me to some thinking.
We have examined the inputs, outputs and internal mechanisms of the CNS box, but we are yet to truly address these issues outside of a vacuum, to ask: what is the state of the box in the prescence of other boxes?
This question is rather broad in regards to the article, but does, to some degree, strike at the underlying theme of box to box interaction and perhaps suggests an expansion of the box model. Perhaps we could draw a larger box around a population or sub-population- where messages are sent and received between boxes representing individuals, who are made up of boxes representing neurons etc., The flies in the ointment here would be the issues of centralization and concerted motion/behaviors. I don't think that populations/societies conform to these concepts the way nervous systems do.


Name:  Erica
Username:  egraham@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-13 00:04:20
Message Id:  9308
Comments:
I was thinking about our little experiment in class last week and how our brains seemed to make stuff up to fit the picture. I was just wondering if blind spots were the only circumstances in which our brain decides that it's going to create what it doesn't really know for sure but can infer from surrounding evidence. I suppose I'm just returning to the question of reality and where we can draw that distinction, when we ourselves are aware of two contrasting perspectives within our brains. Just a thought.
Name:  Akudo
Username:  aejelonu@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Freaky Friday!!
Date:  2004-04-13 00:27:16
Message Id:  9310
Comments:
I had a freak dream last week. I dreamt that I was being attacked by spiders and reached out to grab my pillow that on the corner of my bed. When I was finally able to snap out of it and woke up, the pillow was where I dreamt that it would be. The freakiest thing was that b4 I went to bed, my pillow was on my side and I did not feel it get pushed down to the corner of my bed. Also the print and position of the pillow that I imagined it to be my dream was the same position that it was when I woke up.

Please disregard the subject, my dream was on a Tuesday night but I needed a catchy title =)

Akudo


Name:  Maryam
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-13 00:52:40
Message Id:  9312
Comments:
"I suppose I'm just returning to the question of reality and where we can draw that distinction, when we ourselves are aware of two contrasting perspectives within our brains. "

Erica's question touches on the distinction I was trying to make between "filling in" and generalizing. The brain doesn't construct an alternate reality with its treatment of the blindspot- our awareness of the blindspot doesn't reach that level. I guess it would be even more accurate to say that the brain actually IGNORES the blindspot rather to say it "fills it in." I mean, it doesn't include the information it gets from that spot (the empty info or lack of info or whatever) with the rest of the information that is assimilated into a picture of what we are conscious of at any given moment.


Name:  Natalie Merrill
Username:  nmerrill@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  going along with the theme...
Date:  2004-04-13 01:13:05
Message Id:  9313
Comments:
It is interesting to me that people never get enough when it comes to discussing dreams. What is it about this nightly event that still captivates us? Every day, most of us wake up pondering the mental adventures of the night before: the possible hidden meaning, the strangeness of it, whatever. I wonder how dreams might be connected to memory in the actual physiological/neurobiological processes. It seems to me that they work with the same material most of the time. What triggers a dream? What triggers a memory? What unconscious actions might these things signify? Sometimes I can't help wondering if the miracle of our brains: the electrical/chemical system keeping us alive and at the same time maintaining an intelligent consciousness is simply that. Random firing of the synapses during sleep leads to specific dreams with specific memories and occasionally those fall along particularly familiar or strange paths. Hmmm...
Name:  erin
Username:  eokazaki@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-13 01:53:23
Message Id:  9316
Comments:
I also found the experiment we did at the end of class on Thursday to be very interesting. There is a lot of discussion about filling vs. ignoring, but regardless of how the picture is being made up in the brain, I find the most fascinating aspect is that there is a significant amount of the picture (what we "see") that is being made up in the brain without the I-function. Hence we aren't even aware of it. In relating it to what we experience, what amount of that sensory information coming in to us is being made up? Is this always happening or does this exist when we are focusing at something a certain distance away from our eyes? If so why does it seem that everything "looks" complete? I can read violin music fine, I don't think that my mind is filling things in because the music sounds alright, and if I move my head, I see the same notes.
Name:  Michelle
Username:  msamuel@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Dreams
Date:  2004-04-13 03:04:04
Message Id:  9320
Comments:
It seems that lucid dreams may be the bridge between consciousness and the world of dreaming. According to Frederik van Eeden, (the Dutch psychiatrist who coined the term lucid dreaming), "the re-integration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper reaches a state of perfect awareness and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition. Yet the sleep, as I am able confidently to state, is undisturbed, deep, and refreshing." I thought this was interesting because he implies that consciousness could exist in a sleeping state. If this is the case, how would the I-function be involved? Would it be possible for your I-function to react to various inputs and to create outputs in your dreams? How do lucid dreams affect what we had assumed about unconsciousness as well as consciousness?
Name:  allison
Username:  abruce@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  networking
Date:  2004-04-13 07:43:13
Message Id:  9324
Comments:
Going in another direction- couldn't dreams just be your I-function interacting with itself. Basically, dreams are self-examination. They are free from external stimuli, therefore dreams are simply the I-function networking within itself. It seems logical to me b/c my dreams are pieces of thoughts, many of which I had not processed fully or said aloud. It could be that dreams are a way of connecting your thoughts from the previous day w/ earlier ones in ways that are useful for the brain and that you had not done before. Then when you wake up the connections made by your I-function in your dreams are a part of your 'new' self. This kind of goes with the idea that the self is continually growing and changing. Also, dreams can be looked at as mental exercises, they force the mind to reinterpret data and produce differing results. The exercises expand the capabilities of the mind and I-function.
Name:  Ariel
Username:  asinger@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-13 07:51:56
Message Id:  9325
Comments:
I think it is interesting that people are so fascinated by memory and dreaming versus reality. There are so many movies and books out there that discuss the differences, and almost every one has a unique angle. I think one of the most powerful and interesting is Waking Life, which is all about lucid dreaming. It includes a number of the topics that we have been discussing, both in class and on the forum. If anyone gets the chance I highly recommend watching it, it is one of the more interesting movies available and it will really get you thinking.

There are a number of pertinent quotes, but here is one that I think is really interesting and applicable (sorry about it being so long):

"See, in the waking world, the neural system inhibits the activation of the vividness of memories. And this makes evolutionary sense. You'd be maladapted for the perceptual image of a predator if you mistook it for the memory of one, and vice-versa. If the memory of a predator conjured up a perceptual image, we would be running off to hide every time we had a scary thought. So you have these serotonic neurons that inhibit hallucinations and they themselves are inhibited during REM sleep. See, this allows dreams to appear real, while preventing competition from other perceptual processes. This is why dreams are mistaken for reality. To the functional system of neural activity that creates our world, there is no difference between dreaming a perception and action, and actually the waking perception and action."




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