Agenda 2012.

March 26, 2012

According to Shakespeare: ''Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.''
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19 - 28.

Sure, a human life is just a blink of an eye.
But, life is not just Shakesperean gloom and doom. There are wondrous things to explore (Incognito, Neuromania), lots to talk about (Language), technology to help us (NeuroSky), and decisions (Decision theory, Neuro Decisions) to be made about where to go next.

One thing to remember though: The next step is always the most important one. It is the step that gives the direction towards the future (Deep Future). So, the (first) next step should indeed be well chosen.

Below, you will find some of the subjects that I plan to explore further in 2012 and beyond.
The 2012 Agenda.


March 25, 2012

David Eaglemans book ''Incognito'' is more than just a good place to start (a journey into brain-land).
It is a stunning exploration of the mind, a great expedition into the wondrous world inside our heads.

Deep Future.

March 10, 2012

Will humanity survive the next 100.000 years? In a world as dangerous as ours?
Our relatives the Neanderthals died out some 24.000 years ago (approximately). But, somehow, we carried on in small tribal societies. Then came civilisation. And now it is conceivable that humans might go on for another 100.000 years, but, a lot of ''if's'' needs to be considered though.....


January 8, 2012

Legrenzi and Umiltas book deals with all of those colour photos of the brain, that mass media inundates us with. Pictures that apparently show us the precise location in which a certain thought or emotion occurs in the brain.
Certainly, the book explains to us that we should be careful, when neuro images are presented to us. A good place to start, as we venture further into the frontiers of brain-land.

Evolution of Language.

December 10, 2011

Around 60 per cent of the worlds 7.000 languages are found in the tropics. The richest place is Papua New Guinea, home to 1 in 7 of the worlds languages. Over the millenia, is is estimated that cultural evolution has carved out thousands of mutually unintelligible tongues. Mark Pagel at the University of Reading estimates that half a million languages may have lived and died since modern humans first evolved.
Certainly, humans must be able to communicate advanced thoughts to each other. Our brains can handle a huge range of abstract concepts (that we must be able to express). So, we have evolved an open-ended and very flexible form of communication to express our thoughts.

Neuro Economy, Human Decision Making.

November 14, 2011

Neuroeconomics is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to explain human decision making, the ability to process multiple alternatives and to choose an optimal course of action. It studies how economic behavior can shape our understanding of the brain, and how neuroscientific discoveries can constrain and guide models of economics.
In one experiment, neuroeconomist Paul Glimcher of New York University wanted to see what it would take for people to willingly delay gratification. He gave a dozen volunteers a choice: $20 now, or more money later on (from $20.25 to $110). One volunteer would agreed to wait 1 month to take $21 dollars. But, at the other end of the spectrum, another volunteer would only agree to wait a month if he received $68.

Decision Theory.

November 12, 2011

In Decision Theory, humans are supposed to be ''rational optimizers'': ''Given a choice, we should weigh up each option, considering its value and probability, and then choose the one with the highest expected utility.'' Well, so it would be, if humans were logical computers or all knowing beings. Alas, we are not.
Instead. humans are biological beings shaped by evolution. And our decisions are shaped by innate biases, emotions, expectations, misconceptions, conformity etc...

Experiments with the NeuroSky Toolkit.

April 10, 2010

In the Force Trainer game your aim is to focus. Achieve the right brain rhythm and a fan switches on, lifting the ball inside the tube. No hands, no legs, just a headset that detect brainsignals allows your mind to lift the ball!
Sure, reading EEG brainwaves used to be a laborious affair with electrically conductive gels and clunky, unattractive (and expensive) headsets in a lab environment. NeuroSkys breakthrough was making it all much simpler and putting the technology inside a toy. Making sense of the received EEG signal was another challenge. Here, NeuroSkys software within the toy utilizes that the ''concentration'' and ''meditation'' electrical (brain) states are broadly distinguished from each other, and those states influence the entire front of the brain. Making it possible for the toy to decode whether a player is concentrating or meditating...
Focus and the ball might go up inside the tube...
Time for some experiments! I called Jan over and videotaped our Force Trainer day...