12 JAN 2018 by ideonexus

 Neurons Use Viruses to Share Information and Learn

When genes are activated, the instructions encoded within their DNA are first transcribed into a related molecule called RNA. Shepherd’s colleague Elissa Pastuzyn showed that the Arc shells can enclose RNA and move it from one neuron to another. And that’s basically what retroviruses do—they use protein shells to protect their own RNA as it moves between cells in a host. So our neurons use a repurposed viral gene to transmit genetic information between each other in an oddly virus-like...
Folksonomies: dna neurons virus microbiology
Folksonomies: dna neurons virus microbiology
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22 NOV 2017 by ideonexus

 Removing Prepositions in Defining Thought

Having turned my back on propositions, I thought, what am I going to do about this? The area where it really comes up is when you start looking at the contents of consciousness, which is my number one topic. I like to quote Maynard Keynes on this. He was once asked, “Do you think in words or pictures?” to which he responded, “I think in thoughts.” It was a wonderful answer, but also wonderfully uninformative. What the hell’s a thought then? How does it carry information? Is it like ...
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26 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Flynn-Dickens Model for IQ Gains

Take those born with genes that make them a bit taller and quicker than average. When they start school, they are likely to be a bit better at basketball. The advantage may be modest but then reciprocal causation between the talent advantage and environment kicks in. Because you are better at basketball, you are likely to enjoy it more and play it more than someone who is bit slow or short or overweight. That makes you better still. Your genetic advantage is upgrading your environment, the am...
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If g-factor is inherited, then how do we explain the Flynn Effect? This model suggests genetic advantages translates into environmental advantage, the environment feeds back to become more challenging.

07 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 Resveratrol and SIRT1

For the last decade, the science of aging has increasingly focused on sirtuins, a group of genes that are believed to protect many organisms, including mammals, against diseases of aging. Mounting evidence has demonstrated that resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes as well as in peanuts and berries, increases the activity of a specific sirtuin, SIRT1, that protects the body from diseases by revving up the mitochondria, a kind of cellular battery that slowly runs down as we age. ...
Folksonomies: longevity supplements
Folksonomies: longevity supplements
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07 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 Radio-Mimetic Chemicals

For mankind as a whole, a possession infinitely more valuable than individual life is our genetic heritage, our link with past and future. Shaped through long aeons of evolution, oru genes not only make us what we are, but hold in their minute beings the future – be it one of promise or threat. Yet generic deterioration through man-made agents is the menace of our time, ‘the last and greatest danger to our civilization.’ Again, the parallel between chemicals and radiation is exact and...
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Tyranny of the Gene Tempered by Junk DNA

The analogies between the genetic evolution of biological species and the cultural evolution of human societies have been brilliantly explored by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. The book is mainly concerned with biological evolution; the cultural analogies are only pursued in the last chapter. Dawkins's main theme is the tyranny which the rigid demands of the replication apparatus have imposed upon all biological species throughout evolutionary history. Every species is the pris...
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24 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 The Universe Holds the Meaning we Give It

Things happen because the laws of nature say they will—because they are the consequences of the state of the universe and the path of its evolution. Life on Earth doesn’t arise in fulfillment of a grand scheme but as a by-product of the increase of entropy in an environment very far from equilibrium. Our impressive brains don’t develop because life is guided toward greater levels of complexity and intelligence but from the mechanical interactions between genes, organisms, and their surr...
Folksonomies: meaning causation
Folksonomies: meaning causation
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Sean Carroll argues that our existence and our intelligence is the product of nature's algorithms. Life holds the meaning we give it.

24 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Solving Xenophobia

The in-group-vs.-out-group double standard, which had and has such catastrophic consequences, could in theory be eliminated if everyone alive were considered to be in everyone else’s in-group. This utopian prospect is remote, but an expansion of the conceptual in-group would expand the range of friendly, supportive, and altruistic behavior. This effect may already be in evidence in the increase in charitable activities in support of foreign populations confronted by natural disasters. Donor...
Folksonomies: culture humanism
Folksonomies: culture humanism
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Marcel Kinsbourne explains how recognizing all human beings as part of our in-group can promote inter-marriage, which will diversify our genes and improve our overall health and well-being.

29 NOV 2013 by ideonexus

 When Memes and Genes Conflict

Memes and genes may often reinforce each other, but they sometimes come into opposition. For example, the habit of celibacy is presumably not inherited genetically. A gene for celibacy is doomed to failure in the gene pool, except under very special circumstances such as we find in the social insects. But still, a meme for celibacy can be successful in the meme pool. For example, suppose the success of a meme depends critically on how much time people spend in actively transmitting it to othe...
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Memes can override genes, which means a meme like 'celibacy' can prevent the genes from reproducing.

21 JUN 2013 by mxplx

 I am my connectome

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11346470-connectome
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We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how? Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections between the brain’s neurons, which change slowly over time as we learn and grow. The connectome, as it’s called, is where our genetic inheritance intersects with our life experience. It’s where nature meets nurture. Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain’s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse. It is a monumental undertaking—the scientific equivalent of climbing Mount Everest—but if they succeed, it could reveal the basis of personality, intelligence, memory, and perhaps even mental disorders. Many scientists speculate that people with anorexia, autism, and schizophrenia are "wired differently," but nobody knows for sure. The brain’s wiring has never been clearly seen. In sparklingly clear prose, Seung reveals the amazing technological advances that will soon help us map connectomes. He also examines the evidence that these maps will someday allow humans to "upload" their minds into computers, achieving a kind of immortality. Connectome is a mind-bending adventure story, told with great passion and authority. It presents a daring scientific and technological vision for at last understanding what makes us who we are. Welcome to the future of neuroscience