A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.
They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn’t be able to see a thing. “We basically got the best blindfold you can get.” Tadin tells Shots. “It’s made of black plastic, and it should block all light.”
Tadin and Blake pulled one on just to be sure and waved their hands in front of their eyes. They didn’t expect to be able to see, yet both of them felt as if they could make out the shadowy outlines of their arms moving.
Being scientists, they wondered what was behind the spooky phenomenon. “We knew there wasn’t any visual input there,” Tadin says. They figured their minds were instinctively filling in images where there weren’t any.
After conducting several experiments involving computerized eye trackers, they proved themselves right. Between 50 and 75 percent of the participants in their studies showed an eerie ability to “see” their own bodies moving in total darkness. The research, put together by scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University, is published in the journal Psychological Science.
How were they so sure? “The only way you can produce smooth eye movements is if you’re following a target,” Tadin tells Shots. When our eyes aren’t tracking something very specific, they tend to jerk around randomly. “If you just try to make your eyes move smoothly, you can’t do it.” The researchers used this knowledge to test whether people could really distinguish their hand movements in the dark.
Text and Image via Neuromorphogenesis
Moderator: Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
* Emilio Bizzi, MIT Institute Professor; Founding Member, McGovern Institute for Brain Research
* Sydney Brenner, Senior Distinguished Fellow, Crick-Jacobs Center, Salk Institute? for Biological Studies
* Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor, Emeritus; Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
* Marvin Minsky, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, MIT?
* Barbara H. Partee PhD ’65, Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Linguistics and Philosophy, University of Massachusetts
* Patrick H. Winston ’65 SM ’67 PhD ’70, Ford Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, MIT?; Principal Investigator, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Chairman and Co-founder, Ascent Technology
See this panel HERE. Photo above via
This book provides a richly rewarding vision of the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics. Composed of fourteen wide-ranging but finely integrated essays by Richard Shusterman, the originator of the field, Thinking through the Body explains the philosophical foundations of somaesthetics and applies its insights to central issues in ethics, education, cultural politics, consciousness studies, sexuality, and the arts. Integrating Western philosophy, cognitive science, and somatic methodologies with classical Asian theories of body, mind, and action, these essays probe the nature of somatic existence and the role of body consciousness in knowledge, memory, and behavior. Deploying somaesthetic perspectives to analyze key aesthetic concepts (such as style and the sublime), he offers detailed studies of embodiment in drama, dance, architecture, and photography. The volume also includes somaesthetic exercises for the classroom and explores the ars erotica as an art of living.
Text and Image via Cambridge University Press
Seven individuals who participated in what’s being called the “first annual love competition” all agreed to follow the same set of instructions:
Climb inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and spend five minutes trying “to love someone as hard as they can.”
As the contestants–who ranged in age from 10 to 75–pondered the objects of their affection, their brain neurochemistry was closely monitored by scientists at the Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging. The person who showed the greatest neurochemical activity in the brain region associated with feelings of romantic love was declared the victor.
Who climbed out of the scanner with best-lover honors? To find out, you can watch the short film about the competition, above— the competition and the film were masterminded by San Francisco-based filmmaker Brent Hoff. As to why Hoff wanted to make “The Love Competition” in the first place, he told Wired, “With the way we view sports, we look at them in such a hard, unforgiving way–you win or you don’t–and the idea of taking love and making it either you win or you don’t’ is, I agree, kind of horrible. But that’s not what this film is.”
And he’s right. The film–which includes scenes in which the contestants talk about the objects of their affection–is actually quite touching. And it provides a fascinating glimpse inside the world of neuroscience research as well as into the contestants’ brains.
Via The Huffington Post. Written by David Freeman.