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Biotech Medicine Science

Brain Cells Observed Summoning a Memory 381

Posted by timothy
from the can-we-say-frickin'-amazing? dept.
Anti-Globalism writes "Scientists have for the first time recorded individual brain cells in the act of summoning a spontaneous memory, revealing not only where a remembered experience is registered but also, in part, how the brain is able to recreate it."
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Brain Cells Observed Summoning a Memory

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  • by thealsir (927362) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:32AM (#24884441) Homepage

    and they gave me +5 HP.

    Nah, this is sweet, as it puts one more dagger into the idea that memories are not stored in the mind but the "soul." (Whatever that is.)

    Plus, of course, the scientific value of studying the brain.

  • I have doubts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:39AM (#24884487)
    Past studies have shown how many neurons are involved in a single, simple memory. Researchers might be able to isolate a few single neurons "in the process of summoning a memory", but that is like saying that they have isolated a few water molecules in the runoff of a giant hydroelectric dam. The practical utility of this is highly questionable.
  • Careful! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:45AM (#24884527)
    Knowing how a memory is stored and how the brain can recreate it might lead to some crazy new technologies in the future, such as being able to load gigabytes of data into your brain by using energy to manipulate the brain into "remembering" things that were never there. Of course, it could lead to some extremely scary scenarios, like messing with people's heads by putting things in there that aren't supposed to be. I hope the scientists are being really, really careful on this one!
  • Re:I have doubts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:58AM (#24884593)
    Yes! It has no utility! Like that ultra expensive Hadron Colider! Or theoretical physics! Or the first electron microsope! Or playing around with lightning and carbon!

    In all seriousness, this is the first step on the road to a computer that can Feed Me Information Directly! yipeeeeee!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:06AM (#24884631)

    No one I know has ever contested that memories are stored in the "mind." What is debated is whether they are stored in the brain (as opposed to DNA, RNA, patterns in the physical structure of the brain, ect.) In this subject that distinction is very important. Particularly given that from a neuroscience perspective, "Mind" and "Soul" might as well be synonymous.

    This is certainly a large step towards understanding memories, but it doesn't tell us anything about where the memories are stored, just what part of the brain activates when a memory is recalled. (That they've got it down to specific neurons is either highly impressive or a exaggeration in my estimation.)

    Oh and "Soul" = "Dark Energy" you know "We have no fucking clue how to account for the data so we're going to name it this until we come up with something better."

    When they can isolate the "Bing" moment (the point at which neurological function gives rise to experiential phenomenon) then we can put down the idea of a soul entirely, not before.

  • Re:I have doubts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus (757119) * on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:09AM (#24884643)

    "The practical utility of this is highly questionable."

    Many things in science have little practical utility until well after the fact. We could name a lot from mathematics alone, someones little curiousity becomes some key concept for understanding some other problem somewhere down the line. While I agree not all of them turn out like that, the fact is we're going to have dead ends no matter which way you slice it, it's one long search for what is true and relevant.

  • Tits (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @01:44AM (#24884857)

    Tits, every cell is optimized to remember tits.

  • by Nathrael (1251426) <nathraelthe42nd AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:21AM (#24885045)

    When they can isolate the "Bing" moment (the point at which neurological function gives rise to experiential phenomenon) then we can put down the idea of a soul entirely, not before.

    Sadly, not everyone will. While everyone who has a clue about science certainly will, a lot of people rather trust religion than science and will continue to believe that memories are stored in the soul. After all, there are also a lot of people out there who still believe in ID, even with all the overwhelming scientific research against it.

  • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Friday September 05, 2008 @02:24AM (#24885065)
    Yeah but eventually you have to pop it open and take a peek inside - making conclusions from observable behaviour only takes you so far. Unfortunately neuroscience was stuck in a rut for a long time and only in the early 90s did it begin to emerge and embrace some new ideas.
  • by Luke_22 (1296823) on Friday September 05, 2008 @03:06AM (#24885245)
    psychologists aren't and won't be able to cure parkinson and other brain damages.
    neuroscience might (actually, already can for parkinson).

    please do not compare two kind of studies just because they have a link in common.
    neuroscience basically aim at understanding math and physics behind our brain, psychology works at higher levels.
  • by jacquesm (154384) <j@SLACKWAREww.com minus distro> on Friday September 05, 2008 @03:16AM (#24885295) Homepage

    stereotype much ? Incredible... How can you actually stereotype an entire gender based on a relatively small sample ? Quite probably taken only in a limited geographical region

    Really, you should get out more, there are several billion women out there, surely some of them must not abide by your stereotype ? If not *most* of them ?

  • by Kynde (324134) <kynde@noSpam.iki.fi> on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:21AM (#24885649)

    Particularly given that from a neuroscience perspective, "Mind" and "Soul" might as well be synonymous.

    Actually, scientifically speaking "soul" is not synonymous to much else than "religious mumbo jumbo".

    It's a redundant hypothesis that doesn't really explain anything, it doesn't provide a single experimentable prediction and it's beyond observations by definition. You might need it for your faith, but science sure as hell has no use for it.

  • by psycho12345 (1134609) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:39AM (#24885715)
    One Repository of the Ancients coming right up. Along with it you get advanced healing, telekinesis and other funky skills (Disclaimer: Side effects include loss of English, severe headache, lack of mental control, and possible death)
  • by kaizokuace (1082079) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:42AM (#24885725)
    it's all about bus speed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:21AM (#24885885)

    you think that something called free will exist?

  • by Ardeaem (625311) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:47AM (#24885991)

    When they can isolate the "Bing" moment (the point at which neurological function gives rise to experiential phenomenon) then we can put down the idea of a soul entirely, not before.

    No, we can put it down right now. No one has adequately defined "soul," so there is no reason to believe one exists. There is no "bing" moment (is that a technical term?). The differentiation of our experience from our physical bodies is an illusion.

    Just because you perceive something to be so doesn't mean that is the way it is. If you think the mind, soul, and body are differentiable, provide some evidence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:59AM (#24886057)

    most of them literally have shit for brains.

    Literally? Really?

  • by xouumalperxe (815707) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:01AM (#24886067)

    believing in no afterlife were you would be judged gives you a nice feeling of freedom - while religious people usually try to avoid a lot of things since they want to reach heaven (*snip*), I act on my own moral criterias without any pressure

    For a long while I've thought that, while it takes a large amount of moral stamina to live by most religious codes, it takes as much if not more to realize that the responsibility for determining what's good and what's evil lies squarely on your own shoulders, and still do the right thing

  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:13AM (#24886115) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like a great idea for an annoyingly cute TV series [wikipedia.org].

  • by somersault (912633) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:16AM (#24886133) Homepage Journal

    Even if they stretched first they'd have to be able to balance rather than just know the actual techniques. Someone else's "muscle memories" of how to balance properly while performing a technique will likely be different from the ones you need, if your weight distribution is different.

  • by FirstNoel (113932) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:59AM (#24886373) Journal
    Or a Torchwood episode [wikipedia.org]...
  • by OzoneLad (899155) on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:04AM (#24886405)

    I think that for some people the 'soul' theory is the reason they trust religion, not the other way around. You'll have to agree that it is a bit depressing knowing for certain that your existence is just the few years you spend 'alive' and after that it's all gone. And for some, it's too depressing. Humans need to know they'll live on somehow, that their lives have some meaning. And if you're not famous enough to hope for historical eternal life, than soul is what you have left.

    I can see another reason why people might have started to believe in the soul: seeing the dead body of a loved one.

    I saw my grandfather's body a few minutes after he died, and something felt wrong about it. The first thought that crossed my mind was: "This isn't my granddad anymore, it's just cooling meat." It really felt like there was something missing from the body.

    Now, I know full well that what gave me that impression was that all the little subliminal clues that tell you someone is alive were gone, but I can understand how someone could believe some intangible part of the person had left the body.

  • by GTRacer (234395) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [803recartg]> on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:25AM (#24886545) Homepage Journal

    I know this may not be the best spot in the thread for this, but...

    Why does it matter if some people choose to believe in a soul? Do you have "religious wingnuts" crawling up your ass all day about converting, thus the bitterness towards their faith?

    Every time a topic like this comes up a flood of "sound thinkers" appears, attempting to wash the "believers" off the internet.

    Seriously, why does it matter to (collective) you? And do you ever stop to think your attempts at rationalization are as annoying to them as their proselytizing is to you?

    Do these concepts of faith and science need to be mutually exclusive?

    Peace,
    karma-that-fears-not-the-mod

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:20AM (#24887873)

    Are you kidding? There is a world of difference between offering up phenomenological observations about how we think, and being able to explain the neural basis of how the brain works. Want to go on Oprah and talk about feelings? Take a psychologist. Want to build a computer that works on the principals of the brain, or engineer drugs that address on the root causes of diseases like Alzheimers, or explain why it is that we have 10^9 neurons jammed in our head and what they are doing? You better learn something about neuroscience.

    Psychology explains how the brain works in the same way philosophers explained physics before Newton.

  • by KovaaK (1347019) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:31AM (#24888031) Journal

    In that sense, is a soul nothing more than a spectator? Could there be multiple souls to a body? Could there similarly be no souls to a body? Is there any perceivable difference between having no souls, a single soul, or multiple souls to a body?

  • by Charlie Kane (1098491) on Friday September 05, 2008 @09:37AM (#24888107)

    Why does it matter if some people choose to believe in a soul? Do you have "religious wingnuts" crawling up your ass all day about converting, thus the bitterness towards their faith?

    Are you kidding? Have you not been watching the Republican National Convention this week? If you don't actually live in the U.S., well, just walk a mile in my shoes, friend.

  • by Roxton (73137) <[roxton] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:58AM (#24889213) Homepage Journal

    Why does it matter if some people choose to believe in a soul?

    If you're going to make objective assertions about reality without adequate justification, I'm going to pigeonhole you as someone who is capable of and willing to make objective assertions about reality without adequate justification. I don't suffer fools gladly. Even if you're only deceiving yourself, you're still creating a negative environment.

    This stale approach to thinking and life has to be shouted down at every opportunity for the benefit of those whose minds are changed, and to improve the opportunities of people both young and old to thrive in an environment of intellectual integrity.

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:21AM (#24889493)

    I've always found it sort of silly to tout the value of a moral code by how much self-flagellation or stamina that you have to evidence in order to follow it.

    Whether a moral code is hard or not is irrelevant to whether it has value. It either has the desired effect in your life and in your world, or it doesn't.

    I act on my own moral criterias without any pressure

    Setting aside whether it is ever possible in all cases to be able to act on moral criteria without any pressure whatsoever, it is certainly no way to compare the relative value of two distinct moral codes.

    There are those who believe that they should never have to feel guilt, pain or distress. That's a valid position to take, but when I see posts using that as a selling point for their morality, its like pointing out to a person running the hurdles that you had discovered that you reach the finish line faster and a lot less tired if you found a way to skip having to actually jump over the hurdles.

    There are those who believe that their morality gains value from its difficulty. Then there are those who believe that there is no value in the difficulty itself, but that their goals will not be able to be attained without friction. Those sorts of individuals will look at a no hassle sort of lifestyle as simply a distraction that cannot represent a moral existence because the process cannot generate results consistent with their moral values.

  • by Gauchito (657370) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:50AM (#24889867)
    That's exactly how I see it as well. I think the posters above can only calmly reach their conclusions by not really internalizing the fact that they're going to die. I did, and I wish I never had, because it's hard to think calmly about death after you've made that logically emotional leap (i.e., when you "realize" that what you've been thinking about this whole time is actually "real"). That's why I only go to bed when I'm really, really tired. I get to thinking about it when lying in bed, and it will keep me up all night.

    And, you're right, the eternal afterlife is only slightly better, at least in a finite universe of slowly increasing entropy...

    Sucks to realize this is all real. I really envy (as much as slashdotters ridicule) people that can take comfort in religion on the matter. There's no prize at the end for realizing the awful truth, and at least they'll be happier, on average, than I'll be during my short (always too short!) life.

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