8Mind Power News

Saturday, November 15, 2003
Issue No. 20 / www.mindpowernews.com


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A weekly update of news headlines, scientific developments and cutting edge resources pointing to the astounding powers of the human mind. This issue is being sent out to 10245 subscribers. Thank you all for your support!


THIS WEEK: THE WORLD IS INSIDE YOUR BRAIN

Scientists are beginning to explore what mystics and shamans have been telling us for centuries, that all of life is an illusion. The illusion, in this case, is that the world which you perceive outside of yourself is actually the world as it really exists. Instead, we have learned that each human creates their own version of the world based on their beliefs, expectation, and upbringing. After all, according to science, the "real world" is nothing more than various fluctuations of electrical activity.

Michael Talbot, author of Mysticism and the New Physics, puts it this way: "Out there there is no light and no colour, there are only electro-magnetic waves; out there there is no sound and no music, there are only periodic variations of the air pressure; out there there is no heat and no cold, there are only moving molecules with more or less mean kinetic energy, and so on..."

It is only your mind which is then able to take this energy and transform it into the world you experience. And if the philosophers of the New Physics are correct, this means that your mind organizes the energy of the universe to suit your beliefs. And so, maybe the mystics and shamans are right when they say that you are creating your life in every moment with the thoughts you think, and the entire universe is a perfect reflection of your consciousness. Choose your thoughts wisely!


BRAIN MAPS PERCEPTIONS, NOT REALITY

Source: ScienceDaily.com

When we experience an illusion, we usually have the impression we have been fooled, or that our minds are playing tricks on us. New research published in the Oct. 31 issue of the journal Science indicates our perceptions of these illusions are no hoax, but the result of how the brain is organized to process the information it receives from our senses.

Vanderbilt University psychology department researchers Anna Wang Roe, Li Min Chen and Robert Friedman have identified responses in the brain to a touch illusion that shed new light on how the brain processes sensory information and call into question long-held theories about the nature of the "map" of the body in the brain.

Walter Penfield is credited with first establishing in 1957 that a map of the human body exists in the brain, with specific areas of the cortex processing information from different body areas. Researchers have long hypothesized this map is a topographic map of the physical body.

"What is surprising about this paper is we found the cortical map reflects our perceptions, not the physical body," Roe said. "The brain is reflecting what we are feeling, even if that's not what really happened." The team completed the research at Yale University before moving to Vanderbilt this fall.

Roe's research used a well-documented illusion called the tactile funneling illusion to explore how the brain processes touch. With this illusion, an individual perceives simultaneous touches to multiple locations on an area of skin as a single touch at the center of that area. Although the perception of this illusion has been studied for decades, researchers did not know how it was processed by the brain.

Roe's team first tested the funneling illusion in humans by stimulating adjacent fingers. The human subjects confirmed that they experienced a sensation between the two fingers when both were touched simultaneously. The team then used a technique called intrinsic signal optical imaging to study the reaction to the same illusion in the brains of squirrel monkeys. Intrinsic signal optical imaging uses a specially designed video camera to detect changes in light reflectance viewed through a "window on the brain." These cortical reflectance changes are related to changes in blood flow that occur when neurons respond to specific sensory stimuli.

When the monkeys were touched on one digit alone, the researchers observed a response in Area 3b of the somatosensory cortex, the area previously determined to process information from that digit. When an adjacent digit was stimulated on its own, a response was seen in the cortical map for that digit. However, when the monkey was touched simultaneously on both digits, a single cortical location between the maps of the two individual digits responded, explaining the perceived location of the illusion. In addition, the perceived intensity of this illusion is caused by the integration of activity across all three locations (two actual, one illusory).

"The merger of signals from adjacent fingers demonstrated in this elegant study may serve an important function in hand use," Esther Gardner, professor of physiology and neuroscience at NYU School of Medicine, said. "It allows the fingers to be controlled as a single functional group centered opposite the thumb when grasping large objects, rather than as distinct individuals." In addition to establishing that the cortical map reflects perception rather than physical location, the researchers found the brain processes touch perceptions at an unexpectedly early stage.

"The cortical area we studied, 3b, is an early entry level in the cortex for information from the skin," said Friedman. "We did not expect to see perception being reflected that early. This gives us a much better understanding of how much work the brain is doing, even at this early level of processing."

"How we perceive the world is an enduring question in neuroscience," Mriganka Sur, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, said. "This is a fascinating study that cleverly uses a tactile illusion to demonstrate that the brain's representations of the world, and of sensory stimuli that impinge on us, are shaped by the brain's circuitry. In short, our perceptions have a great deal to do with the way our brains are wired."

Roe's team will continue to study how the brain processes sensory input and illusions, though Roe cautions against misinterpretation of that term. "Illusions are not unusual or strange--they are how we interpret the world," Roe said. "We think we know what's out there in the physical world, but it's all interpreted by our brains. Everything we sense is an illusion to a degree."

Read the full article here: Science Daily



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THE WORLD IN OUR BRAINS

I'm including this article because it's the best introduction to the subject I could find on the web. Unfortunately, the authors have taken their very logical conclusions into the realm of monothestic religion, a subject which, in my opinion, we could all live much more happily without. Anyway, it's still an interesting article, and makes some excellent and fascinating arguments.

Source: SecretBeyondMatter.com

When you look out of the window, you think that you see an image with your eyes, as this is the way that you have been taught to think. However, in reality this is not how it works, because you do not see the world with your eyes. You see the image created in your brains. This is not a prediction, nor a philosophical speculation, but the scientific truth.

This concept can be better understood when we realize how the visual system operates. The eye is responsible for transforming light into an electric signal by means of the cells in the retina. This electrical signal reaches the sight center in the brain. The signals create the vision you see when you look out of the window. In other words, the sights you see are created in your brain.

You see the image in your brain, not the view outside the window. For example, in the picture shown on the right hand side, the light reaches the eyes of the person from outside. This light passes to the small sight center located at the back of the brain after the cells in the eyes transform it into electrical signals. It is these electrical signals which form the picture in the brain. In reality when we open the brain, we wouldn't be able to see any image. However, some kind of consciousness in the mind receives electrical signals in the form of an image. The brain perceives electrical signals in the form of an image, yet it has no eye, eye cells, or retina. So, to whom does the consciousness in the brain belong?

The same question can be asked about the book you are reading now. The light coming to your eyes is converted into electrical signals and reaches your brain, where the view of the book is created. In other words, the book you are reading right now is not outside you, it is actually inside you, in the sight center in the back of your brain. Since you feel the hardness of the book with your hands, you might think that the book is outside you. However, this feeling of hardness also originates in the brain. The nerves on your fingertips transmit electrical information to the touch center in your brain. And when you touch the book, you feel the hardness and intensity of it, the slipperiness of the pages, the texture of the cover and the sharpness of the edge of the pages, all within your brain.

In reality however, you can never touch the real nature of the book. Even though you think that you're touching the book, it is your brain that perceives the tactile sensations. In addition, you do not even know if this book exists as a material thing outside of your brain. You merely interpret the image of the book within your brain. However, you should not be tricked by the fact that a writer wrote this book, the pages were designed by a computer and printed by a publisher. The things that will be explained in due course will show you that the people, computers and the publishers in every stages of the production of this book are only visions that appear in your brain, and you will never know whether or not they exist outside of your brain.

We can therefore conclude that everything we see, touch and hear merely exists in our brains. This is a scientific truth, proven with scientific evidence. The significant point is the answer to the question asked above, which this scientific truth has led us to ask; Who is it that has no eye, but watches sights through a window in our brains and enjoys or becomes anxious from these sights? This will be explained in the following sites.

We acknowledge that all the individual features of the world are experienced through our sense organs. The information that reaches us through those organs is converted into electrical signals, and the individual parts of our brain analyze and process these signals. After this interpreting process takes place inside our brain, we will, for example, see a book, taste a strawberry, smell a flower, feel the texture of a silk fabric or hear leaves shaking in the wind.

We have been taught that we are touching the cloth outside of our body, reading a book that is 30 cm (1 ft) away from us, smelling the trees that are far away from us, or hearing the shaking of the leaves that are far above us. However, this is all in our imagination. All of these things are happening within our brains.

At this point we encounter another surprising fact; that there are, in fact, no colors, voices or visions within our brain. All that can be found in our brains are electrical signals. This is not a philosophical speculation. This is simply a scientific description of the functions of our perceptions. In her book Mapping The Mind, Rita Carter explains the way we perceive the world as follows:

Each one [of the sense organs] is intricately adapted to deal with its own type of stimulus: molecules, waves or vibrations. But the answer does not lie here, because despite their wonderful variety, each organ does essentially the same job: it translates its particular type of stimulus into electrical pulses. A pulse is a pulse is a pulse. It is not the colour red, or the first notes of Beethoven's Fifth-it is a bit of electrical energy. Indeed, rather than discriminating one type of sensory input from another, the sense organs actually make them more alike.

All sensory stimuli, then enter the brain in more or less undifferentiated form as a stream of electrical pulses created by neurons firing, domino-fashion, along a certain route. This is all that happens. There is no reverse transformer that at some stage turns this electrical activity back into light waves or molecules. What makes one stream into vision and another into smell depends, rather, on which neurons are stimulated.

In other words, all of our feelings and perceptions about the world (smells, visions, tastes etc.) are comprised of the same material, that is, electrical signals. Moreover, our brain is what makes these signals meaningful for us, and interprets these signals as senses of smell, taste, vision, sound or touch. It is a stunning fact that the brain, which is made of wet meat, can know which electrical signal should be interpreted as smell and which one as vision, and can convert the same material into different senses and feelings.

Read much more here: Secret Beyond Matter


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