Understanding the Mind | MIT Technology Review

Nathan McGee knows a thing or two about having your mind down. After suffering from PTSD since early childhood, he enrolled in a clinical trial in his forties to test whether the psychedelic drug MDMA could help him. The result was simply transformative. “I see life as something to explore and enjoy rather than something to endure,” he told Charlotte Jee in an intimate interview about his experience.

Likewise, for those of us suffering from pandemic fatigue, Dana Smith has some good news: our brains have definitely taken a hit as we socially distance ourselves and pass out into oblivion, but they are also very. , very good for bouncing back. Your pandemic brain will heal; just give it time.

Playing with our heads can also be fun, as Neel Patel tells us. He writes of a talent he developed as a teenager: lucid dreaming. The science behind it is still being developed, but it is proving useful in helping people unleash their creativity and deal with their fears and traumatic memories.

Perhaps it is in dreams that the power of our mind to hold sway over what we believe to be “real” is most clearly exhibited. In a summary of three fascinating new books on human perceptionWriter Matthew Hutson quotes one author: “You could even say that we all hallucinate all the time. It’s just that when we agree to our hallucinations, that’s what we call reality. “

There remains the question of what it means to be aware. For a long time, we humans clung to the idea that we were the only conscious animals. This is one of the many misconceptions about the brain that David Robson and David Biskup have put in the lie. cartoon shape. Not only is consciousness difficult to define, it has been extremely difficult to measure. However, there is now a awareness meter to detect it in people, as Russ Juskalian finds out.

Consciousness in the form of silicon is in Will Douglas Heaven’s brain these days; he wonders if we would know if we could manage to build a conscious machine. Dan Falk asks researchers if they think a the brain is a computer in the first place. And Emily Mullin takes a look at two multi-billion dollar efforts to study the human brain in unprecedented detail, one of which involved trying to simulate one from scratch.

No problem on the mind would be complete without a chance to contemplate gray matter itself, and there are many brains in our haunting. Photo documentary document a library of malformed specimens. If that’s too much, zoom in on our infographic that describes what’s going on at Tate Ryan-Mosley brain when she sees her boyfriend’s face. And finally, we’ve included a rare treat: a selection of poetry hosted by our editor, Niall Firth. It’s guaranteed to vibrate your neurons into a new way of seeing this thing we call ‘reality’.

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