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(Image: Mark Cornelison)
Neurologist Kevin Nelson explains how the brain slips into a strange state of hybrid consciousness during a near-death experience
How common are near-death experiences (NDEs)?
A 1997 survey reported that 18 million Americans had had one. When my team surveyed people who have had them, we found that some occurred during cardiac arrest but the vast majority were during fainting. Thirty-seven per cent of all Americans will have fainted at one point in their life, so I suspect NDEs are common.
In your book The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain you talk about borderlands of consciousness. What are they and how do they relate to NDEs?
We have three states of consciousness: awake, non-REM sleep and REM sleep. But there aren't absolute dividing lines between them - they can blend with one another, most commonly REM and waking. Twenty to 25 per cent of people at some point experience some kind of blending, a borderland of consciousness. What I have discovered is that the switch in the brainstem that regulates these three states functions differently in people who have had NDEs. These people are more likely to get stuck between the REM state and waking. So it looks like some people are prone to having these kinds of experiences. Interestingly, it tends to run in families.
Does that mean NDEs are a kind of lucid dream?
Lucid dreams are among the closest things we know of to an NDE. They are very similar. Brainwave measurements show that lucid dreaming is a conscious state between REM and waking. During REM consciousness, the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex is turned off. As that's the executive, rational part of the brain, this explains why dreams are so bizarre. But if the dorso-lateral cortex turns on inside a dream, you become aware that you are dreaming. It is like waking up in your dream. When the body is in crisis during an NDE and the brain is slipping from consciousness to unconsciousness, it can get momentarily stuck in a borderland between REM and waking, just like a lucid dream.
But unlike dreams, NDEs tend to feature some specific images, such as seeing a tunnel with a light at the end.
The tunnel actually has nothing to do with the NDE - it's to do with what's happening to your vision. During fainting, for instance, there's a blackout because the eye isn't getting enough blood, so the eye begins to shut down even though the brain is still going. As it shuts down first from the sides and then into the centre, it's like looking through a tunnel.
The light that people tend to see has a few sources. To start with, the eye might only be capable of seeing smudges of light because of the tunnelling and lack of blood flow. Then, as the brain enters REM consciousness, the visual system becomes strongly activated - that's the rapid eye movement that defines REM consciousness. When the visual system is activated, you get light.
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Though it hasn't been formally announced, you can now convert your Facebook profile into a Facebook page--and convert all of your "friends" into "fans."
The process is pretty simple, it seems--using the "Profile to Business Migration Tool," users can move their Facebook profiles into Facebook page territory. At the moment, only a user's profile pictures and friends will be migrated to their new page, so if you plan on using this tool it would be wise to back-up your Facebook data.
The user's friends will automatically be converted into fans, or people who "like" the page.
Of course, before you run off and convert your profile into a page, consider the drawbacks of having a business-only Facebook presence--while you're able to view the pages you own, you can't view profiles or content owned by other people. You also can't send and receive friend requests, you'll no longer show up in a "people" search, and you won't be able to write on your friends' walls or "Like" their funny status updates.
At the moment, there's also no way to convert a page back into a profile, so you'd better be sure this is what you want before you give up all of your photo albums, wall posts, and notes. You may also run into some snags--according to Jeffrey Zeldman, third party apps (Twitter, Tumblr, RSS) disappear completely, you lose your custom URL, and you may be unable to admin your own page if Facebook considers the admin to be your old (now deleted) Facebook profile. So the process appears to be a little buggy, for now.
Still, this is a pretty big deal for small business owners and other people who want to start a Facebook page without losing their friends.
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|Scientists at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and theWeizmann Institute of Science, Israel have discovered the process
through which memories are made and then recalled. These scientists have recorded that How individual brain cells calls up a memory?, thus revealing where in the brain a specific memory is stored and how the
brain is able to recreate it.
Dr. ITZHAK FRIED
Dr. Itzhak Fried, Senior Study Suthor and a UCLA Professor of Neurosurgery with his colleagues recorded the activity of hundreds of individual neurons making memories in the brains of 13 epilepsy patients being treated surgically at UCLA Medical Center. Their research detail has been reported in current online edition of the Journal Science.
Surgeons at UCLA Medical Center placed electrodes in the patients' brains to locate the origin of their seizures before surgical treatment which is a standard procedure in such cases.Dr. Fried used same electrodes to record the neuron activity as memories were being formed.
During the experiment patients were shown several video clips of short duration, including such things as landmarks and people, along with other clips of Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Cruise, "Simpsons" character Homer Simpson and others. As the patients watched these clips, researchers recorded the activity of many neurons in the Hippocampus and a nearby region known the Entorhinal Cortex that responded strongly to individual clips.
Few minutes after watching these clips, the patients were asked to recall whatever clips came to mind. During this recalling process these patients were not prompted to recall any specific clips," but to use "free recall' which means, whatever popped into their heads.
At this point researchers found that the same neurons that had responded earlier to a specific clip fired strongly a second or two before the subject reported recalling that clip. These neurons did not fire, however,when other clips were recalled. By observing this researchers found that which clip a patient was recalling before the patient announced it.
During this experiment Dr. Fried noted that the single neurons that were recorded as they fired were not acting alone but were part of a much larger memory circuit of hundreds of thousands of cells caught in the act of responding to the clips.
This research is significant in the fact that it confirms for the first time that spontaneous memories arise through the activity of the very same neurons that fired when the memory was first being made. This link between reactivation of neurons in the Hippocampus and conscious recall of past experience has been suspected and theorized for sometime, but the study now provides direct evidence for this.
So we can say that, Reliving past experience in our memory is the resurrection of neuronal activity from the past.
The research was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, as well as the Israel Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation.ed and how the
Scientist at STANFORD have developed an Artificial Intelligence System that enables Robotic Helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers. It can result in development of autonomous helicopter than can perform a complete airshow of complex stunts on its own.
This project is directed under Professor Andrew Ng who directed the research of their graduate students- Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates, Timothy Hunter and Morgan Quigley. The stunts performed by such intelligent helicopters are far more difficult then any other computer controlled helicopters. They have developed various learning algorithms for these Helicopters which helps them to learn by themselves by just observing other expert helicopters.
The experiment was is an important demonstration of Apprenticeship Learning in which robots learn by observing an expert. Stanford's artificial intelligence system learned how to fly by "watching" the four-foot-long helicopters flown by expert radio control pilot Garett Oku.
This advanced helicopter can learn and perform actions such as traveling flips, rolls, loops with pirouettes, stall-turns with pirouettes, a knife-edge, an Immelmann, a slapper, an inverted tail slide and a hurricane, described as a "fast backward funnel."
Previous autonomous helicopters were able to fly stunts by simply replaying the exact finger movements of an expert pilot using the joy sticks on the helicopter's remote controller. But the major problem was that uncontrollable variables such as gusting winds due to which this is not very advance. To solve this problem, the researchers had Oku and other pilots fly entire airshow routines and every movement of the helicopter was recorded.
As Oku repeated a maneuver several times, the trajectory of the helicopter inevitably varied slightly with each flight. At this point, the learning algorithms created by Ng's team were able to discern the ideal trajectory the pilot was seeking. Thus the autonomous helicopter learned to fly the routine better and more consistently.
ADVANCED INTELLIGENT SYSTEM
This advanced and intelligent contains some instrumentation mounted on the helicopter and some on the ground. These instrumentations monitor the position, direction, orientation, velocity, acceleration and spin of the helicopter in several dimensions. A ground-based computer crunches the data, makes quick calculations and beams new flight directions to the helicopter via radio 20 times per second. Some of the important instruments it uses areAccelerometers, Gyroscopes and Magnetometers.
These advance intelligent helicopters are a new generation of very robust, very reliable helicopter which can fly just as their human counterparts.
Oxford Basics: Introduction to Teaching EnglishOxford Basics are short, easy-to-use books based on communicative methodology. They provide ideas for teachers and guidance on how to handle everyday classroom situations.
Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr | 2009 | ISBN-10: 0194419754 | ISBN-13: 978 0194419758 | English | PDF | 176 pages | 10 Mb
About the Author Jill Hadfield has been involved in EFL either as a teacher or teacher trainer for over 20 years and is the author of over 20 books for teachers, some written with her husband Charles. She has taught and trained teachers in Britain, France, China, Tibet, and Madagascar, and held workshops and courses for teachers around the world. She is currently senior lecturer in the School of English and Applied Linguistics at Unitec, Auckland, NZ. Charles Hadfield has worked as a teacher and trainer, administrator, and consultant in many places including Madagascar, Tibet, China, and France, with shorter visits to many African countries, most of Europe, and Japan. He often collaborates with his wife Jill on education projects as colleague and co-author. He studied at Southampton, London, and Bordeaux, and is currently teacher-training coordinator at the English Language Academy at the University of Auckland, NZ.