Posts concerning neuroscience

Some Clues to How Creativity Works

20:43 08 Apr 2012

Last Wednesday I went to a talk by Jonah Lehrer on the topic of creativity, and left it feeling quite inspired. This post is a brief summary of why.

(Any inaccuracies in this outline are my own, as there is no guarantee that I understood what Jonah Lehrer intended to convey; I intend to read his book Imagine: How Creativity Works for more insight, but have not yet done so.)

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Q’Rith: The Underpinnings of Magic

22:41 25 Jan 2011

Magic exists in, and is very important to, my fantasy milieu of Q’Rith. But what is it and how does it work[*]?

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Another Reason to Exercise

16:41 19 Nov 2009

According to this article, rats’ brains produce neurons when they exercise that are functionally different from those produced by non-exercising rats, and the identified functional difference is that the neurons have less of a response to stress.

It’s not a huge leap to think that this applies to other animals as well, including ourselves. So at an even more fundamental level than previously thought, exercise can help prevent stress.

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How Do Magic Weapons Work?

15:37 16 Nov 2009. Updated: 22:39 25 Jan 2011

This is mainly referring to weapons in Dungeons & Dragons-style roleplaying games, but also fantasy literature given that magic weapons are staples of the genre.

In my Fantasy World Sketch, I suggested that magic would have altered human development significantly, primarily in the realm of food production. I didn’t go down the route of completely reimagining how societies would have developed, in part because I wanted to end up with something that resembled a “classic” fantasy milieu, but it seems clear to me that since food production is a priority for most species, magic would be used to improve it. Historically speaking, war is another important societal endeavor, and its import is clear in most fantasy realms—that is, the impact of magic on warfare is discussed at length and covered in the rules.

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I Just Want to Look Up One More Thing…

07:30 06 Sep 2009. Updated: 15:36 16 Nov 2009

Emily Yoffe has a Slate article about our compulsion to acquire new information—and how it means we’re extremely susceptible to addictive behaviors around Internet use. Critical points: we have drives for both pleasure and for “seeking”, and it is this latter drive that the modern always-online environment feeds. Or overfeeds.

I don’t know how accurate this journalistic take on neuroscientific discoveries is, but I do think that this would be a good article to have printed out, and highlighted, next to my computer.

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The Love Vaccine

20:29 12 Jan 2009. Updated: 15:36 16 Nov 2009

While I tend to be skeptical of scientific claims to understanding the workings of human brains and particularly human emotions, it’s clear that science is improving in this area, and that pharmaceutical behavior/mood modification is increasing in efficacy. So when scientists claim a chemical understanding of love (paywall-protected full version here), and the ability to induce it under some circumstances, it’s definitely interesting.

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