Posts Tagged ‘Dr Kaku’

Why It is Foolish to Cram for Exams

January 24, 2016

In “The Future of the Mind:  The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind” Dr Kaku presents some results that might provide the answer.   When fruit flies were administered an extra CREB suppressor gene, they could not learn all.  However, if administered an extra CREB activator gene, learning became almost automatic.  The scientists involved in these studies theorize that we have a fixed amount of CREB activator in the brain that can limit the amount we can learn in any specific time.  Students who try to cram before a test quickly exhaust the amount of these CREB activators.  Sufficient time must be provided so these CREB activators can be replenished.  The likely purpose of the CREB suppressor gene is to serve as a filter cleaning out useless information.

Should you not believe that research done on fruit flies is relevant for you, there are other reasons not to cram.  There is plenty of evidence that spaced learning is better than massed learning.  One of the reasons for this is that the context changes each time  you study., which enhances recall.  As other posts have indicated, studying alone is insufficient, effective learning requires the recall of the relevant material.

Of course, these two explanations are not mutually exclusive.  It is likely that both are operative.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Interesting Split Brain Phenomena

January 23, 2016

Dr. Kaku reports the interesting Split Brain research Dr. Roger Perry of the California Institute of Technology did at the California Institute of Technology, for which Perry received the Nobel Prize in 1981.  Dr. Michael Gazzanigia has continued this research and produced some amazing and enlightening results.  Normally our two hemispheres communicate with each other continually on a regular basis.  However, sometimes the pathways between the two hemispheres need to be severed to eliminate certain debilitating conditions.  Under normal circumstances this operation does not produce abnormalities and individuals continue as they always have.  However, this is done because the information from each eye goes to both hemispheres.

Now there is a technique for presenting information to these individuals so that the information goes to separate hemispheres.  Under these circumstances neither hemisphere know what the other is thinking.  Many interesting results have been found.  For myself, the most amazing result was one split-brain patient who, when his left hemisphere was asked if he was a believer or not, said he was an atheist.  But when his right hemisphere was asked, he declared he was a believer.

We are all well aware of the many differences among ourselves, but it is surprising that there are differences of opinion within our brains.  Kaku writes, “it is conceivable that a person with a split-brain personality might be both a Republican and a Democrat at the same time.  If you ask him whom he will vote for, he will give you the candidate of the left brain, since the right brain cannot speak. But can you imagine the chaos in the voting booth when he has to pull the level with one hand.”

The 10,000 Hour Rule and the Growth Mindset

January 21, 2016

In “The Future of the Mind:  The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind” Dr Kaku reviews the vast amount of research regarding what makes a person a genius or an expert.  He quotes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “The emerging picture from these studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything…In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction  writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.” Malcom Gladwell called this the “10,000” hour rule in his book, “Outliers.”  I need to add that this number of hours alone will not guarantee expertise.  Practice needs to be what is called deliberate practice, which is aimed at improving performance.

So what is meant by 10,000 hours?  Dividing  10,000 hours by the 24 hour day rounds to 417 days.  Of course, no one can study/practice for 24 hours.  An 8 hour day would be about 1250 days or about 3.4 years.  A more likely 4 hour day would yield about 2500 days  or about 6.8 years.

Anyone willing to expend this amount effort needs to enjoy doing whatever it is, and also obviously has a growth mindset.  Charles Darwin once wrote, “I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work.”

Although a growth mindset is key to a healthy memory,  this growth need not be targeted at a single area.  The growth can be dispersed over many interests.  However, becoming expert at a particular skill or in a particular area does require sacrifices.  We mere mortals are limited in terms of both time and energy.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Space-Time Theory of Consciousness

January 19, 2016

Back in March of last year in my blog post “The Future of the Mind:  The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind”  I promised a future post on Dr Kaku’s viewpoint on consciousness.   Somehow I became distracted and did not produce that post, so here it is.

Dr. Kaku’s definition of consciousness is as follows:  “Consciousness is the process of creating model of the world using multiple feedback loops in various parameters (e.g., in temperature, space, time, and in relation to others), in order to accomplish a goal (e.g., find mates, food shelter).

The lowest level of consciousness is Level 0 where an organism is stationary or has limited  mobility and creates feedback loops in a few parameters (temperature, for example).  Each feedback loop registers “one unit of consciousness,” so an organism  with a single unit of Level 0 consciousness would be at Level 0:1.

Organisms that are mobile and have a central nervous system have Level 1 consciousness, which includes a new set of parameters to measure their changing location.  An example of Level I consciousness would be reptiles.  They have so many feedback loops that they have developed a central nervous system to handle them.  A reptilian brain would have perhaps one hundred or more feedback loops governing their sense of smell, balance, touch, sound, sight, blood pressure, and so forth.  Each of these contains yet more feedback loops.  Eyesight alone involves a large number of feedback loops as the eye can recognize color, movement, shapes, light intensity, and shadows.  Of course the reptile’s other senses, such as hearing and taste, require additional feedback loops.  The totality of these feedback loops creates a mental picture of where the reptile is located and where other animals are located as well.  Level I consciousness is governed mainly by the reptilian brains, which can also be found in the back and center of the human head.

Level II consciousness involves social animals with emotions.  These organisms must create a model not only of where they are in space but also with respect to others.  As  the number of feedback loops explodes exponentially it moves to the next numerical ranking.  Level II consciousness  coincides with the formation of new structures in the brain in the form of the limbic system.  .  The limbic system includes the hippocampus (for memories), amygdala (for emotions), and the thalamus (for sensory information), all of which provide new parameters for creating models in relation to others.  Consequently, the number and type of feedback loops change.

The degree of Level II consciousness is defined as the number of distinct feedback loops required for an animal to interact socially with  members of its grouping.  For a crude approximation, Level II consciousness can be estimated by counting the number of fellow animals in its pack or tribe and then listing the total number of ways in which the animal interacts emotionally with each one.  This includes recognizing rivals and friends, forming bonds with others, reciprocating favors, building coalitions, understanding your status and the social ranking of others, plotting to rise on the social order, and so forth.  So if a wolf pack  consists of ten wolves, and each wolf interacts with all the others with fifteen different emotions and gestures, then a first approximation is given by the product of the two,. or 150, so it would have Level II consciousness.

Level III Consciousness, our level of consciousness, involves simulating the future.  Dr.Kaku contends that humans are alone in the animal kingdom in understanding the concept of tomorrow.  “Human consciousness is a specific form of consciousness that creates a model of the world and then simulates it in time, by evaluating the past to simulate the future.  This requires mediating, and evaluating, many feedback loops in order to make a decision to achieve a goal.”

As the healthy memory blog contends, memory is a machine for time travel where we can travel back in time to travel forward and predict possible future outcomes.  In terms of species, plants are at level 0, reptiles are at level I, Mammals are at Level II, and humans at level III.  With respect to relevant parameters, temperature and sunshine are key for Level 0, space for level I, social relations for level II, and time (especially the future for level III.  The primary brain structure is none for level 0, the Brain stem for level I, the Limbic System for level II, and the Prefrontal cortex, for level III.

Dr.Kaku states that self-awareness involves crewing a model of the world and simulating the future in which you appear.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.