Mind Mosaic

Biomedical charity The Wellcome Trust have launched a new online science magazine called Mosaic which is rammed full of mind and brain stories for its launch.

As part of their role is medical education, the idea is that they get writers to produce in-depth articles about science and then give them away for free (welcome to the barricades, do help yourself to a gas mask).

The launch issue has an interview with dandelion-haired cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, an excellent piece on whether it will ever be possible to understand Alzheimer’s disease, a 30-minute documentary about the science of normality (entirely focused on average white people as far as I could work out) and a brief article on the surprisingly complex science of keeping your brain off the pavement with cycle helmets.

There’s also some articles about other areas of science but I have blanked them from my memory.

Importantly, they’re publishing all their material under a specific creative commons license which means you can republish and re-edit the stories for your own blog or multinational media organisation for free if you wish.

They also asked a few people, including me, about some ‘Big Questions’ facing science and have put them up for a vote on their Facebook page (it’s like Twitter but with more baby photos apparently). If the question gets enough votes, they might commission an article on the topic.

My question was “Can we replace damaged brain parts with computational devices?’ (i.e. computers)” so if you’d like to see a Mosaic article on this and you use the Facebook, you can vote here by liking or leaving a comment.

Link to Mosaic.

2 thoughts on “Mind Mosaic”

  1. Your last question, “Does the brain have replaceable parts?” (a slight change from your original question) is one of several I have been pursuing. I’m sure others are pursuing the same questions. Evidence, so far, indicates that it depends on what function you are replacing more than what physical part of the brain you are replacing. For example, I suspect that we will eventually be able to replace some visual cortex functions. Whether it interfaces with a digital or an analog device is a tangent issue.

    But will we ever be able to replace the part of the brain that makes ethical/moral judgments. In some sense I say “no”, because there are no parts that make those judgments. Why? Just as there isn’t a physical part assigned to bravery there is no metaphysical form to the physical underpinnings of ethics and morality. From a reductionist point of view, without the folk psychology, moral/ethical functions are not what we suppose them to be. It is better to think of them as emergent properties of composite behaviors and not something in the brain to lock and load. Simply put we don’t assume some metaphysical aspect to vision. Why should we for behavior? This suggests that some underpinnings to moral behavior could be replaceable. That allows us to refine our questions to “what level of discourse do we need to work at when describing replaceable brain parts?” I recommend the physical brain level.

  2. Reblogged this on Axion NeuroTherapy and commented:
    The NeuroEconomy continues to pervade, now with open-source speculative educational journals aimed at the masses. Today more than ever, when so much depends upon Brain Performance, you must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don’t leave your self open to chance when you’re Building your Brain – get help from expert neuroscientists in learning what works and what doesn’t.

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