How LSD Permits Leaping Word Associations

Once a friend I used to regard as very intelligent told me that LSD made his senses extremely sharp and strong, so much so that one could hear people talk from a few miles away. I was astonished that he could be so delusional that his LSD trips were a reality for him, and I naturally lost quite a bit of respect towards his capacity to interpret life 🙂 However, I was intrigued as to the jumbling of one’s brain signals by this controversial drug, and I researched it a bit, to understand how it affects our brains.

Also called psychedelics, hallucinogens alter a person’s perception, mood and a slew of other mental processes. Research has suggested they primarily do their magic in the brain’s cortex, where the drugs activate specific receptors that are normally triggered by serotonin. In order to function, the cortex is integrating different signals, for example glutamate signals and serotonin signals. And what hallucinogens must be doing is they are disrupting this process so that sensory perception is altered by them.

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And now, the first study* of LSD and language in decades finds that the drug makes similar concepts compete for attention. It may make it easier for the brain to access distantly related words, by activating certain language networks in the brain. This may explain the giant leaps and associations an LSD user can make from one word  to another. Then again, so does practicing meditation, for a first-timer 😉 However, I think this might also explain how my friend thought he developed superman hearing skills -his auditory sensors were gathering info from his leashless language networks.

The study didn’t address questions about the effect of the psychedelic drug on creativity or mental health, but could lead to new research in those areas.

In my opinion, nothing that alters the chemistry of our brains so drastically may be totally harmless. Take it from an LA girl who has seen what too many puffs can do to her friends after some years of smoking pot -which is nothing compared to LSD.

*study published Aug. 18 in the journal Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, News Via: LiveScience

The Shchukin Collection: Russia’s great art rescue

They survived revolution, war and the cold. Now restored works from a legendary Moscow collection are going on show.

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Henri Matisse’s “L’atelier rose” (1911) being restored at the Pushkin Museum

They survived revolution, war and the cold. Now restored works from a legendary Moscow collection are going on show.

This summer, as 130 works from the collection head to Paris for an exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in October, Russian and French art experts see it as a triumph of art over the century-long onslaught of war and revolution. “Considering what they have been through, the paintings are in good condition,” says Anne Baldassari, the exhibition’s curator. The Soviet authorities considered the works bourgeois and not ideologically correct, so they were banned for a long period from being shown in public. It would be half a century before Shchukin’s achievements as a pioneering collector were acknowledged.

‘Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection’ is at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, from October 22 to February 20; fondationlouisvuitton.fr
Continue reading “The Shchukin Collection: Russia’s great art rescue”

Why Do Autumn Leaves Change Color?

Scientific American editor Mark Fischetti explains how the leaves of deciduous trees perform their annual chameleon act, changing from various shades of green to hues of bronze, orange and brilliant red.

I loved watching and learning, so I wanted to share this:

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autumnleaves

Scientists Claim to Solve Riddle of Life’s Chemical Origins

The question of how life got its start on Earth is a tricky one. Life as we know it needs a genetic mechanism like DNA or RNA to record blueprints for proteins, but proteins are required for the replication of DNA in the first place — and none of that is likely to happen without a cell membrane made of lipids to keep unwanted chemicals out. Biologists have argued for years over which of these three systems might have emerged first, but new research suggests a radical solution to the chicken-and-the-egg conundrum: All three developed at once.

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John Sutherland and his team at the University of Cambridge show in a paper published this week in Nature Chemistry that all the elements and energy to create the three systems would have been present in the primordial soup of early Earth. The research shows how the common compounds hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen cyanide, in a bath of UV light and water, could morph into dozens of nucleic acids and lipids. With all the building blocks formed simultaneously, the rest of the process was free to take place.

Perhaps the one prominent theory discounted by Sutherland’s work is exogenesis, the idea that life may have been brought to Earth by a meteor or other celestial object. But even that gets a nod: Meteoric bombardment would have helped supply hydrogen cyanide, iron and other essential elements.

Books worth reading, as recommended by Bill Gates, Susan Cain and more…

ideas.ted.com

Find repose by exciting the mind. Some of the world’s leading thinkers offer the books that inspired them and their work. Skim the list for your favorite speakers, or get nerdy on a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about. Below find 52 books, recommended by TED speakers.

Creativity

Creative Confidence, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
Crown Business, 2013
Recommended by: Tim Brown (TED Talk: Designers — think big!)
“‘Creative confidence’ is the creative mindset that goes along with design thinking’s creative skill set.”
See more of Tim Brown’s favorite books.

Creating Minds, by Howard Gardner
Basic Books, 2011
Recommended by: Roselinde Torres (TED Talk: What it takes to be a great leader)
“Gardner’s book was first published more than twenty years ago, but its insights into the creative process — told through the stories of seven remarkable individuals from different fields —…

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Trees can talk to and help each other using an internet of fungus!

Scientists make enzyme that could help explain origins of life

I recently read an article about the developments in our understanding of how life emerged. The related research was published Nature magazine.

Mimicking natural evolution in a test tube, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have devised an enzyme with a unique property that might have been crucial to the origin of life on Earth.
Aside from illuminating one possible path for life’s beginnings, the achievement is likely to yield a powerful tool for evolving new and useful molecules.

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We are one more step closer to unveiling a mystery…. Nice!

http://t.co/yPhZ3WlRbS