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I would like to know if there is any research into the latency of human perception. Particulary:
- What is the minimum time for various inputs (vision, touch, sound) to be recognized by the conscious mind?
- How different are these times? (Loud sound vs sense of touch in your toe)
- Given the above, is there a number we can put on how many milliseconds behind reality the human mind is?
There is a huge amount research into this subject. It is vast and nebulous as such I cannot give you an overall picture of this. I can however illustrate some of the complexities to this.
Firstly I would say that what you mean by human perception is extremely complex, there are different modalities of perception. For example in terms of a visual stimulus, we may simply perceive its basic shape, outline, colour, whether or not it is moving. We then may also perceive higher levels of information such as the function of the object. Similarly there are different aspects to other stimuli.
These different components of perception are transmitted by different neurons leading to the brain and then processed by different areas of the brain suited to specific tasks and then are integrated together to give us a conscious idea of what the object is.
Therefore when measuring the latency of human perception you would first have to decide what exactly you mean by this?
The other aspect is that a lot of study has occurred in this area as we are aware that perception can be altered by states of illness (for example audio evoked responses in schizophrenia, or visual evoke responses in multiple sclerosis). The perception of pain is yet another huge area of study.
Again this is such a vast area of research that I wouldn't really know where to point you to. However for a entertaining read on how perception can change in neurology I would recommend reading the books of Oliver Sacks, in particularly "The Man Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and an "Anthropologist on Mars".
I am sorry I haven't provided you with more detail but good luck in reading around this subject. If you are more specific about what perceptions, (e.g. perception of faces, perception of danger etc… ) then maybe you will receive more specific answers.
Why Do Psychologists Study Biology?
Biology is important to psychologists in several ways: Comparative methods learned in biology compare different species and help to understand human behavior. Physiology studies the nervous system and the functioning of the brain and helps to determine how these systems affect behavior. Study of inheritance helps in predicting human behavior.
Biology is the study of life, while psychology is an academic and applied discipline that includes the scientific study of mental activities and behaviors of humans.
Psychology is a scientific field that deals particularly with the mind. It attempts to determine why people think and behave the way they do. For a psychologist to effectively study human behavior, they require considerable background in biology. A comparative psychologist requires knowledge in biology to understand animal cognition. Comparative psychology investigates how and why each animal species developed particular cognitive skills. Findings from this study are applied in understanding human evolution.
Knowledge of the biology of the brain helps psychologists to evaluate the impact of different stimuli on an individual’s brain. Human behavior, which is the primary concern of psychologists, is largely understood in terms of biological processes such as genes and hormones. Human genes have evolved over time to adapt behavior to the environment. Consequently, most behavior may be adaptive or evolutionary. Similarly, mechanisms of inheritance (genetics) studied in biology helps to understand whether high intelligence is passed on from one generation to the next.
About the Show
Take a deep-dive into the universe that’s inside each and every one of us, by exploring a shared biology that we often don't take the time to appreciate, or understand. Heart, brain, eyes, blood, tears "Human" uncovers not only the science behind how our bodies work, but how what's inside powers every moment of what we do out in the world. Personal profiles of people from around the globe become entry points into deeper stories about how the body's many systems function.
Episode 1 | Birth
Go on a journey with parents who are preparing for babies to see how our bodies create and sustain new life. Through their stories, we learn about what is fundamentally shared and absolutely unique about the experience of birth.
Episode 2 | Pulse
Dive into the world of an ice climber, a bus driver, a woman in labor and a senior dance club to show how the human heart and the circulatory system power our physical and emotional lives and create the pulsing rhythm of our world.
Episode 3 | Fuel
Through the worlds of a religious faster, an ultra-marathon runner, a farmer and a young girl beating allergies, go deep into the world of the human gut, which processes the fuel our bodies need to keep going.
Episode 4 | Defend
Look at a nature survivalist, rancher twins, a doctor who survived Ebola and the recipient of a cutting-edge cancer therapy to uncover the wildly advanced biology that keeps us alive against all odds.
Episode 5 | Sense
Dive into the stories of a pairs figure skating team, a perfumer, a cave explorer and a musician to decipher how different ways of sensing the world all create their own vivid and unique picture.
Episode 6 | React
Through the lens of a boxer, a first responder, a cell tower climber and a man with a bionic limb, go deep into the universe of the most powerful machine on earth: the human brain and the vast nervous system it controls.
What We Know About the Human Mind
Our stream of consciousness is a motley mixture of pains, tastes, images, noises, conversations, and perhaps most notably, the fragmented musings of an inner voice, commenting on, describing, evaluating, and planning aspects of our lives.
Throughout most of human history, it seemed an obvious, and perhaps even necessary, truth that our thoughts must be part of conscious awareness, and that the mind is, inherently, a realm to which we have immediate introspective access. Indeed, my thoughts seem directly knowable just to me. It is my stream of consciousness through which they are flowing, after all.
Since Freud, though, a very different picture has come to dominate how we think about our minds, both in everyday life and academic psychology — and this picture has become widely influential, and indeed dominant, even outside the relatively limited academic circles in which Freud’s psychoanalytic theories are taken seriously.
According to this picture, our stream of consciousness is merely a glittering surface of thought. At any one moment, a particular thought, and perhaps one alone, may break into my stream of consciousness. Yet beneath lies a deep, and perhaps turbulent, reservoir of thoughts of all kinds, in which lie the deep currents — and perhaps even hidden monsters — that govern the mind.
Indeed, from this point of view, our minds are not merely a flow of immediate experience, but a huge repository of “hidden depths”: beliefs, attitudes, motives, suspicions, hopes, fears, and much more. Just as I can perceive the world through my senses, it seems natural to think that we can perceive this inner world by, as it were, by turning our attention inward — by applying a supposed faculty of introspection to scrutinize the contents of our minds.
Indeed, Freud would add (and many later psychologists with different variations of the same idea), we should be a little skeptical of our introspection, because our mental depths are murky and perhaps even actively distorted (some thoughts might be "repressed" for example). So we might need special techniques, ranging from hypnosis to word associations to dream analysis to behavioral experiments to brain scanning to pin down with any more certainty what we are really thinking below the level of conscious experience.
We might go further and wonder if the dilemmas and conflicts that can plague our conscious experience may have their origin in clashes deep in the unconscious world of thought. Perhaps our minds might even be organized into multiple inner agents (for example, the ego, id, and superego or intuitive versus reflective selves or some other division) — and these might battle for control.
What is wrong with this story? In my view, just about everything! And exploring why this story is both so compelling, yet so misleading, will be one of the topics I will focus on in this blog. I think that evidence from psychology and neuroscience contradicts these views at just about every turn. Among the claims I’d like to defend are:
- The very idea of introspection into our mental depths is a hoax, perpetrated upon us by our own brains.
- We are such fluent and compelling improvisers that we can invent an answer to almost any question about our beliefs, desires, motives, or memories, almost as soon as we have asked it. Yet our answers are no more than inventions, created just when the question is asked and not a moment before.
- When we explain our words and actions, we are rationalizing: The explanations, beliefs, desires, hopes, and fears that they mention are part of the story we tell in retrospect.
- Beliefs, desires, hopes, fears, and all the rest no more cause our action than do magic spells, possession by demons, or an excess of choleric.
- Plumbing the inner depths of our minds is not difficult, because they are so vast or so murky, but because there is nothing to find.
- The mind is flat! The glittering surface of conscious experience is all there is.
Don’t imagine that our intuitions about our stream of consciousness can be trusted either. Our intuitions about our conscious experience of the external world are mostly hopelessly and wildly incorrect!
One criticism that is often leveled at psychology, as an academic subject, is that it isn’t really a lot more than solid common sense. From a "mind is flat" perspective, this could not be further from the truth. I think the picture that is emerging from psychology, neuroscience, and allied disciplines is really quite astonishing, and utterly strange.
It is so far from common sense, indeed, that I have a feeling a lot of researchers are a little shy about admitting, perhaps even to themselves, just how explosive the implications of their results really are. Commonsense psychology is no closer to the truth about how our brains work than commonsense physics gets the right answers about curved space, black holes, and quantum entanglement.
Intrigued? I hope so. But, quite rightly, you need to see arguments, evidence, and intuitions. Watch out for later posts in this blog (or, for the full story, you can try The Mind is Flat, the book).
Chater, N. (2018). The Mind is Flat. London: Penguin Allen Lane and New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
The ‘Why’ Behind Asking Why: The Science of Curiosity
Curiosity is a fundamental human trait. Everyone is curious, but the object and degree of that curiosity is different depending on the person and the situation. Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio was so curious about curiosity that he wrote a book about it. He recently appeared on the [email protected] show on SiriusXM channel 111 to talk about what he learned in the course of writing his book, Why? What Makes Us Curious.
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
[email protected]: What is it that really drives our curiosity?
Mario Livio: Curiosity has several kinds or flavors, and they are not driven by the same things. There is something that has been dubbed perceptual curiosity. That’s the curiosity we feel when something surprises us or when something doesn’t quite agree with what we know or think we know. That is felt as an unpleasant state, as an adversity state. It’s a bit like an itch that we need to scratch. That’s why we try to find out the information in order to relieve that type of curiosity.
On the other hand, there is something that has been dubbed epistemic curiosity, which is a pleasurable state associated with an anticipation of reward. That’s our level of knowledge. That’s what drives all scientific research. It drives many artworks. It drives education and things like that.
[email protected]: There’s a basic difference between being unpleasant or unhappy and being happy. I would think many people feel both of those things pretty much every day of their lives, correct?
Livio: You’re absolutely right. You see something that you completely did not expect or is very ambiguous, and you feel somewhat unpleasant about this. On the other hand, you try to learn something new every day, and that is a very pleasurable state that gives you a reward. So yes, everybody feels both of these things almost every day.
[email protected]: Is there an element of curiosity that is enhanced by living in the digital age?
Livio: There are some people who have the feeling that because we have information literally at our fingertips, maybe we’re becoming less curious. But that’s not true. There are two things to remember. One is that when we do scientific research, we try to find answers to questions where we don’t know the answers yet. Therefore, you cannot find those answers on the internet or Wikipedia.
The other thing is that what the internet allows us to do is to satisfy what has been dubbed specific curiosity, namely you want to know a very particular detail. Who wrote this or that book? What was the name of the actor in that film? The digital age allows you to find the answer very quickly. That’s actually good because you don’t want to spend all your time trying to answer a question like that. I don’t know how you feel, but I sometimes can be really obsessed by not knowing the answer to something very, very simple like that.
[email protected]: That’s almost a natural component of who we are. There are times when we become obsessed with wanting to know what that information is.
“Curiosity has several kinds or flavors, and they are not driven by the same things.”
Livio: That’s right. In that sense, the digital age helps us because we can find that information, and that may drive us to look for something else about this. And that would drive perhaps epistemic curiosity, which is this love of knowledge and wanting to learn new things.
[email protected]: Do you think love of knowledge is truly the driving force behind curiosity and the other pieces are part of the spider web off the core?
Livio: Not necessarily. There have been all kinds of experiments in neuroscience with functional MRI, where they make people curious then put them in these MRI machines and see which parts of their brains are activated. It was found that this perceptual curiosity, the one when you’re surprised or find something unexpected, is associated with activations of the parts in our brain that usually work in conflict or when you’re hungry or thirsty. On the other hand, the parts that are associated with learning new things really activate the parts that are associated with anticipation of reward, like when somebody’s offering you a piece of chocolate or when you sit in a theater and you’re waiting for the curtain to go up.
[email protected] High School
[email protected]: When you think historically, there have been world leaders who have wanted to snuff out curiosity. I’m thinking particularly of Fidel Castro. Some people would say President Trump is trying to do that. Have you seen that as a component in the world?
Livio: Of course. We all know about the Middle Ages, the medieval times when curiosity was almost taken out of existence. It was mostly the church that wanted to convey to the masses the feeling that everything worth knowing is already known. They built walls around all types of knowledge and really oppressed curiosity in this way.
You mentioned a few leaders, but it’s not just leaders. The Taliban destroyed works of art. ISIS is destroying works of art in Palmyra, in Syria. There have been book burnings over the years. The Nazis made a degenerate art exhibit where they tried to deface all the modern painters. There definitely have been oppressive regimes and ideologies that try to stifle curiosity.
[email protected]: What I found interesting in the book is that you note there really isn’t one definition of curiosity.
Livio: Yes. I mentioned already two of those types of curiosity: perceptual and epistemic. There is also something that has been dubbed diversive curiosity. That’s the thing when you see young people constantly on their smartphone, looking for text messages to ward off boredom, I think.
[email protected]: Curiosity has always been seen as a very good thing because you’re trying to gain knowledge. There is a negative to diversive curiosity because your attention is turned away. But there is the element of searching or looking for information. It’s kind of walking a fine line there.
“There are some people who have the feeling that because we have information literally at our fingertips, maybe we’re becoming less curious. But that’s not true.”
Livio: You’re absolutely right. They’re also looking for information, and also it serves as a social element. They connect with friends. They connect with people, sometimes across countries. It isn’t all negative.
[email protected]: Do you think it affects curiosity in general because it has become such an attractive piece to our society? It’s changed the communication skill. Instead of face to face, it’s fingertip to fingertip.
Livio: That may have eventually some negative consequences if people just stay at home and connect through all kinds of digital devices. I can see all kinds of shortcomings for that type of a society. But at the same time, the really important questions like advances in science and so on cannot be found through digital devices.
[email protected]: You take time in the book to really delve into the science of this. Tell us what you found and why science has been so intrigued by this.
Livio: If you’re a curious person, then you ought to also be curious about curiosity itself. This has been research by psychologists, cognitive scientists and neuroscientists. There are two parts to this. One is to understand our state of mind when we are curious. I alluded to that in that one type of curiosity creates an unpleasant sensation and another creates an anticipation of reward. It was found that especially the epistemic curiosity, when we try to learn new things, it really follows the paths of reward of dopamine, which is this neural transmitter that is associated with reward in our brains.
[email protected]: I think there are people who are naturally curious. It almost is ingrained in their personality as they come into the world. Is that the case?
“If you’re a curious person, then you ought to also be curious about curiosity itself.”
Livio: Of course. Most psychological traits, and curiosity is no exception, have a genetic component to them. The fact that some people are much more curious than others largely has to do with their genetics. But, as in all cases, genetics is never the whole story. In the same way as nature versus nurture question, the two of them play a role. You can enhance curiosity by doing certain things, by asking questions, by encouraging people to be curious about things. Or you can suppress curiosity as we just noted, sometimes by regime, sometimes by ideologies, and so on.
People have something in them which they are born with, but the environment can help or be against enhancing this curiosity. Just to give an example, if you are the children of refugees that have to cross countries and look for food all the time, you may be curious about where do you find your next meal and not about contemplating the meaning of life.
[email protected]: With all of the innovation that goes on right now, it feels like we’re constantly looking to improve so many aspects of our lives. Is it fair to say that curiosity is one of the things that might be hard to improve?
Livio: No. I don’t think it is hard to improve. You cannot change your genetic makeup, but through the education system you can actually improve on curiosity. I’ll give you a very simple example. If you teach science to young children, don’t start by trying to teach them things that they may not be interested in. Start with something they’re already curious about, like dinosaurs. Start with dinosaurs and then find interesting ways to connect from that to other concepts you would like them to learn, rather than starting from the beginning with something they may not be interested in. Most people know that very young children are extremely curious. They constantly ask questions. That’s largely because they especially want to understand cause and effect. They want to understand how the world around them is functioning so that they make fewer errors.
Some people think that as we grow up we lose our curiosity, and that’s not entirely true. We do lose some elements of diversive curiosity or the ability to be surprised. But actually epistemic curiosity, that love of knowledge, appears to be roughly constant across all ages.
Knowledge[email protected]: When you are older, you do not take the risks that you did when you were, say, 20 or 30. But I would think that your curiosity doesn’t wane that much when you’re older, correct?
Livio: Correct. Your love of knowledge remains and your willingness to learn new things appears to be constant across all ages. People at very old ages are still willing to learn things, to discover new things, to read. The topics in which you are curious about may change with age or with time or with whatever occupation you are in. Different people are curious about different things, and the level of intensity of their curiosity may be different.
“Different people are curious about different things, and the level of intensity of their curiosity may be different.”
[email protected]: Are kids more curious than adults?
Livio: Kids are more curious in terms of diversity than perceptual curiosity. But I think in terms of epistemic curiosity, adults are as curious. This probably all started for survival. We needed to understand very well our environment in order to be able to survive, so there was an evolutionary pressure to this. But somehow humans are always more curious than just for mere survival. I’m an astrophysicist. What we study in science will probably become applicable at one point, but it is not applicable at the moment. We’re still very curious about this because we want to understand everything around us.
[email protected]: What is it that makes you curious?
Livio: I’m really curious about the universe, things that relate to the beginning of the universe, to the fate of the universe, the nature of the dark energy that is pushing the cosmic expansion to accelerate. But I’m also interested in things like how did life emerge in the universe, the nature of consciousness, many things.
[email protected]: We talked about the potential for curiosity to be enhanced further. Is that an expectation of yours?
Livio: The nature of scientific research, but sometimes even artistic contemplation, is that the answer to every question just brings about a new question. Sometimes the new question is even more intriguing than the original question, so you may become more curious about it.
Research in Action
Undoing Dyslexia via Video Games
Increasing Eyewitness Accuracy in Police Lineups
Why Lime-Yellow Fire Trucks Are Safer Than Red
Psychologists Study TV and Video Game Violence
Think Again: Men and Women Share Cognitive Skills
More Sleep Would Make Us Happier, Healthier and Safer
Science Behind the Fiction: Humans as batteries, as in The Matrix. probably not gonna happen
It's been 20 years since the Wachowskis introduced us to the world of The Matrix, 20 years since we watched Neo take the red pill and follow the white rabbit beyond the digital frontier into a world of superpowers, sentient machines, and existential crisis.
Leaving the world he'd known behind, Neo discovers he is not really a human being living in the early 21st century. Instead, he is a battery, an energy source for the vast machine civilization ruling the world. The world he knows, the one where he has a job and acquaintances, is little more than a vast simulation meant to keep his mind occupied while his body cranks out juice for an army of robots and computer programs.
As a result of a global war, centuries before Neo was born, the sky was blackened and the sun blocked out in an attempt to starve the machines bent on human domination. Morpheus explains the terrible solution the machines resorted to in order to survive. "The human body generates more bioelectricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 BTUs of body heat," he says.
To be fair, he does mention this harvesting of human energy is combined "with a form of fusion" to provide the machines with all the energy the would ever need. But the mention of fusion is almost a throwaway. The clear message here, accompanied by images of endless power plants, is humans have been enslaved as a power source for our synthetic masters. The Animatrix confirms this point, mentioning a "readily available power supply, the bioelectric thermal and kinetic energy of the human body."
"For the longest time, I wouldn't believe," Morpheus says. "And then I saw the fields with my own eyes." Yeah, well, seeing is believing, Morpheus. But I still have some questions.
Let's take a look at just how well a human body could act as a power supply and see how far this rabbit hole goes. Could human bodies, kept inert in creepy cyberpunk containers, act as a suitable power source?
The short answer is no. And you have thermodynamics to thank.
The first law of thermodynamics states, in simple terms, that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Whatever energy is put into a system (in this case a meaty flesh suit) can only be converted, either into work or heat.
In the film, humans are mostly inert, living out their lives in their heads. There isn't a lot of visible work being completed. But looks can be deceiving (somebody tell Morpheus), and even when a body is at rest, there is a whole lot going on.
Caloric expenditure is a tricky calculation. There are a lot of factors at play, including body weight and metabolism, but let's try anyway.
A 185-pound person burns an average of 56 calories per hour, at rest. Given that the humans locked inside the Matrix are essentially always at rest, living their lives in a continual dream state, a person of that weight would burn approximately 1,350 calories per day just lying in their pod. That's lost energy for the machines. And the actual caloric cost might be even higher. The brain accounts for roughly 20 percent of all energy used, despite adding up to only about 2 percent of total body mass. It turns out, thinking is hard work. And since the humans are living out full mental lives, there's no telling how much energy the brain is soaking up.
Because energy cannot be created or destroyed, those converted calories can't come out the other end for the machines to use. Any energy expended keeping their human cattle alive is a net deficit. Whatever kinetic or thermal energy they're getting off Neo's nude, bald, slimy person is negligible when compared to the energy needed to keep his heart pumping and his brain cracking code and pining over Trinity.
The second law of thermodynamics states that the sum of entropies between two or more interacting systems always increases, which is a fancy way of saying there's no such thing as a free lunch. When looking at the universe as a whole (the largest known interaction of systems), things move consistently toward disorder.
This can seem counter-intuitive, considering that we see examples of seemingly spontaneous order in our every day lives. One of the most common and profound examples is that of childbirth. A person (typically a woman) creates within them a complex, ordered entity out of disorder. But when you consider the whole of the involved systems — the food taken in, consumed, and converted to energy — the sum of entropies has increased the amount of disorder outweighs the amount of order represented by the construction and birth of the child. Turns out babies are energy expensive, and that's in addition to the more than $200,000 it will cost to raise the kid. The Matrix is looking better and better.
In relation to energy production in Machine City, whatever energy is produced by the fields of pod people dreaming electric dreams beneath the blackened sky must necessarily be less than the energy expended. It isn't that no energy is being produced, just that it can't be enough to support the system. An array of human batteries is the energy equivalent of a Ponzi scheme. Someone might be getting rich, but it isn't you.
The third law of thermodynamics states that as a system moves toward absolute zero (-273.15° Celsius, or -459.7 Fahrenheit), randomness decreases and entropy approaches a constant. In other words, energy loss is decreased as things get colder.
The downside to this approach, as it relates to the machine's needs, is that reducing the temperature of their batteries to absolute zero would kill them, making the whole operation moot. It's sort of like exploding up a coppertop to make it more efficient. You might technically accomplish your goal, but at what cost?
All of this is incredibly inefficient. Even if the machines were able to use up all of the energy produced by a human brain, it would take them more than three days to charge an iPhone, and that would leave zero brain capacity for enjoying the fantasy land they created for us. We have no word on the charging time of a sentinel.
If the machines really wanted to use a biological power source, there are far better options than human bodies. Moreover, they could have built spires which reach above the scorched sky to get energy directly from the sun, or utilized nuclear energy without the need to farm people. The only real explanation for the vast fields of human bodies being maintained in stasis is that the machines wanted us alive for one reason or another.
Some have speculated they were using our brain capacity as crowd-sourced computing power. Others lean on Asimov's laws to suggest that, while the machines wanted us out of the way so they could go about their business, they felt an imperative to protect humanity on the whole. Either of these are better explanations than that of energy need.
In terms of power production, the machines would be better off letting all of humanity die off before burning the liquefied cheeseburgers they were planning to pump into our tubes and basking in the charbroiled glow. But I'm not about to tell them that.
Left versus Right, in the BrainResearch has already shown that, compared to liberals, conservatives display heightened responses to threatening images. Michael Dodd of the University of Nebraska wanted to explore this in finer detail: He showed 46 left- or right-leaning Nebraskans a series of images alternately disgusting (spiders on faces, open wounds) and appealing (smiling children, cute rabbits.) Dodd's team found that conservatives reacted most strongly to negative images, and liberals most strongly to positive photographs. Then he showed them pictures of well-known politicians. The same patterns held: Conservatives displayed more distaste than liberals for politicians they disliked, while liberals felt more positive than conservatives about politicians they liked. Given these and other findings, wrote Dodd's team, "those on the political right and those on the political left may simply experience the world differently." That sounds pessimistic, but it doesn't have to be. It can be a healthy reminder that people with whom we disagree aren't stupid or irrational they just have different perspectives. Image: Each graph depicts the arousal response of conservatives (triangle dots) and liberals (square dots) to images that are disgusting or appealing (left set) and pictures of opposing politicians (right set). (Dodd et al./Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B) Citation: "The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: connecting physiology and cognition to preferences." By Michael D. Dodd, Amanda Balzer, Carly M. Jacobs, Michael W. Gruszczynski, Kevin B. Smith and John R. Hibbing. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Vol. 367 No. 1589, March 5, 2012.
WIRED is where tomorrow is realized. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries.
Anatomy of the brain
The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, accounting for 85 percent of the organ's weight. The distinctive, deeply wrinkled outer surface is the cerebral cortex. It's the cerebrum that makes the human brain—and therefore humans—so formidable. Animals such as elephants, dolphins, and whales actually have larger brains, but humans have the most developed cerebrum. It's packed to capacity inside our skulls, with deep folds that cleverly maximize the total surface area of the cortex.
The cerebrum has two halves, or hemispheres, that are further divided into four regions, or lobes. The frontal lobes, located behind the forehead, are involved with speech, thought, learning, emotion, and movement. Behind them are the parietal lobes, which process sensory information such as touch, temperature, and pain. At the rear of the brain are the occipital lobes, dealing with vision. Lastly, there are the temporal lobes, near the temples, which are involved with hearing and memory.
The second-largest part of the brain is the cerebellum, which sits beneath the back of the cerebrum. It plays an important role in coordinating movement, posture, and balance.
The third-largest part is the diencephalon, located in the core of the brain. A complex of structures roughly the size of an apricot, its two major sections are the thalamus and hypothalamus. The thalamus acts as a relay station for incoming nerve impulses from around the body that are then forwarded to the appropriate brain region for processing. The hypothalamus controls hormone secretions from the nearby pituitary gland. These hormones govern growth and instinctual behaviors, such as when a new mother starts to lactate. The hypothalamus is also important for keeping bodily processes like temperature, hunger, and thirst balanced.
Seated at the organ's base, the brain stem controls reflexes and basic life functions such as heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It also regulates when you feel sleepy or awake and connects the cerebrum and cerebellum to the spinal cord.
A brain is displayed at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The human brain is a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) mass of jelly-like fats and tissues—yet it's the most complex of all known living structures.
The brain is extremely sensitive and delicate, and so it requires maximum protection, which is provided by the hard bone of the skull and three tough membranes called meninges. The spaces between these membranes are filled with fluid that cushions the brain and keeps it from being damaged by contact with the inside of the skull.
The Cambridge Edition of the Work of Immanuel Kant in Translation has translations into English complete with scholarly apparatus of nearly all Kant&rsquos writings. It is probably the best single source for Kant&rsquos works in English. Except for references to the Critique of Pure Reason, all references will include the volume number and where appropriate the page number of the Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Koniglichen Preussischen Academie der Wissenschaften, 29 Vols. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter et al., 1902&ndash [in the format, Ak. XX:yy]).
- Kant, I. (1781/1787) Critique of Pure Reason, P. Guyer and A. Wood (trans.), Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. (The passages quoted in the article above generally follow this translation and/or the Kemp Smith translation but all translations were checked.) References to CPR are in the standard pagination of the 1 st (A) and 2 nd (B) editions. A reference to only one edition means that the passage appeared only in that edition.)
- Kant, I. (1783) Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, P. Carus (trans.), revised and with an Introduction by James Ellington, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishers, 1977 (Ak. IV).
- Kant, I. (1786) The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, translated and with an Introduction by James Ellington, Indianapolis, IN: Library of Liberal Arts, 1970. (Ak. IV).
- Kant, I. (1798) Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, Mary Gregor (trans.), The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974 (Ak. VII).
Works on Kant on the Mind and Consciousness
Thanks to Julian Wuerth for help with this section.
In the past two decades alone, of the order of 45,000 new books and new editions by or about Kant have been published. Thus, any bibliography is bound to be incomplete. In what follows, we have focused on books of the past ten years or so in English that are having an influence, along with a few important earlier commentaries. General bibliographies are readily available on the websites listed later.