New Research Uncovers What Makes Your Emotions Feel Good or Bad

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The past decade has been an exceptional period for neuroscience, crucial discoveries have been made, old theories have been debunked, and new ones proposed.

In my previous article, I spoke about how dopamine works in the brain and why the reward system is actually a prediction error system. Now, I want to introduce you to the most recent and widely accepted theory about how emotions are made: the theory of constructed emotions.

This theory has been developed by Lisa Feldman Barret — she is among the top one percent most-cited scientists in the world — and conveys a completely new…


Recent Scientific Findings Crucial To Understand The Most Misunderstood Neurotransmitter

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Dopamine is the most popular molecule of our time. No matter what your background is, if you have been alive during the 21st century, you have certainly heard a lot of praise on dopamine. People these days want to boost their dopamine because they have been told it is the molecule of pleasure, motivation, focus, and achievement. In this article, we are going to dig a bit deeper to try to understand what we are talking about when we are talking dopamine.

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Before dopamine, the happy molecule was serotonin. During the rise of antidepressants like Prozac and other selective serotonin…


New Scientific Findings Predict BCIs to Replace Antidepressants

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For many years scientists have been looking for new drugs to effectively treat severe depression, and even if some patients have seen their lives improve thanks to medication, the truth is a real cure for depression has remained elusive.

Sometimes antidepressants stop working after prologued use and for many people they don’t work at all. Even for those lucky enough to feel the positive effects, unwanted side effects might result in treatment discontinuation.

With such gloomy prospects, it was only a matter of time until scientists realized there must be better ways to treat depression rather than pills.

After all…


These Companies Could Win the Race for Brain-Computer Interfaces before Elon Mask’s Neuralink Does

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I am sure that Elon Musk’s neuroscience startup, Neuralink is the first company that comes to your mind if you think of brain-computer interfaces. Last year, Neuralink implanted a brain chip on a pig and earlier this year, Elon said that Neuralink is “working super hard to transition from operating on monkeys to human trials by the end of the year”.

Elon Musk Introducing his Brain Chip on a Pig

However, in 2019 he said the same thing, and nothing happened. Safety is a great issue when we are talking about drilling into a human skull and even when it’s…


Connectomics and the future of Neuroscience

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The race to map the human brain that we are witnessing has resulted in an explosion of techniques to measure neural activity.

In my previous article, I talked about fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and complained about its main pitfall: it cannot record the activity of neurons — instead, the images you see of particular brain regions being lit up reflect blood flow in certain areas of the brain.

In fact, the signal you see reflects the relative presence of oxygenated versus deoxygenated blood; active regions require more oxygenated blood, so scientists can infer neuronal activity based on this measure.


The Philosophy of Good Friendship

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As a result of isolation imposed during the current pandemic, many of us have come to realize the importance of having high-quality friends. It is during these times of hardship, that it becomes even clearer how societies giving strong importance to family and social circles are more resilient.

In fact, connecting with a person in a profound way is one of the richest feelings a human being can experience.

Having many things in common and sharing similar views of the world make you feel a refreshing calmness. A sensation that life is good the way it is.

Unlike other bonds…


Analyzing How AI Performs Compared To The Human Brain

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As computers get “smarter” every year, I think it is interesting to look at the state of the art and summarize how we humans perform against AI, task by task. First of all, we are going to look at the main components of a computer’s hardware and compare them to our brain. Then, we will see how that translates into an ability to use real intelligence.

So let’s jump into it:

Energy Consumption

The brain is an expensive organ in terms of energy consumption: on average, your brain consumes about 20 percent of your body’s energy, and that’s in a resting state…


What Geniuses Can Teach Us About Intelligence

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We are living in the age of cult to intelligence. Never before was being intelligent more valued than in today’s society. Kids don’t wanna be soccer players or actors anymore, they want to build the next Google or Facebook, they want to matter, to be creative, to change the world.

In a capitalist society, being intelligent very often is equated to being successful, and nobody wants to be thought a fool.

But what does being intelligent really mean?

Look at the dictionary we might find definitions like ‘the ability to think, reason, and understand instead of doing things automatically or by instinct’. …


Non-Invasive BCIs are going Mainstream

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The time has come, Brain-Computer Interfaces are not science fiction anymore but a tangible reality that we can buy, In fact, the market for this technology is expected to reach USD 288.4 million by 2025, from USD 184.2 million in 2019.

While Elon Musk’s Neuralink might start human trials this year, there are many other innovative companies offering wearable BCIs that don’t require surgery.

Non-invasive BCIs are set to change the way we communicate with our devices (smartphones and computers) and even with one another. …


2021 Updates on our Roadmap to the Connectome

Credit: Alex Norton for EyeWire from the Seung Lab at MIT

During the last decade, we have seen an explosion of efforts to map the human connectome, which translates into drawing 10¹⁵ connections between 100 billion neurons in the brain. The advances made in brain imaging together will an astonishing increase in sheer computing power, have paved the way for scientists to start seeing such an intimidating task as feasible.

In this article, I will leave aside the questions about how useful the brain map will be (would you understand how a car works just by looking at the engines?) or what kind of connectome do we want to map (every…

Diego Salinas

Follow me on a journey through AI and Neuroscience on https://medium.com/artificial-intelligence-and-cognition

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