Two Years Ago

Don't lose your head, You have come to the end, though you're wrinkled and spent...


I Have Not Gone Beyond Aging

I am of the nature to age. I have not gone beyond aging.
This documentary shows Dutch people saying their age up to 100.


Animals Are Conscious

Historic Proclamation of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Human non-Human Animals at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, July 7, 2012.

The text of the Declaration is available at http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf

The Declaration represents the conclusion of a scientific meeting, the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness, with all the talks available at http://fcmconference.org/watch/

These talks contain peer-reviewed work by mostly experimental neuroscientists who are putting to rest preconceived notions of human exceptionalism, for the public and with hard data. Abstracts and bios are available at http://fcmconference.org/img/FCMCProgram.pdf


Tree of Life Branches Out Online

Exploring the evolutionary tree of life is now as easy as navigating an online map, thanks to a new interactive website. 

For more information please visit: http://www.OneZoom.org


Samsara the Movie

"Samsara" is a film composed of powerful images, most magnificent, some shocking, all photographed with great care in the highest possible HD resolution — or in 70mm, if you can find it. Filmed over five years, in locations in 25 countries, it is the kind of experience you simply sink into.

The Science of Orgasm


The Universe Can Still Exist At Least 16.7 Gyr

Abstract: We explore the ultimate fate of the Universe by using a divergence-free parametrization for dark energy w(z)=w0+wa[ln(2+z)/(1-z)-ln2]. Unlike the Chevallier-Polarski-Linder parametrization, this parametrization has well behaved, bounded behavior for both high redshifts and negative redshifts, and thus can genuinely cover many theoretical dark energy models. After constraining the parameter space of this parametrization by using the current cosmological observations, we find that, at the 95.4% confidence level, our Universe can still exist at least 16.7 Gyr before it ends in a big rip. Moreover, for the phantom energy dominated Universe, we find that a gravitationally bound system will be destroyed at a time t=P√2|1+3w(-1)|/[6π|1+w(-1)|], where P is the period of a circular orbit around this system, before the big rip.
LI XiaoDong, WANG Shuang, HUANG QingGuo, ZHANG Xin, LI Miao. Dark energy and fate of the Universe. Sci China-Phys Mech Astron, 2012, 55(7): 1330-1334


Behold: You Will Get Fooled Again

Although research has shown that most of us are hopeless at spotting lies, there's been speculation in the literature that a minority of people might be unusually talented fib-detectors. The evidence for these "wizards", as they've been called, remains controversial. Now a new study has tested the relevance of a key psychological construct that one might imagine wizards would score highly on - emotional intelligence. 
Participants who scored highly on the "emotionality" component of emotional intelligence (pertaining to emotional expression, perception and empathy) were significantly less accurate than average at judging which of the anxious relatives was being genuine. This association was mediated by how upset the students felt about the clips, perhaps indicating that their emotional state was affecting their ability to scrutinise the videos effectively.
Purpose. There is major disagreement about the existence of individual differences in deception detection or naturally gifted detection ‘wizards’. This study aimed to elucidate the role of a specific, and seemingly relevant individual difference – emotional intelligence (EI) and its subcomponents – in detecting high-stakes, emotional deception. 
Methods. Participants (N= 116) viewed a sample of 20 international videos of individuals emotionally pleading for the safe return of their missing family member, half of whom were responsible for the missing person's disappearance/murder. Participants judged whether the pleas were honest or deceptive, provided confidence ratings, reported the cues they utilized, and rated their emotional response to each plea. 
Results. EI was associated with overconfidence in assessing the sincerity of the pleas and greater self-reported sympathetic feelings to deceptive targets (enhanced gullibility). Although total EI was not associated with discrimination of truths and lies, the ability to perceive and express emotion (a component of EI), specifically, was negatively related to detecting deceptive targets (lower sensitivity [d′]). Combined, these patterns contributed negatively to the ability to spot emotional lies. 
Conclusions. These findings collectively suggest that features of EI, and subsequent decision-making processes, paradoxically may impair one's ability to detect deceit.
Baker, A., ten Brinke, L., and Porter, S. (2012). Will get fooled again: Emotionally intelligent people are easily duped by high-stakes deceivers. Legal and Criminological Psychology DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8333.2012.02054.x


Mechanisms of White Matter Changes Induced by Meditation

Researchers report that 11 hours of practicing mindfulness meditation (even for beginners) can have a positive physical effect on the brain, boosting connectivity and efficiency.

In the group of focused meditators, researchers saw changes in the white matter associated with a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, the anterior cingulate cortex. Changes were noted even after short exposure to the practice, while the same changes didn't occur in the relaxation-oriented group.

Another separate study published last year found that participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

Using diffusion tensor imaging, several recent studies have shown that training results in changes in white matter efficiency as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA). In our work, we found that a form of mindfulness meditation, integrative body–mind training (IBMT), improved FA in areas surrounding the anterior cingulate cortex after 4-wk training more than controls given relaxation training. Reductions in radial diffusivity (RD) have been interpreted as improved myelin but reductions in axial diffusivity (AD) involve other mechanisms, such as axonal density. We now report that after 4-wk training with IBMT, both RD and AD decrease accompanied by increased FA, indicating improved efficiency of white matter involves increased myelin as well as other axonal changes. However, 2-wk IBMT reduced AD, but not RD or FA, and improved moods. Our results demonstrate the time-course of white matter neuroplasticity in short-term meditation. This dynamic pattern of white matter change involving the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, could provide a means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders. 
Tang, Y-Y., Lu, Q., Fan, M., Yang, Y., & Posner, M.I. (2012). Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1207817109


Buddha‘s Lost Children

A breathtaking true story of compassion and tough love.
In the borderlands of Thailand's Golden Triangle, a rugged region known for its drug smuggling and impoverished hill tribes, one man devotes himself to the welfare of the region's children. A former Thai boxer, turned Buddhist monk, Phra Khru Bah Neua Chai Kositto travels widely on horseback, fearlessly dispensing prayers and tough-love. With his Golden Horse Temple he's built an orphanage, school and clinic - a haven for the children of the region, who see him as a shaman, father figure and coach.