Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
Physical Activity and Brain Development 2B
Physical Activity and Brain Development 2B

Physical Activity and Brain Development 2B

Mrs. Bateman of Parents With Purpose also mentions or excerpts from a study on brain regeneration/growth:
Adult Mouse Brains Still Make Youthful Cells The brains of adult mammals are slowly, constantly churning out new brain cells. Previously scientists assumed the fresh neurons acted simply as replacements for old and dying cells. But recent research suggests that these new adult neurons may help old cells adapt to new experiences and could someday be used to rejuvenate aging brains. The study, detailed in the May 24 issue of the journal Neuron, shows new brain cells act just as youthfully in adult mammals as those generated in young ones. Hongjun Song at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues tagged cells in the brains of mice so that brand new nerve cells glowed green and were easy to track. At 1 to 2 months old, the cells showed the ability to alter chemical inputs from nerves nearby, an indicator of youthfulness in cells that is often referred to as plasticity. Not only were the novel cells acting young and agile, but they were able to reinvigorate their elderly neighbors too. … Young neurons are generated in two areas of the brain: the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb. The hippocampus, in particular, appears almost like a fountain of youth. The new cells produced in the area, said Song, make the whole system younger. In previous studies, new brain cells have also been shown to play a role in memory and mood regulation. Source: Live Science
One article says about our ability to process mistakes:
Brain can quickly warn us of potential errors “It’s a bit of a cliché to say that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes,” said lead author of the study Andy Wills, a psychologist at the University of Exeter, “but for the first time we’ve established just how quickly the brain works to help us avoid repeating errors.” The scientists monitored the brain activity of a group of volunteers as they made predictions based on information each read on a computer screen. Then, they were given new information that made many of the predictions incorrect. … The researchers measured activity in the lower temporal region of the brain, near the temples, which is responsible for processing visual information. “By monitoring activity in the brain as it occurs, we were able to identify the moment at which this mechanism kicks in,” Wills said. Activity increased immediately after the individual saw the new information flash onto the computer screen—within 0.1 seconds—before there was time for any conscious consideration. Most previous research had focused on the brain’s frontal lobes, which are associated with complex thought processes, such as planning and conscious decision-making. This study, announced July 2 and published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, indicates the brain reacts to mistakes before information even gets processed consciously. The scientists call it an “early warning signal” from a lower region of the brain. Source: Science World
Interesting and fascinating stuff. But Mrs. Bateman has an article that ends:
Why not just allow young people the choices their brains are dominant for?
Wow. Throw volition and love out the window, and “allow” the course of people’s lives and one of the most important decisions they can make to be decided deterministically by brain function. Hell no. Is she or whoever wrote that article going to call for the same standard in romance or friendship? (The source cited was MSN.) Again: no, thanks. I hope Mrs. Bateman or whoever is not going that far in career, romance, and friendship; but if not, he or she has a responsibility to say so. She did not. Now how wrong and dangerous is this:
Brain Gets a Thrill From Charity Knowing your money is going to a good cause can activate some of the same pleasure centers in your brain as food and sex, U.S. researchers said Thursday. People who participated in a study got a charge knowing that their money went to a charity — even when the contribution was mandatory, like a tax. They felt even better when they voluntarily made a donation, researchers found. Ulrich Mayr, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, said the research sheds light on the nature of altruism and could help people feel better about being taxed. “It shows that in an ideal world you could have a tax situation where you could be a satisfied taxpayer,” said Mayr, whose study appeared in the journal Science. Source: Reuters
Get rid of all the fancy neuroscience, and they appear to be saying only: feelings justify moral claims. Actually, it’s worse: they appear to be saying that because there are some chemical reactions in some people’s brains, therefore altruism is justified and proper. (Read the article and decide for yourself. See if you think I am reading too much into the article.) Wow. Just what dictators and irrationalists want to hear: rational science justifies irrationality. The sentence “the research sheds light on the nature of altruism and could help people feel better about being taxed” sounds like something out of 1984. Or out of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. Except that, of course, saying something does not make it true. The conceptual corruption, dishonesty, and self-deception in that “article” is mind-boggling. The writer of the article even mentions at the end of the article something that troubles the researchers in their desire to support “altruism” without recourse to anything so difficult as appealing to ideas, argument, and integration, and to evaluating it in relation to the whole of human life:
“The fact that we find pleasurable activity in those mandatory tax-like situations strongly suggests the existence of pure altruism,” he said. Of course, simulating a tax is quite different from paying taxes to a government with policies you may or may not support, he noted. … “The question is, ‘Why is it that so often we feel bad about filling out our taxes?’ Our study shows it is worth looking for an answer.”
Their research cannot “shed light on the nature of altruism,” nor can it “suggest the existence of pure altruism.” What is “pure altruism,” anyway? A total absence and abnegation of self? How is that possible in a chemical reaction? Altruism can be defined and these questions can be answered only with and by philosophy, i.e., abstract ideas. If these people need neuroscience to find an answer to why some don’t like to pay taxes, they will never find an answer and they are in dire, desperate need of philosophy — and, sorry, but probably also some cognitive and psychological therapy. By the same “reasoning” as the researchers use, could we conclude that the brain activity of young children “suggests the existence of pure solipsism?” Or “suggests the existence of pure short-sightedness?” Should we resign ourselves to a world of The Lord of the Flies? And does the finding justify slavery? Since people like Dr. Mayr are appealing only to feeling or chemical reactions, they have no way — staying consistent to their principles — to say no. Slavery helps others; so should we try — as with taxation — to ‘make ourselves feel better about it?’ No. Hell, no. It’s wrong, feelings, chemical reactions and brain activity to the contrary notwithstanding. Notice how nothing is mentioned about the fact that people feel pleasure from different things. Nor about the fact that some people “train” themselves to respond to things differently than other people do. We all, generally, have different emotions, feelings, and thoughts about different situations — depending on the ideas, values and philosophies we hold. If people are similar in the ideas and values they hold, they will have a similar or identical evaluation of a situation; people who hold conflicting ideas and values will have evaluations that conflict. I value reading. But I’ve had students in the past tell me I had no life since I read books. They hate reading. Our brain activity would be quite different in regard to reading. And I love math. With the state of the culture today (anti-intellectual as it is), many people hate math. So should we discard it because of people’s brain activity? If most people “experience” pain or hatred in their “brain activity,” does that suggest that people function and live best on “pure intuition?” (Nonsense.) Never mind doing anything so intellectual, mentally strenuous and logical as evaluating math on the basis of what it makes possible (cell phones; movies; music CDs, records, tapes; MRIs; x-ray machines; ambulances; hospitals; buildings; modern medicine; etc.) and what it does for the whole of human life. And what about the fact that all kinds of undesirable things could be justified by saying that ‘parts of the brain are stimulated.’ Look at the “scientists’ ” list and use your imagination. This article “Brain Gets a Thrill From Charity” shows what can happen when logic is abandoned: people come to “conclusions” that have no relation or tight connection to the facts. There are a variety of conclusions that could be hastily drawn from observing the brain activity that the scientists observed. Why not conclude that people are really selfish? Or they do only what gives them pleasure? Or that all morality is based on pleasure? Or that people get personal pleasure from helping others, so there is no such thing as “pure altruism?” Or that we cannot trust our brain to tell us what is right? Or why not start from the premise that we really don’t like to pay taxes, so this finding that some get pleasure from taxes is bizarre so that:
“The question is, ‘Why is it that sometimes we feel good about filling out our taxes?’ Our study shows it is worth looking for an answer.”
Dr. Ulrich Mayr shows herself, in this article and this research at least, to be a sloppy thinker and a poor scientist. Did she and her cohorts even properly differentiate “charity” from “altruism?” Or properly differentiate “taxation” from “charity?” These terms — and others — must be defined in order for Dr. Mayr to do good research on her topic. She must also look for contrasting answers and causes to her own. She can’t throw out selfishness because she feels bad about the word — or whatever her “reason” might have been. Plunging into a conclusion headlong and blindly is not how to do science. Neurology can teach us a lot — but it has its limits. The article “Brain Gets a Thrill From Charity” shows us some of those limits. In spades. The article shows us how not to reason, how not to draw conclusions, how not to connect idea to fact, how not justify morality or anything political. Neurology and morality are separate sciences, for a reason. Thank goodness most of the other articles on Parents with Purpose were plausible or true. Read with care, and read with reason and logic. There are some good articles worth reading about autism and baby brain development on Parents with Purpose. And most articles I excerpted are worth reading (and thinking about!) in whole. The connection between physical activity and brain development and function is fascinating and instructive. Mrs. Bateman seems to be offering a good service, since she is addressing the connection.

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