Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of both psychology and neuroscience.

Are you rational?

I’ve just read one of Seth Godin’s recent posts (you can find it here – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/are-you-rational.html). His view is summed up in the last line of his post; “There’s room for both rational and irrational decision making, and I think we do best when we choose our path in advance… Read More »Are you rational?

Perceived exertion and lactate threshold

Picture this, you’ve been riding for three hours and you’re tired, you can feel the burn creeping into your legs, a sure sign that your body is producing more lactate than it can metabolise. You know that if you carry on at this pace you’re not going to make it. And you begin to wonder, how on earth to the professionals do it? Is their perception of fatigue the same as yours or are they immune to feeling the burn.

Real or perceived fatigue during the Cape Argus Cycle Tour

source: www.sportsillustrated.co.za

I have talked about the perception of fatigue. In my previous post I mentioned that Professor Tim Noakes states that the brain, when it senses that the athlete is overstretching him- or herself, sets off a series of sensations that the body translates as symptoms of fatigue. The brain does so to protect itself, the heart and the rest of the body. “Its main function is to make sure you don’t get into trouble in whatever exercise you’re doing”.

I just completed my very first Cape Argus Cycle Tour, with a wind resisted time of 5 hours and 17 minutes. For the most part I felt stronger than I had expected, but there were times when all I could think of was “when will this end”. I have to wonder at what point my brain was correct when it told my legs, “hey slow down”. It is incredibly difficult to know how far to push yourself. Athletes who have down years of endurance training seem to develop an accurate sense of how far they can go. For those unschooled in endurance sports it is a process of trial and error.Read More »Real or perceived fatigue during the Cape Argus Cycle Tour

Where did I put my keys?

I am always hunting for my keys, usually because I wasn’t paying attention when I put them down, or I was interrupted by something else when I walked in the door, or I put them down on Friday evening and never needed them again until Monday morning,

We really don’t know why we forget things, but there are a number of possible reasons. Firstly, memories are physical, and physical things decay. Neural connections, if not reinforced through rehearsal simply fade away.

Read More »Where did I put my keys?

Could you be James Bond?

Do you what it takes to be a secret agent? James Bond needs to have a high  level awareness and attention. Let’s see if you make the grade. Here’s an exercise for you to do to test your awareness. Watch the video below and see how many passes the team in white makes?

[vsw id=”Ahg6qcgoay4″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

[gap]

Attention is a “spotlight on experience”. The mechanism of attention  decides what we bring into conscious awareness and what we do not.
Read More »Could you be James Bond?

Mind Over Matter – Prior experience and the perception of fatigue

Continuing on the topic of mind over matter, and specifically in relation to exercise, I am reminded of some work done by Professor Tim Noakes several years ago. Professor Noakes challenged a long established belief that fatigue originates in the muscles (when the muscles run out of oxygen, glycogen or ATP), or when there is too much lactic acid. This model was called the “Limitations Model”. Rather, Noakes and his colleagues proposed that fatigue originates in the brain (I can now hear all coaches saying “you’re not tired, it’s in your head). According to Noakes, “fatigue is a complex emotion affected by factors such as motivation and drive, other emotions such as anger and fear, and memory of prior activity” (read more here).Read More »Mind Over Matter – Prior experience and the perception of fatigue

Yoga, Qigiong and PsychoNeuroImmunology

Traditional Eastern medicine can be traced back thousands of years; well before the advent of science as we know it – many of the ideas found across Asia can be traced back to the Upanishads of around 1200 to 900 BCE. Rather than cast these ideas aside because they do not conform to the Western idea of science, I think of them as mechanisms for explaining patterns that were observed over hundreds if not thousands of years, but have yet to be explained in Western terms.Read More »Yoga, Qigiong and PsychoNeuroImmunology

The neuroscience of now

Some esoteric or spiritual authors say that in order to be more enlightened and awakened you need to be more present, and you to release yourself from the desires of the ego – an essentially Buddhist point of view – so that you are able to see things as they really are.

From a neuroscience point of view there is some merit in this, and let me explain how. First of all we segment the brain to a number of functional areas. The first split would be the planning and executive function part of the brain (the frontal and pre-frontal lobe), next would be the processing areas (the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes), then attentional part of the brain (the brain stem and reticular activating system) and then the emotional part of the brain (primarily the limbic system).Read More »The neuroscience of now

Just a collection of sparking neurons?

Are we just a collection of sparking neural messages whizzing about our brains? It might be disturbing for some to consider that our attitudes and beliefs, our thoughts and feelings are the result of a complex mix of neural connections and chemicals that work together to construct our unique view of the world. Or are we more than that?Read More »Just a collection of sparking neurons?