Story on Catalyst makes many references to cross-sensory experiences in taste and smell

This is one of those pop science journalism media stories that make me think that everyone must be a synaesthete to some degree:

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4145918.htm

Creep in the crowd?

Did I just spot that revolting Jimmy Savile wearing a curly blond wig and dark sunnies acting as a member of the large hippie crowd dancing to a hippie band in the old movie Carry on Camping?

New book looks very interesting

Making Space: How the Brain Knows Where Things Are by Jennifer M. Groh

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674863217

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p028g3nb  (I got the pop-out player to work)

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429970.700-where-am-i-in-the-world.html#.VH3qmjGUd8F

 

 

This astounding neuroscience rediscovery could be a central piece of the puzzle

Some bold and persistent researchers have rediscovered an unusual bundle of nerve fibres or a “major white-matter fascicle” in the human brain. Nice work! It is now called the vertical occipital fasciculus (VOF). This discovery could be an important new piece in the puzzle in researching and exploring ideas that I’m looking at in this blog, such as the relationship between the many different varieties of synaesthesia and face recognition or face memory and also reading ability. I think this discovery could be highly relevant because the rediscovered structure is a pathway of white matter that connects the occipital lobe at the rear of the brain, where visual processing happens, to other areas of the brain, and there is speculation that information carried by this pathway could play a role in face recognition and reading. I have proposed that synaesthesia might be linked to superiority in face recognition (super-recognition) and superiority in reading, citing myself and close kin as examples. I have also described and written about types of synaesthesia that involve faces or other complex memories of images as the concurrent or the inducer or both. Researchers have found that grapheme-colour synaesthesia is characterized by greater coherence in the white matter network in the brain, and that would presumably include the rediscovered VOF. I have identified the rear of the brain, the right hemisphere of the brain and the fusiform gyrus as the parts of my brain that are most likely be the locations of the events that give rise to my super-recognition and synaesthesia and related interesting goings-on, so this white matter highway at the back of the brain  is very likely involved in these processes.

I’m amazed by the story of how this brain pathway came to be forgotten or discredited by science. Apparently because it was unusual in it’s orientation its very existence conflicted with established thinking at the time, so it became non-existent in the eyes of science. I’m sure that many scientists and neuroscience enthusiasts will be surprised that dogmatic thinking in science can create an important “blind spot” in scientific knowledge, but I’m not one of those people. I’ve seen too much misbehaviour, bias and simple ignorance in neuroscience to believe that the fairy-tale accounts of science as an automatically self-correcting enterprise apply to this corner of the world of science.

http://www.iflscience.com/brain/brain-pathway-rediscovered-after-100-years

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/13/1418503111

http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/11/17/major-brain-pathway-rediscovered-after-century-old-confusion-controversy/

Is there a relationship between prosopagnosia and Capgras syndrome?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22429944.700-imposter-disorder-explains-how-mans-wife-was-stolen.html#.VGQ5rfmUd8E

Finding confirmation of my beliefs and ideas, as you do

A closely related family member of mine recently scored a perfect mark on an adult literacy test geared to normal adults (which was true to form) , and another closely related family member in mid-childhood recently explained that they perceive motor vehicles as having faces and they categorize cars, utes and 4WDs into genders, square old 4WDs being male. I can see how that makes sense, but all the same I’ve never been that much of a car personifier. Ever since I was a child I’ve personified numbers and alphabet letters in great detail, along with perceiving them as essentially associated with very specific colours, and the shapes and motions of cars often make me think of hunting animals in some deeply instinctive way, but unlike my young relative and the many Australians who decorate their own motor vehicles with oversized curly eyelashes or giant imitation testes, I don’t see motor vehicles as male or female.

On the surface most people seem pretty-much normal and average, but if you make the most superficial investigation by testing or speaking with people about their thoughts and perceptions, you might find that there is an interesting and sometimes significant range of differences in the way our minds work. Grapheme-colour synaesthesia, personifying synaesthesia and elite and precocious levels of ability in reading, spelling and general literacy are just some of the interesting things that run in my family and are also experienced by me, and I am also a super-recognizer. A super-recognizer is a person who has an elite level of ability in recognizing faces or face memory, and typically can achieve perfect or near-perfect scores on tests of face memory. I believe that this co-occurrence of synaesthesia and elite abilities in face memory and literacy are no coincidence. I believe all of these things are based on hyper-connectivity or hyper-development in the rear parts of the brain including the fusiform gyrus, and also in the right hemisphere of the brain. I believe the genetic basis of this development might be linked to genes that code for particular variations in the functioning of the immune system, possibly involving the complement chemicals, microglia and synaptic pruning. I’m fascinated by the possibility that research work that has been done in the last decade linking immunology and neuropsychology can inform us about the origins of synaesthesia and also specific gifts and deficits in memory and cognition, and maybe also inform us about some types of dementia. In 2012 at this blog I explicitly identified research on the immune system, complement, microglia and synaptic pruning done by Dr Beth Stevens as a possible explanation for the origins of developmental synaesthesia, an idea that was so good that some synaesthesia researchers made it the basis of a speculative paper that was published in a peer-reviewed journal last year (they forgot to acknowledge me as the first to publish this idea). Work done on MHC1 (part of the immune system) and the brain by Carla Shatz is another area of scientific research that I find tremendously exciting, and I believe that the general area of research on the relationships between brain structure and the immune system is of such originality and importance that it should attract one or more Nobel Prizes.

Psychedelic experiences are associated with hyper-connectedness in the brain – who would have thought?

An fMRI study of people taking magic mushrooms or psilocybin has apparently found that the drug makes the brain behave in a way that is more connected than usual (temporarily? permanently?), along with the sensory fun and games that are  well-known to science and drug enthusiasts. This state is in important and interesting ways like synaesthesia, but it is not the same, and I would like to make it very clear that synaesthetes like myself are not synaesthetes because of past or current use of illegal drugs, and in contrast with users of psilocybin, our colour perception is as far as I know, superior, not impaired.The vast majority of synaesthetes are developmental synaesthetes, which means it develops in childhood and is known to be the result of genetics, possibly in combination with other influences in the child’s intellectual life.

http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/11/101/20140873.full?sid=4a467aa7-c886-4160-8546-b1f4376bc992

http://www.livescience.com/48502-magic-mushrooms-change-brain-networks.html?adbid=10152352118361761&adbpl=fb&adbpr=30478646760&cmpid=514627_20141029_34618187

The more important posts in this blog

Go nuts.

A Most Peculiar Experience (my description of The Strange Phenomenon) http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/a-most-peculiar-experience/

Is synaesthesia caused by low levels of complement? Is Benson’s syndrome (PCA) caused by too much complement C3? Could synesthesia and posterior cortical atrophy be considered in some way opposites? http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/is-synaesthesia-caused-by-low-levels-of-complement-is-bensons-syndrome-caused-by-too-much-complement-c3/

Some ideas that I’d like to (explicitly) lay claim to (right now) in 2014 http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/some-ideas-that-id-like-to-explicitly-lay-claim-to-right-now-in-2014/

Have my ideas been plagiarized in a paper published in a neuroscience journal? I believe they have. http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/when-researchers-steal-your-ideas-i-guess-at-least-thats-some-form-of-validation/

Super-recognizer jobs? (This is the most popular post at this blog) http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/super-recognizer-jobs/

Other cases of synaesthesia involving face perception – I’m certainly not the only one http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/other-cases-of-synaesthesia-involving-face-perception-im-certainly-not-the-only-one/

Involuntary Method of Loci Memorization (IMLM) – what the heck is that? http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/involuntary-method-of-loci-memorization-imlm-%e2%80%93-what-the-heck-is-that/

The Opposite of Benson’s Syndrome? http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/the-opposite-of-bensons-syndrome/

Report on my fine motor task -> visual place memory synaesthesia http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/report-on-my-fine-motor-task-visual-place-memory-synaesthesia/

My Brain Put to the Test http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/my-brain-put-to-the-test/

Science Week 2011 – The world of science and me in the past year http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/science-week-2011-%e2%80%93-the-world-of-science-and-me-in-the-past-year/

Reflections on The Strange Phenomenon, how I gunned the CFMT, letter personification in advertising and clue to a possible cure for some cases of prosopagnosia after reading an old journal paper http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/reflections-on-the-strange-phenomenon-gunning-the-cfmt-letter-personification-in-advertising-and-clue-to-a-possible-cure-for-some-cases-of-prosopagnosia-after-reading-an-old-journal-paper/

A brief report on my synaesthesia experiences that involve concepts as triggers or evoked experiences http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/a-brief-report-on-my-synaesthesia-experiences-that-involve-concepts-as-triggers-or-evoked-experiences/

A type of synaesthesia which I experience in which non-food words or names automatically evoke the concepts of particular foods: is lexical-gustatory synaesthesia an evolutionary adaptation? http://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/a-type-of-synaesthesia-which-i-experience-in-which-words-or-names-automatically-evoke-the-concepts-of-particular-foods/

What happened yesterday?

I’m guessing that yesterday a news story or documentary was broadcast on TV in the UK about super-recognizers and the testing of super-recognizers?

I hope you will forgive me if I don’t look into it. These days I have little time or motivation for blogging or scientific interests. Do have a look at my list of links; there’s a goldmine of interesting and credible info there covering the range of topics covered in this blog in the past. There are also years of archived blog articles to rifle through, as you do.

Department of Parliamentary Services security staff need to identify Parliament House visitors by face – but how?

I’m watching a lot of discussion about the Abbott Government’s embarrassing reversal of the controversial “burqa ban” regarding visitors to the Australian federal parliament in Canberra. Media reports state that all visitors will be required to reveal their faces temporarily to security staff, but there is no proper explanation of why. Why do people need to show their faces to staff, unless their faces are being photographed, recorded or memorized using some kind of technology or human ability, or are being screened in a systematic way by a human or technological system that is based on a suitably comprehensive library of stored or memorized facial images? I have my doubts that any of these things are actually happening. I’ve read nothing to indicate that human super-recognizers or a technological substitute for this kind of face recognition ability is being used by police or security services in Australia, even though there is a large collection of media and scientific reports of human and computerized facial recognition being used in the UK and USA. Another question that I’ve not seen addressed in recent media reports is the question of who is going to be targeted by the new requirement of facial inspection, and what are the criteria for adequate facial disclosure. I believe passport photos require no glasses to be worn and a neutral facial expression, and this certainly makes sense in terms of human facial recognition. Will the same rules apply at Parliament House, or will men be allowed to walk into Parliament without removing any element of the “bogan disguise” of sunglasses, goatee beard and baseball cap? I wonder, are visitors routinely asked to remove hats and hoodies in Parliament House? Why haven’t we had calls for a ban on dark sunglasses in Parliament House? Dark sunnies are clearly used very commonly by Australians of all ethnic backgrounds as a facial concealment. They are very popular among police and also dodgy people. It is pretty obvious to me that racism has played a large role in this hoo-haa over faces and identity and security, because the hypocrisy is obvious.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/controversial-parliament-house-burqa-ban-dumped-20141020-118j5h.html

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