blum0202: October 2011 Archives

Recently at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a connection was made between low birth weight and children diagnosed with autism. The findings suggest that premature infants are five times more likely to have autism than children born at normal weight. The children under research, some as small as a single pound when they were born, were followed and studied for twenty-one years. All the infants were born between the years 1984 and 1987 in New Jersey with birth weights ranging from about five hundred to two thousand grams (or a maximum of 4.4 lbs.).
With the three million dollar study underway, links between a wide variety of motor and cognitive problems have been well established for some time now, but this study is the first to ever establish that these children are also at an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders. The researchers also wer conducting a similar study on eight hundred and sixty-two children from birth to young adulthood finding that five percent of the children were diagnosed with autism, compared to the one percent of the general public.
I actually chose this topic because it directly relates to myself. Being born a little over a month early, I was a mere 3.5 pounds, in other words, severely underweight. To this day I have had regular doctor visits and multiple trips to the hospital due to various injuries and sicknesses but I am completely healthy in terms of diseases or disorders. I am interested though in finding out if there are still any possibilities for me to obtain autism, or the alike, later in life due to my birth weight.

On his journey of "self-discovery" Marcus de Sautoy explored the very biological and spiritual aspects of the human brain. His journey led him to many different questions that still to this day cannot be answered. At what age do we become aware of ourselves? Where exactly does our conscious reside in our brain? Is it possible to know if someone is truly conscious or not? And, in my opinion, most importantly, are we really in charge of the decisions we make, or are our minds at bay to the desires of our subconscious?
During his travels, de Sautoy underwent various experiments, one that actually answered the question of who or what is in control of our choices? de Sautoy was determined to discover the source and timing of his decisions. He was placed in a scanner system and given to buttons. While he was inside the scanner he was to make the decision of pressing either the right or left button. While de Sautoy was making his decision the scanner was recording exactly when his mind made the decision to press the right button.
The results showed that the scientists were able to record up to six seconds before de Sautoy made his decision, what exactly he was going to do, which, in this case, was press the button on the right. With this data in hand, we can conclude that a human's conscious decision is a very secondary aspect to actual brain activity. That there is a lot of unconscious brain activity very early in the decision making stage that is shaping a person's decisions, and that our consciousness comes in a very late stage. The final thought was that if a person's thoughts are very closely encoded in their brain activity we cannot make a distinction between these thoughts and brain activity. That we do not need to assume that there are two separate entities existing in two separate spaces. Rather, they are different aspects of the same physical process, so therefore, our conscious is our brain activity, and that is what is leading our life.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by blum0202 in October 2011.

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