Why neuroscience?

“What’s so fascinating about cognitive psychology and
neurosciences?”

Cognitive psychology and neurosciences are ultimately, even though a bit indirectly,
dealing with everyday phenomena and the theories can be applied in understanding both your own actions and behaviour, and the actions you see globally.

Even though it seems to be a bit paradoxical — that we’re building machines
to inspect oneself — there is controversy. You can study your friend, or another
human. You can study yourself also, that’s happening in biofeedback, where
you try to change some particular behaviour or thought pattern by seeing what
are current signals, how they change, and then you learn more or less to do
the trick required to change the signals into certain direction.

Anxiety

Anxiety is something which we all feel more or less.
I’ve detected my anxiety shows up in the class in
eg. not being able to look at people hitherto
unknown straight in the face very often. It’s also sometimes
present in a queue in shop, or other situations where everybody is
still, doesn’t say a word, and I start to feel like I’m in a movie
and somebody has pressed Hold.

So in a class I tend to avoid looking at certain directions, usually.
I can almost sometimes say there are certain fields of
visions which dare not cross each other. It’s kinda
sad because it makes the conductance a lot more rigid. But this
is my anxiety, and I gotta deal with it, one way or another. In fact
now in 2008 it’s getting much better. I’ve learned coping mechanisms
and one the best ones is to habituate myself into these situations.

Other fundamental questions, related to neuroscience

Why did I sleep so late? Why did I have
exactly that kind of dreams? Why do I remember / don’t
remember
something allegedly important fact from previous
courses?

Why does memory fail? How does it work, what is the mechanism of human memory storage and
retrieval? How can memory be trained?

– Why am I so shy in the school corridors? How has this
affected my studies so far and how is the shyness
affecting me currently?
Can the progress of my studies be linearly
assessed, like positive and negative changes during the
trip here?

World as ever-flowing signals, waiting to be interpreted

Imagine void. In void, there is nothing. It’s pretty hard to imagine
such a place or state of being.
I often think world as an ever-flowing pool of signals, of
which some are incomprehensible
to us and require some cognitive processing. Walking in the
corridors of Helsinki University of Technology and every day
seeing some new ads about parties, free-time activity
possibilities, recruiting ads, etc. Every day requires adapting
to new situations and making decisions. It is the salt of life,
but it is also sometimes burdensome => the building up of stress. Stress is an interesting factor; if applied
in the correct proportions, stress is good. It can make you show your best sides and perform very well. However,
stress induces chemical changes in your brain, and too much of stress will make your dendrites retract: that is,
your network of brain cell connections will grow smaller! Why? Because less connectivity makes you
“forget” hard things, which are bothering you.

– What would be the ideal methods of studying for
me? What about others? How should one map out what kind
of learner (s)he is? I’m a visual one, measured at a
neuropsychiatric test, and guess I’ve more or less known
it always, but not paid attention to it.
(The psychiatrist doing the test thought I was cheating –
he said no one has every had this strong visual memory. We discussed
about it, and did not come with an answer. I was not cheating in any way,
but I was very curious also about the results. The scale
was from about 0..18 or something like this, and I scored 36 and
stopped voluntarily, because I could have gone on even longer).

Now that I know,
I try to excel at visual learning but also make use and
reinforce other kinds of learning and be aware that my
visuality may be detrimental to other modes in some way.

– Why exactly now I feel like omnipotent and aware
learner, having swallowed a huge cup of coffee
in less than 10 seconds? Sometimes I feel quite hyperactive,
and indeed no booster of the mind seems to be the ultimate
solution. I mean, if it were, the pharmaceutical company
making that drug would be quite high in the stock markets.

I’ve been experimenting with Kisandra, Ginseng root, caffeine, oxygen by ventilating my room better
and more often, and I am still trying to map out the optimal
“set and setting” for my studies.
Using ambient music without
words seems to be a good way of lessening the distractions
of the environment, but even in that I have to be careful
not to “go wild”, into a party mode 😀

– The resistance to leave a setting and settle in new one though
later on it feels completely OK. Like: I’m reading maths along
with sipping coffee in the school cafeteria. Then I come to think
that I should gather my stuff, and leave for the library. I feel
a little urge to resist that thought for some time, but then I
do it.
In general, there’s a well-known fact in psychology theory: people resist change. Why? Requires rewiring
of our neuronal connectivity
, but what is so bad about it in the end? I mean, we have to do
it anyway. I’m really happy to get used to it as much as possible.

The way I’ve really learned a lot in life: by experience, trial and error, and defeat. I mean, I’ve started my studies
really slowly.
One year from starting I was deeply depressed in the winter,
took anti-depressants, and watched a friend trying to
commit suicide. Me and another friend saved her by the bell,
she was already quite dizzy from taking tens of sleeping pills.
It was heavy experience, but I made through it slowly
and realized there are many sides to life.

I’ve more or less felt like the academic fugitive on the
verge of being kicked out of the school.

Several years later, the depression onset was suddenly upon me. I felt really depressed again! This time I started
to go through the depression much more widely. I went to psychiatrist and psychologist, and had medication.
At first going through the help seems hard. But day by day, you start to really discover yourself and the problems
that you have been worrying about for a long time. Going to psychologist is very relaxing most of the time. I
talk to her, and we discuss different matters. It is non-judgemental and practical, the psychologist suggest
strategies to overcome personal distress. Sometimes, when you feel you really have nothing to talk about,
the session might prove to be most interesting. It is a surprise of discoveries, and afterwards you feel
much more alive.
My psychiatrist is a humorous, warm, great man. He has excellent wits and a relaxed attitude, yet there’s
intelligence and empathy lurking just around the corner.

I’m currently very happy with life. But not happy enough to stay still. I’m always driven by curiosity and the
wonders of world; there’s always things to try out, places to see; I love meeting people and having
discussions both online and in real world. A trip to Thailand in January 2008 was excellent, it invigorated
the inner part of my body. Thai people and the culture there was really friendly, warm, receptive, and inspiring.

My greatest thanks for the inspirator to neurosciences, mr. Risto Ilmoniemi of Helsinki Technical University. His clarity of speech, thinking, writing, and attitude towards teaching is one the greatest examples I’ve seen in life.

The lecture texts on WWW available in:
http://www.biomag.hus.fi/braincourse/L1.html

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