Is it a boy or a girl? Science says it's not that simple!
(scroll down and click on the infographic to see it full size)
Earlier this year, Germany became the first country in Europe to officially acknowledge the third gender, which is a huge achievement for at least 1-2% of the population, who don't fit into the traditional, binary classification of biological sex. We dove a bit into the (neuro)science of biological sex and gender to show you, why it is this important for inclusion.
Eager to get more information about brain research on gender, sexual difference and sexual orientation? Come visit our monthly event happening on the 24th of June in Vienna. Some tickets still available.
Interested in getting to know more about sleeping and lucid dreaming? Have a look also at our latest blog post about why we don't know that we are dreaming.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Brainstorms Festival
27th-28th September, 2019
Top scientists from all-around the world come to Vienna’s first edition of The Brainstorms Festival to discuss the future of human oriented technologies.
Vienna, June 6th - We are entering a new era of innovation in which Neuroscience and AI are reshaping traditional industries like healthcare, business, and communication. These are fast-paced times where all industries are joining the race. Developing such technologies require a large number of different expertise and an interdisciplinary view of the field.
However too often, the research and business world are evolving in two parallel universes. The Brainstorms festival exactly filters the needs of the industry and businesses, connecting them with researchers. Before the festival, companies have the possibility to communicate their challenges, and workshops with brainstormers will be made around the festival time.
“It’s exciting to see the great projects coming out of research labs every year.” says Sabria Lagoun, CEO of the Brainstorms Scientific, a knowledge transfer company which recently launched the two-day science and technology event. The festival’s focus is to give a platform for the key stakeholders of innovation (scientists, professionals, start-ups, corporates, and investors) to meet, share their knowledge and network. ”We want to leverage this incredible potential.” she adds.
The event consists of several keynote talks and panel discussions addressing how understanding the human brain and behavior can help us do better business, how learning algorithms will transform medical diagnosis and treatment in the next five years, and what technologies are available to enhance our human biology. Renowned speakers will be present, such as NASA scientist Gilles Clement, doing ground-breaking work on the International Space Station, Sofie Valk, who identified how meditation changes the brain, Lushi Chen, who uses A.I. to diagnose mental health issues from social media users’ posts. A.I. will have a fair share of stage time, with Vince Madai, raising the issue of cognitive biases reproduced in algorithms, Cosima Prahm, using A.I. for prosthetics, as well as many topics of A.I. for drug discovery, biomarkers and digital health. Amongst the several workshops to facilitate collaboration between academics and the business world, a hackathon will take place. This provides a hands-on opportunity to the participants to control different objects and robots with their thoughts.
The Brainstorms Scientific LBF GmbH
Tel.: +43 660 4369343
More information about the hackathon: http://BR41N.IO
ZUR SOFORTIGEN VERÖFFENTLICHUNG
The Brainstorms Festival
27.–28. September 2019
Namhafte Wissenschaftler aus der ganzen Welt kommen zum ersten „The Brainstorms Festival“ nach Wien, um über die Zukunft humanorientierter Technologien zu diskutieren.
Wien, den 6. Juni – Wir betreten ein neues Zeitalter der Innovation, in dem traditionelle Industriezweige wie die Gesundheitsfürsorge, die Geschäftswelt und die Kommunikation von Neurowissenschaft und künstlicher Intelligenz (AI) umgestaltet werden. Unsere heutige Zeit ist schnelllebig, wo alle Industriezweige sich dem Wettlauf anschließen. Die Entwicklung derartiger Technologien erfordert eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Kompetenzen und eine interdisziplinäre Sichtweise des gesamten Bereichs. The Brainstorms Festival wird durch exaktes herausfiltern der needs aus der wirtschaft und industrie die bruecke zwischen wissenschaft, forschung und wirtschaft bilden. Firmen haben die moeglichkeit probleme vor dem festival an brainstormers zu uebermitteln mit dem ziel loesungen innerhalb von workshops am festival und danach zu finden.
Nur allzu oft jedoch entfalten sich Forschung und Geschäftswelt in zwei Paralleluniversen. „Es ist faszinierend, all die großartigen Projekte zu sehen, die jedes Jahr aus den Forschungslaboren kommen“, meint Sabria Lagoun, CEO von Brainstorms Scientific, einem Unternehmen für Wissenstransfer, das vor Kurzem die zweitägige Veranstaltung für Wissenschaft und Technologie ins Leben rief. Das Festival versteht sich in erster Linie als eine Plattform für die Hauptakteure im Bereich Innovation (Wissenschaftler, Fachleute, Start-ups, Konzerne und Investoren), wo sie sich begegnen, ihr Wissen austauschen und sich vernetzen können. „Wir möchten dieses unermessliche Potenzial ausschöpfen“, fügt sie hinzu.
Die Veranstaltung besteht aus mehreren Vorträgen und Podiumsdiskussionen, die sich darum drehen, welche Möglichkeiten der erfolgreicheren Geschäftsausübung sich aus dem Verständnis des menschlichen Gehirns und Verhaltens ergeben, auf welche Art und Weise das Erlernen von Algorithmen die medizinische Diagnose und Behandlung in den nächsten fünf Jahren umgestalten wird und was für Technologien zur Verbesserung unserer Humanbiologie zur Verfügung stehen. Mit NASA-Wissenschaftler Gilles Clement, der bahnbrechende Arbeit in der Internationalen Raumstation leistet, Sofie Valk, welche die durch Meditation hervorgerufenen Änderungen im Gehirn identifizierte, Lushi Chen, die AI in der Diagnostik psychischer Erkrankungen aufgrund der Beiträge von Nutzern sozialer Netzwerke einsetzt, werden renommierte Vortragsredner zu Wort kommen. Ein angemessener Teil der Vortragsdauer wird von AI ausgefüllt: Vince Madai wird den in Algorithmen reproduzierten Problempunkt der kognitiven Verzerrung ansprechen, Cosima Prahm verwendet AI für Prothesen und viele Themen beschäftigen sich mit AI in der Wirkstoffentdeckung, in Biomarkern und in der digitalen Gesundheit. Neben diversen Workshops zur Förderung der Zusammenarbeit von Akademikern und der Geschäftswelt findet auch ein Hackathon statt. Dieser bietet den Teilnehmern eine praktische Gelegenheit zur Steuerung verschiedener Objekte und Roboter durch ihre Gedankenkraft.
The Brainstorms Scientific LBF GmbH
Tel.: +43 660 4369343
Weiterführende Informationen über den Hackathon: https://br41n.io/
Need to give a speech? Too bad you left your pants at home. Taking a trans-continental flight? You’ll be rushing to pack in the morning and hopelessly lost trying to find your gate. Sometimes it feels like dreams are our brain simulating Murphy’s Law.
There are many theories about why we dream, from the mundane—to remove the cognitive waste from our brains—to the supernatural—to reconnect us with our past lives or receive prophetic visions. Historically it was a philosophical question, but during the early 1900s, recordings of brain activity during sleep brought it into the field of neuroscience.²
A dream is a sensory-motor hallucination experienced during sleep. Dreams often follow a narrative structure with setting, characters and plot described through one or more senses. Most dreamers experience sight, motion, and sound, while very few experience touch, smell, taste, temperature, or pain.⁶'¹⁴ While some do sleep like the dead, real sensations can also become a part of a dream.⁵
Table of Contents
Scientifically, what is a dream?
Dreams occur primarily during the last stage of sleep, called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is named for an increase in eye movement, and is significant because there is more brain activity as compared to deep sleep. If a dream is a movie, then the thalamus is the producer, coordinating the rest, the limbic system is the animator, providing emotional color, and the cortex works overtime as the writers, the cast, and the creative director. These, together with the hippocampus for memory material and medial pre-frontal cortex for character depth, work to fabricate wild stories for your dreaming pleasure. Additionally, the hypothalamus, the internal everything-o-meter, keeps you breathing, heart-beating, and mostly motionless.⁶'⁷
Why don’t we know we’re dreaming?
Some dreams are ordinary and realistic, but even the most unlikely of events fail to perturb the sleeping brain. Being zombified is overlooked as easily as failures in basic physics. Friends, family, and even your own identity can be completely falsified without consequence. This inability to recognize the unreality of dreams is attributed to a decrease in activity in the prefrontal cortex, responsible for executive control and abstract thinking.¹'⁶'⁷ In dreams, we tend not to ask that age-old question: why am I here? Instead, we take that lottery money and fly like an eagle, superman, or one of those fish from Mario.
The exception is lucid dreams, on which the 2010 science fiction film Inception is based. Lucid dreaming is the state of being aware that you are dreaming while dreaming.⁹ This is often imperfectly accompanied by access to waking memories and higher-level reasoning abilities.
Initially considered fanciful imagination, lucid dreams became scientifically recognized in the lab experiments of psychologist Keith Hearne. He found that a sleeping subject could become aware and signal that awareness through a pre-determined pattern of eye movements without waking.³ Since then, lucid dreaming has been successfully replicated by many researchers.¹'⁴'⁸'¹¹'¹²'¹³
On the physiological level, a lucid dream is distinguishable from regular sleep by a higher level of interconnectivity and activity within the brain, especially in the normally quiet prefrontal cortex and the temporoparietal junction, which links emotions to events and is associated with awareness, morality, and decision making.²'⁷'¹² Other studies have demonstrated that the state can be induced by stimulating high frequency activity in the frontal lobe though electrodes¹³ and through external sensory stimuli, such as sounds and lights.⁴'⁵'¹⁰
For those without a lab and an experimenter
Many lucid dreamers have nightmares to thank as the catalyst for their ability to lucid dream, but fortunately it is not necessary to be terrified to become conscious in a dream. There are many different methods that are perfectly safe to try at home.
Having a healthy and regular sleep cycle, avoiding mind-altering drugs, and giving waking attention to dreams is generally considered a good starting point. The most common methods begin with keeping a dream diary, as recording your dreams every morning makes it easier to remember them. Additionally, waking without an alarm clock has been found to improve dream recall. Most lucidity techniques involve self-reflection and self-suggestion in order to rewrite your brain’s concept of dreams. Other common tricks include observing differences in reality and dreams through physical and mental reality checks, visualizing a lucid dream, and using phone apps that create nonintrusive visual or auditory cues to prompt your brain to recognize that you are dreaming while you are asleep.
Although lucidity can be enjoyed without it, dream control, the ability to change your dreams while dreaming, is a useful skill that improves the dreaming experience. Lucid dreamers may tell you that knowing nothing is real makes everything possible, however this sometime lucid dreamer humbly suggests that it is easier to convince your brain that something false is true, for example flying or magic, and focus on that. As with any skill, lucid dreaming and dream control can be improved with practice.
Warning: Examining too closely the characteristics of the dream state may precipitate an individual or a collective strike by the different brain areas, resulting in loss of sensory imagery, motor ability, and even sleep. This is most easily solved by returning to sleep naturally, but it is also possible to reconstruct the lost dream and return to it.
Why try lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreamers tell exciting stories of surreally vivid sights and sounds, fantastical events, and feelings of ecstasy. The onset of awareness can be likened to the switching on of a light: one moment everything is dark and hazy and confusing, the people are strangers dressed as friends, and the location a mystery. The next everything is bright and colorful and alive and gravity ceases to apply. However, lucid dreams can be as tragically mundane as any other dream.
The possibilities of lucid dreams border on science fiction. Have you ever noticed that your skills improve after sleep? When you move in a dream, that motion is created by the same neural activation as in real life, strengthening the same neural pathways.⁴ Because of their higher level of awareness, lucid dreamers are frequently able to choose what they do and what they dream about, practicing life skills, facing fears, exercising creativity, and solving problems. This requires some measure of dream control.
For more information on specific techniques and studies, consult the references below. Do not attempt lucid dreaming if you suffer somnambulism or other sleep disorders without consulting a certified sleep medical professional.
Join us at The Brainstorms Festival
Two days on business, science and cutting-edge human oriented technology from the top experts of the world happening in Vienna.
Eating is one of the first and most basic physiological needs which is essential for our functioning. As humanity reached the point when there are more obese than underweight people in the world, we are becoming more aware of the importance of nutrition. Through science we realised that many of the most common diseases are caused by certain eating habits, however, there is still much to discover.
In this meetup we learnt about the effect of what we eat on our brain from two very different point of view. Dr. Noelia Urbán Avellaneda neurobiologist busted the myth that new neurons are not born in the adult brain, in fact, she explained how our nutrition influences the genesis of new brain cells. Mary Wardbiologist talked about how bacteria in our gut communicates with the brain and how important it is to keep them happy (so we keep being happy).
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience which is supposed to signal that damage has happened or is about to happen to our body. However, this alarm can go off without any particular reason (or for reasons we don't understand yet), causing debilitating conditions, such as migraine and chronic back pain, in which the overwhelming pain signals disrupts our everyday functioning.
Our academic speaker, Dr. Mira Kronschläger neuroscientist explained the science behind pain perception and she shared her discovery of how pain spreads from the site of injury. Stefan Kampusch from SzeleSTIM showed how vagus nerve stimulation can alleviate acute and chronic pain with their minimally invasive, non-pharmacological treatment that they developed.
Burnout is a syndrome involving a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It is a hazard that professionals should really keep a close eye out for, but it is often neglected because of the high achieving attitude, that assumes our body and mind can bare all.
In this event Prof. Margot Ernst neuropharmacologist talked about the pitfalls of treating burnout with anxiolytic drugs such as Xanax and Valium and her research on GABA-A receptors and Mag. Rok Habjan, univ. dipl. iur psychoanalyst what burnout is, how to recognise and what help to get, when it hits. Finally, Meemo-tec who provided insights into their journey, from digitising evident diagnostic and treatment strategies to acquiring reliable patient data over autonomously detecting changes in mental health towards the future of predicting impending illness.
On our mini-event Hakim Si-Mohammed, a computer engineer from France, talked about the state of the art of using Brain-Computer Interfaces by their application field in medicine, robotics, home automation and brain activity visualization.
If the first artificial neurons were inspired by the brain, A.I soon diverged to become a discipline on its own. However, evolution produced performant, ultra-light, energy-effective biological neuronal networks. Insects and worms only possess a few hundred neurons, but they are able to navigate, make decisions, adapt their behavior and communicate.
Through cutting edge techniques, we are now able to explore these natural networks in vivo, during the execution of extremely demanding cognitive tasks. Philip Anner showed fantastic encoding solutions that emerged from the brains’ biophysical constraints and Ramin Hasani showcased his reseach on how A.I. can be inspired by Neuroscience.
As the centre of our start up spotlight, we introduced the hiMoment, who created an App, which is using past and present moments to build future happiness.
Cosima Prahm, from the Bionic reconstruction laboratory, gave a talk on prosthetics and how she uses machine learning to allow detailed control of the prostheses of the patients. Dr. Eszter Kormann explained how she uses intra-cranial brain implants to relief the detrimental motoric symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in patients. Our start-up spotlight, co-hosted by Pioneers, showcased Memocorby and their language-learning tool for rehabilitation of stroke patients.