anhinga_anhinga (anhinga_anhinga) wrote,

Trying to write about Ninth International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems (Schedule) and a new way to keep oneself awake.

A bit of whining first: the conferences like this one are fun, but pretty tough. One's schedule is dictated from the outside and is very dense, so one gets really tired. One tries to catch this and that bit of new cool information, while knowing (at least in my case) that only a small fraction will stay in the long term memory. Meanwhile, unanswered e-mail and LJ comments and unread LJ Friends page entries accumulate...

The coolest thing so far was the tutorial by Nancy Kopell, "Rhythms of the nervous system: Where do they come from? What are they good for?", and the assocated poster #22, Christoph Börgers, Steven Epstein, and Nancy Kopell, (Tufts University and Boston University), "Background gamma rhythmicity and attention in cortical local circuits". The progress in this field since 2001 is really impressive, and I'll try to present the details later (but not in this post).

There were a number of talks related to saccadic eye movements, which were of moderate interest to me, but in one of them it was mentioned that a time interval between a new object getting into a human visual field and the registration of the electrical impulse in the neck muscles is 80ms. This is, obviously, a case of subconscious processing (80ms is very fast), and the muscle reaction is "covert", that is, not strong enough to cause a movement, so it just primes the neck for the possible future turn.

However, the following occured to me. There is a standard problem of staying awake and alert during the long talks, and one of the tricks people use is self-massage of the neck. So I figured that given these data, merely doing more intense saccadic eye movement should stimulate the neck muscles and keep one alert and awake. This seemed to work, although it might have been merely a placebo effect... But I'll try to remember to do it next time I need to stay awake or to wake up.

OK, that's it for this post, and I might be bad with answering comments and e-mail during the next 2 days...
Tags: mind hacks, neuroscience, retrospective 1

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