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Research thoughts

Here are some of my random questions and ideas. Feel free to contact me if you have some insight on any of these, or if you want to discuss them together. Even better, if you have the time and energy to start a research project based on one of them, please let me know and let's get to work!

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Table of contents:

I. Questions

II. Experiment ideas (and more questions)

III. Rants

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Questions

Intentional thought

You know those people who think the CIA is putting thoughts in their head, we say they don't feel ownership over their thoughts right. And then there's that other thing where everyday regular people take ownership of things that didn't actually come from them, like if they press a button and a light comes on, they're like "I did that". What if the first people are right? Maybe that feeling that we create our thoughts is false (although necessary to function normally, at least right now). And isn't it just a delay problem? We swap the times when the thought occurred and when our (fabricated) intention for it arose, so it seems like the intention came first. But if the first people don't do that, then maybe their time perception is just better, and maybe we could test that??

Because I’m noticing more and more that some event occurs and I catch myself thinking, “What, is it a coincidence that I was Just thinking about something related to this event and then it happened??” Example: right now I heard the oven stop “breathing” (to cool itself), and it felt like just a second before I heard it stop, I was starting to think about the sound and wondering if I had turned off the oven. But there’s no damn way it was in that order, so I think I’m just grossly overestimating when, as in how long ago my thought occurred, I’m attributing it to much further back than when it actually was. Maybe it’s a time perception thing but maybe it’s also related to how long it takes to utter words out loud? And our thoughts can go much faster, probably, but we’re imagining that we say it with words so we think it must’ve taken much longer to articulate the thought than it did?


Human vs. Computer

Right now, a unique defining characteristic of humans is that we can summarize content, like a text or a movie or anything of any kind of length really. Since animals don't have complex language, we can't know if they're able to do that by any real simple means. And so far, computers can't do it, can they? Will they ever be able to do such a thing? It's information processing and that's what they do, but it's so much to take into account, right?

Auditory mental imagery

Has the “inner voice” been found? Has anyone compared the “no inner speech” to “nonsensical syllables spoken internally” (to those spoken aloud) to “coherent inner speech” (to that spoken aloud)?


Visual mental imagery

I can imagine a line and change its orientation (vertical, slight diagonal, 45deg, slightly off from 45, horizontal…) and maintain it in pretty proper “mental sight”, but it’s almost impossible to imagine an empty square as red or any color more than a fleeting millisecond : does that maybe say something about the difference between V1 and V4? Or totally something else? Other things that seem easy to maintain : a circle; objects seem okay (table, teapot, flower). Other things that are difficult: motion (like imaging a stream or a dot moving); a square.

Mirror neurons

Ever noticed how when two people are talking (and actively listening to each other), the one who’s listening moves their mouth slightly while the other one talks, and usually it looks like they’re imitating whatever the speaker is saying? They tell me mirror neurons are a myth, so what is that???

Visual: Up-down (and left-right etc?) stabilization

When I stare out a bright window for a while, then look at a darker wall in the room, I see the shape that the window took on my retina thanks to its afterimage, and I can see that if it had imprinted that same image with the same angle while I was looking at this other wall, the window would've looked totally tilted and wrong and not upright anymore. V1 only processes the raw direction of lines getting imprinted on the retina, so there must be some thing or combination of things further up the processing pipeline that resolves "gravity" and "upright" and "vertical vs horizontal order", taking into account how my head is oriented and where my eyes are looking (compared to where I feel the pull of gravity from) and integrating that with the direction of lines and angles and corners on my retina. So what is it? (And back to my eternal question, could afterimages be useful for that and have been selected for it?)


Visual: top-left light bias

Maybe we have a bias towards light coming from top left (Mamassian's work) because of our reading direction, from left to right? Maybe it's different when the writing / reading direction is different ? Or maybe it’s because cultures in the northern hemisphere tend to orient their houses toward the south, to get more light overall throughout the day, so we’re maybe on average more used to facing southward, and for whatever reason we prioritize sunrise (east aka left) over sunset (west aka right)? This can be easily tested by measuring the bias of a northern-hemisphere-living group and a southern hemisphere one I think.

Visual: afterimages

Maybe it's possible that aftereffects are useful for comparing the scene we were just witnessing (in our visual field) to the new one, after a saccade? Pour se repérer dans l'espace par exemple? Is it possible that the afterimage dissipates faster if you attend to the object it was created by (because you’re updating that object and the afterimage was useful for that object)? (Trying to test on myself but too many confounds in the natural scene...)

It even seems that afterimages fade more quickly if I tilt my head to the side (and back up). Maybe my system somehow knows that if I went in a different position then the afterimage from before will definitely not be useful to me anymore? Maybe afterimages can depend on my goal, like now I planned to look back at my screen with the text on it pretty soon, so the afterimage of the text lines persisted (but maybe they would fade faster if I didn’t plan to look back at all)?

Now when I was highlighting some text on my computer, first I started highlighting in red by accident, so then I “highlighted over” in yellow, but the little red part stayed until I had selected the whole text and un-clicked, and when the whole highlight box became yellow it looked like that little part that was red (darker) before was lighter than the rest. (Note: it seems to work better if the darker part is in peripheral vision when it disappears.) It’s a classic afterimage but it makes me wonder, would we see anything interesting if we tested afterimages that are inscribed inside objects, with different relative sizes of the after-image part and different positions within the object etc? Would it last longer if the afterimage part was bigger, for example?


Visual off-response

In my thesis documents I had a note that I don’t remember where it came from but it’s not the first time I see/hear it, about how “V1 apparently "reacts stronger" to stimuli turning off than on.” But now I spent some time looking into that (Google scholar my wonderful friend) and I’m not finding a single shred of evidence for it (except kiiiinda mayyyybe E.D. Adrian and Rachel Matthews “The action of light on the eye (Part I)”). People didn't just make that up right? Where the fuck did it come from?


Visual stimulation in the lab

How about instead of asking participants to fixate super hardcore we just adapt our stimulus to wherever they’re fixating? We can do that with a good eyetracker right? And then you’re really sure that you presented the stim to where you want it in the retinotopic space.


Object recognition

Is object recognition super hard to study and model maybe because it recruits too many elements from disparate sub-domains of cog sci? When I recognize my bottle, I see it from its shape (vision) but I also assign a word (language) and an action of grabbing/drinking etc (voluntary action and the like) and I remember past bottles (memory) that I can compare it to… and so on?


Measuring consciousness using time perception

Could we somehow use time perception as a measure for consciousness? Because you can’t have time perception without consciousness, right? I feel like there’s also a problem with the reverse, having consciousness without time perception, but I can’t really pinpoint it.


“Non-sensory consciousness”

We can be conscious of physical things that we cannot sense right this moment but we know are there for some other reason (inspired from a real-life example: while painting my nails I noticed a small booger on one nail, so I “stuck it” on another part of my finger but out of my view, and it was too small and too light to feel it with my sense of touch, so it was really out of my senses but I was still conscious of it for the duration of painting my nails, avoiding touching anything with that part of my finger that had the booger, and after I was done painting, throwing it in the trash). Is this type of consciousness being studied and talked about? What about consciousness of non-physical things (that are then necessarily outside our senses), like the rules of the game while playing? We are necessarily aware of the rules if we’re following them (unless they’re so intuitive we don’t need to), right? And for both of these, at first while learning about their existence, we are probably “picturing” them one way or another to ourself (except if you have aphantasia?), so it’s like “being conscious of something in your mind’s eye” (something closer to mental imagery), but then after a while you don’t picture it anymore, with the little booger I wasn’t “imagining looking at it from the other side of my finger” or “imagining that I see it through my finger with x-ray vision” or “imagining that I feel it adhering to my finger on that particular spot of my skin”, at least I didn’t feel like I was, I was just “generally conscious of its existence.” (Painting nails can be a kind of complicated operation that requires a lot of hand operations and some focus which is why I didn’t just smudge it off somewhere immediately, and I think we can create tasks with that type of conditions, with and without needing to stay conscious of a “booger” element to compare them?)

These studies (part of my thesis) might be connected: "studies have confirmed that attention enhances activity in visual cortical areas [...], including in anticipatory attention devoid of any physical or sensory stimulation (Martínez et al., 1999; Kastner et al., 1999)."

Philosophy of Misery

Are humans bound to know misery because we bring it into our lives (subconsciously) or because the universe is made so that we can never be continuously happy? (Why not both?)

My philosopher friend Paige says: the brain is best at solving problems, that's its job, so when it doesn't have any handy it just creates them.

Self-consciousness/Fear of judgment

Are we afraid of others judging us because we like to make everything about us and assume that they are thinking of us and get self-conscious from there? Or is it because, when we do feel something about other humans (aka not indifference), we feel strong emotions? Such as harsh judgment (usually based on our own insecurities), attraction, admiration... And so we assume that others feel strongly about us as well? (Or something else entirely?)

Movies

Why do humans like movies so much? Is it because we need a break of the mind for about two hours at a time, a zone to completely stop thinking about our own lives and see what we want out of it instead? Is two hours a sweet spot for any particular reason?

Sex thoughts

Why do humans (read: I) think about sex mostly in the evening? Before going to bed or while going out or while going home at night for instance? Why do we feel such a need for sexual contact at that time and not as much the rest of the day?

Memory

Can we truly "be who we are" with only the memories that we have in our immediate memory? (And which are influenced by priming etc, moreover)

Perception of the self

Full-body illusions: if we can feel like "me" is transferred to something outside the body, doesn't that mean that the "me" feeling is fundamentally and essentially separate from the brain itself (since it doesn't have to rest inside it, necessarily)? Most of the time I feel like "me" is in my eyes anyway, isn't that the first clue? And I can also be "me" in my feet if I really focus, so... And does that mean that the "me" feeling is entirely dependent on sensory experience?

Visual: Why do (light) blue things appear white/bright at night?

Reading: real vs. imagined

It’s so much harder to imagine reading something than to actually read something?? Why? Because just reading is so incredibly easy, shouldn’t we be able to picture it easily? And that’s got to be related to not being well able to read in dreams, right?


Typing

Am I the only one who has a hard time replacing text (typed) for only pieces of words/phrases, like for example if I’m just missing a few letters in a word I tend to write the whole word (ex: my text reads “… ch act” but I want it to say “… which act” but it ends up as “… which act ch act”)? What is that? Is it connected to this other phenomenon where sometimes I start typing a word wrong, e.g. I want to type “ohms” but I erroneously start with “ho”, and then I unintentionnally fill in to a common word (“how”)?

History of nudity

How long have humans had a problem with seeing each other naked? Do nudist swimming pools inside a city exist?

Language

In the song "I Will Survive" , why does it feel (universally, I think) more natural to say "I've got all my life to live" before "I've got all my love to give" ? Just because that's how we've always heard that song, or something more basic, sound- or semantics-related?

Perceiving randomness/incongruity

So yes, it's not the most parsimonious theory to consider that what we perceive with our senses is not a real, physical world but a mere illusion, because all the senses coordinate so well with each other to give us a complete representation of the world right. But what if they specifically developed that way (and in fact they do), only taking into account stuff that is "congruent" so we can't even perceive incongruity anymore? I know that's not parsimonious either but isn't there something to be said about that?

Resolved (maybe): Arrow symbols

How the hell are arrows such a universal symbol? When did humans start using them to point places? Do non-globalized civilisations use them? Saša says it came from using lances and sharp throwable objects like that, which necessarily have a pointy side to pierce things and which you naturally point in a direction. I'm extrapolating this to all pointy things being used to pierce through things and thus naturally indicating direction. Pointy objects traverse things in the direction of the point, so it makes sense for us to "see" direction in representations of pointy things, like drawn arrows.

What if we "unfolded" the brain (well, the cortex) and mapped it out flatly? Would it make sense? Would we see well-defined areas? (I wrote this down before seeing my first "blown-up" or "flattened" cortex representation. Still don't know about the well-defined areas though.)

Ear tears

Ever noticed how sometimes when you start to cry your ear canals sting a little, as if they were secreting tears too? The heck is that? (Written months prior: "When I yawn, my eyes water but I’m pretty sure my freaking ears “water” too (sometimes). There’s something going on in there anyway.") Noticing that it happens mostly in my left ear when lying on my right side (left ear up), so far. It also happened in right ear while head was upright though. I even sometimes feel a salty taste inside of my mouth when my eyes are watering, as if the tears somehow "leak down" into my mouth from the inside.


Sneeze

Looking at bright light and sneezing (Plato apparently observed that, oftentimes when he would walk out of his house into the sun it would make him sneeze): could it be as simple as the bright light making your eyes water a bit, and it activates the whole “watering system” including inside your nose?

Someone told me about the fronto-temporal junction and made it sound very interesting, so I checked it out but didn't find anything online.

—> Found temporoparietal junction instead but that’s pretty cool too. Apparently out-of-body experiences are this rare thing but I’ve had quite a few of them. Brief for the most part, really brief. But also I do it on purpose? Also Molly Moon in her bathtub, if you've read those books?

How is it that I couldn't see the blue dates (numbers and slash symbols) on black background (I literally just saw rectangles at first and could later just just make them out), but Sunaina sitting right next to me could see them clearly? (Myopia is a real thing you know (lol) but it didn’t feel like that at all. They were literally rectangles, not just blurry.)

Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI): I don't remember why I wrote this down, but it does sound pretty interesting.

Attention/Self-consciousness

If seeing eye movements is an exogenous cue for us and we cannot help shifting our attention to whatever the eyes are gazing at, then it makes so much sense that we would feel self-conscious when we make eye-contact with someone because it shifts our attention on ourselves! So much sense!! Can we somehow test that?

Memory & consciousness

(English below) Que sais-je? Descartes dit: “Je sais que je suis une chose pensante.” Il continue en disant que je sais donc que je sens. Mais en fait, ce que je sais, c’est que je sentais il y a quelques millisecondes: ne doit-on pas prendre en compte les limitations de ressources attentionnelles dont nous disposons? Pendant que je me dis que je sais que je sens, même si mon corps (la question de l’existence de ce dernier n’importe pas ici) sent toujours, moi-même je ne “sens” plus, car mon esprit s’est tourné vers une reflexion sur le ressenti, et plus vers le ressenti lui-même. Je sais donc que je sentais juste avant de me le dire. Il y a ce décalage infime mais qui fait toute la différence…

--What do I know? Descartes says: "I know that I am a thinking thing." He continues on and says that I know [something], therefore I feel. But actually, what I know is that I was "feeling" a few milliseconds ago: shouldn't we take into account our attentional resource limits? While I'm telling myself that I feel, even if my body (but then again in this process we're not even sure whether the body exists, and it doesn't matter) is still feeling, I myself am not "feeling" anymore, because my mind is now turned to a thought about the feeling, and not on the feeling itself. So what I know is that I was feeling right before telling myself that I am feeling. There is this infinitesimal delay, but it makes all the difference...

Inhibitory attention

You know how you can put overt attention on something by looking at it; and covert attention by looking somewhere else but (basically) thinking about it. When I don't want to see the time but I still need to use my phone, what's happening at this very moment, how do I do that? Because my attention is on the time up there and if I wanted I could just make it out; but I consciously avoid deciphering it, even though I'm really focused on it; how do I do that?? How do I produce reverse attention? Is that even what it is? ((Inhibition is totally a thing))

Why is it that our eyes are so set on light rays being straight lines? I get that they are, most of the time, but why can't we understand and detect that they are bendable? Why didn't we evolve that function, or why did we evolve the "straight-ray" heuristic?

Adaptation vs. Learning: how are they correlated? Same mechanism?

(From working and talking with Pascal Mamassian:) If the transparency effect of "front" being down- and right-wards motion is due to gravity and reading, what if you had people do it with their heads tilted to the side? What if you had people from other reading cultures do it?

This has probably been said and done a million times but the Müller-Lyer illusion, with the two double arrows either pointing in or out, if it really is because we interpret them as “edges” with the out-pointing one as something sticking out at us and the in-pointing one as a “dip”, pointing away from us, it means that the visual system automatically takes these “edge cues” even outside of (/before) an ecological environment, and adjusts the perceived length of the lines purely based on the edge cues. So does it?

Conscious/attentional orientation:

You're looking at a bunch of nicely aligned elements, like the small black square tiles on your bathroom floor or the "mailles" (knittings) in your towel. You can decide how to view those elements, whether you wanna see / or \ diagonal lines or | or —. There is Definitely conscious control over orientation perception. G. M. Boynton: orientation CAN most definitely be affected by the will of the subject, I've done it (but thinking about it that's probably not what he meant).

Note: it's very very hard to see two orientations at once if they're not perpendicular. You ignore the rest when you attend to one of them. More attention resource limit? Or visual necessity, evolutionarily speaking? Or both or neither?

About this "changing what I see by mentally grouping elements one way or another" (like seeing lines in one specific orientation, or making shapes): first of all, what's going on in the brain when I do that? In my visual cortex? In some decisional areas? Also, this necessarily has to do with finding order in things (cf being terrible at randomness), right? Also, it becomes very hard if I'm not looking directly at the elements, and seems easier if I can move my eyes around them while making (and changing) the patterns.


Conscious awareness: altered states

I can't actually feel the "I am conscious right now" feeling when high and/or when asleep, even if I try (I can say the words to myself but they're just empty shells, they don't give me access to what it really means). It seems like something is blocking it?


Alpha rhythm when closing your eyes:

While falling asleep at my desk just now while analyzing some EEG data, I think I noticed my eyes moving along the horizontal back and forth, at a speed that could make it alpha; but then again, time perception gets all fucked up when we’re falling asleep doesn’t it, so was it really the rhythm I thought… mrh.

Yawning

Do meerkats yawn? Because I've only seen videos of lions yawning, and if yawns are a "we're okay, relax but stay awake" signal then lions don't even actually need it, they're the king of the jungle, they don't have predators to look out for. By that logic, things like meerkats need it and should yawn. So do they?

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Experiment ideas (and more questions)

Is it possible that after-images for color would be useful to see slight changes in the color? (But why would that be useful in any case?) Because when you look at something red for a long time, you see a blue~green afterimage. And what stands out against blue~green is red (yes, duh). But so if you adapted to red, then you should be better at seeing a(nother) red object, right? Small experiment: Present a large red square, center screen, adaptable (>3s) or not (<1s). Then present small faint dots, test red, test blue or green or yellow, see if you get a difference.


Watching Jason Samaha’s talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3swiuTfKks at 6:45 or so) gave me an idea: what about presenting a constant stimulus at threshold, like on his video, keeping it on the screen all the time, and asking subjects to press when they see and not press when they don’t see it for example (like Claudia Lunghi and Izel Sari with the ocular dominance/rivalry), and at the same time we can record M/EEG/whatever to look at what’s going on in there, and we can also try to do other things like show other stimuli to see if it affects them seeing the threshold one or not, stimulate them with TMS/tCDS/whatever to test if it affects them seeing it, etc? Samaha is worried that “seeing it” could simply be a result of having better attention at that moment. 1. in that particular case is there really an important difference between “attention” and “consciousness”? 2. if there is, what about doing something like Claire where you probe them once in a while about where their mind is at (“were you mind-wandering? were you thinking about the stim?” etc)?


I really want to test if mental imagery recruits the same pathways / networks / nuclei as actually seeing. I would be willing to use fMRI for that, that's how much I want to know. Would it be enough to do something simple, like compare activity between [asking the participant to imagine that their whole field of view is red] and [showing the participant red in their whole field of view] ?


What about a VR experiment where each eye gets a point of view that’s really different from how it is in real life, like two adjacent sides of a cube (or two opposite sides even or whatever)? Could we learn to integrate the information and see objects more “completely”? Even learn to “see in 3D”? I was trying to think if there could be a way to “add eyes” (add points of view) but I don’t see how. Maybe you could split each eye-view into multiple panels, or toggle between views… But you could add info from the touch dimension, maybe have a system where your hands are not bound to your body so you can send them to feel whatever you want?

Another VR study

Two conditions:

1- In the VR, I can see my body, it’s generally the same as my real one. In the VR, an object gets close to me, slowly, and touches me very lightly (near threshold). In real life, an object really does touch me lightly. Did I feel it, and if so how strongly?

2- Same exact thing except now, nothing touches me in real life. Do I feel it? How strongly?

>> can use a 3D video of the actual experimental setup (choose videos with arms that look generally like the participant’s), the subject has arms on the table in front of them and a little robot arm comes down towards their hand. Sometimes what they see in VR matches what is happening in real life, sometimes not ([the robot arm stops right before touching them, visibly, or keeps going all the way] and [they feel a touch or not]).

Real touch : Yes. No.

VR visual touch

Yes. congruent incongruent

No. Incongruent congruent

What we measure: if you feel it and how much.

(Too similar to rubber hand?)

Brain imaging study where you ask participants to pay attention to which stimuli they are consciously aware of, but they don’t report it right away so there’s no interference on the reporting (motor functions if it were a button press or saying it out loud, etc), then after the fact, ask which ones they were actually conscious of and match neural activity to those ones. Problems: Could be looking at encoding of the memory, at attention…

Bias towards light coming from top-left (still Mamassian's work): take a giant sample of children's drawings including a sun and look at the placement of it on the page? Do we find it mostly at top-left?

Ask people to imagine something very simple like black line on white background to test imagery: potentially a good start of experiment idea for mental imagery (visual).

Visual/Attention/Free will

When I try to keep my eyes immobilized, they drift in some direction (usually up...?) (very slowly) and there's nothing I can do about it because staying on one spot would mean moving against the drift. And it's really weird because I also lose concentration in laps, like my thoughts get really loud or something and then all of a sudden I've drifted to a new spot.

Monitor subject's eyes with an eye tracker after forbidding her to move them: what the heck is going on?

Attentional neglect

Do you think it would be possible to induce left- or right-neglect in normal people, so that we can study how it affects visual imagery (imagining a scene) more systematically? (Apparently neglect is almost only left because happens when right areas are lesioned I guess). What about doing it in animals and actually lesioning them?

TMS to induce it maybe?? Should be possible to lesion areas for a short period of time, but can we find the proper one to target? Let’s see if people have induced neglect before.

Experiment Idea: Visual memory. Purpose: to test the retrieval pathway of a visual memory. Question: does attention affect immediate (present) vision the same way it affects the memory for vision? is the retrieval pathway for visual memory embedded in the visual pathway itself?

Procedure:

  1. Have subjects memorize a fairly complex figure (the one they always use to test neglect patients’ attention and also to test memory maybe? I don’t remember they just always use it.) To do this:

  2. Test first: Show image for 1-2 sec, ask to draw as accurately as possible

  3. Study: Allow subjects to copy image while on screen

  4. Retest: reproduce image without model (they must show good memory for it, but we’re also trying to be time-efficient here).

  5. Direct subjects’ attention to one side (left or right) by flashing two things (letters?) on screen very briefly and rewarding them for making out the one on the proper side. Basically: try to induce left- or right-neglect. Note:

  6. We expect to see differences between right- and left-neglect since stroke patients only ever get left-neglect. But what differences?

  7. This may not work in forcing them to ignore the other side.

  8. Maybe make the other side very salient to force them to ignore it. (Bright, bright color, large letter…)

  9. Ask subjects to draw the picture again and note where they fail and where they remember things.

Notes:

a. This only tests immediate / short-term memory. Still interesting.

b. Maybe it’s even been done.

c. Is that really the best way if even a way at all to “induce neglect”? Have people tried to induce neglect before?

d. Instead of trying to induce neglect, which would be a weak effect and very complicated: maybe try to "cue" memory instead, the same way we cue perception? With an endogenous or exogenous cue?

Inner Voice/Mental imagery:

Sort of observational fMRI study where we ask participants to scream inside their head as loudly as possible without giving any external sign whatsoever: what happens then? Ask them to play a specific tune in their heads: what happens? Ask them to imagine the brightest light possible, the loudest noise possible... (Have to make sure they do not externalize it at all, to avoid noise and confound from physical activity.)

Orientation bias:

Always watching the clock's seconds hand and sometimes misaligned with true vertical/horizontal: truly misaligned or biased by angles of other hands??? Could test with different clock-hand angle combinations?

To test the "low road" in visual fear response that only goes through the amygdala supposedly and not through the cortex, couldn't we do that experiment with flashing an image so fast that the subject wouldn't have time to process what it was followed by a neutral image to block further processing? And then... Test for cortisol spikes I guess? Or emotional state, verbally? Maybe do it under fMRI or EEG? Although... fMRI... the time scale... But yeah.

Oculus Rift:

Imagine setting up an Oculus Rift room with infinity mirrors where instead of having an opaque body you're a seeing, transparent-ish entity so that you can actually see all sides of yourself... Seeing in 4D, kinda?... What if you're inside a circular mirror? How do you set up a circular mirror in real life with a tiny peephole and put a transparent-ish object in it but you also need light inside so you would have a blind spot wherever the light source is, maybe? Or if the light comes from inside the object but then it wouldn't be transparent anymore? I think that's why it needs to be in the oculus rift.

Cinematography idea:

How the fuck do we mimic eyeball movement? There has GOT to be a way. Moving the camera is like moving your whole head, because it changes the visual field completely. And moving the focus is like moving your lens. But to mimic eyeball movement you would have to somehow keep the whole visual field there but draw attention to one part of it while making the viewer completely ignore the rest. Completely. Arrrrgh. Blur it in saccades, not gradually (but blur it hardcore man); the problem is that if the viewer wanted to look there again it would have to be available... Although... Not really actually because you would be mimicking someone else's eyeball movements, not theirs.

Example: how do you mimic reading a page? Cause the whole page is always in focus. It's just that, at any one time most of it is ignored in favor of the few words that you are reading at the time. But to simulate that... You might need more than just stimulate the visual system with video. You might have to get in there and tweak attention (the central executive I suppose) itself. And we don't even fucking know where/what that is so good luck.

How do you drag someone's attention to a point in a way that's forced but feels natural? An exogenous cue that feels endogenous? ⚠️eye movement cues are one, remember Psych 101C. But you can't use that for a whole movie. Maybe... Maybe a flash of light in that area so brief it can't be processed but strong enough to pull them there? Would they get habituated to that? Although I also think that once you got the viewer reading artificially with light flashes they would continue spontaneously, that's just what we do. But then to mimic the whole conscious experience (this is getting out of hand lmfao) you would also want to overlap it with the kind of distant sound of the inner voice reading out the words.

Also: the blur wouldn't be completely abrupt, it would have to glide over in the direction of attention but just very fast.

And what about the other way around: moving your head but keeping your eyes fixed on one point in the scene: how do you mimic that as a movie??

Update: Wait a fucking second. Head movement sets the position of the observer, and eye movement sets the angle. Let's make a camera that has an "inner", "angle" component (the eye) and an "outer", "movement" component (the head).

Do we place our consciousness in/at our head because our eyes are there (and that's our main sense for input) or because our brain is there and our consciousness lies in it? (Or some other reason?) I.e., if our eyes were on our stomach, and our brain in our head, would we place our consciousness at our stomach or at our head or where?? Hmhm... Wait where do blind people place it (Tommy Edison, the blind youtuber, places it at the center of his head. Smack dab in the middle. Some clues about that and hypotheses: he understands everything in 3D, just can’t really picture projecting everything/anything really onto 2D, and that’s also the point between his two ears, hearing being his main input from the world).

Note: I am assuming that everyone does this but I haven't talked about it with people. And sometimes I place my "inner self" more around my heart or center of gravity, so it's a pretty delicate concept. How would I start to feel if I closed my eyes for a few days? Where do I place myself when I’m only feeling with my sense of touch? Or only with my hearing, for example? I remember when I meditated, sometimes I felt like I found my “core” deep in my guts, at least below my heart, but sometimes I felt like my “self” was detached from my body, just not on the… same… plane of existence, damn it I’m talking like it’s some fucking spiritual soul shit now. But it doesn't feel so supernatural or anything, there's just something going on with the imagery during meditation.

Visual memory experiment:

Flash a bright spot of light somewhere in the subject's visual field so they have the afterimage hanging out there and blocking out some stuff; does that transfer into the memory, and block elements there too?? If they try to picture a face, does a part of the face get blocked by the afterimage?

Medical relevance: what if we discover that visual memory is its own system and can be less affected by Alzheimer's for example, maybe we can find new ways for Alzheimer's patients to remember shit. HAH.

What could afterimages be useful for? We always think of them as these “disturbances” and “secondary effects” of the visual system, but what if they help us? Maybe they help us compare retinal scenes after a saccade; maybe they help us keep track of stimuli in a noisy/busy environment (especially since the 2 eyes don’t see exactly the same thing).

Addendum: Maybe they help keep a continuous and stable scene through an eyeblink? Like, they print the scene in the “dark” of the eyeblink, so we’re not lost when we open them again? There's gotta be some way to test that?

Blind spot:

Question du blind-spot avec l'anneau que tu as créé qui est pas compressé mais effectivement rempli par couleur ET texture : filling-in!? What else?!

>>> À voir à voir… Pascal sent me a bunch of papers by email (5 March 2018). Do a little thing on yourself for curiosity where you flash a ring right around your blind spot (probs with a mask for the after-image… But then, wouldn’t you fill in the mask too, but that doesn’t really matter). Cause if there’s no saccade at all during the time when it’s there, you might not have any filling-in (because no forced propagation of the signal between V1 cells).

Better response method:

Wouldn’t there be some (read: a lot of) advantage to using eye position and blinks as subjects' response, instead of pressing buttons and such? Eye movement + blink to confirm is easier and faster, you can track the “hesitation”, and it’s super cool also, subjects would probably like that. Accelerate the whole thing (gain time), make it easier for the subject so they might not tire so fast, make it more fun so they might stay interested and focused longer, and get a more “nuanced” measure of their processes.

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Less-than-politically-correct rants

Imagine sending your child on THIS ride without training the dogs or at least checking that they can run in an organized way like that first. Scientists testing hypotheses that rely on other unchecked hypotheses make me feel exactly like that



Today thanks to Başak I remembered why I hate psychoanalysis so much: it's because these guys, like Freud and his buddies and our contemporaries taking up their methods nowadays, they make up these theories that nicely "explain" (not even really but that's another debate) the way humans work, they just shit these ideas out like "Oh yeah you know people turn homosexual because they take an object of desire and also they love their same-sex parent too much and so that's why they become homosexual" but they Literally just make it up as they go, and then they think "Wow that is really a genius idea, I'm so smart, now let's all say that that's how it really works ok guys?", and all the other psychoanalysis buddies, they find comfort in these explanations and they make them feel good about themselves because they confirm their intuitions or dare I say their stupidity, so they're like "Yeah let's do it, you're so smart, that's exactly how it works! I can't believe you figured it out!" And they're just content with that! What the hell?? Where's the method? Where's the evidence? What kind of pretentious dick comes up with an idea and sets out to convince everyone of it "because I said so"??

"The only difference between science and fucking around is writing it down." (Adam Savage)

Do you see how fucking smart humans are? We’re able to think about so much and figure out so much. And all thanks to this brain that makes all these connections, the most fascinating and mysterious computer in the world. And it’s so good that it makes us smart enough and curious enough to try to figure out how it works, and how it’s able to make us that smart. The brain studying itself. How crazy is that? Right?? When you think about it? And that’s why I’m here. We’re all trying to understand the meaning of life, why the fuck we’re here, why it all works the way it does. And I think the answer is here. And I want the answer. And I’m not gonna get it in my lifetime, I can tell, but I can get closer for my own personal satisfaction and I can help future brains to get closer. And someday we’ll understand some things and I’m satisfied knowing that some form of answer will be found, and partially thanks to me. These are the things that we need to know: do we have a say? That is, does free will exist at all? Then, where is “me”? What is the exact location/physical organization of my consciousness?

Dude. The brain making dreams is like those improv comedians who ask for random words from the crowd and make a scene out of it (or a rapper making a jam the same way). The memory systems are over here firing crap at it randomly and it has to make sense of all of it and just makes up a (somewhat) coherent story as it goes. Isn't it cool to think that we're all actually excellent at improv without even knowing it?

After using and manipulating it myself, I'm still not convinced by neuroimaging at all. At all. We think we see the brain but what we see is just noisy crap. No idea where it comes from, no idea what it actually means, no idea when it actually happened. It makes us feel smart but in reality it only makes us more dumb. I wrote a couple of paragraphs on this that I considered putting into my thesis but was told it wasn't the place for this kind of commentary:

"The field of non-invasive human electrophysiology is facing an important problem. Like the rest of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience sub-domains, the rate of replication of reported effects is extremely low (Baker, 2016; Simmons et al., 2011). We may partially address this problem by relying on better research and statistical methods, such as employing bootstrapped surrogate datasets and internally replicating results, as our studies strive to do. However, to ensure reproducibility and reliable research, one shortcoming of MEEG paradigms must be addressed. At the time of writing, there is no unified pipeline for MEEG data collection and analysis. Every individual project must choose its calibration and analysis parameters at every single step from study design to completion. Almost every step, in an EEG experiment especially, is a choice made by the experimenter. Of course, each of these choices is usually reasonable and grounded; there is no doubt that most electrophysiologists perform research with the best intentions and in a dedicated search for truth. However, the result of an EEG study is the sum of many small subjective choices, resulting in one giant subjective question mark. The measure: As we have seen, it remains unclear what the MEEG measures. Some evidence supports that it reflects pyramidal neuron activity, but this is far from certain. Even if it does, volume conduction effects may be the only reason we ever see differences in activation at different electrodes. This obscurity in the origin of the MEEG signal forces authors to make vague interpretations of their results. Systematic testing of the sources of MEEG signals is needed to palliate this problem. Data collection: In the author’s experience, it is rarely the case that the EEG cap molds the participant’s head shape appropriately. Therefore, most electrodes lie very close to the scalp, but a substantial portion does not, which is bound to result in unequal conduction. The EEG cap also shifts around on the head as the participant moves: we may be recording from entirely different neuron populations from one moment to the next. We ask participants to move as little as possible, but to make up for the long setup time, we almost always design long experimental sessions, during which the participant is bound to move quite a bit if only to avoid muscle aches and joint pains. A similar problem arises in the MEG. The experimenter checks the participant’s head position regularly, and automatized algorithms can realign the sensors and sources to some degree. However, the participant’s head is very clearly shifting on the smooth inner cap surface at any given moment, rendering the calibration close to pointless. During the EEG setup, the experimenter usually only checks electrode conductance and impedance at the very beginning of a session. It is rare to have all electrodes pass the acceptable cutoff. Consequently, by the end of the session, most electrodes have probably lost any significant conductance. Moreover, the cutoff for impedance is entirely up to the experimenter, so some might be happy with 10 kOhms while others cut at 100 kOhms, one order of magnitude away. Analysis: We may think that these problems are solved at the analysis stage by subtracting similar conditions from one another, thus removing any effects of data collection artifacts. However, even when conditions are sufficiently controlled to consider this solution, many subjective choices remain. The analyst must set a plethora of analysis parameters at every stage of the signal decomposition: from the range of frequencies to include, to data downsampling properties, to the number of cycles in each frequency’s wavelet, and many more. There are no set standards for the parameters of MEEG analysis. One is lucky to find a published, peer-reviewed document providing even an approximate ballpark for the appropriate measures. This lack of coordinated guidance is unfortunate: it leads us to doubt reported results and makes it impossible to compare findings across studies. What we can do about it: A streamlined, globally-enforced MEEG analysis pipeline is the only way to solve these issues fully. Magneto- and electro-encephalography are still in their early stages as research tools, and it is expected to guess and approximate when faced with novel methods. However, we are now faced with thousands of laboratories using MEEG, producing thousands more research papers each year and relying on these tools for research. It is time to set standards for each step of the MEEG setup and analysis so that we may collectively trust the results reported using these methods. Such a framework has begun to be advocated for in the MEEG community (Niso et al., 2021), which brings great hope that the era of uncertain probing will soon be behind us."


I notice that a lot of people really limit themselves to the tools that they already have at their disposal to guide their research questions and experiments. Like, “well I already coded a stimulus with these and these properties, how can I use that to test other things?” Or, “this library is capable of this and this calculation, so that’s the extent of the calculations I can do in this experiment.” I think it’s such a shame to do things this way. Yes, you’ll get projects done faster (probably), but the goal should be interest of the question and of the work, not speed. Never mind the tools and the methods: if you can’t find them, you’ll create them. In my opinion the focus should be on designing high quality protocols to really answer your questions.

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