Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Originally uploaded by Pete Mandik
I made this on my iPhone using the Brushes app.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Massive Art Dump

I've just uploaded a couple of flickr sets of my artwork. One set contains stuff I've done on an iphone, especially using the excellent Brushes app. The other contains stuff I've done in mostly non-digital media.

Links to the flickr sets:

My Electronic Elsewheres

On Twitter:

On FriendFeed:

Google Reader Shared Items:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slate article on the neural distinction between wanting and liking

This recent article in Slate seems damn appropriate for all ye nerds reading Infinite Jest this summer.

Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous. By Emily Yoffe

Juicy excerpts:

[Olds] eventually discovered that if the probe was put in the brain's lateral hypothalamus and the rats were allowed to press a lever and stimulate their own electrodes, they would press until they collapsed.

Olds, and everyone else, assumed he'd found the brain's pleasure center (some scientists still think so). Later experiments done on humans confirmed that people will neglect almost everything—their personal hygiene, their family commitments—in order to keep getting that buzz.

But to Washington State University neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, this supposed pleasure center didn't look very much like it was producing pleasure. Those self-stimulating rats, and later those humans, did not exhibit the euphoric satisfaction of creatures eating Double Stuf Oreos or repeatedly having orgasms. The animals, he writes in Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, were "excessively excited, even crazed." The rats were in a constant state of sniffing and foraging. Some of the human subjects described feeling sexually aroused but didn't experience climax. Mammals stimulating the lateral hypothalamus seem to be caught in a loop, Panksepp writes, "where each stimulation evoked a reinvigorated search strategy" (and Panksepp wasn't referring to Bing).


University of Michigan professor of psychology Kent Berridge has spent more than two decades figuring out how the brain experiences pleasure. Like Panksepp, he, too, has come to the conclusion that what James Olds' rats were stimulating was not their reward center. In a series of experiments, he and other researchers have been able to tease apart that the mammalian brain has separate systems for what Berridge calls wanting and liking.

Wanting is Berridge's equivalent for Panksepp's seeking system. It is the liking system that Berridge believes is the brain's reward center. When we experience pleasure, it is our own opioid system, rather than our dopamine system, that is being stimulated. This is why the opiate drugs induce a kind of blissful stupor so different from the animating effect of cocaine and amphetamines. Wanting and liking are complementary. The former catalyzes us to action; the latter brings us to a satisfied pause. Seeking needs to be turned off, if even for a little while, so that the system does not run in an endless loop. When we get the object of our desire (be it a Twinkie or a sexual partner), we engage in consummatory acts that Panksepp says reduce arousal in the brain and temporarily, at least, inhibit our urge to seek.

NDPR Radu J. Bogdan, Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking

NDPR Radu J. Bogdan, Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

2009-08-16 : View this Review Online : View Other NDPR Reviews

Radu J. Bogdan, Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking, MIT Press, 2009, 156pp., $25.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780262026369.

Reviewed by Dan Ryder, University of British Columbia (Okanagan)

Monday, August 10, 2009

My book has a tree on it

Continuum Books has some product info up on my forthcoming book, Key Terms in Philosophy of Mind [link]. This is the first I'm seeing of the book cover. Hmm! It's got a tree on it, which, I presume, is the tree of the mind, or something. Also, the pink spot of consciousness hovers above the tree, perhaps loaded with extra qualia? I'm too excited to be totally sure. See for yourselves.