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Caroline Wright's blog

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Blink: A Thin-Slicing Book Review

Have you ever seen a person on the streets and immediately had some sort of attraction to them?

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Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? An Art Historical Question from a Neurobiological Perspective

In 1971 a question posed by Linda Nochlin changed the way art history was viewed. Her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists” explores the reasons for the severe disproportion of female to male artists throughout the course of art history (1). While this is undeniably at least in part an issue of social concern, the may be more than one answer. It is possible that art history and neurobiology can, in fact, over-lap. There are irrefutable physical, hormonal, and genetic differences between women and men. More importantly, aside from these primary and secondary sex-differences there are a wide variety of sometimes subtle, sometimes prominent neurological differences, from basic neural organization to the way female and male brains process everyday information (4). There are evolutionary advantages to having differences between the female and male members of a species. These differences in no way imply and superiority or inferiority between the sexes, especially in humans (4). In people, there is much more overlap in these dissimilarities, due largely to the fact that our own brain structure is largely malleable and able to be easily manipulated and changed due to our higher functional capabilities. It seems pertinent to investigate the fact that the reason there are “no great female artists” might because of biological differences in the creative process or ability to produce art.

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When Memory Has a Mind of It's Own

Our understanding of memory is one of the things that make us intrinsically human. Many organisms have memory processes, they learn, they adapt o their surroundings, but humans have the ability to change those functions, to control them. We can choose what we learn and what we don't, we can memorize information and in certain cases force ourselves to omit things from our memory. Our lives are completely based around this function - adults work in a job doing things they have learned to do, children learn in school about things from our past, stories of our past are passed down from generation to generation by memories. Even the basic processes of our bodies utilize systems that have their own type of memory - our bodies, even down to the smallest molecules, "know" what their purpose is (2). This stasis enables us to function at the high level that we do - all parts of the body working together to produce a living, breathing, functioning, and above all remembering organism. Our memory grounds each and every one of us, makes us unique. Every person has different experiences that make their self. It seems that in this sense our selves are dictated by what surrounds us, what inputs come in and how those inputs are automatically dealt with. The problem, it seems, is when the reality of memory can be altered, when memory seems to have a mind of its own.

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Memory, Sleep, and the Modern Student

Throughout every experience we have, there are thousands if intricate signals traveling throughout the body, especially in the brain. Every second we are unconsciously taking in information, much of which we disregard, but some of which we are able to recall at future times – this is what we know as memory. Understanding memory consolidation is a problematic thing: because of the mysterious intricacies of the brain, creating definitive experiments is very difficult, as it usually is with science. Trying to understand this role of sleep in memory consolidation is important to all of us, especially the modern student.

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