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Congwen Wang's picture

An end and a start

I stayed as Dickinsonian throughout the semester, but I think it doesn't matter anymore.  The most important idea I learned in this class - and will keep in mind - is constantly questioning every theory. To me, the name "Dickinsonian" is more of a lable for the summary of my thoughts on our brain and behaviours.  As for my actually thoughts, they have changed a lot, and they will surely keep changing. Maybe one day I would believe there are souls in us, and then I could call myself a Descartian.

I'll surely remember our discussion about vision, and all of the amazing tricks our brain played with us.  After that, I could and will never regard our brain as something completely "objective".  I once thought no matter how we interpret something, there had to be a "reality" as its base. It turned out that the supposed "reality" and our interpretation of it actually don't have a one-to-one correlation. Now I can understand why "everything is the construction of our brain". Yes, for a bio major, it sounds a bit unsettling. But I guess that's what science is supposed to do - to challenge our worldview, to push us to find new explanations and ideas. I'm feeling fortunate to take this class in the first year of college; now I can constantly remind myself how little I know, so I can always revel in exploring the new.

And here is a newly found vision trick: http://www.neave.com/strobe/

3 Questions:

1. How do our brain abstract the words from various handwriting styles? More particularly, sometimes when the handwriting is rather indicernible, we can still recognize some words by looking into the context; how is this achieved?

2. I also find our accents very interesting. My English accent changed after I come here; I can tell that it's americanized, with a clearer "r" sound. But when talking to a non native speaker, my accent sometimes shifts back to my old accent. It seems that although we can change our accent, there is a "default" accent that we tend to get back to. I wonder whether there is research on this topic?

3. I read an article about dream: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/health/10mind.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=lucid%20dream&st=cse  What interests me is that scientists observed that when we are lucid dreaming, our brain activities have similarities with both REM state and waking state. To me it seems to suggest that our "waking self" and our "dreaming self" are actually different. I wonder if and how these two "self" are different?

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