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The Future of the Most Important Human Brain

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the do-neurosci-texts-read-as-cookbooks-to-zombies dept.

Medicine 252

mattnyc99 writes "About a year ago, we watched live as neuroanatomist Jacopo Annese sliced the brain of Memento-style patient Henry Molaison (aka H.M.) into 2,401 pieces. Since even before then, writer Luke Dittrich — whose grandfather happened to be the surgeon to accidentally slice open the H.M. skull in the first place — has been tracking Annese and a new revolution in brain science. From the article in Esquire: 'If Korbinian Brodmann created the mind's Rand McNally, Jacopo Annese is creating its Google Maps. ... With his Brain Observatory, Annese is setting out to create not the world's largest but the world's most useful collection of brains. ... For the first time, we'll be able to meaningfully and easily compare large numbers of brains, perhaps finally understanding why one brain might be less empathetic or better at calculus or likelier to develop Alzheimer's than another. The Brain Observatory promises to revolutionize our understanding of how these three-pound hunks of tissue inside our skulls do what they do, which means, of course, that it promises to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.'"

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We Have Our Priorities Straight (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019682)

At least the "most important human brain" is not from a nigger. At least that's SOME progress.

Though knowing human beings, we'd pick the brain from the most bloodthirsty power-hungry motherfucker like Julius Caesar or some other mass murderer and tout that as the "most important brain" ever. At least he wasn't a nigger either. At least there's that.

Re:We Have Our Priorities Straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020016)

Brutus! Stop playing with that knife, you're making me nervous.

An odd approach... (3, Interesting)

Rival (14861) | about 4 years ago | (#34019694)

While I have no wish to demean their efforts, this approach still seems somewhat brutal to me. I'm no neurologist, but isn't this still a rather macro-level view of things, with the cutting process still causing damage to the fine structures they want to study?

It seems likely to me that future scientists will look back at this in not too long with stifled laugher and perhaps a little shock at the approach.

Re:An odd approach... (3, Insightful)

Raenex (947668) | about 4 years ago | (#34019962)

There are lots of ways to image and study the brain. This is just one more. Sure, in a hypothetical future they might be able to scan it down to the finest detail, but for now we do what we can.

Re:An odd approach... (2, Interesting)

Whomp-Ass (135351) | about 4 years ago | (#34020380)

The major problem is that at the point of death (or at least, brain-death) is that the dendrites of the neurons detach from the axons of the surrounding neurons at about a rate that is the square of the of the difference over time of the inverse of temperature loss...meaning, by the time you slice-and-dice, the important bit (that is, the bits, rather...the connections and pathways that make you...well, you...are gone).

Re:An odd approach... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#34019988)

It almost certainly is disrupting fine structures or details of network connections that future neurologists might want to study; but I suspect that this is one of those situations where they don't really have a choice.

The brain is extremely complex, and nondestructive imaging methods are either expensive, low-resolution, or both. Good old slice-n-stain, with a dash of modern robotics, is cheap and high resolution.

Since we know so little about how brains actually work, it isn't a bad idea to just build a giant dataset, using an economic and high-resolution technique, and hope that that dataset allows future researchers to pinpoint more closely what they should actually be looking for.

Given that the supply of brains donated to science, while not huge, can be reasonably expected to continue into the indefinite future, starting with destructive; but quick, reverse engineering steps, and then gradually progressing down to finer, more focused ones, seems pretty sensible.

A lot of the brains thus sliced will, it is true, be destroyed as far as the researchers of the future are concerned; but slicing them may be the only way to get the researchers of the future to a position of sufficient knowledge.

Re:An odd approach... (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#34019992)

Or as Douglas Adams put it - "If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat."

Re:An odd approach... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#34020252)

My brain doesn't seem to be working well (I had a few beers). I thought I'd read everything he wrote, what's that from?

Re:An odd approach... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020366)

My brain doesn't seem to be working well (I had a few beers). I thought I'd read everything he wrote, what's that from?

It's from a speech he gave at a conference which hasn't actually been published anywhere, but was captured on tape, and Richard Dawkins quoted it in his eulogy [edge.org] .

Re:An odd approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020402)

My brain doesn't seem to be working well (I had a few beers). I thought I'd read everything he wrote, what's that from?

if I recall correctly, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time.

Re:An odd approach... (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34020358)

As opposed to working cat before? What's that?

(/me looks around...yup, the beast sleeps; on the coffer this time)

Re:An odd approach... (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#34020204)

While I have no wish to demean their efforts, this approach still seems somewhat brutal to me. I'm no neurologist, but isn't this still a rather macro-level view of things, with the cutting process still causing damage to the fine structures they want to study?

Do you have a better way? Seriously, it's not like they haven't spent the better part of a century working out the sectioning techniques and steadily improving them.
 

It seems likely to me that future scientists will look back at this in not too long with stifled laugher and perhaps a little shock at the approach.

The same way we react in shock to those who operated without anesthesia. Or laugh at the Greeks who tried to cure tuberculosis with leeches and a poultice of wine must and sea urchin gonads. (I don't know if they did exactly that, but it's typical of the medicine of the era.) They didn't have a better way, neither do we. We do the best we can with what we know.

Re:An odd approach... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020234)

The same way we react in shock to those who operated without anesthesia.

Are we so sure anyone ever did this on a regular basis?

I ask because we have made alcohol for a long time, and known of plants that would have anesthetic applications possibly even longer.

Re:An odd approach... (1, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 4 years ago | (#34020360)

My grandmother often told stories told to her by her grandfather who was in the Civil war, and yes, in the field hospitals it was pretty much "Hold him down, and get sawing" kind of deal. She said the weapons they used on the soldiers at the time also helped to crank up the barbarism, with soldiers often loading chains, nails, and anything else they could find into cannons when they ran out of shells. Sure we already knew about anesthesia, but good luck finding any in a muddy field hospital in the middle of TN with a battle going on. Troops and doctors on both sides simply didn't realize it was gonna be such a hideous war, believing it would be a "gentlemen's conflict" like the revolutionary war.

Re:An odd approach... (5, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#34020208)

but isn't this still a rather macro-level view of things, with the cutting process still causing damage to the fine structures they want to study?

No, the cryostat is designed to preserve things down to the subcellular level. Had they just cut it up with a scalpel, yeah, that would not preserve much. Fixing it with, say, paraformaldehyde, then freezing it and sectioning it, the sections do okay if you're skilled at it. You can see down to the neuron level.

It seems likely to me that future scientists will look back at this in not too long with stifled laugher and perhaps a little shock at the approach.

I personally am always astounded at what past scientists were able to accomplish with the tools at hand. Ramon Y Cajal, the "father of neuroscience" had primitive microscopes and a method of staining cells that sounds exhausting, but described the brain in astonishing detail. I personally doubt I could have accomplished what he did with the tools we have now. Unless future scientists are idiots, they'll likely realize that these are the best tools we have now.

Clearly this is a front organization (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019702)

Clearly this a front organization--for zombies!

Re:Clearly this is a front organization (-1, Offtopic)

countSudoku() (1047544) | about 4 years ago | (#34019750)

Mod that on-topic right this instant!

Sheesh. Personally, I think so highly of my brain that I'm waiting to get those awesome bio-friendly LED implants to light mine up like a frickin' x-mass tree! Not content to have just one "idea" I want a bunch, all at once, and in different colors with chaser patters. Feel free to stack presents under it!

Re:Clearly this is a front organization (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019850)

Halloween--and zombies--are certainly on-topic this month.

Unlike you bringing up Christmas, for Christ's sake!

Did you take time to consider that maybe Anonymous Coward is suffering from S.A.D. -- Seasonal Affective Disorder? Hmm?

Of course not, you insensitive clod!

Brains! (-1, Redundant)

lpaul55 (137990) | about 4 years ago | (#34019722)

Brains!

Fat chance (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 4 years ago | (#34019734)

You will pry my brain off my cold dead...

No you won't.

This is simply misguided -- don't we know better? (1, Interesting)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34019744)

This is as misguided as studying Einstein's brain.

It is very unlikely that a boost in intelligence or a unique way of thinking is due to a physical brain property.

Brains are just brains, an organ, and most are not that different -- certainly the differences are not the cause of the vast personality and thinking differences and intelligence disparities we have.

No, someone's intelligence or outlook on the world is a combination of upbringing, willpower and education. Anyone could be as intelligent and knowledgeable as they wanted to be, if they wanted to be.

Think bog standard PC's, that can all run different OS's on the same hardware, each with different behaviors.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019822)

No, someone's intelligence or outlook on the world is a combination of upbringing, willpower and education. Anyone could be as intelligent and knowledgeable as they wanted to be, if they wanted to be.

How young are you?
This is one of the most naive things I have ever heard. Some folks are never going to be rocket surgeons.That might not be ok with the current everyone is a genius and everyone gets a trophy crowd but it is the truth.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Insightful)

MithrandirAgain (1924756) | about 4 years ago | (#34019846)

I've often found the people that never get fantastic jobs/lives, don't care about that anyway.
Maybe that's the sour-grape syndrome though...

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020002)

I fail to see how this applies to what I said. Please feel free to elaborate.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

MithrandirAgain (1924756) | about 4 years ago | (#34020072)

I fail to understand what you fail to understand.
Let me try that again: Some people don't really give a shit about how much money, power, knowledge or fame they get. If someone finds physics interesting, that doesn't mean they're going to become a rocket scientist, or have any desire to do so.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020112)

I made no claim that they would.

My only claim was that some people lack the capacity to do so and that may be and most likely is a result of differences in the brain.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

MithrandirAgain (1924756) | about 4 years ago | (#34020162)

I made no claim that they would.

I never said that you did. :|

My only claim was that some people lack the capacity to do so and that may be and most likely is a result of differences in the brain.

Yes, I agree.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34019896)

I'm not young enough that you should disregard the above. Yes, some folks won't be rocket scientists(I assume that's what you meant), because they don't care.

Anyone with that aspiration can teach themselves what they need to, go to school or get training, and do it. Especially for that type of discipline(physics/math) where prerequisite knowledge is more important than original thinking.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

MithrandirAgain (1924756) | about 4 years ago | (#34019918)

I live by the Hacker Ethic: do what you love to do in life, and be passionate about it.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019944)

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019954)

I know folks who never could do such a thing, no matter how bad they wanted it. I imagine you do as well.

These folks vary from borderline disabled to just a little slow. These traits are clearly nature not nurture as they have perfectly functional siblings.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (3, Insightful)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | about 4 years ago | (#34020044)

I was going to mod you troll, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you really do believe that all brains are created equal- but in that case, and by your own argument, you must not be very motivated or lack the discipline to learn the truth of the matter. I wonder what could account for that?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit 11 (1916010) | about 4 years ago | (#34020102)

you should be disregarded because you're a cowardly-rip-off-wanna-be-james-bond idiot.

you have zero understanding about brain chemistry or psychology.

you're a moron.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (5, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | about 4 years ago | (#34019824)

This is so unbelievably unintelligent that if it weren't so long I might think it was a joke.

I often resort to extreme examples when explaining the ability for variations to people who deny variations exist. So with that in mind, an extreme example of a different kind of brain would be the autistic mind. Clearly it is different. It has little to nothing to do with the way the person was raised or educated over time. It is how their brain was created. If a brain can be created to that extreme of difference why not changed in more subtle ways that allow enhanced mathematical capabilities or greater empathy.

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen or exist.

The whole point of science and these studies is to figure these things out. To learn about the things we can't see but effect our daily lives.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019848)

Affect

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34019936)

You're argument has so much more authority when you use insults...

Anyway

I am not denying variations in brain exist. I am saying teh variations in brains are about as meaningful as variations in livers, and are not the causes for different types and levels of intelligence in people.

Your use of an autistic mind as an analogy is interesting, but flawed. An autistic mind is a defective brain. Using my PC analogy before, an autistic mind is the equivalent of only being able to boot in single user mode.

Sorry, but I have read a lot on this and never found anything to meaningfully support that differences in the physical brain correspond to personality or intelligence. The differences in brains influence our personality or intelligence just as much as the differences in our livers or hair.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019968)

So now you claim differences in brains can make them defective?

Where exactly are you drawing this line you so suddenly found?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020054)

What?

Let me clarify for you, since the simple is not obvious

Brains are all physically the same, with the significance of variations being negligible.

Sometimes brains have an error that is reproducible, and that has the same symptoms.

There. Now, what don't you get?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020094)

I think you are the one who does not get it. Your two statements are contradictory.

If variations are negligible, and an error is a variation.....

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020256)

My statements are not contradictory. You're extrapolation that the presence of defects means the presence of meaningful variations of a working model is false. That's all.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020302)

Do you believe that nothing causes physical changes in the brain?

No matter the cause nature or nuture, physical changes on some level must occur. How else does memory work?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit 22 (1916794) | about 4 years ago | (#34020172)

i get that you're completely wrong, and pathetically and childishly cowering behind a james-bond wanna-be account that you use to spout ignorant ideas with no responsibility.

brains are not all physically the same.

you're an idiot.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019976)

Are you a republican by any chance? This sounds like the beginning of an "anybody can be rich, but only those who worked hard actually achieve it" speech.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020090)

Nah, must be a democrat. Who else still believes niggers are equal?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0, Offtopic)

Raenex (947668) | about 4 years ago | (#34020052)

Well there are differences in people's organs. Some people can drink more than others. Some are better athletes, etc. People have different hair -- mine happens to be thin and fly-away, which annoys me.

This idea that all people are of equal capability intellectually is just really silly. You think geniuses like Newton or Einstein didn't have something different going on in their brains besides just upbringing or education?

Anyways, this particular brain is interesting for it's known impairments. An unfortunate slice that causes memory failure teaches us about how the brain functions. We've actually learned a lot by doing tests on people for brain surgery. More detailed information of physiology can only help.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | about 4 years ago | (#34020082)

Well, if I made a few changes to some genes your brain would be about as useful as a liver. Are you trolling? Because you are basically arguing against half a century of research in the cognitive and neural sciences with no evidence.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

MichaelKristopeit 11 (1916010) | about 4 years ago | (#34020146)

You're argument has so much more authority when you use insults...

really 007? anyone should listen to the childish james bond wanna-be, who yields the cowardice to refuse to take responsibility for their published ideas?

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

also, you're wrong.... completely and pathetically wrong.

you're an idiot.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020350)

Your ?????? "You're. ???????

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 years ago | (#34019970)

It's odd for you to have a pro-science polemic and be using quasi-religious terminology like "how their brain was created". It's currently a very open question when exactly brains are "created", with most scientists believing it isn't at any one time. Physical brain structure changes significantly over someone's life, especially in the earlier years; it doesn't spring from the womb fully preprogrammed. Experimental interventions on other mammals (can't do that research on humans) show that environmental and stimulus differences can even induce physically different brain structures.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020026)

Why can we not do this research on humans at least in a observational manner?

By that I mean using MRIs and other non-invasive techniques compare brain structure to lifestyle, education and important events in a group of peoples lives.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34020308)

Funny how that terminology, and seemingly pro-science polemic with one extremely simplistic example thrown around (how one can even think it's sensible to use "the PC" for this?), appears to be mostly just a slightly stronger than usual manifestation of certain universal "errors" in...physical structure of the brain / the workings its neural network. Things like just-world phenomenon, correspondence bias or illusory superiority (which indeed partly disappear in some disorders...or indeed even if somebody "simply doesn't care")

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (5, Insightful)

jelizondo (183861) | about 4 years ago | (#34019844)

Sorry to disagree with you, but clearly the physical properties of the brain matter.

Which physical properties? Well, we need to find out.

Think about it for a while. All my life I would have given a leg and an arm to learn to play any musical instrument (went to schools for years) and could never get beyond the really easy stuff; a seven year-old child could out-play me every time. But I have a gift for analisys and abstraction, thus I'm good at writing software.

You say upbringing, education and will-power. Well I had all three: mom was a music director who wrote music and poetry, I went to very good music schools and I yearned to be able to play music; I simply don't have the right "hardware".

Try running Deep Blue's software in your bog standard PC, see how far it gets.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34019904)

Maybe you're tone deaf or something, either way it wouldn't relate to the point I made above.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34019972)

Tone deafness could be the result of brain structure for all we know at this point.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020118)

It seems to be [wikipedia.org] due to a part of the brain missing.

What the people above don't seem to get is the prevalence of many types of defects is not evidence of radical possible differences in a working brain.

A particular car will be shipped out and most will work. The ones that work all work the same. The ones with defects may be grouped into the different defects. Yet if you fix that defect, it will be just like all the other working cars.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020192)

So a variation that is a defect in a working brain does not indicate other traits could be the result of similar variations.

That is some might fine hair splitting you are doing there.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020274)

Jesus Christ dude.

How many times do you have to try and understand?

The presence of various defects of a working model do not imply the presence of meaningful non defecting variations of a working model.

You seem to be convinced that's the case. Care to back it up?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Interesting)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020278)

Wait, a simpler analogy.

If you buy a new car and there is a problem with cruise control, does that mean it is correct to infer that there may be cars of the same model that have significantly better cruise control?

That is the leap you are making, and it is not supported, either logically or with our observations.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020328)

If I know that the problem is a defect with this model. Like say I sliced the cruise control wire. Like in this case.

Do you think you could run faster than Usain Bolt if you just tried?

Everything about you is physical you could no more want to be smarter and become smarter than you could want to be taller and become so.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about 4 years ago | (#34020098)

But I have a gift for analisys and abstraction, thus I'm good at writing software.

You should put those programming skills to use creating a spell checker :)

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

jelizondo (183861) | about 4 years ago | (#34020222)

I would never take the spelling nazis' fun away! I'm a civilized being -.__.-

Now I'll know if you're English or American!

Analysis is a word I always have trouble with, in my native language is "analisis" and I always get confused as to where the "y" goes.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019898)

No, someone's intelligence or outlook on the world is a combination of upbringing, willpower and education. Anyone could be as intelligent and knowledgeable as they wanted to be, if they wanted to be.

It has been shown than intelligence is highly heritable. Identical twins raised in different environments will almost always have nearly the same IQ. Adopted siblings have vastly different IQs.

On the other hand, it has been shown that the rich and powerful don't have better genetics or IQs than average people. The class system and inheriting wealth is what keeps them rich, not their willpower.

This is the typical argument of why the poor deserve to be poor because they choose to be stupid and have no willpower while the rich deserve to be rich because they choose to be smart and have a lot of willpower. The only problem is that it is completely false.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020138)

Can you provide a source showing why you believe intelligence is highly heritable? My research indicates quite the opposite....inheritance can play a part, but nurture plays more of a role than nature.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020250)

Please list your research. It seems to contradict the majority of the literature out there and would be interesting to read.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020322)

You've been making claims this whole thread, yet have not provided a single source.

You seem to be arguing from what you personally believe, none of which is backed by current understanding.

I'd point you to the wiki page on the human brain, and when you have a better understanding I would be interested if you hold the same beliefs as you do currently.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019950)

My children are very good in school, i.e. 'smart.' This was a foregone conclusion. We knew, absent damage, they would be this way before they were born. All you have to do is look at the lineage.
We could also predict they would be individualistic, egocentric and disrespectful of authority. All you had to do was look at me...
These predictions came true because genetics, which determine the way the brain grows or can grow, matter hugely. Look at the studies of identical twins, separated at birth, who had the same hobbies and even married similar-looking spouses.
What genetic properties determine this? Good question. But you can breed for intelligence the same way you breed for any other trait.
If you don't have the physical properties to be intelligent, all the studying and willpower in the world won't help. The wiring has to be there.

Brains are just brains, an organ, and most are not that different -- certainly the differences are not the cause of the vast personality and thinking differences and intelligence disparities we have.

You are wrong. Worse, you a provably wrong.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0, Troll)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020152)

We could also predict they would be individualistic, egocentric and disrespectful of authority. All you had to do was look at me...

And with this, you have demonstrated your complete ignorance of genetics. Well done.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

shougyin (1920460) | about 4 years ago | (#34020338)

I agree with this (and many others from above about the same issue) that genetics play a HUGE role in defining a person’s brain and "wiring".

I come from a H.R. Manager and a Salesman...so unfortunately I have a great ability to read people and define them into work ethics, habits, and can use that to get desired results. What does this mean? Nothing really important, only that the abilities and traits held by my parents were passed on genetically to me, and as I have passed them on to my daughter. I see qualities of me and her mother surface daily.

I have even had instances of my father’s negative willpower come out of me for periods, so I would say that this could be passed on genetically as well. But I'm by no means any type of scientist or have any experience in this, but it's just what I've gathered.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019998)

I agree that determining what makes people different brain-wise may not be evident on a "macro" level, i.e. how heavy it is etc. But the idea that everyone is the same except for willpower and effort seems misguided.

If someone applied such an argument to a physical activity, say hitting a baseball, running a 40 meter dash or vertical jump, it would immediately be seen an fallacious. Physically I could have been A-Rod or T.O. if I just tried? No, I think not.

Mentally I could have been like Einstein or Tesla if I just thought hard enough? Been Mozart if I just applied myself to music? please.

Sure, everyone has the potential to be better, no one is using all their talents perfectly, some are using them minimally, but that doesn't mean they can do anything they set their mind to.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020182)

Why couldn't you be like Einstein or Telsa? Those guys were knowledgeable more than anything, and kept thinking and thinking until they found something that made sense. You will find the people who make new discoveries these days are the same, laboring away at it.

The worst thing we did was put these guys on a pedestal of intelligence, when they were probably not that more intelligent than many people on /.

For the record, what were the significantdifference found from studying Einsteins brain? Oh, right. None.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020260)

So where do you think they got that drive/willpower if not from some physical difference or chemical one?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020318)

nurture. not nature.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#34020018)

What magical fairyland do you think "willpower" lives in?

Also, just parenthetically, PCs compartmentalize their differences rather aggressively, for cost reasons; but it is actually relatively simple to observe the hardware differences between PCs running different OSes: just look at the arrangement of magnetic domains on the HDD platter surfaces. Hardly easier than just booting the sucker; but 100% physical and hardware based.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020304)

The "the arrangement of magnetic domains on the HDD platter surfaces" is something done by the software to standard hardware, so it still goes with what I said above.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

rthille (8526) | about 4 years ago | (#34020022)

Of course intelligence or a unique way of thinking is due to a physical brain property. What other possibility is there? Fairy dust? A "soul"? Now I agree it may be that the physical properties which remain after death and dissection aren't enough to reconstruct the physical properties important to intelligence or unique thought, there are certainly enough properties there to make the study worthwhile.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | about 4 years ago | (#34020064)

You are a brain. Even if that brain is very influenced by the world around it, you are still a brain.

And as a neuroscientist let me tell you, brains ARE different.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (0, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit 10 (1916008) | about 4 years ago | (#34020068)

you have absolutely no understanding of how brains develop.

brains are not stamped out of the same die like computer processors... THEY GROW.

you're an idiot.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (3, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 4 years ago | (#34020106)

This illness for which H.M. is studied is one with gross pathology that should be very visible with the method used. The study of Einstein's brain did the most important thing that a scientific experiment can do: it falsified a hypothesis. Nobody really knew that Einstein did not have gross pathology until they looked. This is not to say that the person who kept Einstein's brain in a jar on his desk for his whole life had any right to do that, but preserving the brain for the imaging tools of a later generation was a good idea.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 4 years ago | (#34020284)

Agreed, completely.

As you say though, it falsified a hypothesis -- yet people still continue down the same road. Why?

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

mibe (1778804) | about 4 years ago | (#34020346)

You only think that because your brain is different from theirs.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#34020354)

It is very unlikely that a boost in intelligence or a unique way of thinking is due to a physical brain property.

Huh? If not physical then what? Spiritual? Thought is just chemistry, chemistry is just physics.

The brain is a physical object. Mine is, right now, affected by beer. Simple chemistry. Well, maybe not so simple but still chemistry.

Re:This is simply misguided -- don't we know bette (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 4 years ago | (#34020392)

A brain is a brain, huh? Tell that to the kid kid with trisomy 21, fragile X, or numerous other genetic disease that cause brain malformations.

Thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34019772)

If I were HM, I'd have probably say "Don't give me that 'contribution to science' BS." If he were alive today though, I am sure I would thank him for his contributions anyway.

Re:Thanks. (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | about 4 years ago | (#34019808)

No, because you're unable to form new memories, you would never know for more than about 10 - 15 seconds at a time.

The future?! (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | about 4 years ago | (#34019782)

1) we are all Laura Dern.
2) It is about time, as the film states a number of times
3) we all live re-enactments of a illusion. Myth and 'realities' are one.
4) Dern's character is awakened to the endless cycle of life's web of 'sin'.
5) Dern's death in Hollywood allowed her to follow the mute god to a place of egolessness (self annihilation)
6) This resolve (the act of killing the Phantom/herself) freed the possibility of hope.

Re:The future?! (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | about 4 years ago | (#34019906)

I should also point out that when Laura Dern (Nikki) cums her brains out with Devon (Justin Theroux) - during their first scene of vaginal intercourse - she (Laura Dern) with a *totally hot straight face* screams: "God...fucking....damnit!!" I nearly wet myself.

That is all. Carry on.

Things that matter (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 years ago | (#34019788)

For once, Slashdot has been too fast publishing an article. This one should have been released in Halloween, telling that scientists are competing with zombies in the used brains market or something similar.

Re:Things that matter (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34019914)

For once, Slashdot has been too fast publishing an article.

Sssssh! The /. editors don't want anyone to know they had a premature climax.

Re:Things that matter (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#34019940)

I don't get why suddenly this Halloween has become the Zombie Festival.

Maybe people didn't get enough of it last Easter and couldn't wait until next Easter.

BTW, has anyone seen anyone selling a Sexy Zombie costume? It's, uh, not for me...

Re:Things that matter (1)

shougyin (1920460) | about 4 years ago | (#34020364)

SURE it isn't!!!

But don't worry...it's not my place to pass judgment, and I won't do that....

FREAK!!!!

What? I can't lie now either?

Not sure how useful this is (2, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 years ago | (#34019880)

Here at the UW we harvest thousands of brains for various medical studies, and generally freeze half of the brain and slice up the other half and stain that half with various dyes, while taking electrical and other measurements within a few hours of death.

While an approach like this described in the article might be useful for things like Pick's Disease, it would pretty much prove useless for Alzheimer's Disease, since that is an age-appropriate measurement of tangles and neurolytic fibers.

Things like childhood diseases or other gross abnormalities might be interesting.

But if you want to know if you'll get Alzheimer's it has a lot more to do with the exact APOE genes you carry and your general cardiovascular health and brain injury risk factors than it does other stuff. And by the time you harvest these brains it's way too late.

And things like Parkinson's are more about mitochondrial failure to function correctly than about general brain health - it's not just your brain, it's the rest of your body too.

Re:Not sure how useful this is (1)

tempest69 (572798) | about 4 years ago | (#34019994)

I'm supposing that since the HM brain has a defect in forming long term memories that it makes for a nice contrast to a normal memory forming brain. Perhaps it may provide a new minimum (floor) for amount of brain trauma required to stop memory formation. If the damage is small and neat, it may provide some clues as how memories are written.

Re:Not sure how useful this is (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020056)

Is there a way to sign up for this?
Does it impact organ donor status or anything else?

It is my hope to donate whatever parts are usable for reuse and have the rest used for science. No point in wasting perfectly good meat.

Re:Not sure how useful this is (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 years ago | (#34020166)

Is there a way to sign up for this?
Does it impact organ donor status or anything else?

For most human brain studies, they tend to want to study health over a period of time. Recruitment normally is done by each study center, and generally takes a day a year and consent for emergency harvesting when you die (since the time windows are so short), since imaging only tells us some of what we gather when we actually have the (not working any longer) brain upon death.

Re:Not sure how useful this is (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020272)

What a bummer, as much as I love progress reuse comes before recycle :)

Was it Hans Delbruck's? (1)

PatPending (953482) | about 4 years ago | (#34020014)

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [to Igor] Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck's?

Igor: [pause, then] No.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in?

Igor: Then you won't be angry?

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.

Igor: Abby Someone.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Someone. Abby who?

Igor: Abby Normal.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Normal?

Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.

A tad overrated (2, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | about 4 years ago | (#34020130)

HM was certainly a very important brain, but not *the* most important. There are plenty of patients out there with very similar injuries that have yielded equally (if not more) important discoveries. It is frustrating to see someone present research on medial temporal lobe damage that contradicts studies with HM and see other people be like "But HM!." They have to be reminded that six patients tested with superior methodologies to those around 30-50 years ago should come out on top. He made valuable contributions, but as a field I'd like to see memory research move on from HM.

Re:A tad overrated (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34020218)

Surely this can be tested on rats.

Make them learn stuff, damage their brains and try teaching them new stuff. Seems pretty open and shut.

SCARE TACTICS is RIGGED !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020248)

It's fake. Saw the mic pack on the belt-back of a "victim", the same that was on her "accomplice" mother.

FAKE !!

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34020332)

I wonder what the brain looks like of the guy who came up with this idea......Hmmm.

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