The Near-Sighted Monkey

On February 27, 2013, students in Lynda Barry’s  “Unthinkable Mind” class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were given a piece of paper and a flair pen and asked to draw a picture that they couldn’t see. Professor Old Skull was the only one who could see the picture, and she described it line by line, asking them to draw along with the description. What happened? The picture Professor Old Skull was describing appears at the end of the video.

On Monday, March 4th——
Log on to hear the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Davidson’s talk on Monday, March 4th. It’s free. 
Join Dr. Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and 31 inspiring meditation experts and luminaries for a FREE online conference, “Be the Change Meditation,” next week.  Don’t miss Dr. Davidson’s talk, “The  Meditating Brain”, on Monday, March 4 at 6pm CST, which will touch on:  -How meditation impacts mental and emotional circuits -The three types of meditation and how each affects the brain differently -His research that found that 30 minutes of daily practice for 2 weeks can produce profound and discernible changes in the brain  Click here to register

On Monday, March 4th——

Log on to hear the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Davidson’s talk on Monday, March 4th. It’s free.

Join Dr. Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and 31 inspiring meditation experts and luminaries for a FREE online conference, “Be the Change Meditation,” next week.

Don’t miss Dr. Davidson’s talk, “The  Meditating Brain”, on Monday, March 4 at 6pm CST, which will touch on:

-How meditation impacts mental and emotional circuits
-The three types of meditation and how each affects the brain differently
-His research that found that 30 minutes of daily practice for 2 weeks can produce profound and discernible changes in the brain


  Click here to register

Dear Unthinkable Mind Students,

Here’s the handout from Wednesday’s class. There is a storm coming. Draw and watercolor some fire if you get cold.

We didn’t get to all of the things on the agenda on Wednesday’s class so there is no four panel drawing. Instead I handed back the drawings you’ve done since January 24th and asked you to cut them up and paste them into your composition notebooks using white school glue and your bone folder to flatten the image you glue.

Please disregard the part of the handout that that says “Cut and paste 4 pages” —- we’ll get to this next week.

Links to things we watched and heard during Wednesday’s class

The Mystery of Memory -  at Nobelprize.org

The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction - NYTimes.com

Remembering the past to imagine the future: Nature.com Neuroscience

Brain Scans Of The Future — Psychologists Use fMRI To Understand ties between memories and the imagination

See you Monday,

Professor Old Skull

Dear Unthinkable Mind Class,

Here are some of the three demon heads you colored while watching and listening to various presentations about hemispheric differences in the brain.

And these are some of the things from the ‘test’ we took on what you remembered about Iain McGilchrist’s work.

I’m looking forward to speaking to each of you one on one in the next two days.

Love from,

Professor Lynda (AKA “Old Skull”)

Question: Can something as simple as coloring a picture increase our ability to sustain an open sort of concentration and remember more of what we’ve heard?

Answer: Scientific research says YES.

Read: Doodling and the default network of the brain (Lancet)
And: “Doodling may help memory recall” (BBC)

Dear Unthinkable Mind Class,

If you are still coloring one of your three demon heads, or the drawing you did of a house on fire, or if you are still finishing your 16 panel page and want something to listen to while you do it, this might be good. I’d like you to listen to it kind of like you listen to the Rumi poem I recite before we write. Just let it play in the background like a song on the radio. I’m interested to know if just hearing the names of the parts of the brain spoken aloud and in context with no effort to memorize or concentrate might still naturally contribute to the image of the brain that we as a class are all building together.

It’s not total immersion but a way of wading in deeper as we finish our homework and practice sustaining a certain state of mind.

Professor Lynda

How does the human brain keep track of time? Short interview with Luke Jones from the University of Manchester.

University of Manchester School of Psychological Sciences: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/

Videos by Brady Haran
http://www.bradyharan.com/

Extra credit question for Unthinkable Mind students: What is Luke Jones doing with his hands (starting at about 2:45) while he explains how we experience duration of time? Why might he be doing this? If you turned the sound off, and all you could see here his hands, what would you think he was talking about? What would you think he was feeling right then?

British artist Angela Palmer uses the medium of MRI scans to make images.

"I developed this concept by drawing or engraving details from MRI and CT scans onto multiple sheets of glass, thereby layer by layer recreating human and animal forms, in particular the brain. The finished pieces, presented in three dimensions in a vertical plane, reveal the extraordinary inner anatomical architecture concealed beneath the surface, thus creating the most objective form of portraiture. The image floats ethereally in its glass chamber, but can only be viewed from certain angles – from above and from the side the image vanishes and the viewer sees only a void."

We are thankful to Andrew Bernhardt for bringing this artist’s work to our attention.

Above: The Near-Sighted Monkey Has a Good Time by Lynda Barry
Below: Monkeys Don’t Go For Music — Unless It’s Made for Them
(Source: WIRED, 9/1/09  —thanks to John Nondorf for bringing this to our attention)
By Hadley Leggett
Monkeys don’t care much for human music, but apparently they will groove to their own beat.
Previous experiments have shown that tamarin monkeys prefer silence to Mozart, and they don’t respond emotionally to human music the way people do. But when a psychologist and a musician collaborated to compose music based on the pitch, tone and tempo of tamarin calls, they discovered that the species-specific music significantly affected monkey behavior and emotional response.
“Different species may have different things that they react to and enjoy differently in music,” said psychologist Charles Snowdon of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who published the paper Tuesday in Biology Letters with composer David Teie of the University of Maryland. “If we play human music, we shouldn’t expect the monkeys to enjoy that, just like when we play the music that David composed, we don’t enjoy it too much.”
Indeed, the monkey music sounds shrill and unpleasant to human ears. Each of the 30-second pieces below were produced with a cello and Teie’s voice, based on specific features from recordings of tamarin monkey calls. The first “song” is based on fear calls from an upset monkey, while the second one contains soothing sounds based on the vocalizations of a relaxed animal.
Fearful monkey music: Download mp3
Happy monkey music: Download mp3
“What David has done is to create compositions that are based on structural aspects of the calls but aren’t directly mimicking the calls,” Snowdon said. “These are compositions that are intended to test whether we can convey emotional meaning and induce emotional states in other species.”
The researchers played each piece, as well as several samples of human music, for 14 tamarin monkeys that hadn’t heard music before. An independent observer recorded monkey behavior for five minutes before and after playing each selection. The monkeys didn’t respond at all to Nine-Inch Nails, Tool or Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” but oddly enough, they did become slightly calmer after listening to “Of Wolf and Man” by Metallica.
Continue reading…..

Above: The Near-Sighted Monkey Has a Good Time by Lynda Barry

Below: Monkeys Don’t Go For Music — Unless It’s Made for Them

(Source: WIRED, 9/1/09  —thanks to John Nondorf for bringing this to our attention)

By Hadley Leggett

Monkeys don’t care much for human music, but apparently they will groove to their own beat.

Previous experiments have shown that tamarin monkeys prefer silence to Mozart, and they don’t respond emotionally to human music the way people do. But when a psychologist and a musician collaborated to compose music based on the pitch, tone and tempo of tamarin calls, they discovered that the species-specific music significantly affected monkey behavior and emotional response.

“Different species may have different things that they react to and enjoy differently in music,” said psychologist Charles Snowdon of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who published the paper Tuesday in Biology Letters with composer David Teie of the University of Maryland. “If we play human music, we shouldn’t expect the monkeys to enjoy that, just like when we play the music that David composed, we don’t enjoy it too much.”

Indeed, the monkey music sounds shrill and unpleasant to human ears. Each of the 30-second pieces below were produced with a cello and Teie’s voice, based on specific features from recordings of tamarin monkey calls. The first “song” is based on fear calls from an upset monkey, while the second one contains soothing sounds based on the vocalizations of a relaxed animal.

Fearful monkey music: Download mp3

Happy monkey music: Download mp3

“What David has done is to create compositions that are based on structural aspects of the calls but aren’t directly mimicking the calls,” Snowdon said. “These are compositions that are intended to test whether we can convey emotional meaning and induce emotional states in other species.”

The researchers played each piece, as well as several samples of human music, for 14 tamarin monkeys that hadn’t heard music before. An independent observer recorded monkey behavior for five minutes before and after playing each selection. The monkeys didn’t respond at all to Nine-Inch Nails, Tool or Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” but oddly enough, they did become slightly calmer after listening to “Of Wolf and Man” by Metallica.

Continue reading…..

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
About the class:
THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 
Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)
Spring 2013
Day: Mon/Weds
Time: 1:20 -3:50
Location: 6261 Humanities 
Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.
Credits 3-4
Instructor: Lynda Barry
A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.
No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.
To apply….

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About the class:

THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 

Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

Spring 2013

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: 6261 Humanities

Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.

Credits 3-4

Instructor: Lynda Barry

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

To apply….

Above: “Beatrice Addressing Dante” circa 1824 by William Blake; painter, poet, print-maker; London, England 

Below: “And Everything is Back to Normal” 2012 by Andy,  2nd Grader, Franklin Elementary school; Madison, Wisconsin

SPECIAL SPRING 2013 COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR STUDENTS CURRENTLY ENROLLED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

The Unthinkable Mind

Instructor: Lynda Barry

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: Humanities Building

Limit: 20 Students

Credits 3-4

Cross-listed  as Art 469/ English 307 /Science (Course number to come)

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

This is a rigorous class with a substantial workload. Along with twice weekly writing, picture making, and memorization assignments, students will be required to complete a handmade book using visual and written elements by the end of the semester.

Although this class is open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines, priority will be given to Art, Science, and English students currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin.

Applications for the class will be accepted either in person or by mail until 3:00 PM THURSDAY DECEMBER 5th. No electronic submissions will be accepted, but students will receive an email confirmation that their application has been received. The class list will be announced on Wednesday, December 12th.

The Unthinkable Mind 2013 c/o UW-Madison Art Department
6241 Humanities Building
455 North Park Street
Madison, WI  53706

All applications must be formatted exactly as follows to be considered:  typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman with standard margins, black ink on regular white paper, no longer than 4 single-sided pages, stapled in the upper left hand corner.

Prospective students should answer each of the questions below without putting too much thought into it. The first answers that come to mind are the ones I’m most interested in.

Questions for Students Applying to “The Unthinkable Mind”

 1. Full Name:

 2. Student ID Number (10 digits,  no dashes or spaces)

 3. Email address: (please use your wisc.edu email address)

 4. Degree program or area of study and year  (eg BFA, Dance, Junior)

 5. This course is offered through different departments. Select the department through which you would like to take the course.

 6. Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

 7. What classes did you take during Fall Semester of 2012? Why?

 8. What classes will you be taking  Spring Semester of 2013? Why?

 9. What were some of the books you read as a kid?

10. What were some of the games you played?

11. What were some of your favorite fictional characters when you were growing up. (These can be any kind of fictional characters at all, from literary to cartoon to video game characters.)

 12. Who was your favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 13. Who was your least favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 14. Was there an object or thing disturbed you as a kid? Why?

 15. Was there an object or thing that did the opposite for you? Why?

 16. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that frustrated you?

 17. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that made you happy?

 19. What was your least favorite kind of fictional creature?

 20. What would be your least favorite kind of fictional environment?

 21. How do you feel about writing by hand?

Empathy, Neurochemistry and the Dramatic Arc—

by Paul Zak director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies

Read more from the post by Maria Popova at Brain Pickings

Via MK Czerwiec, RN, MA  comicnurse.com