Tag Archives: neuroscience

Sci-fi: Conversations with an Extraterrestrial – (3)(ii)

Business_as_Usual

3. Business as Usual (ii)

Actually, never mind the devotion to finding and talking to aliens, the Dream Team’s work had many possible applications on Earth, as it stood. Alan was keenly aware though, of course, he was working for Don, and Don’s obsession was to find this life elsewhere. To think how much they could have done with all this knowledge on understanding how animals think and behave, what drives different behaviour like psychopathic thinking and how to address this and so on – it was mind-boggling.

Nevertheless, as those thoughts went through Alan’s head every now and again, he remained absolutely loyal to Don. Alan was a rules based, principled guy and this devotion to Don’s mission was hard wired now.

“Morning! How’s the Dream Team doing today?” Alan chirped. There were excited exchanges as they all chattered engaging in some fun for a while. Nancy and Tanaka had gone to a friend’s party the night before; Ollie broke his own record in a triathlon over the weekend and Alan spoke about his beautiful long walk over the hills. They shared a few photos.

“I have something to share with you”, Alan announced, moving the conversation into serious matters. “Felix and I had an interesting experience last night and in the early morning”, he said drawing out the iPad with all the recordings. The three dropped their chatter immediately and looked intently at Alan; Felix perked his ears up too waiting to relive the experience as told by his master.

Alan related the vision of something like ether, permeating and Felix being disturbed in the night. In the early morning, it came again and Alan had entered the cubipit with Antigua Helmet in time to catch a glimpse of an aura. Ollie jumped right on it. “Aura images are all recorded. I’ll just need to extract sensor Zee-3722 and process them. I’ll do that and put up the media, then we can all view it again – hopefully that’ll give us more clues about who’s trying to contact us about what”, he declared. The discussion continued…

Sci-fi: Conversations with an Extraterrestrial – (3)(i)

Business_as_Usual

3. Business as Usual (i)

The Dream Team met again. Nancy was the zoologist who had spent time with dolphins, elephants, dogs, whales and a whole lot of other animals, figuring out their senses. With all her work, the team was able to wear the Antigua Helmet and think like an elephant, dog, zebra etc. as required. She had spent two weeks with a rhinocerous once, both being totally at ease with each other, as in its mind she was just behaving like another in the herd.

Tanaka was the neuroscientist, studying the human brain with cutting edge technology in brain scans and other instruments for the nervous system. Never before had anyone understood so much about the brain. The amygdala was a particular fascination for him, with its incredible emotions like fear and panic affecting human behaviour. He was also now pretty clued up on psychopathic tendencies, what remorseless brains looked like and mapping brains according to the various spectrums – the Autistic spectrum, pattern recognition abilities, etc.

Ollie was the astrophysicist cum computer boffin who studied the planetary movements and put together all the findings of the team into the computer programs, microchips and sensors. Ollie advised when Mars was nearest or furthest or when disturbances from stars, comets and other matters interfered. With Ollie’s help, the team could predict and optimise when they picked up signals from the extraterrestrial beings. Ollie was also the one mad on computer programming and video games; it had been a hobby since he was five. This was a nice bonus for the team – he was a natural talent in putting all the findings together to work magic.

Alan was of course, the expert on extraterrestrial matters. He was skilled at many things and shared Ollie’s interest in technology but there were not many people who had studied extraterrestrial life to such an extent as Alan, and he focussed his efforts there.

The Neuroscience of Risk Taking

It is good to hear that research is ongoing on the link between brain chemistry, biology and genes on risk taking behaviour (see “The American Banker”, 18 August 2012). I have often wondered why courses on risk management discuss models, complex mathematics, markets, operations etc. at length but stay silent on the topic of what, in an individual’s chemical make-up,  triggers extreme risk-taking behaviour and how to address this. (Surely this has to be among the most obvious and directly related of factors.) Perhaps the science has not been sufficiently developed to be made useful in practice – we hope some time in the future it will be.

In “The Hour Between Dog and Wolf” – by John Coates, reference is made to the question asked, “why do bankers (traders) take such stupid risks?”, and the reply was along the following lines – “we get a thrill from risk….a hot streak releases a chemical high….this is where the Master of the Universe feeling sets in. It’s euphoria”. It is quite the opposite of euphoria for those who suffer the widespread consequences when things don’t go so well. One suggeston put forward there is for more ‘biological diversity’ among traders – something we hope the ongoing research will help ascertain the benefits of. As alluded to in the ‘American Banker’ article, appropriate compensation design is also critical, to curb extreme risk taking for short term results.