Monday, January 5, 2009

Jakobson, Lorna S., Cuddy, Lola L. Kilgour, Andrea L. “Time Tagging: A Key to Musicians’ Superior Memory. “

Reference: Jakobson, Lorna S., Cuddy, Lola L. Kilgour, Andrea L. “Time Tagging: A Key to Musicians’ Superior Memory. “ Music Perception 20. 3, 2003: 307-313

Reviewer: Liesel Deppe

Researchers from two universities, Queens University and the University of Manitoba studied 60 students to determine whether formal musical training had any effect on other non-musical skills. They were able to show that there is an indirect mechanism at work between musical skill and some non-musical skills, although they were unable to show at this point, what this indirect mechanism is,.

However, they were able to show that musical skills do positively affect auditory temporal-order processing. . Temporary-order processing in turn mediates the relationship between musical training and prose recall.

Subjects were drawn from the student body of both universities and ranged from those with no musical training to those with up to 15 years of musical training.. Results of traditional tests, such as the TBAC (Test of Basic Auditory Capabilities) showed significant differences between trained and untrained musicians. Supporting this finding is the literature quoted in the article: highly trained musicians show enlargement of auditory processing areas in the left temporal lobe of the brain (Schlaug, Jancke, Huang and Steinmetz, 1995)The authors of this study based their study on the hypothesis that music instruction affects the development of verbal abilities indirectly by improving the auditory temporal processing skills. These happen to be the same skills that allow us to make fine distinctions between rapidly changing acoustic events. These skills are important in both music and speech

Response: This study showed the correlation between music and other areas in life, such as speech, where auditory temporal-order processing skills are important. No direct link or mechanism has yet been established. I think it is important that this study distinguishes between listening to music passively and hope that it will have some beneficial effects in other areas of life versus actively engaging in musical activity (i.e. musical training) in order to improve another ability, such as speech. Being actively involved in musical activity may aid in speech development, although further research needs to be done in order to determine how to apply this knowledge..

Personally I find that music should still be an activity that is appreciated for its beauty, and that this should be its main focus. I do not feel that musicians should feel that they have to justify their craft only in terms of beneficial side effects.

Is Music a Drug?

Is Music a Drug? 2005. Philip Dorrell. 5 January 2009 <>

To continue along the lines of my most recent post, I will summarize this blog about the question of whether music might be considered a drug. Both drugs and music act strongly on our emotions and feelings. This is part of his greater project that looks at what music is (What is Music? Solving a Scientific Mystery). First he defines what a drug is and then attempts to fit music into it, proposing a super-stimulus theory of music. He discusses the strength of music as a drug and questions the artificiality of emotions evoked by it as part of his conclusion that 'yes,' music is a drug, 'sort of'.

Dorrell defines a drug as: "A substance, which when consumed by a person, alters the state of mind of that person, as a result of direct action of the substance on the brain or nervous system." He is speaking specifically of mind-altering drugs in the sense that they create 'false' emotions that give a person the sense of feeling better, without actually fulfilling a biological need. He thus goes on not to discuss music as a substance, but to question the reality or falsity of the emotional effects of music. Dorrell defines music as a sort of contrived speech which may lead to the perception of emotion that is not necessarily being experienced by those producing it. He then defines music as an "illusion that is generated and consumed for pleasure." It is a very convincing illusion, because the input is virtually the same as if its emotional source were true. Dorrell places music as a drug in between caffeine and alcohol. Due to complications in comparisons between the effects of various drugs, let alone between music and drugs, his conclusion 'strong music' is equivalent to '1 or 2 standard drinks' is a self-declared 'rough estimate'. In further comparing music to drugs, Dorrell admits that it won't cause the type of ruinous effect on your life as drugs do. However, "excessive consumption of music can cause ill-health". His example is deafness due to overexposure to loud music. He briefly discusses the definition of addiction and concludes that music might be prone to psychological dependence than addiction, in which case people may miss it, but not truly suffer from its absence. Music might even verge on delusion if individuals do not realize they are being deceived. However, it can not single-handedly provoke irrational action as some drugs can. Finally, Dorrell proposes that a scientific understanding of music could result in computer-generated, algorithmic compositions of 'strong music', addiction to which would drive governments to ban computers capable of such processes.

For some reason, this site has a hint of hoakiness to it. His argument is fairly unconvincing, but it is possible that his book contains more substantial data. I do not understand the implications of the falsity of musical emotion. What use is there in calling music a mind-altering drug? The language he uses is often negative, focusing on accusations of contrivance, falsity, and abnormality. It seems to simply threaten a notion that is popular and intimately human, that music is a sincerely emotive and communicative action. I find the suggestion almost absurd that musical instruments are less capable of this emotional communication than the voice is. But, fair enough, performers are acting for a desired emotional effect, not out of their own hearts. His conclusion concerning the strength of music as a drug is also completely ungrounded and not effectively speculative. Dorrell also appears to be unaware that many patterned, computer-generated musics have already been composed. What kind of book can this possibly be?? Is it a joke and I am being fooled? I am not addicted to science.

It just so happens that one of the extra questions that Dorrell says he answers in his book is whether or not there are universal explanations for all aspects of music. He states that there are, rather assertively. This tweaks a nerve, as I just finished my final paper on the biological basis of culture which dealt with some of the social issues surrounding this kind of an assertion. In the end, I would suggest that he look to meanings of music for people in order to better answer this question. There may be cultural clues. He may find that we know what music is more than he suggests.

Music and Drugs

Music and Drugs. 5 January 2009 . <>

This site appears to function as a syllabus or a course website under construction. It serves as a basic introduction to the subject of music and drugs. Its five sections include: Music and the Brain, Music and Therapeutics, Music and Behaviour, Music and Pharmacovigilance, and Music and Pharmacoepidemiology. It has a very medical focus, but also calls for an interesting multidisciplinary parallel between music and pharmacology. The author introduces music as adhering to definitions of a drug. Music in this context can be thought of as provoking learning-induced neuroplasticity and many drugs can likewise modify the experience of music by changing the brain's processing of musical information. Musicotherapy is often directly associated with real drug therapy in that it stimulates emotion and pleasure. Both music and drugs are used most frequently in the following areas: anaesthesia, paediatrics, psychiatry, autism cases, and geriatrics. Music strongly affects behaviour as well, reducing anxiety, inciting groups to action, etc. Drugs influence musical activity, affecting the brain's perceptual and creative processes. Unusual psychological states like trancing can also be induced solely by music, even when no drugs are involved. Music can also have interuptive affects on cognitive functioning. Music can also reflect 'the time' and there has even been a style of blues, the Jake Walk blues, associated with a particular epidemic malady that frequently caused sufferers to drag and slap their feet in a characteristic way.

I was surprised to find that most sites on music and drugs do not contain any information on the brain. They do not seem to acknowledge that the reason that experiences of music and musical creativity are different under the influence of drugs is because of the physical affects that drugs have on our brains. I find this topic particularly interesting because music also has considerable affects on our brains, and has even been popularly referred to as a drug itself. This is especially true of recreational drugs. This site, however, deals mostly with medical and pharmacological subjects. The connection between music therapy and drug therapy is interesting. I would be interested to learn to what extent music can replace drugs in therapy. Another question would be to what extent music can replace recreational drugs in inducing unusual psychological states. In contrast to my previous post, I was surprised to see a negative affect of music listed under the section pertaining to Pharmacovigilance. Anyone can confirm that music can be very distracting, deafening, irritating and so on. People still seem to gloss this over and idealize music as positive overall. Although this is a very short and not very detailed introduction, it certainly provides several nuggets that spark interest in this topic.

Growing With Music: How Music Affects Child Development

Lipski, Gloria. "Growing With Music: How Music Affects Child Development" (unpublished, 1999).

For this entry, I'm going to write about a paper that I wrote when I was in grade 10. It was my first bibliographic essay and in it I am greatly attached to the positive affects of music and I rely heavily on the Mozart Effect. I am interested in seeing how I argued for a notion of musical intelligence that has since been adjusted drastically. I list the benefits of music, especially to children: problem solving sills, teamwork, self-expression, hand-eye coordination, poise, memory, and concentration. I quote that musical involvement correlates with high academic achievement.

I begin with a discussion of music promoting growth even before birth. Between the third and fourth months, a baby begins to sense sound and thenceforth becomes very responsive to the mother's voice, even getting in sync with the mother's speech and body rhythms. Prenatal listening can affect musical ability after birth and agitation and relaxation within the womb demonstrate some musical discrimination. As children, music promotes social bonding. Music improves intellectual functioning. Listening to Baroque music improves memorization, concentration, and standardized test scores. Tapping rhythms synchronizes the left and right brain. The affects of music also interact with emotional intelligence. It stimulates, expresses, and creates many moods and feelings. It gives an alternative to verbal expression. It stimulates the release of pleasure-inducing endorphins. The human voice is the most powerful tool in transforming pain into well-being.

I go on to discuss the physicality of music further. The strongest force in nature are the infinitesimally small vibrations that hold DNA together. It can affect us very physiologically, including strength and pacing of exercise, eating speed, immune system, body temperature, etc. The natural highs produced by various musical activities, including listening, elevate the level of T-cells in our bodies, which help to prevent disease. These affects in childhood are extremely important in that children's minds and bodies are in the process of being constituted mentally, physically, and spiritually. They still have the potential to be greatly impacted.

For further reference, my main sources follow below. These were accompanied by some magazine articles and other sources that are available upon request.

Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect. New York: Avon Books, 1997.

Ledson, Sidney. Raising Brighter Children. Toronto: The Canadian Publishers, 1983.

Verny, Thomas, M.D. The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. Toronto: Collins Publishers, 1981.

This was an interesting exercise. I suspect that this opinion paper represents the opinions of many people who want to add legitimacy and importance to music education. As when one of our visitors to class informed us that the Mozart effect is not everything we dreamed of, people likely have a hard time accepting that the assertion that music makes you smarter is simply not true. Many of us cling to and argue for this almost daily. I use many generalized statements and do not nuance the argument at all in this paper, which I think many others of the same opinion are also guilty of. I'm not sure what harm this really does, however. Perhaps this is what makes it such an attractive argument to try to make. I suppose there could be a social problem in terms of ignoring the socioeconomic factors that play largely in this debate. It is also interesting to see the advances that have been made since my days in high school. My sources now seem relatively old and apparently outdated. Not to get overly reflective, but I marvel at the way that the world's truth changes through the work of scholars like us. It's exciting.

Article 9-Musical Training Influences Linguistic Abilities in 8-Year-Old Children:More Evidence for Brain Plasticity & Article10-Music,immunity&cancer

University of Toronto
Course: MUS 2122H: Music and the Brain - Fall 2008
Instructor: Dr. Lee Bartel
Student: Maddie

Portfolio: reference, review, reflect and report.
ENTRIES 9 & 10


Article 9
Musical Training Influences Linguistic Abilities in 8-Year-Old Children: More Evidence for Brain Plasticity
by Sylvain Moreno, Carlos Marques, Andreia Santos, Manuela Santos, São Luís Castro and Mireille Besson
Cerebral Cortex (Oct. 1 2008)

Article 10
Music, immunity and cancer
by M.J. Nunez, P. Mana, D. Linares, M.P. Riveiro, J. Balboa, J. Suarez-Quintanilla, M. Maracchi, M.R. Mendez, J.M. Lopez and M. Freire-Garabal
Life Sciences 71:9 (2002) 1047-1057


The research team conducted a 9-month study in which 32 eight-year-old nonmusician children performed tasks designed to test the hypothesis that “musical training improves pitch processing not only in music but also in speech.” The results showed that, after musical training, the children’s reading and pitch discrimination abilities in speech improved; in effect, proving musical information could enhance learning. It only took “6 months of musical training to significantly improve behaviour and to influence the development of neural processes as reflected in specific pattern of brain waves”. The team concluded that these results revealed a positive transfer from music to speech, reinforced the influence of musical training and effectively demonstrated brain plasticity, in that relatively short periods of training had strong consequences on the functional organization of a child’s brain.


The researchers, influenced by studies suggesting music may reduce stress response, evaluated the effects of music on the immune system and cancer development in rodents subjected to sound stress.

They found that music
a. “reduced the suppressive effects of stress on the immune parameter in mice.”
b. “decreased the enhancing effects of stress in the development of lung metastases provoked by carcinosarcoma cells.”
c. “enhanced the immune parameter and the anti-tumour response in unstressed rodents.”
d. “appeared to be as effective as pharmacological intervention in the reversion of stress-induced immunosuppression.”

The team also noted how the findings about the effects of music on the immune system and cancer were finally being considered as valid from a biological point of view. Since music is an emotional form of communication and emotions are the subjective correspondent to hormonal and neurophysiological processes, they argued that hormonal and neurophysiological charges were adequate means for interpreting effectiveness of different forms of music on the immune response under stress conditions. They concluded that music was evolving as an important therapeutic factor involved in “the interdisciplinary approach to health and disease” and could not only reduce stress and redefine a patient’s experience of pain and contribute to healing and learning, but also improve the immunological response of the body against cancer and infection.


Much more is understood about the circuitry of the brain, but more work is needed to translate research into effective use. How we choose to translate these findings is exceedingly important, as they will determine our future. On the one hand, scientists are experimenting with the brain’s chemistry, seeking to develop drugs that alter chemical messengers in the brain to combat disease, or alter our states of mind. Technology is used to merge flesh and machine with pacemakers, artificial hips and hearts, implants, robotic technology, computer chips and nanotechnology, while researchers are exploring ways to control the genetic makeup of the human species through genetic engineering. On the other hand, it is both comforting and encouraging to read that other researchers are using our increasing knowledge about the brain in non-invasive ways to tap into its dormant potential. What questions should be asked about either approach?

In this context, how can music improve humankind’s lot when compared to technology, drugs and genetic engineering? A more important question may be to ask how choosing more invasive solutions will impact humankind. Both articles demonstrated how music has potential to be beneficial by improving both cognitive development and communicative skills, musical training able to improve pitch in reading and speech, and health and well-being, music reducing the stress on immune systems. If we were to translate these findings to educational and health care systems by making music mandatory, what could be the consequences?

Musical training’s ability to benefit reading and speech could assist learning a second language. In a global society, in which the Internet makes it possible for our neighbours to be anyone, being multilingual to facilitate communication with many cultures would be advantageous. Kids already value the friendships that result from Internet exchanges and would understand the relevance. Since music has the ability to make learning fun and enjoyable, might this not be a valuable alternative approach to dealing with the problems associated with literacy? Choosing more flexible tools, which aim at awakening intrinsic motivation to learning rather than floundering with the system’s present use of extrinsic motivation, could reignite the love of learning to read and write.

And with scientists now valuing findings that prove music can reduce stress on our immune system, the medical field could make the study of wellness as important as the study of illness. Major breakthroughs in health and well-being could grow exponentially, simply by investigating methods of self-preservation in times of adversity and the avoidance of stress. This could shift our focus from disease to vulnerabilities and from symptoms to adaptive defences. On a wider scale, any breakthrough could encourage all disciplines to fund similar research, ultimately promoting a better human experience.

But, down to brass tacks. Technology, drugs and genetic engineering still rule. Clearly, they provide the means to rid patients of diseases or ailments. What makes them more appealing, however, is their power to change the definition of what it is to be human. In choosing these options, man is no longer a passive observer of life, but a manipulator of life. Genetic engineering promises designer babies; drugs, a pain-free life; technology, reconstruction of the physical self. The question remains: Who will assume responsibility for whatever forms of life are manipulated or created? Who will assume responsibility for choosing what human genome to encourage? Should we aim for uniformity or diversity? Everyone wants intelligent and successful children, but what would happen if we were all the same? And should there really be a vaccine that counters the vicissitudes of life’s stress, depression and anxiety? If humans were defined as machines, wouldn’t they be subject to the same technological manipulations routinely applied to them?

Humankind’s view of itself has been challenged in every century. A simple wish, that our present choices make us feel special and part of an unfolding bigger picture. As research in music is revealing, we can get there by building, rather than by destroying, who we are. The human soul abounds with untapped energy; we only need to hear our inner music to unleash its potential.

Article 7- "Five Ways Brain Scans Mislead us and Article 8-Music facilitate the neurogenesis, regeneration and repair of neurons

University of Toronto
Course: MUS 2122H: Music and the Brain - Fall 2008
Instructor: Dr. Lee Bartel
Student: Maddie

Portfolio: reference, review, reflect and report.


Article 7
Five Ways Brain Scans Mislead Us.
by Dr. Michael Shermer
Scientific American: Mind & Brain, November 2008

Article 8
Music facilitate the neurogenesis, regeneration and repair of neurons.
by Hajime Fukui and Kumiko Toyoshima
Elsevier, Medical Hypotheses, 71:5 (2008): 765-769


Dr. Shermer cautions us that the metaphor of a Swiss Army knife (with a collection of specialized modules) employed in the 21st century to help us in understanding and explaining the complex processes of the brain is not quite appropriate, tending to oversimplify the true realities of the physical world. As today’s scientists employ the module metaphor to describe specific regions of the brain while a machine scans it (fMRI), he warns us that these brain scans are misleading, having led us to overemphasize the localization of brain function. Our overreliance on their use gives us a misleading picture of brain operation, so he highlights several flaws of fMRI imaging scanner capabilities.

1. “Unnatural environment for cognition”
a. The fMRI instrument invented to scan inside a brain weighs 12 tons. The huge tube, in which a person’s head must remain still once jammed inside to reduce any head motion, can blur images during the scan.
b. The unnatural environment leaves many feeling claustrophobic and limit participation. The subject sample cannot then be completely random, so it cannot be said to fairly represent all brains.
c. The manner, in which the experiment is conducted, is nowhere close to a real life situation, so the readings provide partial truths.

2. “Scans are indirect measurements of brain activity.”
Popular accounts about fMRI research say that the brain lights up when we think about something when, in fact, it doesn’t. To make an image, “the machine transmits a certain radio-wave frequency, which excites the protons of our brain to match that resonant frequency caused by the magnetic field, and in the process they shed some energy.” This is the energy the machine measures to create the image.

3. “Colors exaggerate the effects in the brain.”
Pictures of the brain’s splotches with sharply defined coloured regions are highly misleading, because they suggest well-defined processing blocks, when, in fact, neural activity may be distributed in more of a loosely defined network.

Furthermore, each module can respond to many things and finally, most brain activity is not stimulus-driven, but spontaneous. Many areas of the brain are continually active during different processing tasks, and separating them out properly is a challenge that requires careful experimental design.

4. “Brain images are statistical compilations.”
During a given experiment, the scanner snaps pictures of rapid-fire brain activity every two seconds. Researchers then combine the data and take averages for the subjects by using statistical software to convert raw data and correct intervening variables. Dr. Shermer reminds us that the image does not represent one person’s brain. It is a rather statistical computation of the entire subject pool rendered with artificial colours to highlight the places where there is a consistent response to a given task or experimental condition.

5. “Brain areas activate for various reasons.”
Interpreting fMRI scans is not a precise science, as it means looking at one spot to try to determine what happens in a brain, which, in fact, an area could be lighting up when involved in all sorts of tasks. For some experiments, this works very well, because decisions provide contrast between tasks. Neuroscientists then have something to compare. The problem resides in showing the difference in emotional tasks, there being both rational and emotional ways of thinking, and every brain area lights up undergoing many different states. There is unfortunately no data to tell us how selectively active an area is.

In conclusion, Dr. Shermer believes that to better map the brain’s neural activity, a better metaphor of a distributed intelligence that more closely matches the network distribution of tasks in the brain is warranted.


Fukui and Toyoshima hypothesized that “listening to music facilitates the neurogenesis, the regeneration and repair of cerebral nerves by adjusting the secretion of steroid hormones, in both directions (increase and decrease), ultimately leading to cerebral plasticity. They added that music “affects levels of such steroids as cortisol (C), testosterone (T) and estrogen (E), and … the receptor genes related to these substances, and related protein.”

They discussed how changes in neuron organization caused by steroids have been documented in animal species, as has the relationship between steroids and cerebral plasticity been confirmed in humans. The nervous system is a target for steroids, which regulate important functions like “reproduction, feeding behavior, brain development, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, cognition and memory.” In humans, steroid hormones are involved in spatial perception and cognition (learning and memory). The correlation between musical ability and spatial cognition established, the assumption that some correlation exists between musical ability and steroid hormones appears reasonable. Furthermore, they noted that many studies had documented that musical stimulation also affected various biochemical substances, so listening to music was effective in alleviating and relieving stress, able to reduce cortisol levels and, in other instances, alter levels of testosterone. Other research added that musical activities adjusted steroid secretion in “elderly individuals and … likely to alleviate psychological states such as anxiety and tension.” And finally, steroid levels could either increase or decrease.

They concluded that music listening and playing altered steroid levels, a thesis in agreement with previous studies’ results, which documented strong correlations between steroids and spatial perception, and cognition and the effects of music listening on steroid secretion. The hypothesis that listening to music adjusted the steroid hormone cascade, facilitating the neurogenesis, regeneration and repair of neurons, appeared highly plausible. And with recent research positing the possible involvement of nerve damage in neuropsychiatric disorders, musical activities could enable the protection, repair and even regeneration of human cerebral nerves. Music, they wrote, was a safe, inexpensive and most of all, non invasive therapeutic option which could replace most drugs or hormone replacement therapy presently being used to prevent major diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.


The title of Shermer’s article Five Ways Brain Scans Mislead Us, disturbs our sense of certainty in modern science by questioning the grounds upon which we have come to unconsciously, yet confidently, believe to be standing truths. We have certainly been led to believe that modern technology allows us to understand more about our minds than ever before, and an article that questions its value in finding our answers shifts our attention, not so much about what we know, but how we assume that certain facts are true. On the one hand, assumptions are good. They let us discover an incredibly varied array of new facts and help us seemingly solve the never-ending challenges Mother Nature sends our way. On the other hand, he cautions, the problem arises when one believes our assumptions are the ultimate truths and are immutable when, in fact, we are only observing certain patterns of truths arising from our assumptions and truths can change with different assumptions.

And though new technologies have opened the way to new discoveries, we must remain sceptical, our reality, an ever-evolving process of possibilities, rather than truths. Shermer is teaching us to not be passive learners, but rather engaged learners, using our thinking skills to seek out ways to improve or build upon our present knowledge to achieve a better understanding of the brain’s complexity. He is certainly inviting us to think about how well fMRI works when it needs to measure activities that provide contrasts between tasks, giving neuroscientists something to compare. When it comes to study fluidity, however, complex thoughts and feelings about socially meaningful situations, the system needs improvement, not able to measure subjective experiences. A system that can measure more subtle psychological processes must be developed, but a change in research style must follow to measure more subtle psychological processes. If we wish to restore qualitative evaluation, since judgments depend on quality as well as quantity, we will need to explore a science of qualities, rather than a science of quantities.

Of course, to achieve such a shift in scientific perspective, a lightweight, mobile and inconspicuous brain imaging system that can compile empirical data about our brain states while subjects experience genuine social interaction with real thoughts and feelings in meaningful social situations must be developed. The results will inevitably take into account intrinsic meaning. And can improving present technology also answer the dilemma in mapping gene expression patterns and behaviour? Such an advancement would definitely open up the measurement of psychological complexities, illuminating a much broader range of human experience.

By taking the time to engage in a reflective process to seek out ways to improve present knowledge, a question arises. Will acknowledging qualitative science give rise to a more humane science of the people? The outcome will only be determined by the assumptions we make, letting us draw certain conclusions about what truths and possibilities. And assumptions can be faulty. Fukui and Toyoshima discussed the brain’s plasticity and its ability to change and adapt to new learning throughout life. New assumptions about our potential have initiated research, which is bringing forth once-ignored truths, because it was assumed the brain could not change.

They noted the influx of scientific studies on music as researchers’ interest levels increased, music’s potential being better understood. Can one attribute this to an inability to alleviate stressors by more conventional means? It doesn’t really matter, the point being they found that listening to music could facilitate neurogenesis, and alleviate and relieve stress and other psychological states such as anxiety and tension. And suggesting that music could be of import to the medical system as a therapeutic care option is breathtaking.

There is a certain irony that quantitative science, having discovered the brain’s plasticity, must collaborate with qualitative science. Those first tentative steps, music beginning to receive credibility for its healing capacities in the scientific world, are hard won. Could this change also include a renewed interest in humankind’s conscious inner life? Could this change take on a materialistic society, become selfish and arrogant, trampling its emotional core, functioning only on basic ability and emotion? (One can hope a more evolved human species would include musicality, creativity, imagination and positivity.) Could this be a glimmer into a new century, one that could break down the distinction between the subjective vs. the objective, the self vs. the other, the rational vs. the emotional and art vs. science, embracing the network of intelligences rather than only prioritizing rational intelligence?

Music will help us further understand how developing both the internal and external selves will allow us to extend our range of experience and perhaps attain the ultimate measure of intelligence. Inquiring minds, sceptical minds and visionary minds like Shermer, Fukui and Toyoshima force us to evolve, pushing the boundaries of our beliefs and helping us to transform and adapt, always taking an active part in what kind of human beings we want to be.