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Neuroscience & the Zen Garden; Kabul Memories - In the Shadow of Leaves
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Neuroscience & the Zen Garden; Kabul Memories


Neuroscience unlocks secrets of Zen garden
500-year-old rock pattern suggests a tree to our subconscious.
www.nature.com/ news/ 2002/ 020923/ full/ 020923-8.html
www.nature.com/ news/ bysubject/ brainandbehaviour/ 0209.html
Nature, 26 September 2002
The 500-year-old Ryoanji Temple garden in Kyoto contains five outcroppings of rocks and moss on a rectangle of raked gravel. Using symmetry calculations researchers have discovered that the objects imply an image of a tree in the empty space between them that we detect, without being aware of doing so.
The finding suggests that Japanese garden designers — originally priests — "balanced forces from visual science," says study leader Gert Van Tonder of Kyoto University.
The trunk of the hidden branched tree lines up with the preferred garden-viewing spot of ancient temple floorplans, Van Tonder found. Repeating the calculations with random rock groups failed to generate any similar patterns.
Earlier work by Ilona Kovács, a visual scientist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, showed that the human brain uses similar symmetry lines, like those of a child's stick figure, to make sense of shapes ...

Tour guides bringing visitors to the 'best' spot to view the garden stop exactly where the symmetry lines converge.
"It's always been thought that the priest-gardener's layout was something that didn't come from the conscious mind, but from a deeper level," says Philip Cave, a London-based Japanese garden designer ...

Van Tonder, G., Lyons, M.J. & Ejima, Y. Visual structure of a Japanese Zen garden. Nature, 419, 359, (2002).
Kovács, I. & Julesz, B. Perceptual sensitivity maps within globally defined visual shapes. Nature, 370, 644 - 646 (1994)

It was intriguing looking at this after all that's happened in the last 6 months.
American International School of Kabul
Home of the AISK Scorpions
Welcome to the home of the AISK Scorpions - former students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the American International School of Kabul, Afghanistan.
[UPDATE: 2006] This message board with all the discussions seems to have gone. There is another AISK Scorpions portal now — American International School of Kabul: www.aisk.org
I am happy to see that they've put an electronic version of Nancy Hatch Dupree's An Historical Guide to Kabul on the site.
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