Consciousness
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Consciousness
It's a mystery...
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Human consciousness is much more than mere brain activity

Human consciousness is much more than mere brain activity | Consciousness | Scoop.it

In Raymond Tallis' book, Aping Mankind – about which he was talking this week at the British Academy – he describes the cultural disease that afflicts us when we assume that we are nothing but a bunch of neurons.


Neuromania arises from the doctrine that consciousness is the same as brain activity or, to be slightly more sophisticated, that consciousness is just the way that we experience brain activity.


If you think the brain is a machine then you are committed to saying that composing a sublime poem is as involuntary an activity as having an epileptic fit. You will issue press releases announcing “the discovery of love” or “the seat of creativity”, stapled to images of the brain with blobs helpfully highlighted in red or blue, that journalists reproduce like medieval acolytes parroting the missives of popes. You will start to assume that the humanities are really branches of biology in an immature form.


Tallis doesn’t claim to know. He described himself as an “ontological agnostic”, the nature of consciousness being a tremendous mystery. “We just don’t know how we should think about being and how mind fits into nature. But we’ll never learn if we start out taking all the wrong paths.”

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Consciousness is information integration across sensory modalities

Consciousness is information integration across sensory modalities | Consciousness | Scoop.it

"Consciousness is information integration across sensory modalities. The information is transferred by waves riding waves...riding waves. If you think of a wave as a cyclical event then you can start with your biological waves(cycles) like your circadian rhythm and work your way up to other waves like light and sound. Radio, for example is a sound wave hitch hiking on a light wave to get that information to your device. 

The brain works on a set of activation and inhibition waves riding on a set of noise waves for amplification. When your attention tunes to a specific wave you become aware of the information in that particular wave by the adjustment of your sensory apparatus."
-- +Mani Scienide 

http://goo.gl/MzbxZY


My Venn diagram by failing-senses
http://goo.gl/pBB5sg


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UCLA Psychologists Report New Insights On Human Brain, Consciousness

UCLA Psychologists Report New Insights On Human Brain, Consciousness | Consciousness | Scoop.it

UCLA psychologists have used brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the human brain when it slips into unconsciousness. Their research, published Oct. 17 in the online journal PLOS Computational Biology, is an initial step toward developing a scientific definition of consciousness.

 

The psychologists analyzed the “network properties” of the subjects’ brains using a branch of mathematics known as graph theory, which is often used to study air-traffic patterns, information on the Internet and social groups, among other topics.

 

“It turns out that when we lose consciousness, the communication among areas of the brain becomes extremely inefficient, as if suddenly each area of the brain became very distant from every other, making it difficult for information to travel from one place to another,” Monti said.

The finding shows that consciousness does not “live” in a particular place in our brain but rather “arises from the mode in which billions of neurons communicate with one another,” he said.

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The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Why is the brain divided? Despite much research and speculation, neurologists have struggled to make sense of hemisphere differences, or of their impact on human thought and experience.


In this remarkable and absorbing book, Iain McGilchrist argues that the two hemispheres have not merely different skills, but wholly different perspectives on the world. Drawing on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with fascinating case material, he suggests that the left hemisphere is designed to exploit the world effectively, but is narrow in focus and prizes theory over experience. It prefers mechanisms to living things, ignores whatever is not explicit, lacks empathy, and is unreasonably certain of itself. By contrast, the right hemisphere has a much broader, more generous understanding of the world, but lacks the certainty to counter this onslaught, because what it knows is more subtle and many-faceted.


It is vital that the two hemispheres work together, but in Western culture there is evidence of a power struggle, with the left hemisphere becoming increasingly dominant. The result is a dehumanized society, where a rigid and bureaucratic mentality, obsessed with structure and mechanism, holds sway, at huge cost to human happiness and the world around us.


Iain McGilchrist's book on Amazon.com



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Universe Grows Like a Giant Brain

Universe Grows Like a Giant Brain | Consciousness | Scoop.it

The results, published Nov.16 in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports, suggest that some undiscovered, fundamental laws may govern the growth of systems large and small, from the electrical firing between brain cells and growth of social networks to the expansion of galaxies.


"Natural growth dynamics are the same for different real networks, like the Internet or the brain or social networks," said study co-author Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist at the University of California San Diego.

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The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self:

The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

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The conscious brain is a biological machine, a reality engine that purports to tell us what exists and what doesn’t. it is unsettling to discover that there are no colours out there in front of your eyes. the apricot pink of the setting sun is not a property of the evening sky, it is a property of the internal model of the evening sky, a model created by your brain. the evening sky is colourless the world is not inhabited by coloured objects at all, it is just as your physics teacher in highschool told you. Out there, in front of eyes there is just an ocean of electromagnetic radiation, a wild and raging mixture of different wavelengths. most of them are invisible to you and can never become part of your conscious model of reality.


by Thomas Metzinger

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Our brain can do unconscious mathematics

Our brain can do unconscious mathematics | Consciousness | Scoop.it
People can calculate simple mathematical equations unconsciously, adding weight to the idea that such reasoning isn't an exclusively human trait (RT @newscientist: If our brains can do subliminal #mathematics, what is the point of #consciousness?
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The "Interpreter" in Your Head Spins Stories to Make Sense of the World

The "Interpreter" in Your Head Spins Stories to Make Sense of the World | Consciousness | Scoop.it

We humans think we make all our decisions to act consciously and willfully. We all feel we are wonderfully unified, coherent mental machines and that our underlying brain structure must reflect this overpowering sense. It doesn’t. No command center keeps all other brain systems hopping to the instructions of a five-star general. The brain has millions of local processors making important decisions. There is no one boss in the brain. You are certainly not the boss of your brain. Have you ever succeeded in telling your brain to shut up already and go to sleep?


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How Does It Feel To Have Half a Brain? Not Bad, Actually

How Does It Feel To Have Half a Brain? Not Bad, Actually | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Roger, “who is self-aware – despite lacking three regions of the brain thought to be essential for self-awareness – demonstrates that the mind remains as elusive as ever,” says Douglas Heaven in New Scientist.

 

The finding suggests that mental functions might not be tied to fixed brain regions. Instead, the mind might be more like a virtual machine running on distributed computers, with brain resources allocated in a flexible manner.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22205-location-of-the-mind-remains-a-mystery.html

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The brain runs its show incognito

The brain runs its show incognito | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Eagleman’s new book, Incognito, examines the unconscious part of our brains — the complex neural networks that are constantly fighting one another and influencing how we act, the things we’re attracted to, and the thoughts that we have.

 

Eagleman refers to consciousness as “a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering underfoot.” His book investigates this fact and its implications in decision making. He explains how the mind does enormous amount of work to reach the moment when you can gleefully say, “I just thought of something!” He emphasizes how we often take credit for our ideas without considering the “the vast, hidden machinery behind the scenes.”

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Mariana Soffer's comment, August 3, 2012 6:08 AM
This rocks
gregorylent's comment, August 3, 2012 9:55 AM
yet still, rooted in phrenology 2.0, thinking meat makes consciousness ... tell me mr. eagleman, what is the magic that drives the brain?
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‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time | KurzweilAI

‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time | KurzweilAI | Consciousness | Scoop.it

The Special Issue on Mind Uploading (Vol. 4, issue 1, June 2012) of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, just released, “constitutes a significant milestone in the history of mind uploading research: the first-ever collection of scientific and philosophical papers on the theme of mind uploading,” as Ben Goertzel and Matthew Ikle’ note in the Introduction to this issue.


“Mind uploading” is an informal term that refers to transferring the mental contents from a human brain into a different substrate, such as a digital, analog, or quantum computer. It’s also known as “whole brain emulation” and “substrate-independent minds.”


Serious mind uploading researchers have emerged recently, taking this seemingly science-fictional notion seriously and pursuing it via experimental and theoretical research programs, Goertzel and Ilke’ note.

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No 'God Spot' In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe - Huffington Post

No 'God Spot' In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe - Huffington Post | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences.


Via Carly Alyssa Thorne http://XeeMe.com/CarlyAlyssaThorne  
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How to Trick Your Brain for Happiness

How to Trick Your Brain for Happiness | Consciousness | Scoop.it

There’s this great line by Ani Tenzin Palmo, an English woman who spent 12 years in a cave in Tibet: “We do not know what a thought is, yet we’re thinking them all the time.”

 

It’s true. The amount of knowledge we have about the brain has doubled in the last 20 years. Yet there’s still a lot we don’t know.

 

In recent years, though, we have started to better understand the neural bases of states like happiness, gratitude, resilience, love, compassion, and so forth. And better understanding them means we can skillfully stimulate the neural substrates of those states—which, in turn, means we can strengthen them. Because as the famous saying by the Canadian scientist Donald Hebb goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” ...

 

In this article Rick Hanson goes on to explain how you can intentionally change your brain to create lasting happiness and well-being.

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What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist

What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That's what cosmologist Max Tegmark believes.

In Tegmark's view, everything in the universe — humans included — is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure.

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"Consciousness is probably the way information feels when it's being processed in certain, very complicated ways," Tegmark said. He pointed out that many great breakthroughs in physics have involved unifying two things once thought to be separate: energy and matter, space and time, electricity and magnetism. He said he suspects the mind, which is the feeling of a conscious self, will ultimately be unified with the body, which is a collection of moving particles.

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Unpacking the toolkit of human consciousness

Unpacking the toolkit of human consciousness | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Graziano has developed a new theory of consciousness he calls the "attention schema theory" that suggests that specialized systems in the human brain compute information about the things of which a person is aware, and project the property of consciousness onto ourselves and others. In that sense, the puppet's consciousness is every bit as real as that of anyone wincingly laughing at his jokes about living atop Graziano's hand.

....

"Every past theory of consciousness has a gap. Even the most modern theories at some point just point to a circuit and say, 'And then awareness appears.' But understanding where the magic comes from is pointless," Graziano continued. "The phenomenon that scientists can say with certainty happens is that the brain attributes the 'magic' to itself. We can understand how that happens and the computations behind it. And that's what this theory attempts to do."

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Mental Maps Reveal the Brain's Plug-and-Play Plasticity: Scientific American

Researchers continue to probe the limits of the brain's plasticity

 

To the brain, electronic hardware is no different from flesh and blood, suggests a study at the University of California, Berkeley. In the experiment, monkeys learned to control a computer cursor—a stand-in for a bionic limb—through microelectrodes wiretapping their motor cortex. Although this feat is nothing new, the researchers showed for the first time that a stable memory of the new accessory had formed in the brain.

 

During normal development, a baby learns to control its limbs by creating a mental map of the movable parts of its body—a motor homunculus of sorts. The new finding parallels that process, says neuroscientist Jose Carmena, who led the study, “but it’s about a prosthetic device, and that’s what is profound about it. We’re talking about an extension of your body’s schema.” In other words, once the brain-machine interface gets up to speed, our gray matter might already be set up to achieve effortless, plug-and-play-like control of electronic add-ons.

 

2 Dec 2009

Frederik Joelving

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The Self Illusion: How Our Social Brain Constructs Who We Are

The Self Illusion: How Our Social Brain Constructs Who We Are | Consciousness | Scoop.it

"Each morning, we wake up and experience a rich explosion of consciousness — the bright morning sunlight, the smell of roast coffee and, for some of us, the warmth of the person lying next to us in bed. As the slumber recedes into the night, we awake to become who we are. The morning haze of dreams and oblivion disperses and lifts as recognition and recall bubble up the content of our memories into our consciousness. For the briefest of moments we are not sure who we are and then suddenly ‘I,’ the one that is awake, awakens. We gather our thoughts so that the ‘I’ who is conscious becomes the ‘me’ — the person with a past. The memories of the previous day return. The plans for the immediate future reformulate. The realization that we have things to get on with remind us that it is a workday. We become a person whom we recognize.


The call of nature tells us it is time to visit the bathroom and en route we glance at the mirror. We take a moment to reflect. We look a little older, but we are still the same person who has looked in that same mirror every day since we moved in. We see our self in that mirror. This is who we are.


The daily experience of the self is so familiar, and yet the brain science shows that this sense of the self is an illusion. Psychologist Susan Blackmore makes the point that the word ‘illusion’ does not mean that it does not exist — rather, an illusion is not what it seems. We all certainly experience some form of self, but what we experience is a powerful depiction generated by our brains for our own benefit."


The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity - Bruce Hood

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Brains are universal machines.

Describes the human brain as a recursive set of cybernetic control systems. The role of synapses are explained as well as the genetic guidance of the brain's development. Some of the founding fathers of Cybernetics set the stage for the fantastic discoveries of neuroscience in the past thirty years. Brains are universal machines.

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Meditation expertise changes experience of pain

Meditation expertise changes experience of pain | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by UW–Madison neuroscientists.


Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by UW–Madison neuroscientists. The researchers found that during a pain experiment, expert meditators felt the discomfort as intensely as novice meditators, but the experience wasn't as unpleasant for them. Images of brain regions linked to pain and anxiety may explain why.


Compared to novice meditators, experts had less activity in the anxiety regions. Not only did the experts feel less anxiety immediately before pain stimulation, they also became accustomed to the pain more quickly after being exposed repeatedly to it.


The scientists, based at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, run a robust program analyzing the effects of meditation. The new study adds to a growing body of knowledge in the young field.


The study involved an advanced form of mindfulness mediation called Open Presence, but other kinds of meditation also may provide benefits, says Antoine Lutz, first author on the paper appearing recently in NeuroImage.


"We predict that mindfulness-based stress reduction and related programs should also lead to a decrease in some of the elaborate brain processes that account for distress as people deal with pain," he says.



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Neuroscience: Idle minds

Neuroscience: Idle minds | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Neuroscientists are trying to work out why the brain does so much when it seems to be doing nothing at all.


“Connections between neurons turn over in minutes, hours, days and weeks,” says Raichle. “The structure of the brain will be different tomorrow but we will still remember who we are.”


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The Human Connectome Project

Researchers are going to learn how all 85 billion neurons in the human brain are wired up.

 

http://humanconnectome.org/

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What is Heart Intelligence?

What is Heart Intelligence? | Consciousness | Scoop.it

During the 1960s and ’70s physiologists John and Beatrice Lacey conducted research that showed the heart actually communicates with the brain in ways that greatly affect how we perceive and react to the world around us. Today, more than a half century after the Laceys began their research, we know a great deal more about the intelligent heart:

 

- The heart sends us emotional and intuitive signals to help govern our lives.


- The heart directs and aligns many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.


- The heart has its own independent complex nervous system known as “the brain in the heart.”


- The heart’s independent brain and nervous system relay information to the brain in the cranium, creating a two-way communication system between heart and brain.

 
- The heart makes many of its own decisions.


- The heart starts beating in the unborn fetus before the brain has been formed, a process that scientists call autorhythmic.


- Human beings form an emotional brain long before a rational one, and a beating heart before either.


Researchers at various institutions began showing in the 1980s and ’90s that success in life depends more on an individual’s ability to effectively manage emotions than on the intellectual ability of the brain in the head. These findings naturally resulted in people wanting to know how to infuse emotions with intelligence.

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The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality

The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Inside researcher Kenneth Hayworth of Harvard University is quoted in The Chronicle Review:


"The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body."


Chronicle continues, "He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes.


Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever.


But first he has to die."


Article by Evan R. Goldstein

Illustrations by Harry Campbell for The Chronicle Review


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Mariana Soffer's comment, July 17, 2012 7:39 AM
txs for this Wildcat
Mariana Soffer's comment, July 17, 2012 7:39 AM
Txs Dan as Well
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Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine' - Telegraph

Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine' - Telegraph | Consciousness | Scoop.it

We're in the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, in Queen Square in London, the nerve centre – if you will – of British brain research. Prof Haggard is demonstrating "transcranial magnetic stimulation", a technique that uses magnetic coils to affect one's brain, and then to control the body. One of his research assistants, Christina Fuentes, is holding a loop-shaped paddle next to his head, moving it fractionally. "If we get it right, it might cause something." She presses a switch, and the coil activates with a click. Prof Haggard's hand twitches. "It's not me doing that," he assures me, "it's her."


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This Is Your Brain on fMRI - IEEE Spectrum

This Is Your Brain on fMRI - IEEE Spectrum | Consciousness | Scoop.it

At the end of last year, IBM predicted that by 2017 limited forms of mind reading would “no longer [be] science fiction.” Along similar lines, though, in 1933 Nikola Tesla said he would soon be able to photograph people’s thoughts.

 

Is IBM going to be equally wrong?

 

Maybe not. Surveying leading neurotech experts has turned up some support—albeit limited and carefully qualified—for the company’s prediction. And oddly enough, one reason is that Tesla’s prediction is—in very limited ways as well—coming true too.

 

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to produce rough representations of images as actually seen by a subject’s visual cortex.

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