Consciousness
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Consciousness
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A Neuroscientist’s Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious

A Neuroscientist’s Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious | Consciousness | Scoop.it
It's a question that's perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades: Where does consciousness come from? Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he has an answer.

 

Koch: There’s a theory, called Integrated Information Theory, developed by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin, that assigns to any one brain, or any complex system, a number — denoted by the Greek symbol of Φ — that tells you how integrated a system is, how much more the system is than the union of its parts. Φ gives you an information-theoretical measure of consciousness. Any system with integrated information different from zero has consciousness. Any integration feels like somethingto that system. When it's dissolved, it does not feel that anymore. (http://www.scoop.it/t/consciousness/p/3582464734/2012/12/04/integrated-information-theory)


The internet contains about 10 billion computers, with each computer itself having a couple of billion transistors in its CPU. So the internet has at least 10^19 transistors, compared to the roughly 1000 trillion (or quadrillion) synapses in the human brain. That’s about 10,000 times more transistors than synapses. But is the internet more complex than the human brain? It depends on the degree of integration of the internet.

 

For instance, our brains are connected all the time. On the internet, computers are packet-switching. They’re not connected permanently, but rapidly switch from one to another. But according to my version of panpsychism, it feels like something to be the internet — and if the internet were down, it wouldn’t feel like anything anymore. And that is, in principle, not different from the way I feel when I’m in a deep, dreamless sleep.



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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.

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"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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Is a scientific definition of consciousness possible? | KurzweilAI

Is a scientific definition of consciousness possible? | KurzweilAI | Consciousness | Scoop.it
Consciousness emerges from communication between brain areas (194 regions of interest were studied) and is mainly tied to cortico-cortical (left and center)

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UCLA psychologists have used brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the human brain when it slips into unconsciousness.

Their research, published in the online open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology, is an initial step toward developing a scientific definition of consciousness, the researchers say.

“In terms of brain function, the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a bit like the difference between driving from Los Angeles to New York in a straight line versus having to cover the same route hopping on and off several buses that force you to take a ‘zig-zag’ route and stop in several places,” said


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Meditate Your Way To A More Creative Mind

Meditate Your Way To A More Creative Mind | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Re: the research of therapist and meditation teacher named Ron Alexander.


"Mindfulness helps you to build what I call 'mind strength,' " Alexander says. "Your awareness and consciousness become really toned. This is an excellent strategy for becoming successful in your profession, as well as the bigger game of transforming yourself and the people who work with and for you."


Alexander's metaphor is grounded in science. In a move partly spurred by recent improvements in the resolution of computer-generated brain images as well as advances in stem-cell research, neuroscientists have been learning that our brains are more malleable than was once presumed. "A decade ago, we thought you got what you were given at birth and that was pretty much it," says Joshua Aronson, a psychologist at New York University who studies intellectual performance. "But now we know the number of brain cells can increase throughout your life through neurogenesis. There's great evidence that shows if you really work on a skill, the part of the brain associated with that skill grows. The mind is like a muscle. If you don't keep exercising it, it will atrophy."


When adults practice juggling, for example, gray-matter volume in motor areas increases after just two weeks. A classic series of experiments showed that London taxi drivers, who go through detailed training to memorize their city's layout, emerge with enlarged hippocampal regions, which are associated with memory.


But can intelligence and creativity really be as "neuroplastic" as memory and motor skills? Intelligence, much less creativity, has not been conclusively linked with any one area in the brain. The closest analogues are the so-called executive functions, brain systems involved in planning, integrating of sensory information, and abstract thinking, that are thought to be concentrated in the prefrontal cortex. There is, says Aronson, a way to improve executive functioning, and it's the very same practice prescribed by Alexander: mindfulness meditation. In fact, Aronson is currently planning a meditation study with undergrads at NYU. "Some studies show that people who do mindfulness meditation gain as much as 10 IQ points," he says. "What that seems to indicate is that it works on the ability to screen out irrelevant information, to clear out the mind of distractions, and to focus intently on relevant stimuli, which frees up resources to solve problems."


Fast Company

Anya Kamenetz

18 May 2011

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Dibyendu De's comment, December 5, 2012 8:09 PM
Thanks for sharing.. Some quantification as justification for obsessively Left Brained ones.
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A Drug That Could Give You Perfect Visual Memory

A Drug That Could Give You Perfect Visual Memory | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Imagine if you could look at something once and remember it forever. You would never have to ask for directions again. Now a group of scientists has isolated a protein that mega-boosts your ability to remember what you see.


A group of Spanish researchers reported today in Science that they may have stumbled upon a substance that could become the ultimate memory-enhancer. The group was studying a poorly-understood region of the visual cortex. They found that if they boosted production of a protein called RGS-14 (pictured) in that area of the visual cortex in mice, it dramatically affected the animals' ability to remember objects they had seen.


Mice with the RGS-14 boost could remember objects they had seen for up to two months. Ordinarily the same mice would only be able to remember these objects for about an hour. (...)


If this protein boosts visual memory in humans, the implications are staggering. In their paper, the researchers say that it could be used as a memory-enhancer – which seems like an understatement. What's particularly intriguing is the fact that this protein works on visual memory only. So as I mentioned earlier, it would be perfect for mapping. It would also be useful for engineers and architects who need to hold a lot of visual images in their minds at once. And it would also be a great drug for detectives and spies.


io9.com

Annalee Newitz

02 Jul 2009



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Integrated Information Theory

Integrated Information Theory | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Giulio Tononi, a University of Wisconsin psychiatrist and neuroscientist, invented the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. Online in Scientific American last Friday, he published an excerpt of a new book, titled “PHI: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul,” in which he expounds his ideas.


“Consciousness lives where information is integrated by a single entity above and beyond its parts,” he writes in the subheading of the published chapter. (...)


The core of Intergrated Information Theory is the identification Tononi makes of consciousness with “the information generated by the whole above and beyond its parts,” which he calls “integrated information.” Using a measure of information derived from information theory, he assigns this bonus quantity of information the symbol Ф. 


As an example, Tononi imagines a row of men. If each is whispered the word of a single sentence, each man may think of that word, but “nowhere will there be a consciousness of the whole sentence,” Tononi writes.  (...)


In the case of the men in a row, Ф is the quantity of information that corresponds to the meaning of the sentence, which does not emerge until each man speaks his word. (...)


When information is exchanged between objects (i.e., when photons pass between them), the wavefunctions of those objects become entangled, and to some extent merge together (overlap) as a single wavefunction. Thus, when the men exchange the information of their words, the wavefunctions of their brains entangle and overlap to a degree. Their individual brain wavefunctions come to share a mathematical component — a factor, if you will — and that shared component corresponds to the meaning of the sentence.

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Brain Waves And The Neural Basis Of #Consciousness

Brain Waves And The Neural Basis Of #Consciousness | Consciousness | Scoop.it
How our brains encode thoughts, such as perceptions and memories, at the cellular level is one of the biggest puzzles in neuroscience today.


A new study, published in a recent issue of Neuron, sheds light on how neural ensembles form thoughts and support the flexibility to change one’s mind. Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, led the study which has identified groups of neurons that encode specific behavioral rules by oscillating in synchrony with each other. The nature of conscious thought, the results suggest, may be rhythmic.


“As we talk, thoughts float in and out of our heads. Those are all ensembles forming and then reconfiguring to something else. It’s been a mystery how the brain does this,” says Miller, who is also a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. “That’s the fundamental problem that we’re talking about — the very nature of thought itself.”


ht @jhagel

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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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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 "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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What Happens to Consciousness When We Die: Scientific American

The death of the brain means subjective experiences are neurochemistry.


Michael Shermer examine's Donald D. Hoffman's Conscious Realism which asserts that the objective world, i.e., the world whose existence does not depend on the perceptions of a particular observer, consists entirely of conscious agents. Consciousness is fundamental to the cosmos and gives rise to particles and fields. It is not a latecomer in the evolutionary history of the universe, arising from complex interactions of unconscious matter and fields, Hoffman writes.



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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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How electrical brain stimulation can change the way we think

How electrical brain stimulation can change the way we think | Consciousness | Scoop.it
After my brain was jolted, says Sally Adee, I had a near-spiritual experience...

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Consciousness on-off switch located deep in human brain

Consciousness on-off switch located deep in human brain | Consciousness | Scoop.it
Scientists say they've located the part of the brain that controls consciousness; it's a thin layer deep in the brain called the claustrum.

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In a new study -- published this week in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior -- neurologist Mohamad Koubeissi of George Washington University recounted how he and his colleagues were able to turn a woman's consciousness off and on by stimulating her claustrum.

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As the new study explains, when GW researchers zapped a woman's claustrum with high frequency electrical impulses, she subsequently lost consciousness. The claustrum shocks caused -- as researchers explained -- "arrest of volitional behavior, unresponsiveness, and amnesia without negative motor symptoms or mere aphasia."

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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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Feeling Our Emotions

Feeling Our Emotions | Consciousness | Scoop.it

According to noted neurologist Antonio R. Damasio, joy or sorrow can emerge only after the brain registers physical changes in the body


MIND: You differentiate between feelings and emotions. How so?


Damasio: In everyday language we often use the terms interchangeably. This shows how closely connected emotions are with feelings. But for neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli. When we are afraid of something, our hearts begin to race, our mouths become dry, our skin turns pale and our muscles contract. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. Feelings occur after we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of fear.


MIND: So, then, feelings are formed by emotions?


Damasio: Yes. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded--as snapshots of our physical state, so to speak.


Scientific American

24 Mar 2005


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BRAIN POWER: From Neurons to Networks

for more, visit letitripple.org

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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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Scientists offer quantum theory of soul's existence

Scientists offer quantum theory of soul's existence | Consciousness | Scoop.it

American Dr Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose developed a quantum theory of consciousness asserting that our souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells.


Their idea stems from the notion of the brain as a biological computer, "with 100 billion neurons and their axonal firings and synaptic connections acting as information networks". (...)


They argue that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules - a process they call orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).


In a near-death experience the microtubules lose their quantum state, but the information within them is not destroyed. Or in layman's terms, the soul does not die but returns to the universe. (...)


Dr Hameroff explained the theory at length in the Morgan Freeman-narrated documentary Through the Wormhole, which was recently aired in the US by the Science Channel. (...)


The quantum soul theory is now trending worldwide, thanks to stories published this week by The Huffington Post and the Daily Mail, which have generated thousands of readers comments and social media shares. (...)



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Using Pattern Recognition to Enhance Memory and Creativity

Using Pattern Recognition to Enhance Memory and Creativity | Consciousness | Scoop.it

It seems to be the season for fascinating meditations on consciousness, exploring such questions as what happens while we sleep, how complex cognition evolved, and why the world exists. Joining them and prior explorations of what it means to be human is The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning (public library) by Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor in which, among other things, he sheds light on how our species' penchant for pattern-recognition is essential to consciousness and our entire experience of life.


The process of combining more primitive pieces of information to create something more meaningful is a crucial aspect both of learning and of consciousness and is one of the defining features of human experience. Once we have reached adulthood, we have decades of intensive learning behind us, where the discovery of thousands of useful combinations of features, as well as combinations of combinations and so on, has collectively generated an amazingly rich, hierarchical model of the world. Inside us is also written a multitude of mini strategies about how to direct our attention in order to maximize further learning. We can allow our attention to roam anywhere around us and glean interesting new clues about any facet of our local environment, to compare and potentially add to our extensive internal model.

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Non-Human Consciousness Exists Say Experts. Now What? | Singularity Hub

Non-Human Consciousness Exists Say Experts. Now What? | Singularity Hub | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Earlier this month, some of the leading scientists from around the world congregated at the Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge to discuss the evidence that has amassed over the years. The experts reached a unanimous decision that animals – specifically mammals and birds – are in fact conscious beings. Through advancements in brain imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG machines, the scientists concluded that animals show a sufficient degree of characteristics that indicate they are not as non-human as some had believed. The official decision was reached late into the night after the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on July 7th.

 

Organized by Philip Low, CEO of NeuroVigil and inventor of the iBrain, the group consisted of 25 of the planet’s top minds on the mind, including honorary guest Stephen Hawking. The scientists discerned the key differences in human and animal brains, mainly found in the frontal cortex, do not play a role in the phenomenon we associate with consciousness. The decision does not in any sense define what consciousness is, which will be a debate that continues to rage on. But moving forward, there are many consequences to this finding that will need to be addressed as we look to develop a more humane relationship with animals.

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Mariana Soffer's comment, July 28, 2012 3:18 AM
uou, this shakes a bit my structures
gregorylent's comment, July 28, 2012 9:44 AM
oh just fucking duh .. crikey, western scientists are sooooo retarded, apart from materiality
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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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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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