According to extended cognitivists, the mind’s location is only partly in the head. In addition, extended cognitivists have argued, the mind is located in parts of the world outside the body.
Moreover, the possibility of extended cognition suggests new lines of research within the domain of social cognition. If minds extend, the boundaries that define the units of social interaction become less certain. Perhaps minds overlap. If, as some extended cognitivists believe, features of the environment comprise parts of a cognitive system, then a single piece of the world might constitute a piece of distinct cognitive systems. More dramatically, perhaps parts of a mind of one individual may be located within the mind of another. Insofar as extended cognition can make such possibilities plausible, social psychologists will need to re-interpret the nature of social interaction, will need to re-examine how the motivations and emotions of a single agent can influence an extended cognitive system, and so on.
Featureteaser: The evolution of consciousness isn't something that "happens to us," or at least it needn't be. Simply becoming aware of the creative power of our own minds can achieve remarkable results.
As consciousness is immaterial -- it doesn’t weigh anything, nor does it occupy space, and so on -- it is through human artefacts that the history of consciousness can be traced.
... Owen Barfield traced the history of consciousness through language [History in English Words].
It is only through a consciousness -- yours, mine, a bird’s, possibly a sunflower’s -- that what is “really there” begins to take on features.
Consciousness shapes what is “really there,” but we, I think, can never see what is “really there” when we are not looking at it.
I think we need to focus on how we can “surf” these changes and not be swamped by them, and through this we will, I believe, be intimately and immediately involved in helping the next shift in the secret history of consciousness take placein a positive way.
... the next shift in consciousness will involve a radical alteration in our experience of time.
The cello/brainwave duet explored the relationship a performer has to the music she's playing.
Cellist Katinka Kleijn performed both halves of a duet Sunday night. Her hands played the cello, and her brain, hooked up to a headset that detects cerebral electrical signals, played itself. Kleijn has been playing the cello for 35 years. Her brain was a little less experienced.
“Intelligence in the Human Machine,” the cello/brain duet, explored the relationship a performer has to the music she’s playing. During the performance, at Chicago’s Cultural Center, Kleijn wore an Emotiv EPOC, a neuroheadset with 14 sensors that attach to the scalp and detect brainwaves. In front of her, a laptop flashed a word and a few measures of music. She then played the music on her cello, interpreting the word onscreen. At the same time, her brainwaves, translated to audio, changed sounds as she reacted to the word.
In Pagel’s view, we do not have culture because we are human or conscious or have language or labour; it is the other way round. What gives meaning to being human is culture, ‘something akin to a software “operating system” installed without our consent by our parents and others in our societies. It defines who we are and is our internal voice.’ We are ‘imprinted’ with culture like ducklings, which explains our ‘surprising and sometimes alarming devotion’ to the culture in which we are accidentally born. And with it, he sees in us a propensity for racism, xenophobia and violence driven by natural self-interest: survival at the expense of others.
He warns us to be careful about our illusion of free will. Because what we want is always locked into a ‘chain leading all the way back to our birth’ and because ‘to an evolutionist, free will isn’t even all it’s cracked up to be anyway’. For him, those who survived in the past are not those who merely did what they wanted, capriciously, but those who survived. For Pagel, survival is too important to be left up to us. Rather than us creating culture as testament and witness to our existence we are in fact just passengers in ‘cultural survival vehicles’ that exist for the benefit of culture and not for us. Forget about beauty and truth. As he charmingly puts it, culture is just ‘the most successful way there has ever been of making more people’.
Psychologists from the University of Toronto and Harvard University have identified one of the biological bases of creativity.
... the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment.
Other people’s brains might shut out this same information through a process called “latent inhibition” – defined as an animal’s unconscious capacity to ignore stimuli that experience has shown are irrelevant to its needs.
“This means that creative individuals remain in contact with the extra information constantly streaming in from the environment,”
“If you are open to new information, new ideas, you better be able to intelligently and carefully edit and choose. If you have 50 ideas, only two or three are likely to be good. You have to be able to discriminate or you’ll get swamped.”
... during the early stages of diseases such as schizophrenia, which are often accompanied by feelings of deep insight, mystical knowledge and religious experience, chemical changes take place in which latent inhibition disappears.
“We are very excited by the results of these studies,” says Peterson. “It appears that we have not only identified one of the biological bases of creativity but have moved towards cracking an age-old mystery: the relationship between genius, madness and the doors of perception.”
Reality tunnel (aka belief system, world view, world model, reference frame, intentionality etc) ... coined by Timothy Leary and popularised by Robert Anton Wilson.
... the concept that with a subconscious set of filters formed from their beliefs and experiences, everyone interprets this same world differently, hence “Truth is in the eye of the beholder”.
This is not necessarily meant to imply that there is no objective truth; just that our access to it is mediated through our senses, experience, conditioning, prior beliefs, and other non-objective factors.
Through various techniques one can break down old reality tunnels and impose new reality tunnels by removing old filters and replacing them with new ones, new perspectives on reality - at will.
This is achieved through various processess of deprogramming using meditation, controlled use of hallucinogens, neuro-linguistic programming, cybernetics, hypnosis, bio-feedback devices, and forcibly acting out other Reality Tunnels.
The most ideal Reality Tunnel would be the most open one. ‘Believe Nothing; Explore Everything ‘is the main philosophy, so instead of travelling between Reality Tunnels you create one that encompasses everything.
Beliefs are considered dogma, they filter out much of reality.
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.
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.
The idea of the universe as a 'giant brain' has been proposed by scientists - and science fiction writers - for decades. But now physicists say there may be some evidence that it's actually true.
According to a study published in Nature's Scientific Reports, the universe may be growing in the same way as a giant brain - with the electrical firing between brain cells 'mirrored' by the shape of expanding galaxies.
The results of a computer simulation suggest that "natural growth dynamics" - the way that systems evolve - are the same for different kinds of networks - whether its the internet, the human brain or the universe as a whole. (...0
The team's simulation modelled the very early life of the universe, shortly after the big bang, by looking at how quantum units of space-time smaller than subatomic particles 'networked' with each other as the universe grew.
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.
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.”
I'd like you to consider the possibility that nature embodies within herself a kind of Internet, and that through our brain we might be able to communicate with it.
Systems philosopher Ervin Laszlo asks, If Your Brain Is A Quantum Computer, Can It Connect You To The World? In it, he poses a quantum idea of knowing:
Not only are the neurons of our brain thoroughly entangled with each other–so that they can assemble and then process information with lightning speed–they are also entangled with the world beyond our brain. The logical conclusion is that the bulk of the information picked up and processed by the brain is not stored within the brain; it’s stored in the vast information field that embeds the brain.
Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal. However, as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain:
Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.
What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”
We are in charge of our bodies, we run the show, we decide which ideas to believe in and which to reject. But do we really? If you begin to think about selfish memes it becomes clear that our ideas are in our heads because they are successful memes. American philosopher Dan Dennett (1995) concludes that a "person" is a particular sort of animal infested with memes. In other words you and I and all our friends are the products of two blind replicators, the genes and the memes.
This simple logic explains why it is so hard for us to sit down and "not think"; why the battle to subdue "our" thoughts is doomed. In a very real sense they are not "our" thoughts at all. They are simply the memes that happen to be successfully exploiting our brain-ware at the moment.
We might think of alternative cognition or complementary cognition as just another perceptual resource to go along with our other five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell as well as our emotions, feelings, dreams and thinking brain.
In fact, maybe we will discover that there are more than these modes of perception. Maybe we have the ability to perceive in ways that can be further identified and specified. (...)
There are also joint perceptions that involve using more than one sense or perceptual resource simultaneously. Integrating our sixth sense with the other five and other inner experiences may also be helpful, as well as very natural and normal. (...)
For example, remote viewing refers to some specific methods developed by the U.S. military and intelligence communities in Project STARGATE during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. People were selected to be remote viewers in these efforts because they were believed to have better than average or quite good abilities in this area.
Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.
Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’ One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.
David Weisman SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
The anatta is in a state of impermanence, called anicca. Consciousness is envisioned as a wave of momentary mental states.
Weisman asks, "Why have the dominant Western religious traditions gotten their permanent, independent souls so wrong?"
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.
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."
"...One study of 65 subjects suggests that creativity prefers to take a slower, more meandering path than intelligence. 'The brain appears to be an efficient superhighway that gets you from Point A to Point B” when it comes to intelligence, Dr. (Rex) Jung explained. “But in the regions of the brain related to creativity, there appears to be lots of little side roads with interesting detours, and meandering little byways.'"
"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."
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.
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.
Could you represent the stages of human consciousness with a diagram? In the late 19th century, New Zealand psychologist Benjamin Betts tried to apply mathematics to the problem of visualizing human consciousness
What he produced were striking, almost floral designs that he believed represented the shape of our consciousness for a given activity.
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings came across these images in the 1887 book Geometrical psychology, or, The science of representation, an abstract of the theories and diagrams of B. W. Betts, edited by Louisa Cook and available on Open Library. In his metaphysical explorations, Betts attempted to represent the successive stages of the evolution of human consciousness with symbolic mathematical forms; he was quite pleased to find that his mathematical representations frequently resulted in plant-like forms, taking this to mean that he was on the track to some universal representation of consciousness. Incidentally, he also believed that human consciousness was the only thing that we as humans could study directly since everything else must necessarily be perceived through human consciousness.
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.