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Philosophy and Science of Mind and Brain
Following the latest breaking news and discussions about Mind Science and Neurophilosophy
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The controversial science of free will

The controversial science of free will | Philosophy and Science of Mind and Brain | Scoop.it
New findings raise questions about our brain's role in decision-making.


These days, we seem to be living in a new golden age of choice. One moment we’re tweeting, the next we are changing our profile picture. We get a hankering for hummus and next thing we know, it’s off to Yelp the nearest falafel place. In every choice and action we make, online or off, we have the unique sense that we are in control. This is what it feels like to have free will.

But many neuroscientists have maintained a long-standing opinion that what we experience as free will is no more than mechanistic patterns of neurons firing in the brain. Although we feel like free agents contemplating and choosing, they would argue that these sensations are merely an emotional remnant that brain activity leaves in its wake. If these neuroscientists are right, then free will isn’t worth much discussion.

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The role of Broca's area in speech perception: Ev... [Brain Lang. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI

Motor theories of speech perception have been re-vitalized as a consequence of the discovery of mirror neurons. Some authors have even promoted a strong version of the motor theory, arguing that the motor speech system is critical for perception. Part of the evidence that is cited in favor of this claim is the observation from the early 1980s that individuals with Broca's aphasia, and therefore inferred damage to Broca's area, can have deficits in speech sound discrimination. Here we re-examine this issue in 24 patients with radiologically confirmed lesions to Broca's area and various degrees of associated non-fluent speech production. Patients performed two same-different discrimination tasks involving pairs of CV syllables, one in which both CVs were presented auditorily, and the other in which one syllable was auditorily presented and the other visually presented as an orthographic form; word comprehension was also assessed using word-to-picture matching tasks in both auditory and visual forms. Discrimination performance on the all-auditory task was four standard deviations above chance, as measured using d', and was unrelated to the degree of non-fluency in the patients' speech production. Performance on the auditory-visual task, however, was worse than, and not correlated with, the all-auditory task. The auditory-visual task was related to the degree of speech non-fluency. Word comprehension was at ceiling for the auditory version (97% accuracy) and near ceiling for the orthographic version (90% accuracy). We conclude that the motor speech system is not necessary for speech perception as measured both by discrimination and comprehension paradigms, but may play a role in orthographic decoding or in auditory-visual matching of phonological forms.
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Consciousness: The Black Hole of Neuroscience | Think Tank | Big Think

Consciousness: The Black Hole of Neuroscience | Think Tank | Big Think | Philosophy and Science of Mind and Brain | Scoop.it

The simplest description of a black hole is a region of space-time from which no light is reflected and nothing escapes. The simplest description of consciousness is a mind that absorbs many things and attends to a few of them. Neither of these concepts can be captured quantitatively. Together they suggest the appealing possibility that endlessness surrounds us and infinity is within.

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