background preloader


Facebook Twitter

Roger Penrose Discusses Consciousness. Once you start poking around in the muck of consciousness studies, you will soon encounter the specter of Sir Roger Penrose, the renowned Oxford physicist with an audacious—and quite possibly crackpot—theory about the quantum origins of consciousness.

Roger Penrose Discusses Consciousness

He believes we must go beyond neuroscience and into the mysterious world of quantum mechanics to explain our rich mental life. No one quite knows what to make of this theory, developed with the American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, but conventional wisdom goes something like this: Their theory is almost certainly wrong, but since Penrose is so brilliant (“One of the very few people I’ve met in my life who, without reservation, I call a genius,” physicist Lee Smolin has said), we’d be foolish to dismiss their theory out of hand. Penrose doesn’t seem to mind being branded a maverick, though he disputes the label in regard to his work in physics. Materialism alone cannot explain the riddle of consciousness. Materialism holds the high ground these days in debates over that most ultimate of scientific questions: the nature of consciousness.

Materialism alone cannot explain the riddle of consciousness

When tackling the problem of mind and brain, many prominent researchers advocate for a universe fully reducible to matter. Is Consciousness an Illusion? From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C.

Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Dennett Norton, 476 pp., $28.95 For fifty years the philosopher Daniel Dennett has been engaged in a grand project of disenchantment of the human world, using science to free us from what he deems illusions—illusions that are difficult to dislodge because they are so natural. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his eighteenth book (thirteenth as sole author), Dennett presents a valuable and typically lucid synthesis of his worldview. Dennett is always good company. Look into my eyes: how hypnosis works is a partnership. It’s surprising how stressful the first time can be.

Look into my eyes: how hypnosis works is a partnership

For months now, I’ve been researching the history of hypnosis for a book on the power of suggestion. But no study of hypnosis would be complete without trying it myself. Which is what led me to the door of my friend, the photographer Meghan Dhaliwal, with butterflies in my stomach. A New Spin on the Quantum Brain. The mere mention of “quantum consciousness” makes most physicists cringe, as the phrase seems to evoke the vague, insipid musings of a New Age guru.

A New Spin on the Quantum Brain

But if a new hypothesis proves to be correct, quantum effects might indeed play some role in human cognition. Matthew Fisher, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, raised eyebrows late last year when he published a paper in Annals of Physics proposing that the nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms could serve as rudimentary “qubits” in the brain — which would essentially enable the brain to function like a quantum computer. As recently as 10 years ago, Fisher’s hypothesis would have been dismissed by many as nonsense. Physicists have been burned by this sort of thing before, most notably in 1989, when Roger Penrose proposed that mysterious protein structures called “microtubules” played a role in human consciousness by exploiting quantum effects.

Few researchers believe such a hypothesis plausible. Finding the Spin. Palliative Care and the Science of What It Feels Like to Die. “Do you want to know what will happen as your body starts shutting down?”

Palliative Care and the Science of What It Feels Like to Die

My mother and I sat across from the hospice nurse in my parents’ Colorado home. It was 2005, and my mother had reached the end of treatments for metastatic breast cancer. A month or two earlier, she’d been able to take the dog for daily walks in the mountains and travel to Australia with my father. Now, she was weak, exhausted from the disease and chemotherapy and pain medication. My mother had been the one to decide, with her doctor’s blessing, to stop pursuing the dwindling chemo options, and she had been the one to ask her doctor to call hospice.

During six-and-a-half years of treatment, although my mother saw two general practitioners, six oncologists, a cardiologist, several radiation technicians, nurses at two chemotherapy facilities, and surgeons at three different clinics—not once, to my knowledge, had anyone talked to her about what would happen as she died. There’s good reason. What does dying feel like? The brain's I. Consciousness: The Mind Messing With the Mind. This longstanding conundrum — the mind-body problem — was succinctly described by the philosopher David Chalmers at a recent symposium at The New York Academy of Sciences.

Consciousness: The Mind Messing With the Mind

“The scientific and philosophical consensus is that there is no nonphysical soul or ego, or at least no evidence for that,” he said. Descartes’s notion of dualism — mind and body as separate things — has long receded from science. The challenge now is to explain how the inner world of consciousness arises from the flesh of the brain. A civil servant missing most of his brain challenges our most basic theories of consciousness — Quartz. Not much is definitively proven about consciousness, the awareness of one’s existence and surroundings, other than that its somehow linked to the brain.

A civil servant missing most of his brain challenges our most basic theories of consciousness — Quartz

But theories as to how, exactly, grey matter generates consciousness are challenged when a fully-conscious man is found to be missing most of his brain. And yet the man was a married father of two and a civil servant with an IQ of 75, below-average in his intelligence but not mentally disabled. Doctors believe the man’s brain slowly eroded over 30 years due to a build up of fluid in the brain’s ventricles, a condition known as “hydrocephalus.” His hydrocephalus was treated with a shunt, which drains the fluid into the bloodstream, when he was an infant.

But it was removed when he was 14 years old. Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer. No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli.

Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer

The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’. What Neuroscience Says about Free Will. It happens hundreds of times a day: We press snooze on the alarm clock, we pick a shirt out of the closet, we reach for a beer in the fridge.

What Neuroscience Says about Free Will

In each case, we conceive of ourselves as free agents, consciously guiding our bodies in purposeful ways. The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality. As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions — sights, sounds, textures, tastes — are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it — or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion — we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality.

Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like. Not so, says Donald D. Theconversation. Do you think that the machine you are reading this story on, right now, has a feeling of “what it is like” to be in its state? What about a pet dog? Future - Blindsight: the strangest form of consciousness. When Daniel first walked into London’s National Hospital, ophthalmologist Michael Sanders could have had little idea that he would permanently alter our view of human consciousness. Daniel turned up saying that he was half blind. Although he had healthy eyes, a brain operation to cure headaches seemed to have destroyed a region that was crucial for vision. The result was that almost everything to the left of his nose was invisible to him. It was as if he were looking out of a window, with the curtains drawn across half of his world.

Daniel was adamant that he could not see a thing, yet somehow his unconscious mind was guiding him correctly And yet, as Sanders began testing him, he noticed something very strange: Daniel could reach out and grab Sanders’ hand, even when it must have fallen right behind his blind spot. How the Brain Perceives Color Could Help Explain Consciousness. When Isaac Newton was 17 years old, he performed a series of experiments with prisms and light beams. Within weeks he discovered the scientific explanation for color, invented the reflecting telescope, proposed the particle theory of light, and deduced that the human eye contained three receptor types corresponding to the three primary colors.

Not bad for a teen. Newton’s insights were not easily accepted. At the time, the prevailing theory of color was metaphysical. White light was thought to be pure, heavenly, and scrubbed of all contaminants, whereas colored light was contaminated by the worldly surfaces it touched. We now know why that hard problem was so darn hard. Do we really want to fuse our brains together? — Aeo... You already know that we can run machines with our brainwaves. That’s been old news for almost a decade, ever since the first monkey fed himself using a robot arm and the power of positive thinking. Nowadays, even reports of human neuroprostheses barely raise an eyebrow. Brain-computer interfaces have become commonplace in everything from prosthetic vision to video games (a lot of video games; Emotiv and NeuroSky are perhaps the best-known purveyors of Mind Control to the gaming crowd) to novelty cat ears that perk up on your head when you get horny.

But we’ve moved beyond merely thinking orders at machinery. Now we’re using that machinery to wire living brains together. How and why exactly did consciousness become a probl... What Is Consciousness? Neuroscientist May Have Answer to the Big Question. Photo Credit: Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness?

Free will is back, and maybe we can measure it – Stephen Cave. The cat is crouched low to the ground, whiskers brushing grass. It inches forward in minute movements, eyes drilling towards two sparrows just ahead. It tenses, set to spring. What is consciousness? God is in The Neurons. Is This Your Brain On God? Why Do Astronauts Experience God? By Rebecca Sato Source: Daily Galaxy In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”.

He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Neural correlates of consciousness. Network theory sheds new light on origins of consciousness. Where in your brain do you exist? Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us. Brain Waves as Neural Correlates of Consciousness. Consciousness has less control than believed, according to new theory. Consciousness -- the internal dialogue that seems to govern one's thoughts and actions -- is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher. Gabriel Kreiman Tests Free Will with Single-Neuron Measurements of Pre-Conscious Activity. Toward a Theory of Self-Organized Criticality in the Brain.

The Mystery Behind Anesthesia. Banishing consciousness: the mystery of anaesthesia - health - 29 November 2011. What Is Consciousness? Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness. Neuroscientist Says Humans Are Wired for Free Will   Closer to Truth asks Alva Noë: Why is Consciousness so baffling? John Searle: Our shared condition. David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness? The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, Dennett, & Hoffman) Nour Foundation. Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness. 1 of 5 - BEYOND LIMITS - A Full Conversation With David Bohm. The Roots of Consciousness: Theory, Consciousness and the New Physics. The Global Consciousness Project. The Noosphere (Part I): Teilhard de Chardin’s Vision. John Hagelin, Ph.D on Consciousness 1 of 2.

Morphogenetic Fields And Beyond. The Daily Omnivore. A Neuroscientist's Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious - Wired Science. Why Physicists Are Saying Consciousness Is A State Of Matter, Like a Solid, A Liquid Or A Gas — The Physics arXiv Blog.

Consciousness Does Not Compute (and Never Will), Says Korean Scientist. Robert Lanza, M.D. – BIOCENTRISM. Dr.Edgar Mitchell interview (Day before Disclosure) Institute of Noetic Sciences. THE AWARENESS PRINCIPLE. Research on Near Death Experiences. Scientific cases for Reincarnation by Dr Jim Tucker. What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences? - Lynne Blumberg. Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife. Neuroscientist Shares His Near Death Experience. Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality? The Infinite Consciousness with Eva Herr - Mind Expanding.