background preloader

Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness

Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html

Related:  Philosophy of Mind

China brain China brain In the philosophy of mind, the China brain thought experiment (also known as the Chinese Nation or Chinese Gym) considers what would happen if each member of the Chinese nation were asked to simulate the action of one neuron in the brain, using telephones or walkie-talkies to simulate the axons and dendrites that connect neurons. Would this arrangement have a mind or consciousness in the same way that brains do? Early versions of this argument were put forward in 1974 by Lawrence Davis[1] and again in 1978 by Ned Block.[2] Block argues that the China brain would not have a mind, whereas Daniel Dennett argues that it would.[3] Neuron All neurons are electrically excitable, maintaining voltage gradients across their membranes by means of metabolically driven ion pumps, which combine with ion channels embedded in the membrane to generate intracellular-versus-extracellular concentration differences of ions such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium. Changes in the cross-membrane voltage can alter the function of voltage-dependent ion channels. If the voltage changes by a large enough amount, an all-or-none electrochemical pulse called an action potential is generated, which travels rapidly along the cell's axon, and activates synaptic connections with other cells when it arrives. Neurons do not undergo cell division.

Electromagnetic theories of consciousness The electromagnetic theories of consciousness propose that consciousness can be understood as an electromagnetic phenomenon. Overview[edit] Theorists differ in how they relate consciousness to electromagnetism. Electromagnetic field theories (or "EM field theories") of consciousness propose that consciousness results when a brain produces an electromagnetic field with specific characteristics. Susan Pockett[1] [2]and Johnjoe McFadden[3][4][5] have proposed EM field theories; William Uttal[6] has criticized McFadden's and other field theories. Some electromagnetic theories are also quantum mind theories of consciousness; examples include quantum brain dynamics (QBD) approaches of Mari Jibu and Kunio Yasue[7] and of Giuseppe Vitiello.[8] In general, however, quantum mind theories other than these QBD approaches do not treat consciousness as an electromagnetic phenomenon.

Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak, new study shows Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we’re listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear. Activity in the auditory cortex when we speak and listen is amplified in some regions of the brain and muted in others. In this image, the black line represents muting activity when we speak. (Courtesy of Adeen Flinker)

The Chinese Room Argument 1. Overview Work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has produced computer programs that can beat the world chess champion and defeat the best human players on the television quiz show Jeopardy. AI has also produced programs with which one can converse in natural language, including Apple's Siri. Our experience shows that playing chess or Jeopardy, and carrying on a conversation, are activities that require understanding and intelligence.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging Researcher checking fMRI images Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) is a functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow.[1] This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases. The primary form of fMRI uses the Blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) contrast,[2] discovered by Seiji Ogawa. The procedure is similar to MRI but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure. This measure is frequently corrupted by noise from various sources and hence statistical procedures are used to extract the underlying signal.

Neural correlates of consciousness The Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) constitute the smallest set of neural events and structures sufficient for a given conscious percept or explicit memory. This case involves synchronized action potentials in neocortical pyramidal neurons.[1] Neurobiological approach to consciousness[edit] A science of consciousness must explain the exact relationship between subjective mental states and brain states, the nature of the relationship between the conscious mind and the electro-chemical interactions in the body. Progress in neurophilosophy has come from focusing on the body rather than the mind. In this context the neuronal correlates of consciousness may be viewed as its causes, and consciousness may be thought of as a state-dependent property of some undefined complex, adaptive, and highly interconnected biological system.[4]

Left-handers 'better in fights' If you find yourself in a fight, you'd better hope it's not against a left-hander - scientists have found they often have the upper hand. Opponents simply do not expect a left-hook. The endurance of left-handedness has puzzled researchers, because it is linked to disadvantages including an increased risk of some diseases. But University of Montpellier experts, writing in Proceedings B, say it could be because they do well in combat. Qualia 1. Uses of the Term ‘Qualia’ (1) Qualia as phenomenal character. Consider your visual experience as you stare at a bright turquoise color patch in a paint store. There is something it is like for you subjectively to undergo that experience. What it is like to undergo the experience is very different from what it is like for you to experience a dull brown color patch.

Diffusion MRI Diffusion MRI (or dMRI) is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method which came into existence in the mid-1980s.[1][2][3] It allows the mapping of the diffusion process of molecules, mainly water, in biological tissues, in vivo and non-invasively. Molecular diffusion in tissues is not free, but reflects interactions with many obstacles, such as macromolecules, fibers, membranes, etc. Water molecule diffusion patterns can therefore reveal microscopic details about tissue architecture, either normal or in a diseased state. The first diffusion MRI images of the normal and diseased brain were made public in 1985.[4][5] Since then, diffusion MRI, also referred to as diffusion tensor imaging or DTI (see section below) has been extraordinarily successful. Its main clinical application has been in the study and treatment of neurological disorders, especially for the management of patients with acute stroke. Diffusion[edit]

Core consciousness Developed in his (1999) book, 'The Feeling of What Happens', Antonio Damasio's three layered theory of consciousness is based on a hierarchy of stages, with each stage building upon the last. The most basic representation of the organism is referred to as the Protoself, next is Core Consciousness, and finally, Extended Consciousness. Damasio, who is an internationally recognized leader in neuroscience, was educated at the University of Lisbon and currently directs the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute.[1] Damasio's approach to explaining the development of consciousness relies on three notions: emotion, feeling, and feeling a feeling. Emotions are a collection of unconsicous neural responses to qualia. These complex reactions to stimuli cause observable external changes in the organism. A feeling arises when the organism becomes aware of the changes it is experiencing as a result of external or internal stimuli.[2]

Preferred hand 'set in the womb' The hand you prefer to use as a 10-week-old foetus is the hand you will favour for the rest of your life, research suggests. A team from Belfast's Queen's University studied foetuses in the womb, and after birth. Their findings challenge the widely held view that a child does not develop left or right-handedness until it is at least three years old.

Zombies First published Mon Sep 8, 2003; substantive revision Thu Mar 17, 2011 Zombies in philosophy are imaginary creatures used to illuminate problems about consciousness and its relation to the physical world. Unlike those in films or witchraft, they are exactly like us in all physical respects but without conscious experiences: by definition there is ‘nothing it is like’ to be a zombie. Yet zombies behave just like us, and some even spend a lot of time discussing consciousness. Few people think zombies actually exist.

Brain Atlas - Introduction The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and the spinal cord, immersed in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Weighing about 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms), the brain consists of three main structures: the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brainstem. Cerebrum - divided into two hemispheres (left and right), each consists of four lobes (frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal). The outer layer of the brain is known as the cerebral cortex or the ‘grey matter’. It covers the nuclei deep within the cerebral hemisphere e.g. the basal ganglia; the structure called the thalamus, and the ‘white matter’, which consists mostly of myelinated axons.

The naturalist theory of consciousness is not the only one and its something Hawkins and Dennett are struggling to answer because its one of the most pervasive and unsettling ones in Philosophy. His book "consciousness explained" is a long way from ending the debate. Dennett is an excellent writer, however. by vatterspun Dec 8

Dan Dennett argues that each person should give up his beliefs about being an expert about his/her own consiousness. He shows that the mind does tricks without you being aware how it does them. Dennett's argument supports Hawkins's case for giving up common misconceptions to form a theory of mind. by kaspervandenberg Dec 8

Related: