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Thread: Consciousness being non-material

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Then why are you asking on a science board? Under the Science And Technology section, no less?
    Because I actually thought this is the right forum to ask questions like this, after all isn't this the main goal of science?
    I can't go on pseudoscience forums there are no answers there only subjective hypotheses which might be considered, hmmm, crazy, but the point is the greatest scientific revolutions came from the craziest people-which were considered crazy, you cannot expect that from people from well-established scientific dogmas to do something about it, I'm come on really, this is the job for science at least it should be, what's the point of science if it doesn't give us the final answers about everything what is researched?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I'm not even sure we have a very good idea what our own consciousness is! We can say "it's what you are experiencing right now, when you really notice what you are experiencing", and that seems to serve our meaning, but if we dig deeper, we quickly run into questions we have a hard time with. Like, is the consciousness you had five seconds ago the same consciousness as you have now, is it a different consciousness but still "your" consciousness, or is what you mean by "your consciousness" only the experience you are having right now, and at no other time? Does "my consciousness" belong to me like my car belongs to me when I get in it, or is it more like a bus I'm getting in that does not belong to me but does take me where I'm going?
    Those questions, as interesting as they are in and of themselves, muddy what I'm getting at. The sense of "I" on a moment to moment basis, it is the one thing we do know. We could be a brain in a vat, or a butterfly dreaming it's a man, but "I think, therefore I am." "Is the me of five minutes, years, or seconds still me" is a very interesting, but at what point, in a collection of cells, with constantly shifting molecular constituents, does the sense of "being" arise? What is it for, where does it come from? All very peculiar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobo View Post
    Because I actually thought this is the right forum to ask questions like this, after all isn't this the main goal of science?
    I can't go on pseudoscience forums there are no answers there only subjective hypotheses which might be considered, hmmm, crazy, but the point is the greatest scientific revolutions came from the craziest people-which were considered crazy, you cannot expect that from people from well-established scientific dogmas to do something about it, I'm come on really, this is the job for science at least it should be, what's the point of science if it doesn't give us the final answers about everything what is researched?
    Well, in science, answers are never "final". We test and revise all theories as we get new data.

    Science is also not dogmatic (though some individual scientists and institutions definitely are). The reason the mainstream is slow to accept new ideas is that those ideas have to be tested, retested, reviewed, and re-reviewed for a long time to qualify as mainstream science. Since the theories change constantly and are updated or disproven, there's no one real dogma to stick to anyway.

    Science studies what can be observed and/or confirmed by experiment. If there's no observational or experimental evidence of something, then it's outside of science's domain. The subjects you bring up here, fall into that category.

    As for the common saw that some old ideas that were considered pseudoscience have been "proven" true, I can only point out that the vast majority of pseudoscience has not, with only a few rare examples actually being able to stand up to rigorous testing.
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    I hear that one of the big scandals in brain science is that there is no agreed mechanism for time keeping in the brain. The gereral idea is that there is a ticker and in the cortex an accumulator and in the old brain a trigger or gate. There are at least separate time keepers all relevant to consciousness. One is short, up to a few seconds, this enables us to recognise rhythm and keep count rather accurately. There must be an even shorter ticker that makes us recognise now from just back then, but it's nature is not agreed. My "tutor" believes it is an interoception ticker based on physiologic processes. We know that the gate is to do with arousal so time passes slower when aroused and faster when relaxed. Experiments show these clocks can be very accurate. Timing, prediction and consciousness are linked, you can do experiments but the links are not yet agreed.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Well, in science, answers are never "final". We test and revise all theories as we get new data.
    Yes there are final answers, the problem is the science cannot solve them and cannot maybe even detect those answers at all; it's not about the final answers it's about how close to these final answers science can actually go?

    Science is also not dogmatic (though some individual scientists and institutions definitely are). The reason the mainstream is slow to accept new ideas is that those ideas have to be tested, retested, reviewed, and re-reviewed for a long time to qualify as mainstream science. Since the theories change constantly and are updated or disproven, there's no one real dogma to stick to anyway.
    It is dogmatic if you get the same answers and everyone else give you the same answers and the same interpretations of scientific discoveries, experiments and results of the experiments-why is forbidden to think differently if 2 people/scientists do the same scientific experiments, and the A's interpretation of the results of the experiments is accepted, and those scientists who claim otherwise and give different interpretations of the same results of the same scientific experiments are considered crackpots?
    So, you have to think like the rest of the scientists think, the very first time you mention concepts like stuff that science considers crackpotism, the scientists instantly get banished from science community forever-church and religion do those things, this is not what science should do, but this is what science does and what science has become-dogma.

    Science studies what can be observed and/or confirmed by experiment. If there's no observational or experimental evidence of something, then it's outside of science's domain. The subjects you bring up here, fall into that category.

    As for the common saw that some old ideas that were considered pseudoscience have been "proven" true, I can only point out that the vast majority of pseudoscience has not, with only a few rare examples actually being able to stand up to rigorous testing.
    True, and I don't have the problem with this, it's the interpretations problems that I have about, you also have to realize that if science with materialistic world view cannot solve it means this is the upper limit of science if you go by materialistic view of the world, and the res is unknown, there are also plenty of the phenomenons that science cannot put inside the lab and do the experiments-and if this is the case science and scientists simply say it doesn't exist, and yet thousands of people see this phenomenons, while scientists ignore them, they rarely accept them.

    Regarding pseudoscience:
    Yes, it's true, but that doesn't mean that their hypotheses are not true, maybe science with its instruments and technology simply cannot verify them, and that's all. I wouldn't be surprised of some of these hypotheses and the interpretations of all already done experiments are actually true, but the problem is science accepts only interpretations that are consistent with materialistic view of the world and actually they are not answering anything at all, they are only opening new questions, and that's about it.
    Sure, scientists test all these all the time, but the problem is they test everything all the same only with different methods, testings like these will get you nowhere-quantum mechanics is the real example here, you have experiments and you didn't solve anything, and questions are a lot, not to mention if the interpretations of all these already phenomenons are actually true?

    There is also a problem with limitations what exactly can you see with the help of the computers that do such tests? Nothing, the only is to shrink down to quantum levels and see for yourselves if everything what is thought about quantum mechanics is actually true or not-because we cannot actually see those phenomenons directly, we can only interpret what is seen and detected by computers and the methods that are used in those scientific experiments-but the fact we only see an fraction of what we actually think that quantum-level world/quantum mechanics is all about.
    Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I hear that one of the big scandals in brain science is that there is no agreed mechanism for time keeping in the brain. The gereral idea is that there is a ticker and in the cortex an accumulator and in the old brain a trigger or gate. There are at least separate time keepers all relevant to consciousness. One is short, up to a few seconds, this enables us to recognise rhythm and keep count rather accurately. There must be an even shorter ticker that makes us recognise now from just back then, but it's nature is not agreed. My "tutor" believes it is an interoception ticker based on physiologic processes. We know that the gate is to do with arousal so time passes slower when aroused and faster when relaxed. Experiments show these clocks can be very accurate. Timing, prediction and consciousness are linked, you can do experiments but the links are not yet agreed.
    Interesting. I've always had an inability to accurately measure the passage of times longer than counting seconds. I wonder if that's related to my other neurological problems?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I hear that one of the big scandals in brain science is that there is no agreed mechanism for time keeping in the brain. The gereral idea is that there is a ticker and in the cortex an accumulator and in the old brain a trigger or gate. There are at least separate time keepers all relevant to consciousness. One is short, up to a few seconds, this enables us to recognise rhythm and keep count rather accurately. There must be an even shorter ticker that makes us recognise now from just back then, but it's nature is not agreed. My "tutor" believes it is an interoception ticker based on physiologic processes. We know that the gate is to do with arousal so time passes slower when aroused and faster when relaxed. Experiments show these clocks can be very accurate. Timing, prediction and consciousness are linked, you can do experiments but the links are not yet agreed.
    I read recenlty that some scientists actually think that time does not exist at all!
    How exactly, and what does it mean for the universe and everything that happens inside the universe and for the universe itself?
    Maybe, I should open the thread about this, if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobo View Post
    I read recenlty that some scientists actually think that time does not exist at all!
    How exactly, and what does it mean for the universe and everything that happens inside the universe and for the universe itself?
    Maybe, I should open the thread about this, if someone else doesn't beat me to it.
    Well time does exist for us, that's obvious and we can measure ourselves against clocks. It's also true some quantum physics suggests time is an illusion but as Plato said the planets mark out time , we do see the moon phases and the days pass. Let's not mix this up with reality but we xperience time in complex ways. A skilled conductor can time a symphony to seconds. We can all assess say half an hour without counting seconds, but in this last case our accuracy depends on what we are doing. If we concentrate we are accurate but if we drift into daydreams we become very inaccurate. Our ticker ticks it probably uses the heartbeat as one ticker, but our gate closes so we do not accumulate or integrate the ticks if we daydream. Time perception is not consciousness but it's an essential factor.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    We can all assess say half an hour without counting seconds,
    Not all, no.

    Let's not mix this up with reality
    Aaaah! You used the R word! Now this thread is doomed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Not all.
    Well most then. And then look at circadian rhythms. They stay accurate with varied temperature. When you think about that knowing some chemistry, it's really remarkable. And only recently some understanding f the mechanism. Solved by biology toassistsurvivaland save on energy. These timing processes are both unconscious and conscious.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Interesting. I've always had an inability to accurately measure the passage of times longer than counting seconds. I wonder if that's related to my other neurological problems?
    I did not spot this before? Have you tested yourself? Or is this a general feeling? In one type of test you hear a tone for several seconds and then you try to copy it, this is a test of memory of time. You could set yourself this test with a helper. The ability to reproduce the task gets worse with an interval and especially with distraction. Timing your own breathing is another good test. Aim for say six breaths per minute, or five say, and time with a watch. Then repeat with the watch hidden. Of course breathing and heartbeat are used by the brain in interoception, but usually subconsciously.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobo View Post
    <snip>
    Sure, that's true, but everyone forgets one thing, what makes you think the universe is not conscious how are you suppose to prove or disprove that-there is simply no way, and this is why I was asking such a controversial question?
    I told everyone in general, and Lobo in particular, to stay narrowly on the topic of human consciousness, and not to drag this discussion into other topics. Lobo's failure to follow that advice has earned him an infraction.

    I will warn people again - this is another one of those borderline topics, that seems ripe for all the worse behavior. You will all stay narrowly on the topic of human consciousness, and you will not get into topics beyond the scope of CQ, and you will keep it all nice and friendly. And deviations from this will be dealt with using infractions and suspensions. I will also happily close this thread if the majority of participants don't behave.
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  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I hear that one of the big scandals in brain science is that there is no agreed mechanism for time keeping in the brain. The gereral idea is that there is a ticker and in the cortex an accumulator and in the old brain a trigger or gate. There are at least separate time keepers all relevant to consciousness. One is short, up to a few seconds, this enables us to recognise rhythm and keep count rather accurately. There must be an even shorter ticker that makes us recognise now from just back then, but it's nature is not agreed. My "tutor" believes it is an interoception ticker based on physiologic processes. We know that the gate is to do with arousal so time passes slower when aroused and faster when relaxed. Experiments show these clocks can be very accurate. Timing, prediction and consciousness are linked, you can do experiments but the links are not yet agreed.
    There's a 40Hz thalamic timekeeper that keeps sensory processing synchronized, so that disparate sensory impressions all end up being presented to consciousness simultaneously. You can see its presence in evoked-potential monitoring, as various brainstem and cortical structures "light up" in a 40Hz sequence. And you can see it slow and lose amplitude as someone loses consciousness.
    I'm not sure there's a "scandal" - it's not like neuroscientists are guiltily concealing their secret ignorance.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Interesting. I've always had an inability to accurately measure the passage of times longer than counting seconds. I wonder if that's related to my other neurological problems?
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I did not spot this before? Have you tested yourself? Or is this a general feeling? In one type of test you hear a tone for several seconds and then you try to copy it, this is a test of memory of time. You could set yourself this test with a helper. The ability to reproduce the task gets worse with an interval and especially with distraction. Timing your own breathing is another good test. Aim for say six breaths per minute, or five say, and time with a watch. Then repeat with the watch hidden. Of course breathing and heartbeat are used by the brain in interoception, but usually subconsciously.
    Interesting. Clever can't do time, I can't do music. I wonder if we would both fail the test for different reasons? I have often wonder if my lack of musical ability is a neurological problem. Something about the performance of music completely destroys my otherwise good sense of time and patterns.

    I can judge time extremely well. Put an instrument in my hands and the whole thing goes wrong. I can play guitar... just like a machine. If you detuned it I wouldn't be able to tell. If someone else played a wrong note, I would detect it easily. I am proud that I can play, but I really get no enjoyment from it. It is actually very stressful. My main reason for attempting is social/parenting. I like and value music, just not mine.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    There's a 40Hz thalamic timekeeper that keeps sensory processing synchronized, so that disparate sensory impressions all end up being presented to consciousness simultaneously.
    That's very interesting that the brain includes an apparatus like that. Presumably it also includes some kind of built-in apparatus for organizing perceptions that come from different spatial directions-- I doubt the brain would want to need to use high-level processing to interpret a sound, for example, as "coming from my left", one imagines a more hard-wired system for doing that would be of survival benefit.

    The reason I mention this is, it begins to give us some insight into how concepts like "time" and "space" could in some sense be illusions. Persistent and useful illusions, so not really what we normally mean by illusions like mirages or hallucinations or other forms of mistakes, but not necessarily things that exist independently of these apparatuses in our brains. So in other words, when we have an oscillator in our heads to act like a clock in a computer and synchronize our brain function, should we say that this oscillator makes us "aware of time", as though time already existed and this is how we connect with it, or should we say that the oscillator imposes upon us a requirement that we must perceive something we are hard-wired to interpret as the passage of time? In other words, the only way time is used in science is as a model that tests out well and says that a myriad of different types of oscillators that are comoving with each other for an extended period have fixed interrelationships between their numbers of cycles. That's it, that's all the time that science ever uses. In particular, there is no "passage" of time in science, that comes from how we perceive those interrelationships between numbers of cycles. And now we can see where that perception comes from-- it comes from an oscillator in our brains, and how our brains are hard-wired to be controlled by that oscillator. So we have no choice to perceive time as "passing", it is what our brains are built to do.

    So we can return to the question, does this mean our brains are built to be conscious of the "passage of time" that already exists, with or without our brains, or does it simply mean that our consciousness has imprinted on it, by that oscillator, the impression that "time passes", an impression that traces directly to how our consciousness works, rather than how time works? The latter interpretation is the sense to which we might say "time is an illusion", for its passage would be part of our consciousness, rather than pre-exist our consciousness. A consciousness that had not that "illusion" might not be successful, in some sense, or might not provide enough survival advantage to evolve that way, so it's not a "mistake", but it would not exactly be something that we are "conscious of", moreso than "conscious with."

    How this informs our understanding of concsiousness is it gives us a peek into how one might regard the brain as more like a "detector" of consciousness than a "creator" of it, if one already regards our brains as "detectors" of the passage of time. Maybe we should instead regard our brains as "creators of" the passage of time, but we generally don't! We think our brains act as a "detector" of the passage of time, but we "create" consciousness. But are not both the perception of the passage of time, and the perception of being conscious of the passage of time, more or less the same thing? These are some kind of process that our brains are involved in, so how do we say one is a "detection" and the other is a "creation"? These seem rather arbitrary distinctions to me, quite frankly. Dare I point out that this is what one might mean by the "mind dependence" of these notions? (No, I dare not-- strike that.)
    Last edited by Ken G; 2015-Dec-31 at 03:20 PM.

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    The hypothesis I have heard is that the infant brain starts with interoception, forms a model. This includes the heartbeat and some digestion rhythms. This model becomes predictive entirely from interoception, ie before the external sensor model recognises "other". So the heart is accelerated in anticipation of need from other interoceptive signals. It is further suggested (Kyle Simmons Tulsa opinion paper in Nature) that this prediction is Bayesian, constantly being updated as you would expect. The exterior world that the brain then begins to make sense of through touch, vision , hearing, is added into this basic model to predict need and to achieve homeostasis. We are mostly unaware of this model but it becomes very important as the Amygdala accumulates arousal experiences and tries to anticipate the fight or flight arousal need. Many animals share this story, then in humans we add the reasoning power of the cortex to modify the learned behaviours encouraged by the amygdala. This may be the origin of consciousness because to be aware of a threat but to analyse it needs focus. For example you see a snake; like a chimpanzee you are aroused and excited (amygdala) but your clever cortex looks and says "I recognise this snake as harmless" or starts to evaluate the best survival behaviour from several options. The chimpanzee just waves his arms and screams, the human thinks and chooses an action. Already we see the human big brain advantage and it is the origin of our consciousness I think. I feel this hypothesis beats some external universal c in fitting the facts as we experience them.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    How this informs our understanding of concsiousness is it gives us a peek into how one might regard the brain as more like a "detector" of consciousness than a "creator" of it, if one already regards our brains as "detectors" of the passage of time. Maybe we should instead regard our brains as "creators of" the passage of time, but we generally don't! We think our brains act as a "detector" of the passage of time, but we "create" consciousness. But are not both the perception of the passage of time, and the perception of being conscious of the passage of time, more or less the same thing? These are some kind of process that our brains are involved in, so how do we say one is a "detection" and the other is a "creation"? These seem rather arbitrary distinctions to me, quite frankly.
    That's like saying that running down a road and running on a treadmill are the same. But only one is getting to another place. The other is staying right on the treadmill. Not arbitrary at all, they are distinct in that way.

    (And yes, motion is relative, that's why I said "to another place"; the place is moving too but once you are there it takes no further running to stay there in that place.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Dare I point out that this is what one might mean by the "mind dependence" of these notions? (No, I dare not-- strike that.)
    Yeah, that's a little bit over the line.. Of course this thread had it in it to touch the MDR/MIR topic from the very start.. but let's NOT. Not because it's off topic to this thread, but because we do not need another 10,000 post thread ... (and you guys know it will happen). If you want to link it to human consciousness, refer to here from the "Reality" thread. If that is too difficult we can always use our easy option, which is to close this thread. And that would be a shame because I really like Grant's some posts here.
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  19. 2015-Dec-31, 10:07 PM

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    Yes, I won't get at all into the issue of "existence", I merely wish to ask, why is it that we so often hear language that exposes a predisposition toward regarding the passing of time as something we "detect" with our brains, but the awareness of the passing of time is something our brains "create." What is the rationale for regarding "this moment" as something we are "aware of", but it is only the awareness, not the moment itself, that our brain action creates? After all, there is nothing that distinguishes "this moment" from "yesterday", other than our awareness in this moment, and the latter is supposed to be "created by" our brains, and would not exist without our brains. Hence, simple logic indicates that if we do indeed take that model of the situation as some kind of "truth", then it must also be a truth that it is our brains that create the distinction between "this moment" and "yesterday"-- a distinction that would not exist without our brains, any more than awareness would exist without our brains.

    So what I'm saying is, it logically follows that anyone who regards their brains as "creating" an awareness of the specialness of this particular moment, in comparison to any other moment like yesterday or a thousand years ago, must also be creating that specialness. This follows because nothing that does not directly involve our awareness singles out "this" moment from all the rest. Hence it would be inconsistent to maintain that our awareness "detects" the specialness of "now", it must "create" it. So time might then be regarded as a series of events, like a history, but it must not be regarded as a moving "now", unless there is a brain to create that "moving now." That is, if brains "create" awareness.

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    What does "create awareness" mean? Does it mean brains "recognize" things?

    ADDED: To me that sounds more like "perceiving" awareness than "creating" it.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2016-Jan-01 at 11:59 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    What does "create awareness" mean? Does it mean brains "recognize" things?

    ADDED: To me that sounds more like "perceiving" awareness than "creating" it.
    It's just the language most people use, I agree that we have little basis for using it. This type of language is everywhere, and even the OP said that the "brain produces our rich inner experience." So we are led to imagine that our brain is more than just "aware of" an inner life, it produces that inner life. When we look at something, and see it with our eyes, we may allow that our brain is playing some role in our ability to see, but we imagine that what we are seeing was already there-- our brain only enabled us to see the light that was already there. But we never use language like that about subjective phenomena like awareness. Apparently, we like to imagine that objectively shared experiences are only "detected" by our brains, while subjective personal experiences are "created" by our own brains.

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    That is a very interesting and good point. However, to answer that we would need to go to the other reality thread.
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    we have strong evidence for the way brains model. For example the visual field we see is much richer than the information stream from the eyes as cameras. Not only do we fill in the blind spots we fill in most of the field reacting only to changes. Seeing a distant person that we recognise from body shape clues we fill in the face before we can actually see it. We adjust the scene for light colour, not any absolute colour. These effects are easily tested. The images seen in dreaming are (most likely) totally brain created from memories plus an imaginative ability to create stories. Memories can be implanted and then accepted as true record when they are false. Then consider acting. We can all act out a role when required, either for entertainment or to achieve a result. To do this the brain models a set of behaviours and then acts them out. We see some animals act out behaviours suggesting they are also capable of consciousness of alternative behaviours and some pass the mirror test. They realise the mirror shows their own reflection, this is said to indicate self awareness. (But a robot can be programmed to pass this test).

    Damaged brains give insights into how normal brains function. Until the advent of fMRI this was one of the main avenues for brain research and deliberate damage such as lobotomy was used as treatment. Fortunately we entered a more non invasive era and knowledge is advancing rapidly.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I have always thought that brains are like computers because they both process information. A part from that, are brains like computers ?
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I have always thought that brains are like computers because they both process information. A part from that, are brains like computers ?
    in relation to non material consciousness, and how it might work, the brain is more complex than any computer. A recent paper described in New Scientist magazine, suggested that certain molecules or structures with spin 1/2 in the brain could hold super-posed states long enough to be classed as a quantum effect. This would help explain the creative nature of the brain and its consciousness or rather sub conscious processes that we experience as conscious after the event. There is some evidence that our conscious selves post rationalise decisions taken at a subconscious level some milliseconds earlier. This is nothing like any computer built so far. The processes in the brain are also parallel. or pseudo parallel. neurons have dozens or hundreds or thousands of synapses receiving pulses from other neurons and at some point or level that neuron fires a signal affecting other neurons. Neural nets can be simulated artificially but at present the brain is way ahead in power. It seems unlikely to me that any Turing machine could ever become conscious in human terms although it could simulate consciousness so well we could not tell! But a machine might become conscious in machine terms.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    in relation to non material consciousness, and how it might work, the brain is more complex than any computer. A recent paper described in New Scientist magazine, suggested that certain molecules or structures with spin 1/2 in the brain could hold super-posed states long enough to be classed as a quantum effect.
    Yes, the latest attempt to slip quantum mechanics into brain function. The scale is smaller than Penrose and Hameroff's microtubules, so the coherence time is longer, which is moving in the right direction.
    It would certainly be interesting if there were some detectable quantum effect at the synaptic level (we know QM has a role in photosynthesis, after all). But I have a couple of problems with the idea - one biological and one philosophical.
    Biologically, synaptic transmission is hugely overspecified. I can give you a neuromuscular blocking drug which occupies 90% of your post synaptic receptors, and you won't notice any change in neuromuscular function, because neurotransmitters are released hugely in excess of what's required to initiate the post-synaptic signal. It's difficult to see how tiny quantum biases can influence a classical system that's set up to be robust against random noise.
    Philosophically, I don't see that quantum superposition helps anything much to do with consciousness or free will. For instance, the idea that an injection of quantum randomness is what salvages free will from an otherwise classically deterministic neural network seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of what most people mean by "free will". I don't want my brain to have the potential to flip one way or the other at random - I want it to act consistently with my thoughts, beliefs and knowledge. A hardwired classical system does that job better than a probabilistic quantum system.

    Grant Hutchison

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    In fairness to Penrose, I don't think he's trying to get free will out of randomness. I agree that quantum randomness is no kind of improvement for allowing individuals to control events, and I also agree that the working meaning of "free will" is more like "absence of coercion" than it is like "outcomes that don't depend on our nature or characteristics." But I think what Penrose is trying to do is get a "ghost in the machine" as it were, because we perceive such a ghost, that's more or less what consciousness feels like. So I think he views it as science's challenge to try to understand where that "ghost" comes from, and he doesn't think it can come from deterministic equations because of their reductionist character-- no feedback that conditions the outcomes and allows for the kind of self-referential character he is looking for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    ...But I have a couple of problems with the idea...
    Both well put.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

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    I do not know a lot about Penrose and Hameroff's work. But what i do know is that they propose that wave function collapse (if it is a real thing..) in the microtubules produce moments of
    consciousness. They say the rate of the collapse is 40 times a second. So who knows, with more tests in the future there may be some exciting new discoveries.

    Is it possible that we do not have free will. Sam Harris, the neuroscientist said something along these lines.. "When we make choices and have thoughts about things, the brain shows activity before we become aware of them. So, in a sense, even though we think we are in the drivers seat, we are not."

    Somebody said to me on the Facebook page i have been referring to, that free will is not a phenomenon. What would you say to that ?
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    After I've made a decision I still remember considering alternatives. It seems like I could have chosen a different one, but could I have actually done so?

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