It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

The Brain and the Mind

page: 1
18

log in

join
share:

posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 01:28 AM
link   
In reading over a lot of the discussions here about 'other worldly' matters, I often notice a lack of talk about the self and the brain.

This is odd and weirdly out-of-touch with contemporary science and theory. Cognitive science, for example, has consistently shown that the mind has biases; unconsciously, our personal brain is being 'activated' - as a process, lets not forget this fundamental fact by getting lost in the abstraction of 'representation' - by an external stimulus. Its hard to quite say "what" the brain is 'picking up'. When I look this way or that way, for example, my attention and my focus, in something as subtle as a particular angle of focus - best for light; my brain accounts for this.

If I were to get a sledgehammer, walk behind you and whack you behind your head, right where the occipital lobe lies, I could make you blind. If, of course, the blunt force of the hit didn't lead to inexorable hemorrhaging.

That's sort of the story. Our back of the brain gives us vision (which is why someone born blind will never be able to see: the part of the brain 'fitted' for vision has been taken over by other sense modalities, such as touch and hearing) the sides give us hearing; the top spatial awareness; the front, executive and regulatory functions - this is where our sense of "i" resides.

Thats pretty freaking crazy ^^^, eh? It never ceases to amaze me how our minds - my subjective experience - is being mediated, moment by moment, by a flesh brain, with some sort of electricity passing through it. And there's tiny little chemical pockets which mean something - happiness and exuberance are dopamine; anxiety is cortisol; depression is dynorphin; focus is a bit of adrenaline, a bit of cortisol, dopamine, serotonin and.....a # load other chemicals in subtle and mysterious combinations. Even what we do know - simple correlations - is but a drop of the actual neurolochemical complexity.

Dreaming

When we dream, where are we? It's incredibly bizarre if you really think about it. Were alive, walking in bodies during the day. We have thoughts and feelings; social connections that are important to us. There's a sky above and land below. I know i am on the planet earth, orbiting the sun. Which orbits a galactic center. Which moves aimlessly through the wide vastness of an infinite space.

But when I dream, I am IN something; my self - my very personal reality. The things which happen "out there" - my little thoughts and feelings, become analogized, symbolized, when I close my eyes and pass into unconsciousness. This is mostly indisputable. If I have to piss while I sleep and dream, it'll manifest as some water image; or some action that implies the need to "release".

Yet in this image could be other symbolic images; the dream could be symbolic at one point, materializing in situations and contexts redolent of your awake life; situations that are unresolved or need resolving. There is an "emotional" packet; some event which cognition in the upper part of the cortex keep "feeding into" in the subcotical areas of our brain. Some basic primary "feeling" - what we call emotion - speaking upwards to the top of our brain. This could actually be a way to characterize "dreaming" - if youre a radical behaviorist.

Still, it is amazing that specific locations in our brain correspond to specific elements of consciousness. We know that we can kill a person by destroying neurons in the periaquductal gray - a deep region at the upper part of the brain stem. If you were to surgically destroy (not possible in humans without killing the person by other means) neurons here, you'd lose the part of the brain that creates the chemicals which initiate "consciousness or awakeness". Children born with anencephaly have no cortex - under an MRI you see a hallow skull with only a brain stem. These children are awake, but essentially blind to what their seeing. They only feel. What? We know they respond to basic cues; laughter when nice sounds or tactile sensation occurs (showing that the brain stem plays a part in basic sensory experiences); fear when there are loud noises or aggressive movement. These kids have an intact PAG.

Yet in addition to the brain - to the personally "coded" experiences somehow physically present as protein clusters, that being the popular working assumption - there's also the belief that the mind, whatever it is, isn't actually limited to the brain. But can extend beyond it.

In Buddhism, there's an interesting distinction between whats called "consciousness" and "fundamental consciousness". The former is everything that comes with having a human brain and body. The latter is whats left when you take that brain and body away. What could that be, this remainder? I imagine it is a base reality, 'consciousness", which precedes and ultimately subsumes everything that is made material by a physical body. It is nothingness. But yet still, paradoxically, a "something", a "deep sleep" quality of awareness. Of course, no activity occurs in this state; you veritably do no exist. Yet, there is still movement. This is what is implied by Eastern theories of reincarnation. Bodies and the universe is activity: a 'world of motion'. This is a pretty deep ontological vantage point on things; the human mind measures the source of existence - we contain all levels of it in our experience and even in our daily rhythms - wake, dream, deep sleep.

Yet there are arguments made against this view. Although memory has never been found - and may never be found - in the human brain, there are attempts nevertheless to explain it as such; a particular experience for example can be 'physically' monitored; the neuronal movements can be mapped, which will imply a technology that can see INTO neurons and all the protein movements occurring therein. Since this will involve millions of processes within a single neuron, we'll need an impressive supercomputer to do all this. But lets say we do all, and discover that "this" cluster of neurons corresponds to this memory; and show it that everytime this memory is activated, these proteins are assembled just like that. It seems almost absurd in the complexity; and even logically, we know that correlation isn't causation, and that is the real kicker about science and mind. You can't ever prove or unprove it. It just is: it stays as it is and we live as we live, and in the end, we die, and we dissolve into the earth. And us, who we were and are, as living breathing beings, with minds mapping our environments, mapping our own "internal" environments if were particularly attuned to ourselves, and were faced with this horrific, yet etheral fact: our bodies will die. Our brains will not get the oxygen it needs to function. The cells which literally make us up will still keep going, but ME, I, an emergent property - apparently - of this cellular universe, will disappear, back into the cosmic stream of vapors; of subtle, spiritual motions that live, perhaps, at a higher dimensionality?

Its so odd, yet endlessly interesting and beautiful. We can't ever know how life is or came to be. We can't know our ending; we can only wonder at the fact of time, of motion, of life. The fact of "it is", and "I am", at every moment, at any time you want bring it to mind; you can change your thought, re-engineer the qualities and aspects of your mind. Be many because you know at root the idea of being one is also a fiction.




posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 01:41 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

Excellent post. Only someone with a mind could have produced this.

People have automated functions. People have instincts. Those are ingrained in our brains.

The ability of introspection, self discovery. Those are ingrained in our minds.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 01:55 AM
link   
Question: what do you make of what is termed a paranormal experience ? although real to the recipient do you think it is a trick of the mind or something more deeply connected to a consciousness ? Or perhaps neither ? It's a question I've been looking for the right person to give their opinion on and I think you may be able to give me a knowledgeable answer given how well written your theory was.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 01:55 AM
link   
Question: what do you make of what is termed a paranormal experience ? although real to the recipient do you think it is a trick of the mind or something more deeply connected to a consciousness ? Or perhaps neither ? It's a question I've been looking for the right person to give their opinion on and I think you may be able to give me a knowledgeable answer given how well written your theory was.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 02:07 AM
link   
a reply to: threeeyesopen

I think its perfectly plausible that paranormal experience is real.

I've read a bit on it - in terms of actual scientific evidence, by our current research standards, and if we do not apply "extraordinary proof" beyond the current standard, than PSI is perfectly real; its just highly dependent upon specific mental states, so fundamentally it is very difficult to "control" - as scientists need to do to make an experiment valid.

Before I wrote that Buddhism considers all reality to be susbumed by this "foundational" consciousness. Now, if thats true - and I don't know - than that means all 'emergent' properties of everyday experience, and perhaps still others, have some sort of ontological reality. Which means, yes, thoughts can pass between minds; the future can somehow make itself known to the present; at least, I think, as a probability. And even think. Since the 'butterfly' effect shows that the smallest change in a system can have massive effects later on, even the mediums perception of another persons possible future AFFECTS that future; which means, if you're willing to accept this premise, that something in the "future", or perhaps beyond time altogether, calls back upon the present, through a mind particularly attuned to such signals, and impels the person to communicate this information with the person of interest. The person, being apprised of this apparent "vision" of the seer, can now marinate for a bit; knowing what he does, what his future may have told him.

The odd thing is, what if that person actually realizes that future and lives it everyday? Was it merely a "self fulfilled prophecy", or was it, actually, and as it presented itself, a legitimate paranormal event?

I personally think it was the latter. The former explanation is too neat; too linear. Life just doesn't work that way.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 03:08 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

I have mentioned this many times on ATS, however, I will mention it again. I see the human body as a machine, and I see the brain as its computer. When I contemplate myself, I think in such terms.

I am starting to believe that even the soul and the spirit is generated within the body, and that, the soul or spirit cannot survive for very long without a body, and it is when these entities find their way into a new body, that they "reincarnate". However, most would generally "die" and remain as "memories" - memories of whom? Memories of those that had been affected by their actions - these actions change the course of history and thus the millions of memories that we all have are built upon the actions of people both living and dead, and in that way, they still survive as part of the "collective subconsciousness".

When it comes to "what you are" this is impossible to truly know, as it is something that is immeasurable.

When it comes to existence, the only way that I see one to permanently exist as an identity, is to achieve some kind of perpetual "paradox" within ones self.


edit on 27-10-2014 by SystemResistor because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 04:01 AM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

Nice post!

Every living cell is capable of continuing its subsistence given the right environment (say, a petridish with the right nutrients). Do these cells have their own level of consciousness?
I have always wondered if the self is a collective consciousness of the sum-total of all living cells in the body? Is the 'self' a pseudo-entity, a virtual reality, that we think that exists?
Extending this further, are we part of a collective consciousness of our group, species, biosphere, earth, solar system, etc., that we are not aware of at our level?
Would this explain group behavior, symbiotic behavior among different groups of species?



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 07:49 AM
link   

originally posted by: skido
a reply to: Astrocyte

Nice post!

Every living cell is capable of continuing its subsistence given the right environment (say, a petridish with the right nutrients). Do these cells have their own level of consciousness?
I have always wondered if the self is a collective consciousness of the sum-total of all living cells in the body? Is the 'self' a pseudo-entity, a virtual reality, that we think that exists?
Extending this further, are we part of a collective consciousness of our group, species, biosphere, earth, solar system, etc., that we are not aware of at our level?
Would this explain group behavior, symbiotic behavior among different groups of species?


Yes, those cells are conscious. There are simple high-school labs experiments you can do with amoeba or water-bears and any organism capable of moving in water. You can place them in a tank of water then vary the environmental conditions at each half. Maybe one side is warmer than the other, or more salty, has more or less light. They will swim and keep to the part of the tank that is the most comfortable. They even have a preference for distance from each other. But is that mechanical or cognitive - a mechanical thermostat exhibits a preference for temperature - is it conscious?

An understanding of brain structure and neurons shows that they are actually arranged into systems called "cortical units". Humans have 100,000 of these in the brain. Each processes a block of data, like visual input, audio, taste, touch. Each of those is self-contained but interacts with it's adjacent, upstream and downstream neighbors.

In our AI/programming classes, we studied the idea of functional decomposition where a large complex task like driving a car could be broken down and completed by lots of smaller tasks; keep the car in the lane, go up a gear when going downhill, go down a gear when going uphill, slow down when approaching a junction, plan a route, choose an alternative route when the current path is blocked, watch for road signs, watch for indicator lights of other cars, listen for police, fire and ambulance sirens, do a U turn if the road has been blocked for more than 5 minutes.



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 11:18 AM
link   
Good post OP . There are greater minds then mine that can only offer up ideas that could or might be true .To find the most logical answer to it all I chose that God did it . Now we are trying to define what it is .Sometimes it's just better to sit back and enjoy the ride we are on and realize that we don't have enough data and no way to get to it .



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 04:55 PM
link   
a reply to: Astrocyte

Hey! Good post. I like the mix of cold science and open mindedness. I've been thinking about this a lot too. Right now, I'm into the idea that consciousness is information. Max Tegmark gives a really good summary of this idea at TED:
www.youtube.com...
He uses the word "pattern" to describe mind, but the idea is the same as information: They key thing is, it exists independent of substrate. Just like a song on your computer - the bits holding it are the substrate, but its the same song regardless of where these bits are.

This is the only idea that makes sense. I've had the same, unitary consciousness since I was a child, but the individual brain and nerve cells behind it have presumably largely died and been replaced since then, just like other cells in my body. So that unitary consciousness must be an emergent pattern all those cell - old and new - take place in. The consciousness must be the pattern, not the cells.

I also believe consciousness is an observer, independent of many brain processes like vision. It interacts with the vision process, but if the vision process is lost, no part of consciousness is lost. Its a separate "process" (in terms of computer metaphor), and it is always unitary.

Consciousness as information means it has a weird nature, the same nature as other information entities, like numbers. If you erase a number from a sheet of paper, the number still exists, its just no longer entangled with that point in space. It exists in a sort of space of its own, an information space. Then so it would be with consciousness. This gives us many views of an experience. For instance with dreams - ever have a dream were you're at a place which like part of the store down the block and part of your grandpa's house? Those weird mixes of places and people? This would be your consciousness, entangled with many points in space and time. But in the physical view, its just neurons firing in your sleep. Both views can co-exist equally, one is focused on physicality, one on information.

I really want to stress that last line. Imagine you have hundreds of things with 8 bits each, each flipping randomly. One question is what is my little thing doing - that's the physical view. At any point in time you'll see it manifesting some random 8 bit (0-255) number. Another question is, "where is 50?" If you see all the hundreds of little things, you'll see it popping up at different times in different places, sometimes in multiple places at once, in the hundreds of little things. That's the information view. 50 is "experiencing" being at these different places, sometimes nowhere. No part of this information view contradicts any part of the validity of the physical view, its just two different ways of looking. The physical and information views co-exist.

So then you are an information entity that's entangled with a physical location, your physical self. But to see the information aspect, consider a thought experiment where you take '___'. You hallucinate a little pink elephant on the floor in front of you, but you know its a hallucination. All of the sudden though, it grows big, and grey. The walls melt away to show scenes of Africa, your skin (if its not already) turns black, and you touch your face to realize that you are someone else. There you are, an elephant trainer in Africa. You realize magically and correctly that this hallucination will remain consistent for the rest of your life. Reality will be exactly as it would be for an elephant trainer in Africa.

If you are tempted to call this new life a dream, I got news for you: Its just as real as anyone else's life. If all your perceptions are consistent and point to the fact that you are this new guy, you are that new guy, period. An elephant trainer in Africa suffering from amnesia and strange memories of having once been someone else.

At its core, what I just described is just the same as the number 50 moving from one little thing to another. Mind is information, it is capable of entangling with different points in space and time, not through some mystical process, but because information just does that, numbers just do disappear in one place and pop up in other.

Of course this isn't super hard science I'm posting here, its just a sketch of how expansion beyond the self is possible if mind is information. I personally embrace as very real possibility that mind is bound locally, and death may be the end. Scientific integrity demands that. But at the same time, if you look closely, its a weird and amazing universe we live in...



posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 05:07 PM
link   
a reply to: tridentblue

I hate the way thoughts on this always turn into a book, these really long posts. But one thing I have to add here is that if mind is information, its not the same type as computer information, that's really just a metaphor. Its deep, probably quantum information, which is dictated by special laws, such as the "No Copy Theorem" which states that you can't copy your mind. In order to really understand it, we need to really understand this quantum stuff a lot better than we do.



new topics

top topics



 
18

log in

join