Summary of posts to the end of 2008

This blog has been going for a little over 6 months; it is coming to a new year; so I intend to do a little housekeeping. The object is a make it easier for my visitors to find what they want among the posts. I have made a list of general ideas/questions that I am trying to investigate, and then, for each heading, I list the posts that apply to that idea.


Purpose of the blog

The aim of this blog is to prepare people for the revolution that is going to happen soon in neuroscience. The very first post (1 Jun aims ) outlined the scope of the blog. The aims are enlarged on later in (10 Aug scientific shocks). To give an indication of the type of material that was intended in the blog an early post gave a list (12 Jun what do we know about consciousness) and another gave probable functions (2 Jul does sconsciousness have a function). Putting consciousness in context was the purpose of  (9 Oct one way to look at consciousness).


A different way to look at consciousness

Some posts have been specifically written to help people come to grips with a different way of viewing their mental life. These posts hardly contain any quotes or links to scientific material. I have used some descriptions of my own way of seeing myself: (6 Jun living without a conscious mind) (10 Jul decisions) (15 Aug who is watching) (18 Oct why make problems) (15 Nov metaphors for consciousness) (30 Nov metaphor) (15 Dec a few definitions)   


Some posts look at more specific problems in understanding consciousness

·        The question of how qualia or the quality of our experience is produced has been a problem, especially for philosophers. (13 Jun why not) (21 Sep the wrong questions)  

·        Consciousness includes awareness of fringe events. (25 Oct a certain feeling) (12 Nov fringe consciousness) (3 Dec confidence)  

·        There is also a problem of what to do about free will. M Gassaniga has put forward the idea of an interpreter that makes sense of our actions. (26 Jul the interpreter) Other posts on this subject:  (17 Sep the problem of free will) (15 Oct a feeling of will) (31 Oct virtual agency) (3 Nov Llinas) (6 Nov more Llinas) (18 Nov decisions without frontal lobe activity)  

·        A spatial construction is basic to consciousness. (19 Aug  the 3D world) (30 Sep built-in sat-nav)

·        There is one is probably one mechanism for various types of awareness. (4 Sep shared workspace) (8 Sep what goes on in dreams) (3 Oct consciousness in Zen meditation) (21 Nov default network) (9 Dec hypnosis) Thinking can be different when it does not have to be tied to awareness of the thinking. (27 Sep eureka)  

·        An important question is how we live in the present when it takes time for the brain to process information and render it part of consciousness. (24 Jun living in the present) Changizi explains some visual illusions by projection into future (26 Aug living in the present 2) It affects tennis refs (9 Nov prediction).  Not only does it take time to produce conscious experience, the process is like frames of a movie, so it is discontinuous rather than being continuous. (19 Jul watching the movie)

Old ideas that get in the way

There are ways of thinking that interfere with understanding the brain. (12 Dec a different angle)  

·        Some people take the metaphor between computers and brains a little too seriously. (19 Jun brain-computer metaphor)

·        Many people are resistance to there being a continuity between our brains and those of other animals. (4 Aug are animals conscious?) (23 Aug a birds eye view) (28 Oct dogs) (24 Nov Occams razor and rules of thumb) (12 Dec hangover from the Great Chain of Beings)  (27 Dec not just a few animals)

·        I have encountered a strict identification of language with consciousness that I think is counterproductive. (7 Aug the inner voice) (24 Sep unconscious meaning).

·        A leftover from Freudian theories is a distrust of unconscious thinking. (6 Oct bad press for unconscious)

·        The idea that the neo-cortex is the only part of the brain involved in producing consciousness is counter production. The thalamus as well as the cortex is important in producing consciousness (11 Sep Grand Central Station)  (21 Dec thalamus waves)


Some ‘how’ hypotheses

There are some hypotheses that seem very convincing. So far we have taken a quick look at the following:

·        Bayesian calculations create consciousness. (2 Jun is the brain bayesian) (24 Dec  Friston’s law ) looked at the possibility put forward by K Friston.

·        R Rensink has a hypothesis that there are two aspects of consciousness, the big picture without detail and the focus with a few items in detail. (29 Jul change)

·        R Llinas puts forward a hypothesis that the thalamus controls consciousness (6 Dec yet more Llinas)   

·        My own hypothesis for many years has been massively parallel overlapping feed back loops within the cortex and between the cortex and the thalamus. (4 Jul ambiguous perceptions) (14 Sep feedback)


Miscellaneous bits and pieces

(23 Jul smell is different),  (30 Aug do grandmother cells fly?), (12 Oct metaphor to embodiment), (22 Oct the homunculus problem), (27 Nov not inside us)  

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