Consciousness spotted in brain patterns
February 7, 2019 5:25 PM   Subscribe

 
Relevant, and always worth revisiting, in my opinion.
posted by Scattercat at 5:29 PM on February 7 [21 favorites]


Yeah but, when they said, "Ice cream, everyone lit up like it was Christmas morning!"
posted by Oyéah at 6:47 PM on February 7


I wish I had something more profound to say, but I can't think this has massive relevance for the SF concept of transferring the self to another medium, day a computer. If consciousness, and indirectly the self is a process, but just a bunch of connections among neurons, then duplicating it could be like duplicating a given fire or breeze.
posted by happyroach at 6:49 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Brain patterns sounds like an effect, not the cause.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:03 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


That's a great story, Scattercat. Thanks for the link.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:05 PM on February 7


If consciousness, and indirectly the self is a process, but just a bunch of connections among neurons, then duplicating it could be like duplicating a given fire or breeze.

Time for a story about consciousness determined by Navier-Stokes then?
posted by solarion at 9:16 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


More recently, brain dynamics have been characterized by the presence of complex activity patterns, which cannot be completely attributed to background noise (7).

Amazing how similar the search for consciousness is to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
posted by tehgubner at 6:26 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Well, looking for faint patterns in a background of strong noise does seem similar. That, and not having a great idea about what kind of patterns to be looking for in the first place.
posted by aleph at 7:29 AM on February 8


That, and not having a great idea about what kind of patterns to be looking for in the first place.

Well, here's a bit about how seti@home is looking for extraterrestrial signals and the kind of signals they're looking for (mostly specific kinds of doppler shifting due to the rotation of the alien planet/signal source).
posted by sexyrobot at 10:24 AM on February 8


This was a good experiment. I look forward to future studies which can nail down the rate of propagation of the formation of these overall patterns at much smaller time scales than a few seconds. If the patterns arise at rates that exceed neural propagation, well that’d be very interesting, and something for the “consciousness can’t be duplicated by machines” camp.

I also like this experiment because it pokes around at, but doesn’t negate, my favorite “big man” theory of consciousness. Which is, your “I” is a brain process that takes credit for for all the other processes that are actually doing the work of operating a human. Those other subconscious processes handle sensory input and combine memory and judgment with predictions, the results bubbling up into the actions and thoughts we believe our “I” has chosen.

Consciousness is an amazing illusion, and we’re not as in control of it as we tell ourselves.
posted by bigbigdog at 11:20 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


(Evidence for the big man theory includes “willpower.” Why is that even a thing, if we decide something, shouldn’t that be the end of it?)
posted by bigbigdog at 11:24 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


What insects can tell us about the origins of consciousness
How, why, and when consciousness evolved remain hotly debated topics. Addressing these issues requires considering the distribution of consciousness across the animal phylogenetic tree. Here we propose that at least one invertebrate clade, the insects, has a capacity for the most basic aspect of consciousness: subjective experience. In vertebrates the capacity for subjective experience is supported by integrated structures in the midbrain that create a neural simulation of the state of the mobile animal in space. This integrated and egocentric representation of the world from the animal’s perspective is sufficient for subjective experience. Structures in the insect brain perform analogous functions. Therefore, we argue the insect brain also supports a capacity for subjective experience. In both vertebrates and insects this form of behavioral control system evolved as an efficient solution to basic problems of sensory reafference and true navigation. The brain structures that support subjective experience in vertebrates and insects are very different from each other, but in both cases they are basal to each clade. Hence we propose the origins of subjective experience can be traced to the Cambrian.
posted by kliuless at 10:28 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


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