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Is the brain any closer to the mind than the environment? Riccardo Manzotti 12 March 2014, Sinha Lab Where and when does my consciousness takes place?

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Presentation on theme: "Is the brain any closer to the mind than the environment? Riccardo Manzotti 12 March 2014, Sinha Lab Where and when does my consciousness takes place?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Is the brain any closer to the mind than the environment? Riccardo Manzotti 12 March 2014, Sinha Lab Where and when does my consciousness takes place? 1

2 Some assumptions to start from Consciousness is real If it is real it has to be physical (so much the worse for the hard problem) If it is physical it must share the essential features of physical entities Crucially, it must be somewhere and somewhen

3 If consciousness is physical, I want to know Where does it happen? When does it happen? What is it? How does it happen? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for it to happen? 3

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5 Illusions perceiving things that exists differently from what they allegedly are (argument from illusion, I) S experiences O as F, but O is not F 5

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7 Therefore, I am inclined to think that these tastes, smells, colors, etc., with regard to the object in which they appear to reside, are nothing more than mere names, and exist only in the sensitive body; insomuch that when the living creature is removed all these qualities are carried off and annihilated ; But I do not believe that there exists anything in external bodies for exciting tastes, smells, and sounds, but size, shape, quantity, and motion, swift or slow; and if ears, tongues, and noses were removed, I am of opinion that shape, quantity, and motion would remain, but there would be an end of smells, tastes, and sounds, which, abstractedly from the living creature, I take to be mere words. Galileo, The Assayer, 1623

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10 Luigi Galvani (Bologna, 9 settembre 1737 – Bologna, 4 dicembre 1798)

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13 Lehar, S. [2003] Gestalt Isomorphism and the Primacy of Subjective Conscious Experience: A Gestalt Bubble Model, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26,

14 Cristof Koch, The Quest for Consciousness, Roberts & Company, 2004

15 A common confusion between neural and physical The dreaming brain shows us that sensory input and motor output are not necessary for producing a fully realized phenomenal level of organization. The dreaming brain creates the phenomenal level in an isolated form, and in that sense provides us with insights into the processes that are sufficient for producing the phenomenal level. (Revonsuo 2000: 58) “If there is one thing that scientists are reasonably sure of, it is that brain activity is both necessary and sufficient for biological sentience” (Koch 2004, p. 9). if you are a physicalist of any stripe, as most of us are, you would likely believe in the local supervenience of qualia – that is, qualia are supervenient on the internal physical/biological states of the subject. (Kim 1995, p. 160)Kim 1995 (Crick and Koch 1998; Llinàs 2001; Zeki 2003; Koch 2004; 2010; Tononi 2004; 2010; Lamme 2006; Kim 1995; Revonsuo, 2000; 2010, etc.).

16 The localization of conscious experience Langsjo, J. W. et al H. (2012). Returning from oblivion: imaging the neural core of consciousness. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(14), 4935–4943. Tononi, G., & Koch, C. (2008). The neural correlates of consciousness: an update. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1124, 239–61. Rees, G., Kreiman, G., & Koch, C. (2002). Neural Correlates of Consciousness in Humans. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(4), 261–270. Zeki, S. (2001). Localization and Globalization in Conscious Vision. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24, 57–86. Kitazawa, S. (2002). Where conscious sensation takes place. Consciousness and Cognition, 11(3), 475–7. Portas, C. M., et al. (2000). How does the brain sustain a visual percept? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 267(January), 845–

17 Cristoph Koch, The Quest for Consciousness, Roberts & Company, 2004

18 How it is that a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp. Thomas Huxley, 1866

19 An uncomfortable question (in neuroscience) If the physical world is devoid of mental qualities, How is it possible that the brain, which is a piece of the world, had any mental quality? 19

20 TemperatureAverage speed of molecules PressureYes State changeYes ConductionYes ConvectionYes Temporal properties Yes A comparison Succesful

21 ExperienceNeural activity QualityYesNo Representing the external world YesYes/No UnityYesNo Perspectival- ness YesNo A comparison How does it score?

22 YET … Is the brain really sufficient for conscious experience? Born blind people lack visual phenomenal experiences Subjects’ experience seems to reqire direct acquaintance with actual physical phenomenon If there are no pheomenal qualities in the external world why they should occur in the brain? ?

23 The Myth of pure internal mental content No evidence of it With all the conceivable diseases and malfunctions, why don’t we have reports of unexpected mental content Why are hallucinations so conservative? 23

24 The myth of the pristine phenomenal content Forbidden colors, Billock (2010) Reddish Green, Crane & Piantanida (1983) Phantom limb in congenitally limbless subjects, Brugger et al (2000), Melzack et al. (1997) Supersaturated red, Hurvich (1981) Color imagery in congenitally blind, Esref Armagan, Kennedy (2006) Chromatic Synaesthesia in congenitally blind, Wager (1999) Phantom penises in pre-operated female-to-male transsexuals, Ramachandran & McGeoch (2008)

25 Where to look for consciousness? I need to look for something that has the properties of consciousness without assuming anything (like internalism does). What are the properties of consciousness? –Unity –Perspectivalness –Duration –Representation –Quality Is there anything with these properties?

26 The basic idea: the rainbow First step

27 Skogarfos, Iceland

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44 To exist is to be represented and to be represented is to take place

45 The generalized rainbow: Representation as identity Second step

46 World Peripheral “neural” processes CNS “neural” processes Physical processes “neural” processes? Information? Meaning? Phenomenal content?

47 Why don’t take in consideration the whole physical process? The process, as a whole, contains the object, too.

48 The process as a whole contains the object we have an experience of time

49 uu uu nn uu nu nu nu nn nu u u n u uuu What are objects? Object = physical process

50 Processes taking place: 1)Casting a shadow 2)Releasing chemicals 3)Absorbing water 4)… N) Weighting

51 Processes taking place: 1)Casting a shadow 2)Releasing chemicals 3)Absorbing water 4)… N) Weighting

52 Processes taking place: 1)Casting a shadow 2)Releasing chemicals 3)Absorbing water 4)… N) Weighting N+1) Producing a response in the subject’s brain

53 The Spread Mind in a nutshell Once the object is carved out in terms of a physical process (rather than as a separate and relatively autonomous entity external to the body), why can’t be the object- process itself the best candidate for our experience of it? Object and subject are two sides of the same coin To represent something is to be that something The mind is spread beyond the limits of the body

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55 The classic objection This may be true for direct and veridical percetion (maybe) … but what about all those cases in which there doesn’t seem to be any object to be perceived? Like –Not veridical perception –Illusions –Hallucinations –Dreams –Phosphenes –Migrain –Synesthesia –Etc.

56 The mirror and the caleidoscope: All perception is direct perception! Third step

57 Let’s debunk the myth of indirect perception … I claim that it is possible that all cases of phenomenal experience usually related to indirect perception may be reconceived as cases of direct perception once their external target is located. Here we will consider a few …

58 The illusion of the bent stick

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61 61 Helmotz’s like color space (retina based) RGB

62 62 Herring’s like color space (early processing based) R vs G Y vs B W vs B

63 63 = Herring Like Space (Hurvich) RGB space This is empirically wrong!

64 64 == likewise

65 Red stimulus  cyanish afterimage 65

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74 object perception 74

75 overlayed model of afterimages 75

76 afterimages: a way to see more by substracting something else 76 f Furthermore, afterimages as a case of direct and veridical perception of external colors

77 Illusions perceiving things that exists differently from what they allegedly are (argument from illusion, I) S experiences O as F, but O is not F 77

78 The flying pink elephant

79 Mirror and others analogies

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81 Kaleidoscope model of hallucinations and dreams

82 The flying pink elephant time now

83 The “funnel” view of the brain

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86 Direct perception

87 Memory

88 Dream

89 Light? Bits? O I S N P R1R1 R1R1 R1R1 R2R2 R3R3

90 space time O I S N P I now

91 Alternative view The Spread Mind

92 x t O=P N now=existence=experience

93 x t Sbj = Obj

94 Bottom line – tentative pros No longer appearance vs. reality Unified ontology physical world – subjective experience Hard problem of consciousness set aside Identity between subjective experience and physical experience Revised notion of macrophysical objects Ontological foundation for existential/physical now Representation problem settled in identity terms Predictability

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