December 21, 2003

Cultural Consciousness as a Good trick

SCR Feature,sociology — thomasr @ 12:30 am
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November 1, 2003

The self and its brain

SCR Feature,reviews — virgil @ 5:10 pm
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September 25, 2003

Hysterical Conversion, Consciousness and the Brain

SCR Feature,neuroscience — thomasr @ 5:40 pm
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September 22, 2003

The Global Brainweb

SCR Feature,theory — thomasr @ 12:21 am
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September 13, 2003

Capturing Daydreams

SCR Feature,misc — thomasr @ 12:13 am
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September 4, 2003

Voluntary Action

SCR Feature,reviews — thomasr @ 5:49 pm
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August 13, 2003

Cartesian Panic — and its consequences

SCR Feature,philosophy — thomasr @ 12:06 am
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July 13, 2003

Science Wins: A Televised Test of "Psychic Healing"

SCR Feature,misc — thomasr @ 12:02 am
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June 12, 2003

The Neurochemistry of Psychdelic Experiences

SCR Feature,altered states — thomasr @ 11:58 pm
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June 11, 2003

Science and the Ayahuasca

SCR Feature,reviews — thomasr @ 5:59 pm
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May 12, 2003

Beyond Ordinary Consciousness

SCR Feature,altered states — thomasr @ 11:48 pm
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May 1, 2003

What’s the difference between an invisible house and an invisible face?

SCR Feature,fMRI — virgil @ 7:59 pm
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April 30, 2003

Empirical Constraints on the Concept of Consciousness

SCR Feature,philosophy,theory — thomasr @ 8:30 pm


Commentary on Crick and Koch’s ‘A Framework for Consciousness’

As other commentators on the target article have pointed out, and as Crick and Koch themselves acknowledge, their hypotheses regarding the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) have much in common with the work of other researchers. There now seems to be a well-established research consensus that the NCC are distributed, integrated, and semi-hierarchical, extending across many brain systems subserving various cognitive functions. Consciousness seems to involve neural coalitions, not central executives.

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April 20, 2003

Inner speech and conscious experience

SCR Feature,needsfixing,self-awareness — thomasr @ 8:17 pm

Imagine that scientists have been successful at designing a drug that “freezes” brain areas producing our internal monologue. After taking the drug you can’t talk to yourself anymore. Every other mental activity is fine, but it’s now total silence in your head. Not a word. What would happen? What would it be like?

Of course, such a pharmacological agent doesn’t exist. Actually, we don’t need it. Some unfortunate people suffer from brain damage that selectively interrupts inner speech. It’s as if they were under the influence of this imaginary drug. Scott Moss, a psychologist who was victim of a stroke, lost the ability to use language.

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April 7, 2003

Does the duck-billed platypus dream?

SCR Feature,animal minds — thomasr @ 7:53 pm

You can see a dog dreaming: it twitches and whines, and its eyes move in “rapid eye movement” (REM) sleep. In fact, dreaming in dogs and cats is quite similar to human dreaming. But a recent study of dream patterns in the duck-billed platypus, the odd-looking Australian marsupial, reveals an interesting surprise.

In humans, dreaming has all the earmarks of a conscious state. Our brains look like they are awake: They shows massive amounts of “gamma activity,” the high-frequency, low-intensity and irregular electrical waves that can be seen simply by placing electrodes on our scalps. People also give vivid dream reports (if they are awakened immediately after REM rather than waiting until the next day). In humans, dreaming has all the earmarks of a conscious state That is, they SAY they were conscious of something in their own minds. We can’t ask dogs and cats to report their dreams, but the same brain pattern occurs in a very wide range of mammals. Their eyes move (REM), their EEG goes into gamma, their bodies become limp, and they block incoming stimuli. Physiologically it looks like dogs and cats, and perhaps a very wide range of mammals, are conscious during REM dreams.

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April 2, 2003

A Nagelian Neurology of Consciousness?

SCR Feature,neuroscience,philosophy — thomasr @ 6:15 pm

nagelian.gifThe aim of this paper is to explore the possibility that Nagel’s well-known account has implications for understanding the neural basis of consciousness. In a world assumed to be non-dualistic, it is argued that Nagel’s view (i.e. that consciousness is what an organism possesses when there is something that it is like to be itself) implies that consciousness is an attribute of some system in the brain that maps patterns of spike train activity. Various considerations suggest that any such system is likely to operate on analog principles.

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March 28, 2003

Neurophenomenology: How to combine subjective experience with brain evidence

SCR Feature,neuroscience — thomasr @ 7:49 pm

article_image-2.gifIn this study we investigated whether refined first-person data from trained subjects could be used to guide the detection and interpretation of neural processes. This study is an attempt to implement a research program labeled « Neurophenomenology » (Varela, 1996). This style of research takes part to the recent interest in using introspective phenomenological reports phenomenology in studying brain basis of consciousness. Neurophenomenology takes the further step of incorporating ‘first-person methods’ —precise and rigorous methods subjects can use to increase the threshold of their awareness of their Neurophenomenology takes a the further step of incorporating ‘first-person methods’. experience from moment to moment, and thereby provide more refined first-person reports. The target is to create experimental situations that produce ‘reciprocal constraints’ between first-person phenomenological data and third-person cognitive-neuroscientific data: the subject is actively involved in generating and describing specific and stable, experiential or phenomenal categories; and the neuroscientist can be guided by these first-person data in the analysis and interpretation of the large-scale neural processes of consciousness.

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March 15, 2003

Some good things about Crick & Koch’s “Framework for consciousness.”

SCR Feature,theory — thomasr @ 7:45 pm

article_image-3.gifScience and Consciousness Review has just published a summary and four commentaries about the significant new article by Francis Crick and Christof Koch, titled “A framework for consciousness.” Most SCR commentaries in this series have been critical. I understand the criticisms. What may be lost in the debate, however, is an understanding of how far we have come in the scientific study of consciousness, in little more than a decade. In my view, Crick and Koch give us a progress report: Yes, there are many remaining gaps, but we are consistently learning more and more. Consciousness is back on the scientific frontier as a major topic, and there are signs of an early consensus on a number of questions.

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March 11, 2003

The 10 point framework and the altogether too hard basket

SCR Feature,theory — thomasr @ 7:42 pm

article_image-4.gifThe large footprints of the Crick/Koch duo at the frontier of knowledge can be a little daunting, which is why I was concerned at the very first paragraph of “A Framework for Consciousness” (1). It says that qualia are too hard and ‘it appears fruitless to approach them head on’. Qualia are then tacitly assumed emergent from the framework presented. I know the work is entitled ‘A’ framework, not ‘The’ framework, but from Crick and Koch it read a little like “Qualia cannot be approached from outside the framework”. I don’t think this was the intent, but it may be that the plausible explanation they need is stopped by the framework.

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March 5, 2003

A computer-based model of Crick and Koch’s Framework for Consciousness

SCR Feature,artificial intelligence — thomasr @ 7:28 pm

article_image3.gifRecently Crick and Koch offered a “Framework for Consciousness” (2003). Pradeep Mutalik’s review of that article in SCR (Mutalik 2003) asserts that “Crick and Koch describe ten aspects of a framework that they believe offers a coherent scheme for explaining the neural correlates of consciousness.”Crick and Koch explain that a framework must not be confused with a set of hypotheses. Rather a framework for A framework must not be confused with a set of hypotheses consciousness offers a point of view from which to address the problems of consciousness. It’s intended to guide research. A good framework should fit within current scientific knowledge reasonably well and should be roughly correct. It needn’t be correct in all its details, but rather should guide research to fill in and correct it details. Such frameworks have proved useful in Biology and Physics. This one can be expected to be useful in consciousness studies.

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