1          Human quest 3 consciousness (C) (revised 2/02/07)

1.1         Descartes and self

Pineal gland (not a bad guess in 1640 since it is situated between lots of paired left and right structures!)

Alternative cultures and beginning of self; shows Bali where not until first language when spirit enters body and when C appears.  (Many traditional cultures have some ritual where a neonate becomes human or a complete person.)

1.2         Mirror test

Devised as a test of human self consciousness, chimps but not gorillas or monkeys typically figure it out after some experience with mirrors.  Eighteen to 24 month old children always do. See older papers by Gordon Gallup on this index of C. Is it a reasonable "test"? Or maybe it is just a by product of detailed and manipulable body representations?

1.3         The brain and its 100 billion neurons

Along with 100 trillion connections, at 10 levels each.. more than elements in universe

1.4         Tastes as combinations

The idea that experience is a combination of basic elements   (smells, sounds, colors, shapes, etc.) is a very old one -- and its not obvious what the alternatives are today. See the "Binding problem" below.

1.5         Patterns as representations

So the idea is that these combinations of elements create representations that give us our experiences and in some cases enable re-enactment of those experiences,, e.g. in hallucinations, dreams, vivid episodic memories -- all of which may be described as conscious experiences.

(Of course there may be representations active in the life of the mind that are not experienced directly as well -- maybe most of our mental life is like this?  It also may be that the consciously experienced representations are different from the causal representations -- those governing our behavior.  One does not have to believe in Freud's ideas to accept this possibility.)

1.6         Talking heads

1.6.1       Damasio

1.6.2       Linas

1.6.3       Dennet

1.6.4       Ramachandran     Phantom limbs     Denial and confabulation

Confabulation is evident in "split-brain" patients and may actually be a "feature" of humans. Where do our new ideas come from?

1.6.5       Ekman- the face man.

1.6.6       Speigel and hypnosis and MPD

these two ideas were linked from the earliest clinical accounts. Morton Prince wrote an extensive case history of a young woman in which he discusses killing off persona with hypnosis.

Prince, M. (1906). The dissociation of a personality: A biographical study in abnormal psychology. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co.

1.6.7       Humphreys

Mind evolved to predict others behavior (recall the research on "theory of mind" development)

Humphreys suggests C as feelings rather than reflections or self-talk

1.7         Definitions of c

1.7.1       Binding problem --the idea that C is the product of the process of bringing (binding) together all the components of experience independently analyzed more or less simultaneously by the nervous system. Recent imaging papers support this idea in a sense that, especially in the visual system different components of an image appear computed in different locations.

1.7.2       Awareness?

1.7.3       Attention and rhythms

Organizes brain modules into whole experience (binding). While the word "binding" here may be recent, the idea of rhythms in the brain is mentioned in James (1890)

1.8         Dreams

1.8.1       REM

Includes sense of self

Linas - dream constructs C in absense of sensory input from past memories

1.9         Thalamus as hub of cortex, cortical glue

1.10    Turing test (red herring?)  Loebner prize web site? See here for more.

(I don't think Turing saw his "test" as anything but a discussion of intelligence-- not consciousness).

Turing, A. (1950). Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind, 59, 433-460.


1.11    Qualia-- experiential primitives-- the atoms of consciousness?

1.12    Churhland on materialism

It just takes a while to get used to the idea that C is just the operation of lots of neurons etc.