Consciousness Is the Whole Brain. It's Not Reducible.
Consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, resulting from the communication of information across all its regions and cannot be reduced to something residing in specific areas.
Consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, resulting from the communication of information across all its regions and cannot be reduced to something residing in specific areas that control for qualities like attention, hearing, or memory.
These are the results of a new experiment out of Vanderbilt University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which researchers observed "whole-brain awareness" when individuals were asked to observe an image flashed briefly on a screen. Researchers measured brain function using fMRI imaging technology and categorized participant responses into "high confidence" and "low confidence" categories, according to how sure each person was that they had seen the image.
"They found that no one area or network of areas of the brain stood out as particularly more connected during awareness of the target; the whole brain appeared to become functionally more connected following reports of awareness."
Past experiments have demonstrated that different regions modulate different characteristics of consciousness such as attention, language, and self-control, but none of these qualities is sufficient on its own to create what we experience as consciousness. Douglass Godwin, a neuroscientist who helped lead the study, explained further:
"We take for granted how unified our experience of the world is. We don’t experience separate visual and auditory worlds; it’s all integrated into a single conscious experience. This widespread cross-network communication makes sense as a mechanism by which consciousness gets integrated into that singular world."
The study confirms a kind of double-sided consciousness: one that is reducible to certain component parts and another that is experiential and irreducible. In his Big Think interview, Stanford philosophy graduate Sam Harris, who has written widely about the benefits of mindfulness meditation as a way of harnessing consciousness, explains the essential nature of an irreducible consciousness:
"Someone like Francis Crick said famously you’re nothing but a pack of neurons. And that misses the fact that half of the reality we’re talking about is the qualitative experiential side. So when you’re trying to study human consciousness, for instance, by looking at states of the brain, all you can do is correlate experiential changes with changes in brain states. But no matter how tight these correlations become, that never gives you license to throw out the first-person experiential side."
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Elon Musk took issue with recent ideas for space exploration from Jeff Bezos.
- Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sparred over space exploration previously.
- Musk wants to focus on Mars while Bezos has the moon and space colonies as goals.
- In a recent tweet, Musk called out Bezos's plans for space colonies as unrealistic.
If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.
- For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
- Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
- Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
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