Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medicine. Anything human!
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Many of you probably know of the split-brain studies on people who had commissurotomy through the corpus callosum, and many of you have probably wondered about the implications it has for our understanding of mind. But have you also thought about the relationship between brain size and the transit time of cognitive signals? The hummingbird has a powerful but small brain, which is why it can react so quickly. Our brains are more sluggish because they are bigger.
So it appears there is a spectrum. Sometimes the transit of neural information is fast, sometimes it is slow, and sometimes it doesn't happen at all. To my neurologically illiterate self, this suggests that the mind isn't an instantaneous "jumping together" of experiences. It suggests that all of our experiences are separate, despite the fact that we neatly integrate them into this whole thing called a "self".
This could mean that it still makes sense to, for example, speak of the colors experienced by a man exhibiting blindsight? The color experiences could stil be there, the brain just doesn't have the cognitive connections to transmit the color information to the centers for speech. Is that right?
But perhaps we think of experience happening at once because it's impossible for brain region A to be aware of an event in region B until the consequences of that event have reached region A, thus it is impossible for region A to guage how long it took for the chain-reaction to move from region B to region A.
Replace "self" with "present experience".
I was rushed.
I was thinking in terms of my own personally formulated model in which "cognition" is the causal connections between brain regions, whereas the "experiences" are the current states of those regions. I just didn't want to go into that too much since I don't really know the science or philosophy. In this model, "cognition" would only come to awareness through the "experience" of memories regarding our previous cognitions.
I've got it!!!
Imagine an hypothetical experiment with a machine that induces a blindsight condition by inhibiting a mediating pathway, a pathway connecting the visual cortex to the centers for speech and higher cognition. First, there is firing in the visual cortex. After that happens, the machine reacts very quickly, choosing whether to inhibit the mediating pathway on the basis of some quantum indeterminate process.
I can't know the outcome for certain until the experiment is conducted, but I think we would all expect their report of the experience to depend on whether the mediating pathway is inhibited. If you also have this expectation, but believe the visual experience itself depends on the subject's awareness of it, you would have to explain how the presence or absence of visual experience could be determined by an event occurring after the visual cortex stimulation! Surely, the visual experience doesn't originate from the centers for speech and higher cognition. Where does this line of reasoning stop? Are all of our experiences actually arising from one little brain region, the region that holds the final say in whether we shall speak of a brain event? I doubt that. I prefer to think that the visual experience originates from the visual centers, and it occurs along with the visual cortex stimulation.
I thought of two other ways to make things consistent with the result. The first is deterministic mind, that a single mental experience arises from multiple separate moments in time. As a brain becomes larger and larger (slower and slower), its associated mental experiences are arising from greater and greater spans of time.
However, my preferred compromise is that the visual experience never depended on the subject's awareness of it; the visual experience occurs whether the machine says yes or no. Of course, the subject may recall that the visual experience and the thoughts about it occurred simulataneously, but this could simply be an artifact of how their brain processes and/or stores information.
Now please, tell me where I went wrong!
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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