Neural correlates and experiences of transcendence

#1
Hi!
As we all know, our thoughts lead to new thoughts; the experience of thirst leads to the thoughts about how to acquire water, and this plan precedes the thoughts that are associated with actually getting water. All these experiences and thoughts correlate with neurons firing, and other kinds of neural activities, because the brain is the image of thoughts. Similarly, perceiving things through our sense organs correlates with signals going from the sense organs to the brain.

Now, when a medium experiences the other side, or when someone is affected by psilocybin, the person in question supposedly experiences things that are outside the egoic consciousness, but shouldn't we then, if we saw the person's brain states, expect to see signals emerging seemingly from nothing, into the brain? You might now say that the eqoic consciousness has partially dissolved into the mind-at-large, and that we can't really measure it, but nevertheless when the mind returns to its normal state we should be able to see new neural correlates that reflect memories of the transcendent experience, but if we could see these new memories emerging, where would we see them come from? Wouldn't we expect to see signals in the brain that don't seem to be the result of previous brain activity?

Thank you for your patience and time!
/Sebastian
 
#2
Wouldn't we expect to see signals in the brain that don't seem to be the result of previous brain activity?
Before you can look for uncaused brain states, you have to be able to identify when one brain state causes another. How do you do that? Simply observing that one precedes another doesn't prove one causes another. Two sequential brain states might be caused by some outside phenomenon. For example, the brain doesn't generate an entire movie based solely on the first frame, the brain continually reacts to what is seen on the screen.

If the brain is a filter of consciousness, then every sequential mental state will have a corresponding brain state without the necessity of a causal relationship between brain states.

If you want empirical evidence that consciousness is non-physical, there is an enormous amount.

And how do you define consciousness? The brain might generate some thoughts. You can represent a thought in physical matter by writing it down with ink on paper. You might also represent a thought in physical matter by some configuration of neurons in the brain. But the subjective experience of being aware of a thought, or a feeling, or a color ... that is totally different. Why does blue look like blue? You will never explain that with physics or neuroscience.
 
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#3
Hi!
As we all know, our thoughts lead to new thoughts; the experience of thirst leads to the thoughts about how to acquire water, and this plan precedes the thoughts that are associated with actually getting water. All these experiences and thoughts correlate with neurons firing, and other kinds of neural activities, because the brain is the image of thoughts. Similarly, perceiving things through our sense organs correlates with signals going from the sense organs to the brain.

Now, when a medium experiences the other side, or when someone is affected by psilocybin, the person in question supposedly experiences things that are outside the egoic consciousness, but shouldn't we then, if we saw the person's brain states, expect to see signals emerging seemingly from nothing, into the brain? You might now say that the eqoic consciousness has partially dissolved into the mind-at-large, and that we can't really measure it, but nevertheless when the mind returns to its normal state we should be able to see new neural correlates that reflect memories of the transcendent experience, but if we could see these new memories emerging, where would we see them come from? Wouldn't we expect to see signals in the brain that don't seem to be the result of previous brain activity?

Thank you for your patience and time!
/Sebastian
First, whenever we talkabout seeing things in the brain, I think it is sobering to post this link:

http://pps.sagepub.com/content/4/3/274.short?rss=1&ssource=mfc

In other words, some of this research may be wishful thinking!

How would we know if some signals in the brain are not caused by previous signals? I mean yes, people who assume the brain operates on completely physical (but unknown) principles, simply assume that. I think it is very, very useful to read the above link to peer reviewed , which helps to put the over-inflated claims for brain scans (and the information gleaned from them) into some perspective.

This issue obviously ties in the Near Death Experiences (NDE's), where people have remarkable experiences while their heart has stopped beating. Although there are some quibbles about the state of the brain at this point, it is clearly not working well(!!), and yet people can have extraordinary experiences that they remember for the rest of their lives!

David
 
#4
Wouldn't we expect to see signals in the brain that don't seem to be the result of previous brain activity?
Not necessarily Added to which the knowledge and ability to discern whether or not that's the case doesn't currently exist. In fact it may never exist. The correlations you speak of are very nebulous.
 
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