neuroscience and consciousness

#1
To be honest, i dont know where to post this, but well, it got something to do with Science and Consciousness... Sadly its something rather sceptical for my first post in these forums.

Anyways, let me get to the point right away. I just recently read something about the persistent vegetative state and the consequences of it on human beings. Basically it was something of it being the state where humans are theoretically alive while their minds "are not working" anymore. Those people pretty much do not show any sign of consciousness at all.
I also heard from some people who actually made it and came back to a "normal" state of consciousness. It was a rather unscientific source because it was just rumors, but its said that they where unconscious while being in that state.

Im kinda confused how you can bring that together with the theory of the survival of consciousness (or any other theory of the survival of the mind or parts of it). Im not a materialist by any means, but this state of being (granted that it is true that people in that state are not conscious) suggests for me personally that consciousness could depend on our brain. But that somehow feels... wrong as a explanation.

I mean, if you can destroy parts of the brain and consciousness disappear - doesnt that hint to some sort of materialistic explanations? Or can someone of you guys make a good claim that it is propably otherwise?
 
#2
This is a question I have mulled over a few times and there are a few articles written on this topic more and more as our technology and understanding of this topic improves. What you wrote here, "Basically it was something of it being the state where humans are theoretically alive while their minds "are not working" anymore." was pretty much my rudimentary idea of this topic too. But as I looked in to it I found people claiming consciousness while in that type of state through anecdotes but not much was written within scientific literature in support of there being much conscious activity until the last decade. If you do a quick Google search you can find some articles that are interesting to read. While some are about what you suggest, I suppose,

http://www.newscientist.com/article...-people-in-vegetative-state.html#.VFkV5fnF-So

Others may be more towards coma patients and more just general articles for fascination.

http://www.macleans.ca/society/heal...f-vegetative-patients-are-actually-conscious/

But my personal beliefs lead me towards a brain based explanation but I may be wrong. Why couldn't there be a vessel, so to speak, for consciousness and it be trapped inside, silenced, for a while. I don't have a model for consciousness to start getting those questions answered.
 
#3
Im kinda confused how you can bring that together with the theory of the survival of consciousness
You make the classic, and common, mistake of equating consciousness (non-local or primary if you will) with "human/animal awareness."

Within that error, you then make the mistake of thinking that a physical body without standard human awareness equates with the non-existence of that awareness. All that can be gleaned from what you mention is that the observers didn't perceive standard human awareness in those physical bodies at that time.

You make another mistake with your brain comment. Using that "logic", destroying part of a radio receiver would hint that the radio is generating the sounds we hear on it.

As often on here, I wonder if you're being skeptical or (intentionally or not) doing a disguised version of nay-saying. I wonder because even without all the mistakes in your thinking, your entire post comes down to "observations of a lack of awareness during vegetative states" as an indication of consciousness ending with death. That entire premise is nonsensical. Otherwise we'd just head to the morgue, poke a few bodies and declare the case closed.

Here's the thing - consciousness does not "survive death." What you think of as life (including all physical) is just one aspect of consciousness expressing itself. A rock is as much consciousness in expression as a human.
 
#4
You make the classic, and common, mistake of equating consciousness (non-local or primary if you will) with "human/animal awareness."

Within that error, you then make the mistake of thinking that a physical body without standard human awareness equates with the non-existence of that awareness. All that can be gleaned from what you mention is that the observers didn't perceive standard human awareness in those physical bodies at that time.

You make another mistake with your brain comment. Using that "logic", destroying part of a radio receiver would hint that the radio is generating the sounds we hear on it.

As often on here, I wonder if you're being skeptical or (intentionally or not) doing a disguised version of nay-saying. I wonder because even without all the mistakes in your thinking, your entire post comes down to "observations of a lack of awareness during vegetative states" as an indication of consciousness ending with death. That entire premise is nonsensical. Otherwise we'd just head to the morgue, poke a few bodies and declare the case closed.

Here's the thing - consciousness does not "survive death." What you think of as life (including all physical) is just one aspect of consciousness expressing itself. A rock is as much consciousness in expression as a human.
Harsh words. Although i agree that i propably do get tons of stuff wrong (thats why i created the thread afterall :) ) i dont believe that i wrote that i equate consciousness with awareness. The people that i was writing about ARE aware, i know that. They can percieve things in that state. They just dont show any signs of consciousness while percieving things though. Consciousness isnt awareness; thats why i didnt write about awareness.

The radio-brain-metaphor isnt working. I get what you are saying, but technically spoken - the radio is generating in some way the sounds we are hearing because it converts signals to waves. It does not generate the signals, that is right.

Btw, whats with the unfriendliness? Im not nay-saying. Im just asking questions about stuff im not sure about. Im new to the whole topic and i havent found anything out there that explicitly goes on about that right here. Im not some sort of veteran on that whole field! So bear with me and my ignorance.
 
#5
Btw, whats with the unfriendliness? Im not nay-saying. Im just asking questions about stuff im not sure about. Im new to the whole topic and i havent found anything out there that explicitly goes on about that right here. Im not some sort of veteran on that whole field! So bear with me and my ignorance.
Saiko is always a stupid asshole, regardless of the poster. I wouldn't take any personal offense by it.
 
#6
Harsh words. Although i agree that i propably do get tons of stuff wrong (thats why i created the thread afterall :) ) i dont believe that i wrote that i equate consciousness with awareness. The people that i was writing about ARE aware, i know that. They can percieve things in that state. They just dont show any signs of consciousness while percieving things though. Consciousness isnt awareness; thats why i didnt write about awareness.

The radio-brain-metaphor isnt working. I get what you are saying, but technically spoken - the radio is generating in some way the sounds we are hearing because it converts signals to waves. It does not generate the signals, that is right.

Btw, whats with the unfriendliness? Im not nay-saying. Im just asking questions about stuff im not sure about. Im new to the whole topic and i havent found anything out there that explicitly goes on about that right here. Im not some sort of veteran on that whole field! So bear with me and my ignorance.
Not harsh at all. I guess your new here huh? :)

- You clearly mean something different by "awareness." And you still missed my point. Consciousness is an action that has no set signs. Human/animal "consciousness" ( trying to use terms the way you do) does have signs. But it, like else in physical, is just one aspect of primary consciousness. The physical is, to re-purpose a phrase, an emergent property of consciousness.

- The radio metaphor works perfectly. Including your description.

- Unfriendliness? Not so. No friendliness either though. That's a work-in-progress. I sometimes just deal with the discussion without any niceties. Don't let it get to you.
 
#7
To be honest, i dont know where to post this, but well, it got something to do with Science and Consciousness... Sadly its something rather sceptical for my first post in these forums.

Anyways, let me get to the point right away. I just recently read something about the persistent vegetative state and the consequences of it on human beings. Basically it was something of it being the state where humans are theoretically alive while their minds "are not working" anymore. Those people pretty much do not show any sign of consciousness at all.
I also heard from some people who actually made it and came back to a "normal" state of consciousness. It was a rather unscientific source because it was just rumors, but its said that they where unconscious while being in that state.

Im kinda confused how you can bring that together with the theory of the survival of consciousness (or any other theory of the survival of the mind or parts of it). Im not a materialist by any means, but this state of being (granted that it is true that people in that state are not conscious) suggests for me personally that consciousness could depend on our brain. But that somehow feels... wrong as a explanation.

I mean, if you can destroy parts of the brain and consciousness disappear - doesnt that hint to some sort of materialistic explanations? Or can someone of you guys make a good claim that it is propably otherwise?
I think it's better to backtrack and think about your perception - at least initially - then go forward again from there. I don't think it's possible to discuss specific issues properly, like the one you have raised, without first taking a great deal of time to get your ideas about perception more firmly nailed down. When you've done that, I find the questions you are asking, and the answers, become rather less relevant.

Your visual perception would be a good start. Thinking about how we popularly conceive of light entering the eye, falling on the retina, how that information is sent via the nervous system to the brain, where it's correlated with the firing of neurons in widely dispersed areas of the cortex.

Then think about how we dream. and how we can recall visual imagery from our dreams when we are asleep at night, our eyes are closed, and we are not apparently receiving any optical sensory data from our eyes.

You might think about what is happening when we view optical illusions like Kanizsa Triangles, and Neon Colour Spreading images, and why we can reliably experience these visual illusions when they do not objectively exist.

You might consider Edwin Lands work on Colour Constancy which shows that colour does not actually exist, but arises from your processing of sensory data.

Even taking a conservative stance on these examples, it's hard not to accept that the visual reality you see appears to be taking place inside your head. Thus your head, would also appear to be a perception inside your head.
 
#9
Not harsh at all. I guess your new here huh? :)

- You clearly mean something different by "awareness." And you still missed my point. Consciousness is an action that has no set signs. Human/animal "consciousness" ( trying to use terms the way you do) does have signs. But it, like else in physical, is just one aspect of primary consciousness. The physical is, to re-purpose a phrase, an emergent property of consciousness.

- The radio metaphor works perfectly. Including your description.

- Unfriendliness? Not so. No friendliness either though. That's a work-in-progress. I sometimes just deal with the discussion without any niceties. Don't let it get to you.
Well, i am. And i suck at discussing things.

I clearly do. Let me see if i get what you are talking about: In your opinion there are pretty much 2 different types of consciousness: The human/animal thingie and the one that you call primary consciousness. The first one emerges from the second one. Is that correct?

I dont see how it is working. No radio -> no sounds. There'll be just a signal somewhere. Sure thing, that could also be true for the brain when it is in a persistent vegetative state.
 
#13
And a potentially interesting discussion once again derailed
That seems to be order of the day, sadly. To make it worse if a person does try to put things back on topic, the fact that the thread has been derailed in the past is then used as an excuse to continue being off topic. Some heavy-handed moderation is needed to keep threads sorted out to the correct silos and we just don't have that.

As for OP: There are also reverse situations, where clinicians said a person was unable to hear while people suspected their loved ones in comatose states could still hear them. It turned out that this is true, at least some of the time, because some people in those situations are unable to manipulate their body but the mind is still intact. So the part that makes this awkward is being able to determine whether or not someone is in a comatose state with awareness or without awareness, since the only tried and true way we have of definitively knowing if someone is aware is to ask them outright. For me the confounding situation is the question of why some people show no awareness yet turn out to have had it, and others show no awareness and don't have it. As discussed in the AWARE threads, I don't think we're well equipped at the moment to discern that distinction.
 
#15
Idk if the thread got that much derailed. I got some good things to think about for now, so it was worth it. Im basically in a position right now where i try to make sense of scientific research in a view of the world that does not depend solely on materialism (i already knew before that this alone wont answer all the questions that i have :) ). I already saw that a few of you guys disagree with that approach, but it seems like the most reasonable thing to do to me if i want to find out more. My question may be closely entangled to a materialistic world view though; thats what i believed to be true till now (and its hard to get away from that), so no wonders there.

Anyways, let me respond to some of those things that you guys wrote.

I think it's better to backtrack and think about your perception - at least initially - then go forward again from there. I don't think it's possible to discuss specific issues properly, like the one you have raised, without first taking a great deal of time to get your ideas about perception more firmly nailed down. When you've done that, I find the questions you are asking, and the answers, become rather less relevant.

Your visual perception would be a good start. Thinking about how we popularly conceive of light entering the eye, falling on the retina, how that information is sent via the nervous system to the brain, where it's correlated with the firing of neurons in widely dispersed areas of the cortex.

Then think about how we dream. and how we can recall visual imagery from our dreams when we are asleep at night, our eyes are closed, and we are not apparently receiving any optical sensory data from our eyes.

You might think about what is happening when we view optical illusions like Kanizsa Triangles, and Neon Colour Spreading images, and why we can reliably experience these visual illusions when they do not objectively exist.

You might consider Edwin Lands work on Colour Constancy which shows that colour does not actually exist, but arises from your processing of sensory data.

Even taking a conservative stance on these examples, it's hard not to accept that the visual reality you see appears to be taking place inside your head. Thus your head, would also appear to be a perception inside your head.
Interesting. As much as i remember i even read some stuff about things like that. That all things that we are percieving could be just made up by us. But well, how would you define 'us' then? Who is percieving those things? consciousness? And the thought that the image of my head is made up by my head... i get that, but it seems to me like a argument in an inifinte loop. Wouldnt that mean that my 'head' created all the world out there that im percieving? Including all other humans, like you guys for example? And well, my perceptions would also be a peception. And there you go, a loop is created.

That seems to be order of the day, sadly. To make it worse if a person does try to put things back on topic, the fact that the thread has been derailed in the past is then used as an excuse to continue being off topic. Some heavy-handed moderation is needed to keep threads sorted out to the correct silos and we just don't have that.

As for OP: There are also reverse situations, where clinicians said a person was unable to hear while people suspected their loved ones in comatose states could still hear them. It turned out that this is true, at least some of the time, because some people in those situations are unable to manipulate their body but the mind is still intact. So the part that makes this awkward is being able to determine whether or not someone is in a comatose state with awareness or without awareness, since the only tried and true way we have of definitively knowing if someone is aware is to ask them outright. For me the confounding situation is the question of why some people show no awareness yet turn out to have had it, and others show no awareness and don't have it. As discussed in the AWARE threads, I don't think we're well equipped at the moment to discern that distinction.
Thats propably true. We dont have the skills and the equipment to solve this riddle if it is the case that people could be aware or not aware while being in that state. Simple brain scans and all that neuroscience stuff propably isnt as much developed as it would have to to help here. A materialist would propably say though that its based on the grade of damage on the human brain (even though that isnt proven either). If it is severely damaged it could not percieve, even though their families said that they are sure they did. Couldnt that also be possible?
 
#16
Interesting. As much as i remember i even read some stuff about things like that. That all things that we are percieving could be just made up by us. But well, how would you define 'us' then? Who is percieving those things? consciousness? And the thought that the image of my head is made up by my head... i get that, but it seems to me like a argument in an inifinte loop. Wouldnt that mean that my 'head' created all the world out there that im percieving? Including all other humans, like you guys for example? And well, my perceptions would also be a peception. And there you go, a loop is created.
As I say, I find it difficult to discuss this stuff with people, until they spend a deal of time thinking about perception... for me, moving away from naive 'type' concepts of perception, is a vital first step.

I wouldn't say I agree with Steve Lehar, but you might want to click through the three sections of his cartoon site, exploring some of the issues of perception... I think it's fun, and approachable, and it might start you thinking about these issues...

http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/cartoonepist/cartoonepist.html
 
#17
Das,

I think the correct way to handle your own question is to ask: what makes the most sense of this situation?
If you ask yourself the question in that way, I think you will have your answer.
 
#19
I dont know where to go with this...
And well, its related to neuroscience, so here i ago:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141120141442.htm

Could also be a thing regarding the state of consciousness durring illness etc.. I just dont know what i should make out of that what science is stating right here. Any thoughts?
You came to the right sub forum. The really hardcore skeptics aren't allowed to post here, so you won't get trivial time wasting answers.

It's an interesting study, but the conclusions are misleading. Info from the eyes flows in one direction and imagination flows in another. You could surmise that processing of imagination is somehow different from reality except for one teensy problem: What happens when you imagine the reality you just saw with your eyes? Is this imagination or reality? do you see the problem?
 
#20
You came to the right sub forum. The really hardcore skeptics aren't allowed to post here, so you won't get trivial time wasting answers.

It's an interesting study, but the conclusions are misleading. Info from the eyes flows in one direction and imagination flows in another. You could surmise that processing of imagination is somehow different from reality except for one teensy problem: What happens when you imagine the reality you just saw with your eyes? Is this imagination or reality? do you see the problem?
Propably. There hast to be Link between reality and Imagination. Somewhere. Kind of weird To split those 2 up like that. I imagine Though that you where talking about The problem of The criteriaa by which those 2 should be splitted.
Btw just noticed something else: that study opens some doors to all Kinds off dualisms, huh?
 
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