conscious mind and brain processes

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

conscious mind and brain processes

Postby Cerebrum on May 22nd, 2014, 9:57 pm 

How do we all have same processes occuring in our brains yet every single one of us thinks different ? I mean my neurons transport action potentials through axons then by neurotransmitters to another neuron same as everybodys neurons are. So what's that difference that makes our own thoughts. I don't know if this has been brought up here before but it doesn't matter. I just want the answer.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby owleye on May 23rd, 2014, 7:10 am 

Cerebrum » Thu May 22, 2014 7:57 pm wrote:How do we all have same processes occuring in our brains yet every single one of us thinks different ? I mean my neurons transport action potentials through axons then by neurotransmitters to another neuron same as everybodys neurons are. So what's that difference that makes our own thoughts. I don't know if this has been brought up here before but it doesn't matter. I just want the answer.


I don't know why this is a puzzle. For a starter, we all receive different information from our environment.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby Cerebrum on May 23rd, 2014, 8:19 am 

Yeah, i know but even if we received the same information we would at some point end up in a crossroad. And by crossroad i mean arguing about the same thing. Having different opinions about the same information we receive. Imagine twins. They are living together, go to the same class, go out together. Then, the next scenario happens. One brother graduate at some university, becoming normal citizen of his country following rules. Other brother, who lived with his twin entire life, receiving same information as his brother ends up in jail, no degree, totally differs from his brother. All this happened even though they lived in same environment, under the same circumstances.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby TheVat on May 23rd, 2014, 10:13 am 

Isn't every brain, a network of neurons, unique in its structure? Even identical twins at birth have received slightly different stimulation in the womb, due to asymmetries in the body and of incoming external stimuli, and their neural structures have diverged slightly as a result of that. The dog jumps up on mom and one twin feels a paw pushing at its head while the other one doesn't. There might also be epigenetic effects. And so on.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby mtbturtle on May 23rd, 2014, 5:12 pm 

Cerebrum » Thu May 22, 2014 8:57 pm wrote:How do we all have same processes occuring in our brains yet every single one of us thinks different ? I mean my neurons transport action potentials through axons then by neurotransmitters to another neuron same as everybodys neurons are. So what's that difference that makes our own thoughts. I don't know if this has been brought up here before but it doesn't matter. I just want the answer.


Owen Flanagan in The Really Hard Question: Meaning in a Materialist World uses the terms token and type neurophysicalism to capture the distinction you might be getting at.

Token neurophysicalism is the view that each and every mental event, each and every experience, is some physical event or other—presumably some central-nervous-system event.25 Type neurophysicalism is the view that each kind or type of experience, e.g., ‘‘seeing a red cube’’ or ‘‘believing that [snow is white],’’ each kind or type of event—be it perceptual, emotional, or a belief—is realized in ‘‘pretty much the same way’’ by each member of the species that has the relevant experience (p. 27).
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby owleye on May 23rd, 2014, 6:04 pm 

Great post mtbturtle.

Insofar as language might cast types (i.e., concepts) on objects and their properties, one has to reach a bit farther into type-neurophysicalism in order to make sure that 'snow is white' means the same thing in different languages/cultures. Perhaps there's a way to translate types so as to carry out what Flanagan says of them. Cerebrum, of course, isn't considering this degree of separation, so it's not all that important. It was just a thought that occurred to me in reading what Flanagan has to say. (The type/token distinction occurs in other contexts as well.)
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby TheVat on May 28th, 2014, 8:04 pm 

There's a kind of functionalist approach there...ideas/memes are essentially bits of software that can be run in any neural network and will not be distinguished or rendered unique by a particular location. "Seeing a red cube" runs pretty much the same on all platforms. Of course, the curious mind will be prompted to think of ways that this sameness is derailed.....what does Salvador Dali's brain do with the experience in terms of developing beliefs and emotions about the red cube, versus what an architect or a civil engineer or a ballet dancer might do with it? One might say that we all have a lot of the same raw material - red cubes, white snow, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens - but interpretation might be variable to a nearly infinite degree?

I think defining the "type" is very difficult. How much of "red" is mediated by language, for example, such that one hears of cultures where people speak only of "warm color" and "cool color," and tend not to distinguish much between red, orange, and magenta, say.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby BadgerJelly on May 29th, 2014, 4:19 am 

Yeah, i know but even if we received the same information we would at some point end up in a crossroad.


This crossroad produces what we call knowledge. When we all grope around the same object, regardless of intention, and conclude the same thing about the object (within a finite, judged insignificant, margin of error).
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby someguy1 on June 6th, 2014, 4:48 pm 

Cerebrum » May 22nd, 2014, 7:57 pm wrote:How do we all have same processes occuring in our brains yet every single one of us thinks different ? I mean my neurons transport action potentials through axons then by neurotransmitters to another neuron same as everybodys neurons are. So what's that difference that makes our own thoughts. I don't know if this has been brought up here before but it doesn't matter. I just want the answer.


We all execute the same code; but with different data. Just as my copy of Microsoft Word is exactly the same as your copy of Microsoft Word, but we write different documents with them.

This is a metaphor from computer programming. I find it helpful to think about this type of question. We all have the same mechanisms for thought and perception; but our experience is different. Only one of us is you. Only one of us is me. So we have different experiences. But we run the same underlying code. We operate according to the same physical laws. But with different data.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby doogles on June 7th, 2014, 5:21 am 

"We all execute the same code; but with different data. Just as my copy of Microsoft Word is exactly the same as your copy of Microsoft Word, but we write different documents with them"

I can suggest another couple of possibilities for differences. Positron Emission Tomography demonstrates with sight at least, that more than one area is stimulated by a single observation. For example SM Grafton and others in 1996 were able to show that the single act of watching someone grasp an object produced increased energy usage in a number of different areas, as shown in Figure 6.



(My mud map)
Then when people were asked to imagine what they had seen, different, sometimes adjacent, areas, lit up with energy. It seems that we record what we see in multiple areas which gives us all the potential we need for cross-referencing, but that we recall those images in memory recall of those residues using slightly different areas.

Hence a single observation can register in multiple areas of our brains, for starters, and recall of that single observation can involve different adjacent areas. If you multiply the possible variation in such a single observation by the number of visual observations each of us makes in a day, you’ll understand why responses in this forum come from so many different angles and viewpoints.

Another possibly important reason for such differences is that each of us possesses a guestimate of 14 billion neurones in our cerebral cortices, with another guestimate that each neurone has anywhere between 1000 and 10000 dendritic and axonic connections with other neurones. When we are born, very few of these are connected. We have no evidence yet that identical twins make the same associative connections as each other or whether such connections are random. But it is a plausible reason for why any siblings finish up with such different personalities, orientations, complexes or traits.

Grafton ST, Arbib MA, Fadiga L et al (1996) Localization of grasp representations in humans using positron emission tomography: observation compared with imagination. In Exp Brain Res 1:103-111.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby Cerebrum on June 7th, 2014, 3:00 pm 

doogles » June 7th, 2014, 4:21 am wrote:"We all execute the same code; but with different data. Just as my copy of Microsoft Word is exactly the same as your copy of Microsoft Word, but we write different documents with them"

I can suggest another couple of possibilities for differences. Positron Emission Tomography demonstrates with sight at least, that more than one area is stimulated by a single observation. For example SM Grafton and others in 1996 were able to show that the single act of watching someone grasp an object produced increased energy usage in a number of different areas, as shown in Figure 6.



(My mud map)
Then when people were asked to imagine what they had seen, different, sometimes adjacent, areas, lit up with energy. It seems that we record what we see in multiple areas which gives us all the potential we need for cross-referencing, but that we recall those images in memory recall of those residues using slightly different areas.

Hence a single observation can register in multiple areas of our brains, for starters, and recall of that single observation can involve different adjacent areas. If you multiply the possible variation in such a single observation by the number of visual observations each of us makes in a day, you’ll understand why responses in this forum come from so many different angles and viewpoints.

Another possibly important reason for such differences is that each of us possesses a guestimate of 14 billion neurones in our cerebral cortices, with another guestimate that each neurone has anywhere between 1000 and 10000 dendritic and axonic connections with other neurones. When we are born, very few of these are connected. We have no evidence yet that identical twins make the same associative connections as each other or whether such connections are random. But it is a plausible reason for why any siblings finish up with such different personalities, orientations, complexes or traits.

Grafton ST, Arbib MA, Fadiga L et al (1996) Localization of grasp representations in humans using positron emission tomography: observation compared with imagination. In Exp Brain Res 1:103-111.


I think we've already have discussed about that Microsoft thing. Of course my Microsoft is different than yours because of different data but what if we stacked same data in two computers than they'd be the same or for example if you write program on one computer then it's gonna execute it the same way as another. I also know that such things happen but my question is why. How can a single chemical like noradrenaline or acetylcholine produce such experience as conscious thought and make that thought different from human to human. Because humans will execute same program differently. Why ?
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby doogles on June 9th, 2014, 5:24 am 

I think we've already have discussed about that Microsoft thing. Of course my Microsoft is different than yours because of different data but what if we stacked same data in two computers than they'd be the same or for example if you write program on one computer then it's gonna execute it the same way as another. I also know that such things happen but my question is why. How can a single chemical like noradrenaline or acetylcholine produce such experience as conscious thought and make that thought different from human to human. Because humans will execute same program differently. Why ?


Cerebrum. I think somehow I have missed the point of your question or you have missed the point of my response. I'm not sure what you mean by 'that Microsoft thing'. Are you making an assumption that our brains act like computers with data input, computation of that data, and data output in accordance with software program requests? I do not perceive that our brains work that way, and would like to clarify my last response if you can set me straight.
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Re: conscious mind and brain processes

Postby neuro on June 9th, 2014, 7:19 am 

The main difference I'd point out between a brain and a computer is that the brain builds its "hardware" while elaborating incoming and internal information, and such "hardware" changes bring about continuous modifications of both the "data" contained in the brain and the "software" used to elaborate old and new data.

Not even the most modern dynamc programming techniques come close to this extremely dynamic performance: in the brain, inner and incoming data, and the result of their elaboration, modify the program itself, the data it works on, and the way it operates
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