How credible is our sense of "now"

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How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby edy420 on August 27th, 2017, 6:50 am 

The perception of reality, is an interesting topic.
For most of us, it is concrete evidence that we exist.

Our memories, are of the past, and hard to prove that they are not artificial, implanted or imagined and hallucinated.
But our awareness of the presence is quite convincing of the fact that we exist, until that awareness is banked in our memory of the past.

Can I rely on my awareness of the "now", or is my memory of the past proof enough that I exist.
Descartes could prove to himself that he exists, but now he no longer can.
How credible is our sense of now.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on August 27th, 2017, 7:56 am 

Everything that we are conscious of NOW has already happened. “Instantaneous” detection/sensing is not logically nor scientifically possible, this includes human conscious awareness (sensing/detecting) which takes >150-200 ms processing time for the average human. So again, our present consciousness, our NOW, is actually of past (unchangeable) events.

“The important thing to understand about the moment NOW is that it is actually the moment THEN. You can only experience something that has already happened so essentially you're living in the wake of your own past.” -- Obvious Leo


NOW is the current memory of a PAST event. (...and 'memory' is the 'experience' of recognition).
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on August 27th, 2017, 8:19 am 

edy420 wrote:Can I rely on my awareness of the "now", or is my memory of the past proof enough that I exist.

Both are one-in-the-same, so yes. -- Experiencing exists, therefore the 'experiencer' ("I") exists. (...for without an 'experiencer', this 'experiencing' could not happen/exist).

But be cautious, the 'content' of one's experiences can never be known or trusted as 'certain'.

"I exist" is true because of 'logic', not because it is the 'content' of one's experience.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby neuro on August 27th, 2017, 9:57 am 

RJG » August 27th, 2017, 12:56 pm wrote:
NOW is the current memory of a PAST event. (...and 'memory' is the 'experience' of recognition).

This is incorrect.
NOW is a mental construct based on internal reproduction of (past) sensory events combined with prefiguration (of events that were future in that past) based on experience.
If it were not so you could not hit a ball with a bat.
Your motor programming must precede your action (based on prefiguring) the same way your conscious perception of events must follow them.
Both are put in phase by a mental construct - "NOW" - which is inaccurate and delayed as regards point EVENTS, but which perfectly in phase with real PROCESSES.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby Graeme M on August 27th, 2017, 10:25 pm 

Some of you may recall the theory posted here some little time back that posited conscious experience (which I guess roughly translates into what we think of as "now") to be a simulated model of events that have just happened. In this theory, we don't have two separate physical processes - generation of consciousness and generation of memory of that moment, but rather something of a linear representation of past events.

As the author explains, he "hypothesize(s) that the inner movie of episodic memory is... shared around the brain, for error correction, to drive predictive processing, and to share one common story of ‘what just happened’. It is the activation of target regions by the brand new memory that we believe gives rise to the sense of experiencing."

http://philosophyofbrains.com/2017/05/0 ... ation.aspx
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby BadgerJelly on August 28th, 2017, 12:36 am 

edy -

How credible is our sense of now.


Credible enough for you to have written your piece and posted it on this forum.

The biggest problem I see with the term "now" is often in how many people look at science as a discrete measurement. We have to measure something somehow, and this "habit" of measuring does not mean there are not fuzzy areas where one seemingly solid distinction fades upon closer inspection (this is what the term "quantum foam" basically refers to.) Be sure to view your perceptions of the "past" and "future" as existing in the present. If you can see the trick of language here you'll see it as being a very clever tool to create a narrative flow of the world and thus understand your position as part of it.

Also, when we see the scene before our eyes, or hear this or that, we experience the "raw input" after it has passed through a complex filtering system. Not only that, a great deal of what we generally appreciate as the "real" and the "now" (in terms of sensibility) is actually a creation based on previous exposures. We have certain inbuilt physiological functions that can be unearthed by recognizing illusions.

You've just brought a question to mind ...

Neuro -

We know that certain auditory inputs can be impossible to understand, yet given prompts they become quite obvious (referring to how distorted voices sound like meaningless gibberish until we then hear the clear version and easily recognize the what is being said when we listen back to the distorted version), and with vision when we explore the area we can distinguish certain tricks of perspective and such.

What I have not seen, nor heard of, is how this kind of thing works with touch? I know how "taste" can be effected. I remember watching something a few years back about a guy breeding sweet tasting tomatoes, yet they had less sugar (the sweet "taste" was an illusion brought on by certain chemicals interacting with olfactory receptors.)

Is our sense of "touch" less easily "deceived" compared to the other senses? Or is it simply that auditory and visual inputs are more dominant and therefore more obvious to us in day-to-day life?
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby neuro on August 28th, 2017, 8:03 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:Is our sense of "touch" less easily "deceived" compared to the other senses? Or is it simply that auditory and visual inputs are more dominant and therefore more obvious to us in day-to-day life?

Well this is an interesting question. I don't think I am able to give you a reliable answer, but I will just point out that what you are talking about is not sensation, but quite high levels of cognitive elaboration of sensations.

Cognitive elaboration is mostly performed by what is called the "working memory system", which is believed to be comprized of a "central executive" (prefrontal regions that guide logical analysis and motivated behavior) + memory buffers ("short term memory", which can handle 5 to 9 elements as place holders of memory items to be manipulated) + a "visuo-spatial sketchpad" (mostly occipito-parietal cortex, used for spatial, geometrical, mathematical and relational visualization of the operands) + a "phonological loop" (which can hold in memory for some seconds heard material and play it back to "re-read" it).

This implies that there is an enormous contribution of endogenous processing in interpreting sensation. For example you can fill in the gaps in a visual sequence, you can understand a full sentence a posteriori, although up to half of it you were not able to understand a single word (you go back and replay it after having understood the final words and the first ones also come clear)...

Touch actually does not generally need such sophisticated re-elaboration. However, there is quite a lot of complex elaboration if you use touch to perceive a complex spatial pattern. In this case, however, during your elaboration the occipital areas are activated, suggesting that you can actually use the "visuo-spatial sketchpad" to elaborate touch info as well as visual.

Hope it helps
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby BadgerJelly on August 28th, 2017, 10:01 am 

Neuro -

I am wondering if Gazzaniga has considered the effects of words prompts on "touch" feeling. Would something "silky" feel "slimy" given certain auditory or visual prompts?

Anyway, have found something regarding "tactile illusion" that may shed light on (or should it be 'add fingers to') this thought :)
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on August 28th, 2017, 10:41 am 

Neuro, I am/will be out of pocket for the next 1.5 weeks (hiking through the Grand Canyon), but firstly, do you agree/disagree that "everything that we are conscious of has already happened"?

neuro wrote:Both are put in phase by a mental construct - "NOW" - which is inaccurate and delayed as regards point EVENTS, but which perfectly in phase with real PROCESSES.

neuro wrote:If it were not so you could not hit a ball with a bat

Secondly, aren't you intermixing the two timelines (real-time and conscious-time), with these statements?

For example, using the baseball analogy, let's assume the following:
1. The ball takes 500 ms to reach home plate once it leaves the pitcher's hand.
2. The batter takes 250 ms to initiate and complete his bat swing.
3. The batter's conscious time lag (from real-time) is 250 ms.

Comparing the two (the events happening in reality, and the events happening in the conscious mind of the batter) on a single timeline. Here is what we get:

@t=0
Real-time --- ball leaves pitcher's hand
Conscious-time --- batter is conscious of pitcher's wind up

@t=250ms
Real-time --- ball is halfway to the plate, batter initiates swing
Conscious-time --- batter is conscious of ball leaving pitcher's hand

@t=500ms
Real-time --- ball reaches plate, batter's swing is complete, ball is hit
Conscious-time --- batter is conscious of ball halfway to the plate, batter is conscious of initiating swing

@t=750ms
Real-time --- batter drops bat, starts running to first
Conscious-time --- batter is conscious of completing swing and hitting ball

In both cases (real-time and conscious-time), the duration of flight time of the ball to the plate is the 'same' 500 ms. The difficulty in hitting a pitched ball is related to this duration, not to a time lag, or time shift in the timelines.

Agreed?
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby neuro on August 28th, 2017, 2:15 pm 

RJG,
you are perfectly right and sound.
Still, whatever the batter is conscious of doing must have been programmed in advance in her premotor cortex, which is therefore out-of phase with the perception of external reality.

Furthermore, if the batter is trained she will get a feedback from the cerebellum about the correctness of her movement before the proprioceptive systems are able to give that same feedback (something similar to your finger moving on the piano keys faster than you can track their movement).

So, my point is that it is quite simplistic to state that we live with a consciousness that takes note of reality with a 200 ms delay.
In the first place, 200 ms delay is of null relevance for life. Except if you have to precisely meet some clue. And somehow we do manage...
Secondly, our consciousness actually comes about with quite variable delays depending on whether you are talking of visual, auditory, tactile, nociceptive, proprioceptive sensations, or of one's own movements or programs of moving.

Thus, a main function of consciousness is to put all this in phase. And this is done by building the internal construct of a time-line in phase with the external reality, by building the internal cognitive construct of NOW.

Notice that all this processing (re-phasing differently delayed time-lines) is not more complex than
(1) putting in register (by the dialogue between the superior colliculus and the parietal cortex) the distinct and different spatial maps that we obtain from acoustic info (from the two ears, depending on the position of the head), tactile info (from the hands or any part of the body, depending on their position), visual info (depending on the position of the head and of the eyes in the head),
(2) consistently locating a sensory clue in the external space and
(3) remapping such position with respect to eyes, hands or whatever, in order to appropriately move them to meet the clue.

Conscious space, time and NOW are cognitive constructs, they are the result of quite complex computations, it is not merely a matter of dumbly believing that what has happened 200 ms ago is happening now...
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on September 8th, 2017, 1:36 pm 

neuro wrote: …it is not merely a matter of dumbly believing that what has happened 200 ms ago is happening now...

It is not the ‘amount’ of the time delay that matters. It is the realization of the ‘time delay’ itself, and its effect on the meaning of “NOW”.

neuro wrote:…our consciousness actually comes about with quite variable delays depending on whether you are talking of visual, auditory, tactile, nociceptive, proprioceptive sensations, or of one's own movements or programs of moving.

Yes, agreed. …these all have their own associated 'time delays'.
.
neuro wrote:Thus, a main function of consciousness is to put all this in phase. And this is done by building the internal construct of a time-line in phase with the external reality, by building the internal cognitive construct of NOW.

When the brain/consciousness is busy constructing the NOW, hasn’t some 'time' passed by?

neuro wrote:Conscious space, time and NOW are cognitive constructs, they are the result of quite complex computations…

Yes, …but these “results” (from the complex computations) consume valuable 'time'. We humans are not perfect machines, we cannot detect/sense and process anything ‘instantaneously’. Any "results" of NOW, are actually from THEN (of past events).

Do you agree with the following logic?

    P1. “Instantaneous” detection/sensing is not logically (nor scientifically) possible. This includes human conscious experiences (sensing/detecting). A ‘time delay’ is an unavoidable fact.

    P2. None of our conscious processes are ‘exempt’ from this ‘time delay’, as ALL processes consume time.

    C. Therefore, we are only conscious of ‘past’ events. EVERYTHING that we are presently conscious of, has already happened.

neuro wrote:In the first place, 200 ms delay is of null relevance for life.

Not so. The recognition, and more importantly, the psychological acceptance, of this 'time delay' has a ‘huge’ effect on our understanding of reality, and its relevance in our day-to-day lives.

When we step outside to look at (experience) the world around us, it is NOT 'reality' that we actually see. What we see (experience) is a time delayed mental representation of reality. It’s as if we are encapsulated within a conscious cocoon. Everything that we are conscious of, must pass through this (time-delayed) window/shell of consciousness.

Furthermore, this ‘time delay’ destroys any viability of ‘conscious causation’ (aka “mental causation”, “conscious control”, “free-will”) rendering us all, simply as experiencers of life, and nothing more.

If we can't psychologically accept this logical truth, then we will continue to deny it. Life goes on nonetheless.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby Graeme M on September 8th, 2017, 6:43 pm 

RJG, do you think that your description of Now being Then fits well with the theory I linked to above? I think he makes a good case - conscious experience, or subjective experience, is a memory process rather than a "now" process. It offers a summed model of what inner processing occurred and decisions were made in order to confirm behaviours and assist in predictive priming. But the bottom line on this theory is that we never actually experience the present moment (or at least our internal representation of that), only ever a constructed summary of it. We actually interpret and act before we are aware of the fact that we have.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on September 9th, 2017, 10:48 am 

Graeme M wrote:RJG, do you think that your description of Now being Then fits well with the theory I linked to above? I think he makes a good case - conscious experience, or subjective experience, is a memory process…

Yes. If NOW is our present conscious experience, then NOW is the current ‘memory’ of PAST events. (...and 'memory' is the experience of 'recognition’).

Without 'memory’ there is nothing to recognize; nor to know.

Without 'memory’, there can be no consciousness; nor NOW experiences.

Graeme M wrote:But the bottom line on this theory is that we never actually experience the present moment (or at least our internal representation of that), only ever a constructed summary of it.

Close. The only thing we experience in the present is 'recognition'. But the 'content' of this recognition, are of PAST events.

Graeme M wrote:We actually interpret and act before we are aware of the fact that we have.

Yes, agreed. Logically it can be no other way.

The problem is that we have no access to ‘real-time’ content. Our consciousness/recognition (aka our “NOW”) only provides us with a window seat to the ‘PAST’.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby edy420 on September 15th, 2017, 6:38 am 

RJG,

Simply measuring the distance between a batter and pitcher, is only half of what the batter is anticipating.

In the batters mind, hes already played out the scenario of the pitcher winding up, aiming and swinging his arm.
Then when he actually winds up his arm, the batter knows to get ready for him to aim and swing.
Based on experience, he has a rough idea of how long it takes to aim and swing and can time his own swing and insert your distance calculations here.

Reaction time is only a minute part of reacting to a pitcher.
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Re: How credible is our sense of "now"

Postby RJG on September 15th, 2017, 10:05 pm 

edy420 wrote:In the batters mind, he’s already played out the scenario of the pitcher winding up, aiming and swinging his arm.

Then when he actually winds up his arm, the batter knows to get ready for him to aim and swing.

Yes. BUT when the batter (consciously) sees the pitcher wind up his arm, the ball (in real-time; reality) has probably already left the pitcher’s hand.

Real-time (that which happens in reality) and conscious-time (that which happens in the conscious mind of the batter) are out of sync by at least >150 ms. Much of our confusion lies in conflating ‘conscious-time’ as ‘real-time’.

So again, EVERYTHING that we are conscious of, has already happened (by at least 150 ms), ...we just don't know it yet! (...of course, not until that conscious moment arrives).

edy420 wrote:Based on experience, he has a rough idea of how long it takes to aim and swing and can time his own swing and insert your distance calculations here.

Reaction time is only a minute part of reacting to a pitcher.

This conscious time lag (time delay) has NO bearing on the batter's bodily ability to hit a baseball.

Our body auto-reacts (non-consciously) in 'real-time'. Our conscious awareness of this reaction is delayed and happens in 'conscious-time', making it, in effect, an 'after-effect'.
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