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I've heard countless discussions about whether or not the mind is separate from the brain, but they have all been philosophical.

I am looking for peer-reviewed studies that suggest the mind is not just a by-product of the brain, as I feel this is quite an extraordinary claim.

Are there any such studies?

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4 Answers 4

Another approach to this issue is to consider whether this kind of reductionism ("mind is just a by-product of the brain") is useful. Strictly speaking, architecture is "just a by-product of physics and materials science", but there are phenomena that are usefully described at the level of architecture and would not be well-captured by the atomic and molecular properties that underlie them. The same holds for the mind and brain: we can study the neural correlates of psychological phenomena and these studies are sure to help us understand those phenomena, but they are not logically equivalent. This view has been articulated by many people, here is one (peer-reviewed) example: Miller, G.A. & Keller, J. (2000). Psychology and Neuroscience: Making Peace. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(6), 212-215. You don't need to be a dualist to hold this view, just to understand that phenomena can have different levels of analysis.

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this is a great answer. Sometimes people take reductionism too far and too seriously. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Aug 2 '12 at 14:09
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There's non-reductive physicalism and reductive physicalism. There's no need for non reductive dualism, really, the whole point of non reductive physicalism is that emergence can explain consciousness without there being new physics. Dualism with non reduction doesn't really make sense, since reductionism is a physicalist property. –  Keegan Keplinger Aug 2 '12 at 15:54
    
@Dan Just reading this over again. I suppose a similar metaphor to oppose yours would be the following. You can study how a computer appears to operate by giving it input from its various devices and seeing what it does, and if you would like to know how to operate a computer that's great. The only problem is the user would argue that he indeed knows how a computer works, while someone who has taken apart the machine would scoff at such a statement. By taking apart the machine, the person can observe its inner workings as well as deduce how an outside influence could manipulate the machine. –  user1006 Aug 6 '12 at 16:21
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Keep in mind that the person peering inside the machine can provide very little guidance about webpage design or statistical analysis or many other functions that matter to the user. From that perspective, he has no idea how the computer works. David Marr (1982, Vision) is typically credited with articulating this functional independence between the "computational" (what it does), "algorithmic" (how it does it), and "implementational" (hardware) levels of analysis. –  Dan M. Aug 6 '12 at 20:13
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More or less. I probably wouldn't describe the mind as "separate" from the physical brain. I'd say that the term "mind" refers to a set of physical mechanisms, processes, etc. that are better described and studied at the level of organism behavior than the level of neural firing. –  Dan M. Aug 7 '12 at 11:35
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Note: one can never prove a negative. It's hard to say "there's no evidence" as an absolute truth. That being said:

No. All evidence is suggestive of monism. Drugs and brain lesions are physical actions that influence cognitive outcome by physically affecting the brain in ways predicted by pharmacists and neuropsychology. It could also be noted that physical activity (exercise) increases neurogenesis.

When you find an argument that recedes to only being valid in philosophy, it is probably becoming closer to pseudoscience than science. You can never prove something like solipsism is false, but it isn't a very productive belief if you're asking for evidence. Solipsism (as an example) would invalidate the evidence, so there's no point in asking for evidence if that's your perspective.

However, if you accept empiricism (which is all that science can rely on) then you have to accept some degree of scientific realism, and the scientific evidence is that brain causes mind.

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You're question, qualified with "for sure absolutely" makes me think that you still don't understand the difficulty of proving a negative. Even with your previous qualifier, "humans have not come across the answer" is hard to prove. I'm just one person, I can't speak for all humans. I can't say "for sure absolutely no studies" and no one human can. There's lots of studies out there. All you will ever have is a lack of evidence or a lack of people reporting there's no such studies. Though I can't even see how you'd even devise a test to prove mind and brain are separate. –  Keegan Keplinger Aug 1 '12 at 21:06
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I also do not know of any such studies. Slightly obnoxious or not, @Xurtio did so for good reason, I think. I know a lot about certain psychological constructs, but even on areas I consider myself expert, I could never claim to come close to knowing the entire literature. Studies published in other languages are not always translated. Old studies are not necessarily published online (although many are). And all of that does not even get into the issue that multiple keywords may be used for the same general idea. –  Joshua Aug 2 '12 at 1:48
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@degausser I don't think you have an understanding of how vast the scientific literature is, scientists already spend most of their days reading, and still have no chance to cover anything but a fraction of their very specialized sub-sub-sub-field. The wikipedia article already goes to decent lengths to answer your question. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Aug 2 '12 at 14:03
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@Xurtio I want to upvote this answer, but I can't because of your nonchalant dismissal of philosophy as pseudoscience. There is a huge difference between pseudoscience (which tries to make scientifically testable and usually false in the most silly ways claims, and ground itself in science) and well practiced philosophy which tries to provide a completely different type or argument and is usually painfully clear about when it is making scientifically testable claims, ad when it makes non-testable one. Further, you can't "prove" anything in science... this isn't math. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Aug 2 '12 at 14:13
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I did not dismiss philosophy as pseudoscience. Philosophy is part of science (in fact empiricism is the philosophical stance of most scientists). I also talked about scientific realism, another philosophical stance of scientists. By "prove" I just mean gather evidence that is suggestive of, not the mathematical definition of poof. –  Keegan Keplinger Aug 2 '12 at 15:44
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I can't imagine what kind of evidence there ever will be but I believe they are seperate. Of course the brain reacts to our mind because it is connected to our body, I feel as if they are seperate but when we feel sad the brain will release certain chemicals so our body feels it too. I'm not sure if this makes sense, it is hard to explain (but it makes sense to me). The fact that I can often tell when my partner or mother are thinking about me (for example more often then not, when they 'randomly' pop into my mind and I check my phone to see if they have replied, I can see they are 'typing...' or I immediately receive a message or a call). This is to me could be proof that the world isn't just what we physically see but that everything is connected on a different level.

This isn't a very scientific answer but I just wanted to share my view

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You may want to consider this meta-question: Striking a balance between citations and common sense in answers. –  Nick Stauner Feb 10 at 19:38
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"Evidence " means physical evidence, I guess. The paradox is this - are there non-physical phenomena for which there is physical evidence?

Is there evidence for Out-of-body experiences? If you never had one, you would say no. However, try to guess the answer before jumping here :-)

Can we do a thought experiment? Nuclear war, Solar flares, green house effect, whatever. Humanity has gone blind. Lost the sense of sight.

Thus shapes, colours, forms, changes of state of these properties etc cannot be perceived. They do not see clouds, the blue sky, the far-away stars, birds flying silently in the sky, distant blue seas, lush green forests and so on. Undoubtedly a greatly diminished life, compared to people like us.

Now, if one or two of them acquire eyes somehow, a whole new world opens up. They start experiencing and describing things that seem incredible to other people. They may be considered to have too much imagination, or even mad. They may eventually be persecuted or thrown out of the human community.

The history of science itself has plenty of these happenings. Until radio waves were discovered, Science did not know of its existence, though radio waves have existed for all time. This example extends to x-rays, gamma radiation and many other phenomena discovered at some point in time.

If due to some future catastrophes, suddenly the faculty of colour is lost, then Science will gradually start to deny the existence of colour. If people with long memories, or memories of their ancestors’ tales, talk about these things, they will be considered superstitious.

Update: (@Josh) - Another thought experiment. A 2-dimensional being cannot fathom that things are happening in a 3-dimensional world. Any physical phenmenon will appear to arise from other physical phenomena in 2 dimensions. Similarly, things coming from a 4th dimension will appear to be happening in the 3-dimensional world that appears to our senses.

The fourth dimension theories of Hinton and Ouspensky have a thorough treatment of the subject.

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"The paradox is this - are there non-physical phenomena for which there is physical evidence?" It's been a while since I've read in depth about Dualism, but I thought it was generally accepted that this is precisely the scenario that can't happen. If there is physical evidence of something, then it must be a physical phenomenon. –  Josh Jun 10 at 15:00
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